Photo Peas Classroom - High/Low key photography

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Posted 5/17/2010 by farrahc in General Photography
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farrahc
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Posted: 5/17/2010 10:11:02 PM
I'm sorry I'm a week late with this...crazy times! =P Anyways...better late than never! hee hee.

So...let me start by saying that I am not a studio lighting expert, nor am I an expert in High/Low key lighting...however, I thought that since these lessons are kind of designed for the average Pea, I would gear my lesson towards showing you how to achieve the look of High/Low key lighting to the best of your ability with natural lighting and then how to enhance the effects in PS.


HIGH KEY {a style of lighting that is bright, even, and produces little contrast between light and dark areas of the scene}

Awhile back, Paul posted a great thread about High Key lighting in studio HERE

and Zack Arias has some great info on his blog HERE

And a GREAT series of tutorials here:
PART 1
PART 2
PART 2B
PART 4
PART 5

LOW KEY {having chiefly dark tones, usually with little tonal contrast}

More from Zack Arias PART 3



but...we don't all have tons of studio equipment and so we have to do the best we can with what we have. I love to achieve similar styles with natural light...especially with babies!

EXAMPLES:

HIGH KEY/WHITE BACKGROUND:



LOW KEY/BLACK BACKGROUND:



NATURAL LIGHT SET UP: (I've posted these before).
I get a LOT of great natural light coming in from the patio door, as well as the windows in the sunroom.

White Seamless: (In case you're wondering why the seamless is pulled out so far...it's because I had some scuff marks on it from some black shoes from a previous shoot and I was too lazy to cut it off). Also- I often us a white reflector on the camera left side to help reflect more light onto the background to avoid shadows.





Black felt: (I prefer felt to seamless because I feel like the felt absorbs the light more than seamless and I never get a sheen). For a truly low key look, I sometimes use a spare piece of black fleece on the camera left side (instead of a reflector) to absorb even more light to increase the shadow side.



SOOC shots:





FINAL images:








TIP
*** shoot using spot metering and meter off the skin. Take a couple of shots and adjust your settings from there. It is IMPOSSIBLE to get 100% perfect exposure for both the subject AND the background using natural light for this type of set up. I can get pretty close, but I ALWAYS have to "enhance" the background. It's easier to fix the background than the subject, so your best bet is getting the exposure right for the subject. ***

PHOTOSHOP TECHNIQUES

There are several ways of achieving this and I've tried several...this is the technique I prefer. It's SUPER simple and has a GREAT effect! It works for both the white and the black backgrounds.

1- create a levels layer



2- while holding down the alt key (mac) click on the white triangle (for the white backgrounds) OR the black triangle (for the black backgrounds) and slide it until the entire background is whited or blacked out.



3- Mask back the subject with a soft round brush.

Easy peasy!

Please feel free to add your comments/questions! =)




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taradara
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Posted: 5/17/2010 10:14:08 PM
Thanks so much!!! You rock, Farrah! This is just a teeny weeny bit of your knowledge that you've shared with us. I have learned so much from you and my pics are turning out so much better!


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jodar
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Posted: 5/17/2010 10:17:09 PM
Thanks Farrah this is great. I like the tip of felt too. I might have to look into that or fleece for a new black Back drop. I really like the levels too.
Thanks for sharing your setups and your cutie!


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Posted: 5/17/2010 10:18:21 PM
Awesome! Thanks so much, Farrah!


Blessings, Rebecca





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Posted: 5/17/2010 10:21:33 PM
Thanks Farrah!!
I am glad to see that I mightbe able to get some nice white background even without background lighting.

PS: I just wish that my little ones would stay still on the background like yours seems to do


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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:00:41 AM
fabulous tutorial farrah!!!


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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:05:31 AM
this is wonderful thanks Farrah


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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:16:40 AM




~Rachel~

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barbinga
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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:39:26 AM
GREAT lesson farrah - i'm going to have to read in detail tomorrow. a quick question. have you ever washed your felt? i started using it about a year ago - loved the extra width you can buy it in - i think mine is 72 inches? i got it at joanns. anyway - it needs washing bad. it is a huge piece and i guess i will have to take it to the laundromat, but i can't for the life of me remember whether it is washable (i might not have even looked).

barbinga
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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:41:56 AM
well - i'm so smart, duh. just went to the joann site and it says their 72 inch felt is washable on gentle, tumble dry low. laundromat here i come. joy.

KrisDan
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Posted: 5/18/2010 6:04:45 AM
Awesome, can't wait to read in detail and TRY it!

Kristy

abellegardner
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Posted: 5/18/2010 6:24:59 AM
thanks for the great lessons and for the links


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thevalerie
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Posted: 5/18/2010 7:27:53 AM
Awesome lesson, Farrah. Can't wait to try it!



JeannetteK
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Posted: 5/18/2010 7:32:56 AM
Awesome Farrah!!!


Jeannette


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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:19:01 AM
Thank you Farrah! I've been checking in 2-3x every day this past week looking for your lesson! I just couldn't wait! I'm so glad it's up! I am very thankful for your tips on getting a nice white background -- first with the reflector while shooting, and then using levels in PS. I just tried your levels trick in PSE, and it worked great! Thanks so much!


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Molly C
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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:23:52 AM
Cool! I love the shadows on the low key stuff. I need to try blocking up the light with a reverse reflector.

And I have never tried high key stuff! Someday I'll use that free roll of white that came with my stand.


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Posted: 5/18/2010 8:38:05 AM
Thank you Farrah. This looks like a great lesson!



UtahMomX4
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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:15:18 AM
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! Your work is always so fun and inspiring, and this lesson is too! Thanks again!


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Posted: 5/18/2010 9:15:55 AM
Thanks Farrah, great lesson. I didn't think you could get that kind of white background with natural light. Awesome!!!


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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:20:00 AM
Thank you for taking the time to actually show examples of all your steps and your pull backs, that is so beneficial


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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:44:57 AM
Holy cow! That is great info!!! Thanks for sharing!


Jessica


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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:47:05 AM
Wonderful, thank you!



farrahc
I PEA in my big girl panties! =p

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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:48:33 AM

have you ever washed your felt?


I was mine a lot..I also use it for naked baby photos and so it gets peed on a lot. I have a front loading washing machine and just wash it at home. As you can probably tell, I've stopped bothering to iron it since I know I won't see the wrinkles after pp. Again...I'm SUPER lazy!


I've been checking in 2-3x every day this past week looking for your lesson! I just couldn't wait!


awww...Sorry it took so long. I didn't really think anyone cared all that much anymore...seemed like there were so many newbies that the class stuff was kinda getting forgotten. I'm happy to help! =)


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aprilpez
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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:57:04 AM
Question about the classes, so much great information I want to print it so I can really read it. I feel like I absorb things better off of paper then the computer so I want to print all the lessons and links but I would be printing like 100 pages for hi key low key with the link. What does everyone else do? I have never seen that shiny tile board used for the reflection in the photos. Anyhow just a question I am sure everyone just reads it off the computer and I am being silly.

farrahc
I PEA in my big girl panties! =p

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Posted: 5/18/2010 10:59:32 AM
If you look at the master list thread, there are instructions on how to convert the posts to PDFs


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paintedmoon
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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:08:00 PM
Great, great lesson, Farrah! This is really good, basic information, because everyone wants to do both white and black backgrounds. White especially gives everyone trouble, so this will be really helpful.

The SOOC's for your white BG are FABULOUS! Wow. Sigh. I want just 1/4th of the light you have streaming in to your house, LOL.

Thank you for taking the time to post all of that...trust me, I know how long it probably took you!

Anne

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Posted: 5/18/2010 12:57:33 PM
Thank you Farrah!


~lizzie

farrahc
I PEA in my big girl panties! =p

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Posted: 5/18/2010 1:01:37 PM

The SOOC's for your white BG are FABULOUS! Wow. Sigh. I want just 1/4th of the light you have streaming in to your house, LOL.


Thanks Anne...You know I've been OBSESSED with the white background since Gracie's Halloween Witch shots! =)


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rachag03
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Posted: 5/18/2010 1:13:17 PM
Great lesson, Farrah! You are always so helpful with all of your pullbacks and before/afters. I agree, you have some fabulous SOOC shots to work from! I had never thought of using black to block light and make shadows, that's a great tip!



**ELIZABETH**
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Posted: 5/18/2010 5:03:03 PM

You totally rock.. but you already know how much I think your generousity with sharing and teaching others is second to none. Thanks for taking the time to help and encourage others to be their best! =)

YOU KNOW I have issues w/ white seamless.. so I am going to back and read this in a bit..

um.. I like M sitting all there oblivious to the big show you have got going on there.. he looks very engrossed in his work.. lol


{elizabeth}


mommy2katia&karyme
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Posted: 5/18/2010 5:17:00 PM
Thank You so much Farrah! I agree that your pullbacks have always helped me a whole lot! You are always so kind to help us with CC and in my case even fix the unfixable! Thank YOu!

MrsDarcy
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Posted: 5/18/2010 7:03:22 PM
Awesome information, Farrah! Thank you so much for taking your time to share.

Kathy


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katieFLapple
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Posted: 5/19/2010 11:37:54 AM
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this, Farrah! Up until now, I have avoided white seamless like the plague, but I may give it a try now! I love the finished product!


~Katie~



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lstine
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Posted: 5/19/2010 3:23:44 PM
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Lots of good info. I've never been happy with my white seamless, but now I'm ready to try it again. Also thinking I need to go shopping for black felt.


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Stacey Anna
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Posted: 5/19/2010 3:25:37 PM
Thank you so much for this tutorial Farrah! I thought I had already left a thank you when I read it yesterday, but I must have been nursing at the time. Can't wait to try these techniques!
Stacey



pattons
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Posted: 5/19/2010 6:51:53 PM
Thanks so much for this tutorial! Can't wait to try it! Thanks for the pullbacks! I have a question relating to them, if you don't mind. I've been having trouble getting good catchlights when posing my baby on the floor (she can't sit yet). Is this because the windows don't go all the way down to the floor (they are about a foot and a half from the floor). It looks like you have light coming in from a door. Is that what is helping you with the cactch lights?

Thanks!
Sonia

missouri girl
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Posted: 5/19/2010 7:48:33 PM
Farrah, thank you so much for sharing. The time you took to provide screen shots and pullbacks are greatly appreciated.


Take time to enjoy life.
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_Shanna_
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Posted: 5/19/2010 8:18:24 PM
Good job girlfriend!


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thevalerie
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Posted: 5/19/2010 8:20:28 PM
I had a super quick and dirty play with your technique Farrah. Let's pretend my masking isn't quite so bad, ok? lol I just wanted to get one pic of my big 4 year old up on the day that he actually turns 4. (We're having his party on Saturday)

Just want to say thanks again for an awsome lesson!




Jennifer G
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Posted: 5/19/2010 9:18:50 PM
Thanks Farrah,
I have a pic right now I've been struggling with the shadows on the white seamless, so i'm off to try your suggestion!


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Posted: 5/19/2010 9:26:49 PM
Thank you!!!


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farrahc
I PEA in my big girl panties! =p

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Posted: 5/20/2010 10:56:42 AM

I have a question relating to them, if you don't mind. I've been having trouble getting good catchlights when posing my baby on the floor (she can't sit yet). Is this because the windows don't go all the way down to the floor (they are about a foot and a half from the floor). It looks like you have light coming in from a door. Is that what is helping you with the cactch lights?



you should still be able to get catchlights...maybe move closer to the window...however, you will also get more shadows since the window doesn't go all the way down...good placement of a reflector should help with this.


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farrah jobling photography

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farrahc
I PEA in my big girl panties! =p

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Posted: 5/20/2010 10:57:32 AM

I just wanted to get one pic of my big 4 year old up on the day that he actually turns 4.


AWESOME job Val!! I can NOT believe he's FOUR already!!! Happy Birthday Tristan!!!


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pattons
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Posted: 5/20/2010 2:15:16 PM
Thanks Farah! I've used the reflector, but I guess I need to move it.

scraphound107
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Posted: 5/25/2010 11:14:43 PM
This is SO awesome, TY!!!

WVButterfly
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Posted: 5/26/2010 7:30:16 AM
I missed this when it was originally posted and am so glad to have found it this morning! Farrah, thank you so very much for putting it all together and sharing it with us

I need to do a search and see what other lessons I've missed


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Dana40
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Posted: 5/26/2010 2:03:55 PM
Farrah,

Thank you! and I too sooo appreciate the pull-back views - not that I'm even that close to even trying this stuff but it just makes me want to go out and buy some felt!

thevalerie, can I ask what equipment and settings you used for your 4 year old shot?

Thanks!
Dana

mommy2katia&karyme
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Posted: 6/21/2010 3:12:27 PM
Ok, I have some questions, a lot actually, lol!

Yesterday Madi came over wearing the cutest outfit ever and my sister asked if I could Please, Please, take a picture of her in it. Problem: She wanted it on a white background, Yikes!

I didn't really have a lot of time to set up or work with my settings because the house was full of family and Madi was more interested in them and the chaos. I did my best and my sister knows and we agreed to try again this week with more time and patience.

First Question:
Do you post process everything first and then make the background white? I did it first and then had to keep going back and forth to mask it back.
Second Question:
How on earth do you freaken mask back so cleanly? Lol! I'm having a heck of a time and its driving me crazy!
Third Question:
I've noticed most of your White background images always have plexi in them. Is that so that they don't look like they are floating? I think the answer is yes because in my shot Madi is definitely floating!

Thank You Farrah!
Marisol




Carey Ayn
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Posted: 6/21/2010 3:19:17 PM
this is really great and LOVE the tips for the background!



farrahc
I PEA in my big girl panties! =p

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Posted: 6/21/2010 4:36:20 PM

First Question:
Do you post process everything first and then make the background white? I did it first and then had to keep going back and forth to mask it back.


usually I don't need to do much to get the background white, but it is on it's own maskable layer...I suppose I do the masking for that layer after I make the adjustments to the subject.



Second Question:
How on earth do you freaken mask back so cleanly? Lol! I'm having a heck of a time and its driving me crazy!


I use a soft round brush and change the size with the [ or ] keys to get into the harder to reach spots...I also zoom in to some areas.



Third Question:
I've noticed most of your White background images always have plexi in them. Is that so that they don't look like they are floating? I think the answer is yes because in my shot Madi is definitely floating!


yes...it also helps to keep the white paper clean.


The Jobling Family blog
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farrah jobling photography

Mk2|24-70L|50L|85L|135L|17-40L|100 macro|430ex|CS5
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