What is High Key and Low Key lighting? The folks over at Adorama TV try to explain it to you in under three minutes. Dan in the video after the jump explains that high key lighting is when your lighting is very low contrast with almost no visible shadows. This is done often in portraiture and is very forgiving.
In comparison, low key lighting has very high contrast. It can make a subject really pop in a scene.
Dan’s video is after the jump, but we’ve added extra examples of High Key and Low key lighting after the jump.
High Key Lighting
Very high key lighting, notice an almost total lack of shadows. To do this, we shot Amanda with a flash in High Speed sync mod and filled the shadows in with direct flash
Erica was shot with flash diffused through a giant Umbrella and also added fill from the natural light of the window and the flash bouncing off the panels. The wrap about light helps to eliminate much of the shadow but not all of it.
Model: Bec Fordyce
By backlighting a subject and overexposing for the shadows, you can also create very high key lighting
Low Key Lighting
Because of the strong contrast in this photo, you can consider it low key
Low key lighting. While the light still look flattering, there is a strong contrast to bring out specific details in the image
The shadow and fact that this image was lit on only one side makes this very low key