High Key Lighting: Dog Photography Project 52, Week 11

Upon seeing "High Key Lighting" for our topic this week, I immediately went to google. I'd never heard of high key lighting. Here is what google said: It is a style of lighting for film, television, or photography that aims to reduce the lighting ratio present in the scene. This was originally done partly for technological reasons, since early film and television did not deal well with high contrast ratios, but now is used to suggest an upbeat mood.

If I am being honest, this definition didn't help me much. What is the "lighting ratio?" What is the "high contrast ratio?" The word ratio was throwing me off in both of these so I did some more research. Figuring out what the lighting ratio is helped the light bulb in my head go off: Lighting ratio in photography refers to the comparison of key light (the main source of light from which shadows fall) to the fill light (the light that fills in the shadow areas). The higher the lighting ratio, the higher the contrast of the image; the lower the ratio, the lower the contrast.

(An aside: The only light I use in my photos is natural light. Using some sort of fill flash would be helpful to reduce the shadows.)

This may be one of those moments I look back on and say to myself, what was I thinking by writing that but I'm going to attempt to explain this in my own words (for my benefit really b/c once I thought I had it figured out, I had to create the photos.) 

First of all, high key lighting aims to reduce the lighting ratio. I really had to think this through because high key suggests bright to me but I am to reduce the lighting ratio which means there isn't much contract in the photo. So it may be bright but most everything in the photo needs to bright for it to be high key. Right? In other words, the tones need to be even. Right?

So high key lighting is a scene that doesn't have a lot of variation in the tones in the photo. The contract is low. When I googled high key lighting images, all of them had white backgrounds. I actually preferred the ones I saw in black & white. I googled the histogram for high key lighting photos and that helped too. This has been a great learning lesson for me and I'm not sure I really have it totally figured out but I feel pretty comfortable saying that high key lighting isn't my style.

On Sunday, the day I was planning to take photos for this topic it was snowing. I thought: "Ok.  Take Willow your yellow lab outside in the snow and take her photos. I figured if I had a yellow dog in white snow, I'd have a better chance of low contract photos. Right?" This made sense to me but remember Willow? She's my dog that doesn't like my camera so she preferred staying near the house which is brick which didn't really help me. Oh well, here are a few of my girl that I took in an attempt at high key lighting photos with the snowy, cloudy sky as my light source. Unfortunately neither of these are high key. This is one of those moments when what I planned for didn't happen!

Enter The Moose and the photo at the top of this post. He came running at me with the snow and trees in the background. This is the photo I wanted but with Willow. I think it had a chance of being a better high key lighting image.

I'm really curious to see what the other photographers do with this theme. Next up is Jessica Wasik with Bark & Gold Photography, celebrating the joy and love between Pittsburgh pets and their people. Be sure to click the link at the bottom of each post to see what each photographer says about high key lighting and then you'll end up right back here looking at Moose's cute face. :)