Shooting into the light – High Key


With a few final minutes left at the end of my recent shoot with Miss Vixxen I decided to try a few high key images by shooting into a large studio softbox….and was really happy with the results!

Whilst I always try to have a mental image of how I would like to light a specific shoot before starting, sometimes its good to experiment once you’ve bagged the shots you were aiming to get.  I wasn’t too sure how the image would look but that’s part of the fun.  A typical way of creating a high key image is to have one or more lights lighting up a (generally white) backdrop, with one or more key lights lighting up the subject.  Indeed, this was exactly how I shot the other high-key images earlier on in the shoot…..


The lighting set up for the above picture was arranged like this….


Back to the image at the top…..this was created by having my model stand with her back, and about 2 foot in front of,  the same large octobox used in the second image.  I really like how the light from the large softbox, with Miss Vixxen’s face turned slightly, wraps around her to produce a 3/4 back light effect on the left of her neck/face (camera view point).  It also gives a softer light effect, much less contrasty, than the high key set up in the second image.

You might think that the model would be silhouetted like this, but enough light is reflected back  from the studio walls etc to light her up nicely and also gave some catchlights in her eyes..  In fact, I also used a second strobe pointed at the studio wall, set at its lowest power, to trigger the octobox.  The small blip from the second light aimed at the studio wall will also have added some light going into the direction of the model.  I had to do this as the light on the octobox would not fire using the wireless transmitter and therefore would only work when in cell mode…..

lighting-diagram-1366315537This image was a test shot from the sequence, where you can clearly see the models position in relation to the octobox behind….

High key test-1

Did I meter for this light? No.  In fact camera settings for both of these high key images was nearly identical:

Top image – ISO 200, f8, 1/100

Second image – ISO 200, f8, 1/125

I simply shot and saw what happened!  As much as there is satisfaction in nailing the lighting how you imagined it before the shoot, there is also much pleasure in a serendipitous ‘shoot and see’ approach too!

There we have it, two high key images lit very differently.  One without any light being pointed directly at the model.

I should also tip my cap to the fantastic make up provided for the shoot by Amber Peck – fantastic!


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