Low Key Lighting (When There is no Black Box)

Low Key Lighting (When There is no Black Box)

I can be lazy, but I work hard to make sure that it does not show up in my images.

The exploit that I take advatage of most? Bright light. I know that things in direct light will always be MUCH MUCH brighter than things that are not in that direct light; therefore, when shooting in a messy studio, I put the model in the windowlight and let everything else go dark. No mess to clean up!

In the former Baltimore Studio, I painted a large area to be a shortcut to this and dubbed it the Black Box, but the truth is... you DO NOT need one to achieve this effect. Sure it makes it much easier because of the lack of light spill, but a bright enough source lighting your subject, will make everything else dissapear. In this case I needed to make a messy studio appear not so messy.


The collage above was a promotion or a lighting workshop and neither of the images were actually intended to be in black and white. I wanted the focus to be on the lighting so removing the color information made my point a little bit more obvious.


Above is an image shot in a Black Box. 9'x 9'x 9' of negative space with no bounce, no reflection and no light leaks. Pure directional lighting at its core. You can see how finite I could be, making sure that there was a specular highlight on the tip of her shoe so that it didn't get lost! It was afterall the lowest point of the image, so I wanted to make sure that it was seen, even ever so slightly. At the top of the image, we do not acchieve the same with Tiffany's hair, losing it to the background.


In the color version of the image above (which is the version that was published) you can see that the junk in the studio is all still there. I just chose my angle of view, lens height, and exposure to hide as much of it as possible.

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Post by Atomic Joshua

Photographer + Filmmaker turned studio owner.