What is high key? The role and how to set up the high key in filming

What is high key? The role and how to set up the high key in filming

September 13, 2023

What is high key? This is a familiar question for novice photographers. Follow along to the following article of Viewfinder Media to know more about how to set up, the role of the high key in filming and taking pictures right below!

1. What is high key?

We often hear high-key photography but does anyone understand What is high key? High key is a bright style of photography with a high light identity, often used to create a feeling of comfort and calm in an image. This style is highly regarded and popular in portrait photography. Professional photographers often use "high key" to create images with low contrast, modern spaces.

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High key gives the image soft colors

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2. The difference between high key and low key in photography

High key and low key are two popular styles in photography and are often favored by veteran photographers. The common point between these two photography techniques is that they both use light as the main source of emotion to express the subject's state. Using reasonable lighting will make details stand out more and draw viewers' attention to the characteristics of the photo. However, there are differences between high key and low key such as:

High key
Low key
Main features:
High key is famous for using strong, even lighting to create bright, soft, and positive photos.
Low key often focuses on using limited lighting, creating dark, bold photos, often with areas of deep shadow and key lighting focused on specific spots.
There should be at least 3-4 necessary light sources: main, secondary, background. Light the subject to highlight its aspects.
Just a fixed light source and a light filter for a smoother image. Shine directly on the subject in a vertical or back direction and avoid distracting this light source from the subject or the space around the subject.
Often creates photos with a positive, light feeling, suitable for topics related to joy and brightness.
Creates photos with a heavy, dramatique feel, suitable for deep artistic subjects, bold portraits.
Often focus on keeping details in light areas, avoiding creating dark shadows.
Focus on creating dark shadows and focusing light on certain spots to highlight specific details.

3. The role of the high key in video production

What is the role of the high key in video production? High key is a photography and video-making technique, aiming to create a light space with high identity and less shadow. In short video production, the high key is used to convey a feeling of joy, optimism, and positivity to the audience. Here are some of the prominent roles that the high key brings to the Viewfinder:

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Viewfinder uses modern imaging technology

  • It's bright and bright, high key can make the scenes and characters in the video more clear and more eye-catching. It highlights the main subject, helping to focus the audience's attention on the important content.
  • High key can also be used in media videos, commercials or fun content, artists often use it to create a positive, attractive and friendly environment. Because there are no significant shadows, the high key creates a harmonious and pleasant atmosphere, helping the audience feel comfortable and relaxed.

However, the use of high key needs to be done carefully to avoid losing the naturalness and misrepresenting the message in the video. This requires photographers and editors to pay close attention to how lighting, flash, and color profiles are adjusted to achieve the best effect in conveying the video's message.

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4. When to use high key

To be able to have the most perfect product, photographers need to distinguish What is high key? or when to use high key. High key is often used when you want to create a light, bright and cheerful atmosphere in the video. Suitable situations to use high key include:

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High key brings fresh, modern photo colors

  • Videos convey feelings of positivity, optimism, and happiness.
  • Art video or short film with bright style and soft, bright colors.
  • Media videos, commercials, or entertainment where you want to create a friendly feel and engage your audience.
  • Take a portrait or video with a happy, family, or special anniversary theme.

However, the use of high key needs to be consistent with the content and message you want to convey. It is not suitable for scenes that are gloomy, mysterious or require strong drama elements. In each case, the photographer or editor needs to adjust the lighting and colors to match and express the intent of the video.

5. Set up high-key lighting

To be able to take quality high-key photos, the photographer needs to know what the lighting setting in high-key means. The high key lighting setting is to place the light in front of the subject, using the fill light to reduce shadows and evenly light the face or subject. Besides, this method also uses a reflective screen to create a clear light space.

5.1 Setting up Three-light

A Three-light setup is a style of lighting in photography or video production that uses 3 light sources: main light, fill light, and backlight. The main light highlights the subject, the fill light reduces shadows and creates a uniform light, and the backlight creates space and separates the subject from the background.

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The image is edited sharp and soft

5.2 Four-light settings

What is the four-light in high key? A Four-light setup is a style of lighting in photography or video production that uses four light sources: main, fill, backlight, and reflector.

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Setting up four-light requires a professional team

The main light highlights the subject, the fill light reduces shadows, the backlight creates space and separates the subject from the background, and the reflector adds front light to soften shadows and bring out details.

6. What is the device for setting the high key?

To be able to take high-key photos, photographers need to refer to the equipment to set the high key. These include powerful main lights, fill lights, reflective screens, and materials to soften the light and reduce shadows.

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Setting up the high key needs to be carefully equipped

  • Main light: Used as the main light source, usually a strong light such as a softbox, beauty dish, or flash with a large reflector. The main light creates a highlight for the subject and creates a bright tone for the space.
  • Fill light: Used to reduce shadows and create soft light on the face or subject. Fill lights are often weaker than main lights and help reduce contrast in the space.
  • Reflective screen: Used to reflect light from the fill light back to the subject, softening shadows and creating an even light space. The reflective screen can be a white screen or a specialized reflective material.
  • Light softening materials: Includes softboxes, diffusers, or specialized materials to reduce light stiffness, soften light and reduce shadows.
  • Background light: Use to illuminate the background, create space and separate the subject from the background.
  • Kicker light: Used to add light in front of the subject or subject, highlighting details and creating a soft shadow effect.

With the above equipment, photographers or filmmakers can create professional and sophisticated high key lighting effects in photos and videos.

7. 3 How to create a simple high key

How to generate high key? Is it easy to do? These are all questions that beginners need to learn about the high key. In addition, the choice of photography style depends on the photo model and the content you want to convey to the viewer. Here are some simple ways to create high keys that you can refer to:

7.1. Using reflective panels

In high-key lighting, reflectors play an important role in creating a soft and uniform lighting space. Reflectors are usually placed in front of and below the subject or subject, to reflect light from the fill lamp back, soften shadows, and reduce contrast.

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Reflective lights help soften shadows and highlight details

7.2. Use lots of lights to fill the gap

Have you ever wondered what it is to use multiple lights when taking high-key photos? Using multiple lights to fill the gap in high-key lighting creates a uniform lighting space without shadows, promoting light and positivity in a photo or video. This helps to highlight the subject and create a feeling of joy and optimism for the audience. Adjusting the aperture helps maintain light balance, avoid glare, and keep details clear in the image.

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The use of lights makes the light of the image sharp

7.3. Shine light on the ceiling

Bounce to the ceiling in high-key lighting is a way to create a fresh light space. Light reflected from the ceiling to the product helps to reduce shadows and create a harmonious light space. Using the ceiling as a natural reflective surface creates a soft effect in a photo or video.

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The bounce of light on the house makes the photo editing process easy

8. Note when taking high-key photos and videos

Not only need to learn what a high key is, but professional photographers need to gain experience in the process of working. This makes the photos have a complete background, lighting. Here are some important notes when taking high-key photos or videos:

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High key brings professional photos

  • Adjust the lights carefully: Be sure to adjust the main, fill, and backlight so that they don't get too bright and lose detail. This requires meticulous testing and calibration of the lighting configuration.
  • Use a reflective screen: Using a reflective screen softens the light and reduces shadows on the sample.
  • Pay attention to contrast: Avoid creating too much contrast between the subject and the background. This can cause loss of detail and make image editing difficult.
  • Color correction: Correctly correct colors to ensure bright lighting spaces and no color imbalances.
  • Aperture Adjustment: Adjusting the density allows the amount of light to enter the camera, creating a fresh light space.
  • Test and calibrate: Before the official shoot or shoot, test and correct the lighting technique to ensure the expected high-key lighting effect.

By following the tips above, you'll create bright, attractive, and beautiful high-key photos and videos.

The above article is all information to help you answer the question of Four-light strong What is high key? Besides, the article helps readers gain more knowledge about today's popular photography styles. If you have any questions, please contact Viewfinder Media directly for a free consultation!

What is high key?

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