Lilies. Nikon D200. 70-210 mm f2.8 Nikkor. 200 mm. ISO 320. 1/8 sec at f/2.8. Copyright 2013 Joanne Mason.
Looking at images like these lilies, I think about the nature of photographic reality, the difference between photographic representation and art. These lilies were shot in the studio with a long telephoto lens, thus sharply foreshortening the field of focus. The lilies were bathed in light, with strobes to front and both sides, and greatly overexposed. With the colors washed out, a bit more selective editing, the result looks a little more like a painting than a photograph. Certainly we would probably not see (at least with normal vision) lilies looking like this in nature. Is such manipulation of the objective subject legitimate? Or do we expect that a photograph should be a more accurate depiction of a subject, complete in terms of parameters like tone, texture, color, light? (Click image for larger.)
Ranunculus. Nikon D200. Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.18. 105m m (Equiv 157mm). ISO 200. 1/100 sec at f/32. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.
Today’s red Ranunculus image.
Ranunculus. Nikon D200. Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8. 105mm (Equiv 157mm). ISO 200. 1/90 sec at f.4. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.
Second Ranunculus of the new series today. This is another “high key” image, and I want to say something about high key because I think it’s an interesting technique and something really worth trying. Working with a high key approach not only produces interesting and dramatic images, but also can help improve technique and skills.
High key = High key light. The term originates in cinematography. Technically, it describes a high ratio of key (main) light to fill light, but generally refers to an approach to lighting with very high main lighting. The scene or image could seem washed out. Images can end up being ethereal or dreamy, light and airy, usually with low contrast.
In my high key images, I shoot against a pure white background and use strong direct strobes. As much as possible, I also try to eliminate or minimize shadows. There are a variety of techniques used. Some shoot against a frosted glass or plexiglass background and provide lighting from behind (in addition to key light in front). I always shoot Raw, and this provides an opportunity to further push the exposure to high levels without blowing out the highlights.
I edit these images in Lightroom and Nik tools in order to further emphasize the high key lighting ratio. However, in almost all the high key images I’ve posted here, I then filter the main subject (usually, the flowers) in order to bring out detail and contrast very selectively. In Nik this is done easily by first applying a high key filter or other brightening effect and then subtracting the same effect from the subject I want to emphasize. In terms of traditional photoprocessing, this is the same as overexposing the print and selectively dodging the areas of the subject to be emphasized.
High key techniques work best in the studio where you have more control over exposure, and where you can isolate subject from background. Technically, though, there is no reason you couldn’t apply high key methods on location. (I need to go back through my blogged images and add high key tags where appropriate.)
The opposite of high key shooting is low key shooting, also interesting for very different reasons. In a future post I’ll say something about low key images.
Ranunculus. Nikon D200. Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8. 105mm (Equiv 157mm). 1/180 sec at f/5.6. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.
First in a new series of Ranunculus, one of the most photogenic of flowers. According to wikipedia, Ranunculus is a very large family of flowering plants. and a very diverse one. For some reason, the cultivated hybrids in the flower shops all look the same. I’ll have to try and track down some other varieties of Ranunculus.
Carnations. Nikon D200. Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8. 48mm (Equiv 72mm). ISO 200. 1/180 sec at f/8. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.
There’s something about carnations, I like the stems more than the flower itself. Does that make me strange? Carnations have this beautiful but wasted look.
Gerbera Daisies. Nikon D200. Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8. 140mm (Equiv 210mm). ISO 400. 1/60 sec at f/11. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.
Continuing my look at selected images in black-and-white – some shot recently just for this project while other images have been reprocessed - Here are some Gerbera Daisies.
Here is the corresponding image as originally posted in color. Note that this wasn’t simply a matter of converting the original color image to black-and-white. To produce today’s image, I went back to the original raw from the camera and processed completely anew, with almost all post (sharpness, exposure, contrasts, etc) being done after the image is in black-and-white. (Note that even when planning to produce a black-and-white image, you should shoot for color in the camera. The black-and-white conversion occurs as a part of or after the raw conversion.) While the original was done in a high-key environment, I chose a more neutral lighting for the black-and-white.
Pink and White Gerberas. Nikon D200. AF-S VR DX Micro Nikkor 105 mm f/2.8. 105 mm (Equiv 157 mm). ISO 400. 1/160 sec at f/36. Ring flash. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.
I don’t think these Gerberas have been posted here yet. I like the way this one turned out, especially the composition.