Tag Archives: low key

Teahouse Kurosawa

Teahouse Kurosawa. Fuji X100. 23mm. ISO 400. 1/60 sec at f/8. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

This is the Descanso Gardens teahouse that I have photographed numerous times. In a comment to a previous post, Abu Zar suggested to me that the lighting was reminiscent of Kurosawa’s, especially in Rashoman. While that wasn’t initially my intention, I agreed. This is an attempt to recreate that Kurosawa lighting here again. Kubrick especially admired Kurosawa’s lighting in Rashoman and other films. Kubrick noted the low-key dappled effect.

Desert Noir

Desert Noir. Nikon D200. Nikkor 12-24mm f/4.0. 12mm (Equiv 18mm). ISO 800. 1/2000 sec at f/4. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

This is another noirish scene. (The original image was shot behind the now-closed Painted Forest Inn in Arizona.) I would consider this a low key image even though the desert is brightly lit. (It could be moonlight, though. Although the image was shot midafternoon of a very sunny day.) The foreground, the area of interest, the inn, is lit entirely in the shadows. The overall scene has a certain air of mystery that appeals to me.

The 12-24mm Nikkor wide angle is a lens that I seem to use very rarely. In this image, I like the perspective, with the lens capturing the expanse of the desert as well as the inn in the foreground. This is a great lens; I should use it more often.

Dark Cabin

Cabin. Nikon D200. Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8. 17mm (Equiv 25mm). ISO 800. 1/1000 at f/13. Copyright Joanne Mason 2012.

This image (the cabin is on the grounds of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch in New Mexico) is a good example of low key lighting.  The image is all about the shadows. It’s not just that it’s dark; the shape of the cabin is suggested by just a slight key light (sunlight) to the right. All the rest is in shadows, but even the shadows reveal some detail. This is a very noir-ish image, which would look in place as the set of film noir cinema. (I am a huge fan of film noir.)

The details in the darkest shadows at front of the cabin under the porch overhang are vaguely discernible, even though this is zone 1 or so. But rather than being cleanly delineated, the details are suggested by the shadows. Some of the porch detail is going to be lost in the jpg compression.)

This is mostly a matter of postprocessing. The actual image was shot at mid afternoon on a partly sunny/cloudy bright day.

Three Roses (Redux)

Three Roses. Nikon D200. AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR. 105 mm. ISO 200. 1/250 sec at f/6.7. Copyright © Joanne Mason 2011/

This image of three roses has been posted before, but the image here has been reprocessed. The original image was lit with multiple Nikon flashes (Nikon CLS) in a low key setup. Raw conversion added contrast. The reprocessing emphasized the low key lighting while burning in the roses somewhat. Some added blur and glow completed the image.