Daytime low key photographs

My previous attempts at low key images had either been taken on a darkened theatre stage or, long after the sun had dipped below the horizon. Both situations providing an almost pitch black environment making it relatively easy for me to create the desired lighting effect. This time I was shooting around 1 o’clock on a bright summer’s day & so I needed to re-think my methods.

I selected ISO 100 & set the shutter speed to 1/200 which is my maximum flash sync speed. With the speedlight turned off (mounted on a stand & firing through a white flash umbrella), I took a shot with aperture f/11. However, the resulting image wasn’t completely black. I couldn’t increase my shutter speed to make the image darker because I was already at my maximum sync speed, so I would have to reduce the aperture size (f/16 did the trick). Now I could take shots knowing the only thing illuminating the object, in this case a cymbal, was the light from my flash.

Once I had the the image loaded onto my computer the only things to do were a black & white conversion, apply minimal sharpening & that was it. Well, that was going to be it but as I continued to play around with the image I discovered I really liked this pin hole camera style effect achieved by adding a vignette.

Week 33

Settings: Samsung Galaxy S4

Set up. Take a small square of cardboard & prick a hole in it with a pin. Hold the card up to the lens of the phone (making sure the cardboard is tight to the phone otherwise the border will be a grey colour rather than black) & take your photos.

Opinion. I’d seen this technique demonstrated in a YouTube video from Cooph entitled 8 DIY Smartphone Photography Tips & wanted to try it out. At first I tried the technique on flowers around the garden (one of which I put on Instagram) before turning my attention to my daughter’s playhouse. I like the old-fashioned “Alice in Wonderland” kind of feel it produces. This image is straight out of the phone too, no Photoshopping or other alterations have been made which makes a change. It’s nice to get back to basics sometimes.