High Key Self Portraits

High Key Self Portraits

I have always been reserved, so dislike asking people to be models so I can practice my photography. However, wanting to continue to grow in photography I thought it would be worth trying some self-portraits which would allow me to practice the (technical) skill. Sadly I have not yet mastered the required poses and instead of having good-looking artistic photos, mine look like the Prison photographer has tried to be artistic…

Nonetheless, I have always wanted to try taking some High Key images, after reading some two flash guides I thought I would give it a go. High key images are images that have mainly white or bright tones, they are most commonly recognised as the very ‘white’ portrait photos (although that is an oversimplification). In order to take high key photos, you basically want to over-expose the background so that it appears white, and then light the model correctly.

With two flashes, and a white corner of the room (actually can be almost any color as long as the flash is bright enough) one flash is set up behind where the model would sit facing into the corner of the wall (and upwards). With the camera you then want to adjust the flash metering so that it is slightly overexposed, following that you then have another flash which is set to light up the model, but to a correct exposure (see figure 1).



Figure 1: Diagram of the setup, as per created using www.lightingdiagrams.com


My Experience

I used a Nikon D610 DSLR camera to capture these images, with a Yongnuo Wireless Flash Controller and the images were edited in Adobe Lightroom CC (with many being rejected lol).

I made a number of different errors when creating these pictures, and I would specifically like to thank Andrew M for his tips in how to improve the images, The first thing I noticed (when you look at the second picture, without a jacket) is that there is a significant amount of reflection from the wall behind which bounces onto the terrible model (me), secondly the images are also a bit ‘flat’. The reason the images are flat is that in reality I had the flash too far away from myself, and because of the inverse law it resulted in slightly ‘flat’ photos.


These are by no means professional photos, rather just me trying a technique and documenting it. I hope out of it I can provide some information to others, so that they can hopefully learn from my mistakes. Also, if you have any posing advice feel free to let me know, because I suck at posting!


The Images:

20161116-DSC_7233.jpg 20161116-DSC_7227.jpg

Figure 2 & 3: The High Key Self Portraits taken using this tutorial, note the bounceback on Figure 3