Friday, October 23, 2009

Gabe: 2 Months Old {High-Key/Low-Key Tutorial} {Allen, TX Newborn Photographer}

How exciting to finally meet Bonnie and Homer's fifth child. I began photographing their family right after their fourth child was born. Now Hannah is old enough to play with my Alden. It's one thing to watch your own children grow up before your eyes. To have the pleasure to watch your friend's children grow (and to document that growth) is quite incredible.

Baby Gabe is two months old. Bonnie was looking for a very particular type of image to hang on her wall next to her other four children's newborn portraits: a classic high-key, naked-baby pose. She has a similar portrait (like what you see below) for each of her other four children. Here's their fifth and final addition to their family wall of fame.

Apparently the look he's giving in this particular image has quickly become his signature expression. I'm so glad we captured it.

Bonnie brings out the creative juices in me. She is always up for anything I suggest and loves pictures more than any mom I know. As a result my sessions with her are always incredibly inspiring, energizing and so much fun.

Since we had gotten a great high-key (white on white) image, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do a few low-key portraits as well. I've been wanting to post a tutorial on this subject for quite some time. Today was the perfect opportunity to create a few low-key images for that purpose.

Low-key portraits are typically characterized by black clothing on a black backdrop. High-key portraits are the exact opposite: white (or very light) clothing against a white backdrop.

Both high-key and low-key portraits are most commonly done in a studio. With the use of studio lighting, the photographer can better control the deepness or brightness of the black and white backdrops. With adequate available light and the creative use of various backdrops, these types of images can be produced almost anywhere - even without studio lighting. I did today's portraits in our guest bedroom with the oversized sturdy foam-board I bought at Hobby Lobby.

You can also use a cloth or paper backdrop. Even the sky or a building can act as your backdrop. With a little practice you'll learn to see the potential in almost any light or dark backdrop for creating low and high-key portraits.

Remember this picture of Ashley? Ashley was sitting on a fire-hydrant. The overcast sky and side-walk behind her coupled with her white blouse made for the perfect high-key image. The only prop required required: Our beautiful model.

In contrast, this next image of Bonnie and Gabe is referred to as a low-key portrait. These are especially popular in how they showcase the subject. The surrounding black acts like a spot-light allowing the subject to take center stage.

Even if you do not have access to studio lighting, you can still manipulate the black of your backdrop in photoshop using the Burn tool. This is sometimes necessary because the softness of available light can cause the black backdrop to appear dark grey instead of true black.

To deepen the blacks in your image, simply run the Burn tool brush over the blacks in your image until you get the look you're after. For this particular image, I selected a large, soft-edged brush, chose the midtones option, and set the exposure to about 30%. You can manipulate the whites in your image in the same way by choosing the Dodge tool instead of the Burn tool.

In this next image I preferred the medium grey to the deep black of the previous image. I left it alone in order to allow the light to provide a soft separation between Bonnie's shoulder and the backdrop. I tried it the other way as well. But, for me, the darker black sacrificed a bit of the dreamy feel created by the natural window light.

Isn't this next image precious? I'm so in love with tiny little baby hands holding on to their mother's finger. It's every mom's hope that their children will hold them dear for years to come. Though they may be older and living on their own, what mom doesn't cherish those moments when their children return to seek their wisdom, security, and love.

Bonnie, I so enjoyed our day together. You're little Gabe is such a handsome little boy. He's so blessed to be born into such a loving and joyful family! Congratulations, Bonnie, Homer, Jessie, Abigail, Ella, and Hannah. I can't wait to see you all again.

I"ll sign off today with one of my favorite low-key little boys. My son, Stephen Jr. He's overdue for a round of Skip-Bo with his mommy, so I gotta run. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


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  2. Yamin, thanks for stopping by and reading the blog. It's very nice to hear from you!


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