Weekly Photoshoot 4- Environmental Portrait’s

This weeks brief required me to take three environmental portrait’s, that was high key, mid key, and low key. I used the histogram in my camera, which is a graphical representation of the tonal range distribution within the image, as a guide for the tonal range via the view finder. As seen on the diagram below to create a low key image it must contain shadows, this can be obtained by using a model with dark skin, hair, clothing, and ideally use a dark environment that has a limited amount of light. Mid key images require mid tones that are not too dark or too bright, selecting olive skin tones, mid tone clothing colours and environments that are not too under or over exposed. Achieving high key tonal images require plenty of highlights, light hair, white clothing and bright backgrounds. Over exposing by one or two stops can assist in producing high key results.


I used three different environments and lighting conditions to capture these images with the intent to capture the  individual’s character, personality and attempt to reveal the true person behind their mask.

High Key:

I approached people in university for my first image but found this to be challenging as I people were conscious about themselves. They disliked the look of themselves when I showed them the image. This taught me a lot, as I now realise that although I can produce, in my mind, an appealing image the person that I photographed didn’t always take the same view. I am pleased with my high key image due to the light and natural elegance that has been created using natural day light, and choosing a model with pale skin and light hair. However my model were wearing a black cardigan and she had a white top on underneath, upon evaluation I realise that I should have asked her to remove the cardigan to reveal the white top which would have complimented the image. Although I believe that the black cardigan cutting the corner of the image adds contrast. I used a large aperture for a greater depth of field creating more softness within the image, and I used a high ISO to compensate for the bright lighting conditions of the sun. I used 1/250sec shutter speed, f/5.6, and ISO 640.

Low Key:

To create my low key image I arranged a set up in a dark garage and I used a torch to illuminate my model. My aim was to illuminate only the face area but I now see that illuminating what the model is doing created the best image. The white facial hair with the dark background adds contrast to the image, and I feel that the image has the correct amount of light in the necessary areas. Highlighting the head and facial hair draws the eye to the main part of the image which is the portrait of the person. Creating a faded light effect on the hands helps to keep the attention on the main part of the image but still allows what he is doing to be seen. I used 1/160, f/3.5, and ISO 500 due to the low lighting conditions.

Mid Key:

I composed my mid key image using natural day light but indoors using the blinds on the window to block out some of the light. I realised that I used a shutter speed of 1/10sec, which is not an appropriate speed when taking portrait’s as this gave some camera shake visible in the image as I did not use a tripod. I used settings f/5.6, and ISO 100. Also there is a black line visible down the left hand side of the image, this is a shadow created by the wall that the model was stood by. Overall I am dissatisfied with my mid key image as I like the pose and expression of the model but the camera settings, visible black line and being out of focus all take away from the quality of the image. Although I did achieve a mid key tonal range meeting the brief specification.

If I was to carry out this task again I would be more experimental and approach more people creating portrait’s of them at work, or doing what they do naturally on a daily basis. I went into the town centre to see what kinds of people I would come across but I found that I was too shy to ask for people’s portrait’s. I obtained three images in a three hour period, and non of which were suitable for this brief. In conclusion this photoshoot in town did not go as expected, it made me realise that I need to develop more confidence in approaching people.

I used a 50mm f/1.4 portrait lens for this task as this enabled the ability to capture sharp images even at f/1.4. I did not use a tripod during any of these shoots, maybe next time using a tripod would be to my advantage as this allows for my hands to be free and free to position the model, remove or add objects to the scene.


GORDONMAC (2015) Exposure and the histogram [Accessed: 04/11/2015]

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