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  1. #11
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by holmburgers View Post
    I disagree that it only refers to lighting. The same terminology has been used for prints for many years.

    William Mortensen in his book "Pictorial Lighting" says that not every picture is suitable for a high-key print, or a low-key print. The subject matter determines its suitability more than anything.

    However, this suggest that in many ways it is related to the original lighting. You could look at it this way; a high-key print will have on average a majority of tones above middle gray, whereas low-key prints will have on average a majority of tones below middle gray.
    I agree that you could theoretically print a single negative in both a high and a low key manner.

    I have no clue why anyone would want to?

    The practical problem I see is a simple matter of subject placement in relation to the rest of the scene.

    Let's assume a portrait for a second. In either a high or low key scene, the bright side of a face may very well be intended to print in the same zone on paper.

    If the subject placement plan is "fixed" (say the bright side of the face at zone 6.5) then changing the rest of the print to the opposite "key" would be, shall we say, hell.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  2. #12
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    If the subject placement plan is "fixed" (say the bright side of the face at zone 6.5) then changing the rest of the print to the opposite "key" would be, shall we say, hell.
    Solarize!

    * * *

    But, I think Mark's definition here is excellent: a high key print is, in general, lighter than the subject; a low key print is darker than the subject. And getting the look is a lot easier by changing the lighting than by any other means.
    Last edited by Nicholas Lindan; 03-10-2011 at 07:54 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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  3. #13
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan View Post
    And getting the look is a lot easier by changing the lighting than by any other means.
    Way over the top easier!
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  4. #14
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    ....would be, shall we say, hell.
    http://www.ephotozine.com/article/bl...photoshop-4903

    The exercise of taking an insipid snapshot and turning it into something that inspires recolorization by 'technicolor yawn'.

    Photoshop articles remind me of recipes from 1950's magazines: "Ideas for Your Kitchen. Exciting new recipes using mouth-watering food coloring and scrumptious artificial flavors: Our cooks show you how to turn prime rib into hot-dogs the family will love. Brought to you by the Nitrites Council."
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  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    Probably two of the true masters playing the extremes of the tonal range are John Blakemore and Thomas Joshua Cooper.Ian
    I'm with Ian, having seen Blakemore's prints, all I can say is "stunning".
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  6. #16
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefizz View Post
    I'm with Ian, having seen Blakemore's prints, all I can say is "stunning".
    Both John Blakemore and Thomas Joshua Cooper have taken using the Zone System to extremes that leave Ansel Adam's work way behind.

    I really would suggest the OP gets Blakemore's B&W Workshop book it's not expensive and easy to understand.

    Ian

  7. #17
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I agree that "zoning" is truly key to shooting "on key".

    What I think most people miss is that it requires an element of real thought and "exposure composition" in that the placement of two or more zones is required. Shooting to the shadows ain't enough.

    The lens and shutter are typically adjusted to place the background, as a high or low key setting, where the normal zone 5 is placed somewhere else.

    The the subject's lighting is then modified (with artificial shade or light) to place it "normally", say zone 6.5 for the bright side of a face.

    Using artificial lighting techniques seems to scare off a majority of casual photographers.

    It is very possible to use natural or semi-natural situations to get the effect, but the theory is the same, a purposeful exposure difference between subject and scene is chosen and maintained.

    Use a campfire as the light for the subject and a sunset to set the low key background. Place your subject in the shade of a tree and let the full sun background go high key.

    Trying to replicate this effect after the film is exposed is tough.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #18
    Athiril's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    While the terms originated with studio lighting they've been used for a long time (over 50 years) to describe other types of images made at the two extremes of the tonal scale for many years. It's work reading John Blakemores, Black & White Photography Workshop.

    Ian
    Yes, but it doesn't make it not an incorrect usage of the terms.

  9. #19
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athiril View Post
    Yes, but it doesn't make it not an incorrect usage of the terms.
    How can it be an incorrect use of the word ?

    High & low key are dependant on the placement of the tonal scale through exposure as well as the lighting.

    As the term originally comes from music it's not specific to light but how you use the available range of tones.

    Ian

  10. #20
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    Ok, thank you very much to everybody.

    I thought it was just a print decission: you've got a negative and then you decide how to print it, as you decide the contrast, the shadows, the lights, ...

    So, if I've got a negative (say normal negative, normal contrast, correct expossure, ...) and I want to "simulate" high/low key situation, what should I do? How can I print it to get it (simulate) as a hight key print?

    Thanks again,

    jxprat

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