Low Key Lighting in the studio

When creating low key lighting it is important that you have a small light source to highlight one thing. A black background can be helpful for this because you want the whole image to be blacked out apart from what you want in your viewfinder. Low key brings instant drama and illumination. In  a low key image it is important to understand how dark tones can effect your image to create the mystery you want from this sort of image.

Low key encourages contrast as it is so dark already, contrast just helps to make the image have more drama. Composition is important in a low key image because the viewer needs to see as much as they can and you want to leave them wanting more from it.

Using only one light in a low key image is important as you don’t want to overexpose the image because you are trying to create that spotlight for the subject of your image. Therefore by using only one light you can highlight your subject in the best way to create the sense you plan when creating a low key image. The biggest rule when creating these images is to not let the light touch the background and by moving the subject further away from it the more professional your picture will be.

As I was researching low key images I thought of a friend to come in and let me photograph him. As he is quite muscular I thought this would be good and quite challenging for me to show him in this light.


Personally, I think this image is effective as I was able to highlight the body in a way that shapes his body. I think that the shadows under his abs are interesting because they really highlight them. Personally, I believe low key lighting is great for showing off the body and adding drama to the image. When I took this I asked my model to walk forward away from the background as I remembered my research on not lighting the background. I did not have a black background out for this shoot as I felt I didn’t need one due to my model being so far forward. This helped me to get the dramatic look that I needed. Overall, I am happy with this image and I think I have met the criteria for a low key image.


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Long Exposure Photography

When creating an image that shows movement, you need to know how to control the shutter speed. For a movement image you will need:

  1. Tripod
  2. Camera (film or digital)
  3. ND filters, depending on what image you are creating
  4. shutter release (optional)

The tripod is used to keep your camera in the right place for the image. it is almost impossible to get a long exposure without one. With a tripod you can ensure that the picture will be in focus apart from the moving part of your image.

When using your camera you can turn the shutter speed to bulb. Bulb times the amount of time your shutter will be open for as you hold the button and you have a lot more freedom with this option. However you can also set your camera to a certain time to ensure you get the right time.

ND filters help with controlling the amount of light that enters the camera. For example, if you have a bright sunny day and want to take a long exposure you will need a darker filter to darken the image so that you can let more light in for a longer time. This is important as you can control the image from becoming overexposed.

Using a shutter release can be helpful when taking a long exposure as you can make sure the camera does not move at all, even when you press the button to release the shutter. These can be bought with a cable to connect to the camera or without however, the ones without are more expensive.

Using a slow shutter speed allows you to be creative with photography. Light is a way of painting that the viewfinder captures once the shutter has opened. For example, you can use sparklers to write something and with the right camera settings and timings, the camera will pick it up.


For my movement image i have decided to go for someting not so popular when creating long exposures. Many people like to use light, like a car driving past, but I have decided to pick a day when it is quite windy to produce a slow shutter of washing on a clothes line outside. This idea came to me when I was hanging out the washing in my back yard as I thought it looked interesting and I wanted to see what the colours looked like when they are mixed from the shutter being open for a while.

On the day I set my tripod up and placed my camera on it.Once my camera as on it I was able to do a test shot, this proved to me that I would need my ND filter on as it was overexposed. Once my filter was on and I had the correct aperture and ISO I started to experiment with the image. I decided to use the BULB setting so that I could test out the times. I found out that 5 seconds was good enough for my image, however, it was not too windy so I only created a slight movement effect but I think this is effective as if it was too windy I would have struggled to get the right moment. When I had originally planned this image I was going to keep it in colour but after editing it in photoshop I have decided to put it in black and white. I think this is because where the image is taken it looks old and a bright blue towel will make the image look odd. Overall, I am happy with this image because I believe it portrays movement effectively.


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Atmosphere of Place – Shoot 4

For my next shoot I will be exploring Beacon Fell.

I have decided to do a shoot there as I feel that it is a very spiritual place to me as I spent a lot of time there when I was younger. I have decided to go for a different spiritual route of my own personal atmosphere. I decided this as I have been thinking about it from the seminars held by Richard where we discuss all our work and it was suggested to me that I try a place that I have memories and remember that atmosphere. I think this will be a helpful mindset for when I am out shooting because it is a different perspective.

In my camera bag I will be taking:

  • Canon 600D
  • Tripod
  • SD card
  • Batteries
  • ND Filters

I will be taking my ND filter but I don’t know if I will be using it as there are a lot of trees to shadow from the sunlight.


On the day of the shoot I set off around 7:30/8am and arrived around 8:15. When I got there the fog had travelled down as we were quite high up the sun was burning it off. However, I found areas in the trees that the sun was shining down into the gaps. This created natural light beams and I thought this looked as spiritual as the fog. I also thought it was effective because it travels down to the ground in straight lines and looks eerie.

Final Images:

3 1 5

To view my evaluations for these image, visit my Final Images page


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Atmosphere of Place – Shoot 3

Pendle Hill

I have decided to photograph on Pendle Hill as it has a lot of history and I believe that history creates a sense of atmosphere. I plan to find a day when there will be fog and recently, there has been a lot of fog on pendle hill if you wake up early enough before the sun burns it away.

Therefore I will be packing my camera bag early so that I am ready and prepared to go out shooting in the early morning. In my camera bag there will be:

  • Canon 600D
  • Memory Cards
  • Batteries
  • Tripod
  • ND filters

On the day of the shoot I woke up quite early to get in the car and drive to Pendle Hill. When I arrived it was around 9am and the fog was slowly moving down the hill, I was able to catch it was it unveiled the rest on the hill behind this fog. I thought this was spiritual, the way the fog was falling down the hill to reveal blue skies with hardly any clouds. I had to move fast as the sun burnt the fog off quickly.

Final images:

4 2 6

See my evaluations for these images on my Final Images page


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Atmosphere of Place – Shoot 2

Forest of Bowland

For my next shoot I plan to go to the forest of bowland to do a shoot. I want to do a shoot here because I Personally think it is a spiritual place in Lancashire. I aim to go when the weather is foggy as I want to create more images like my previous shoot.

As I have just bought an adapter for my olympus 50mm lens to fit on to my Canon 600D, I want to experiment using that for landscape shots. I think this will have a different perspective on my images, such as they wont look flat. As it is a stronger lens I think the quality will effect the sharpness of the image to become greater.

Therefore, in my camera bag I will have

  • Canon 600D
  • My 50mm lens
  • Memory card
  • Tripod
  • Battery
  • ND filters

On the day of the shoot I packed my bag and set off for the location shoot. When we arrived it was not so foggy as I was quite disappointed. However, I was able to test my lens out on location. I think this lens has quite an impact on my images compared to DSLR Canon 50mm 1.8. I believe this is because the lens is made from better materials then my plastic Canon one. I think it would have cost a lot more that what mine cost for my digital, back when it was first bought.

Final images

1 2 unfinished 2 unfinishes 3

Unfortunately, I will not be using these images in my final images as I was to make my final look more specific to what I believe is atmospheric. I don’t believe these fall under that category as well as as my photos from my previous shoot.

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Atmosphere of Place – Shoot 1

For this shoot I plan to go to Waddington Fell to take photos of the landscape.

In my camera bag I will have some ND filters as the whites of the image can be quite bright when there is low lying cloud. I also have my Canon 600D with my standard 18-55mm lens as I feel this is the best lens that I own to photograph landscapes with. I will have my batteries fully charged in my bag and another just in case I need it, I will have my SD card in my camera and another in my bag just incase I need more storage. My tripod will be connected in my bag if I feel that I need it with my picture because it can get very windy on the fell therefore I reduce the risk of camera shake.

I have decided to photograph Waddington Fell as it is close to where I live and I know what it looks like therefore I will be going up with an idea of where I want to go. On the day of the shoot a friend or a member of my family will take me up as I cannot drive yet.


On the day of the shoot I had my bag ready to go with all my equipment in it. I set off on the 31st January around 2pm as it had been foggy all day and especially at the top of the fell. When I arrived I set up my camera settings and started my shoot. When on the shoot it started to rain and a few raindrops got on to the lens but, luckily for me I had a lens cleaning kit in my bag so I went back to the car to clean it then carried on shooting.

My final images are:

7 8 9 10

See the evaluation for these images on my Final images page

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Atmosphere of Place – FINAL IMAGES

Waddington Fell


The image above shows my first picture I took when I arrived at Waddington Fell. When I opened this image in camera raw I decided to keep the image in colour as recently, I have found A lot of my images are in black and white and I wanted a change. For this image, I experimented with the colours and decided that I thought it was more effective with the reds darker than the original image. Originally, I thought about editing the telegraph pole out of the image but the more I looked at the image the more I thought it shows distance in the image and how the fog consumes it.  In the original image the grass was quite orange and I wanted to make the colour more bold to make it look stronger. I also added contrast to sharpen the image as it was a bit flat.

This image was taken on my 600D as I had planned previously. By using this camera I was able to control the amount of light as it is my usual camera and I enjoy how easy it is to use. I did not use my ND filters as I was able to control the light by lowering my ISO so that the image would benefit from this. By having a smaller ISO I do not gain any grain, this was good because I am aiming for sharp images that look soft because of the weather in this unit of work.


In this image I also made the reds pop out as I wanted to create a set of images to present in my final work. Personally, I believe this is a spiritual image as you can see the fog travelling to the right of the image. I think this is effective as you can see exactly where the fog is and how it adds depth to the image. I believe the image would not be as effective if I did not have the wall in the centre of the image, this wall makes your eyes follow it back into the fog and is almost a leading line to nowhere because of the fog and I believe this is how it is atmospheric. When in photoshop I also edited a sign out of the field as I thought it was distracting to the viewer.


When I was walking around the fell I came across these picnic benches, I thought this was odd as they were in a peculiar place right on the top where nobody could see them. However, I liked how the top of the tables lined up with the grass at the bottom and then the fog takes away the part of the fell further away when I looked through the viewfinder. As nobody was here I thought it was atmospheric because people may have been here before and sat on these benches and it is so isolated that I thought it had a spiritual look a you can see the picture fades the further away you look because of the weather. This image was also edited to bring out the reds and I also added contrast to draw your attention to the benches and the lines in this photo.


After the previous image, I thought about lines in the image a lot more. When I was walking back to the roadside I was inspired by the white lines on the side of the road. Therefore I had also found an angle that I could add the brick wall from my other images in and you can really see where the wall goes in this image because the fog was starting to fade. I also liked the rustic look of this image with the dry stone wall and the fence that has been put over the wall to keep the livestock in. I think this shows Lancashire as we have a lot of farmers who look after their animals and a lo of cold weather.


Pendle Hill


This image was taken as the fog was drifting down the hill, to reveal cool blue skies. I think this image shows atmosphere of place because it shows how steep the hill is and what the area is like around it. When I took this photo into camera RAW I edited the colour of the sky to enhance the blue in the sky and added contrast to the grass so it was not completely flat. When I took this image I was watching the fog move down and I thought this was quite mystical and inspired me to try a foggy location photoshoot with a model in the future. I believe I have fulfilled my own criteria of this image and I am happy with the outcome.


In this image I wanted to focus on the lines again, just like in some of the images that I produced from Waddington Fell. I think i achieved this as i wanted the road to look isolated and I had to pick the right moment for this as the road was quite busy. I only just managed to take this with the fog without any cars. I did catch the end of a van on the right side of the road but, with the help of Photoshop I was able to carefully edit it out using the patch tool. I thought this was a different perspective of Pendle hill and that is what I found effective about the image. I did not use any ND filter for this image as I was able to control the light using my camera with the help of a low ISO as the whiteness of the fog makes it quite bright.


This is my favourite image out of this set. I think this is because the fog was slowly creeping down to expose the rest of Pendle Hill from my perspective. I believe this image has a sense of depth as you can see the rest of the hill in the background. When I took this image into Camera RAW I decided to lighten the light bit of blue on the left hand side and above the hill, I added contrast to the grass to sharpen the image. I think this shows a spiritual atmosphere because of how soft the fog looks, like how clouds move in the sky. Some people believe that fog shows a relaxing atmosphere, but some find that fog symbolises danger of the future as you cannot see what is coming next.

Beacon Fell


In this image you can clearly see the light beam lighting up a piece of grass on the left, making it look quite green. This was taken with my 600D as I had planned. I think these light beams show a spiritual side of the woods because of the way it fades the image. This is created by the trees blocking the sun and the light seeping through the holes that the leaves have made. Therefore this is created, to make it look magical. Also, this creates hard shadows that look interesting on photos. On Photoshop I added a slight contrast as it was already quite contrasty because of the trees. I tried these images in black and white but because I wanted a series of colour images I left them colour.


This image shows the shadows coming towards me, I liked this because there was an area of land were nothing was and I thought this balanced the image out. When I took this image into photoshop I used the curves to slightly adjust the contrast. When doing this I tried adding more green to the image but found out that it did not look as good as the original. If i was to take this image again I would consider moving slightly to the right to try and erase that tree trunk on the left that is the closest to me.


Personally, this is my favourite image out of all from Beacon Fell. I believe this is because this appeals to me most in a spiritual way because of the path leading into the distance and the sun shining between the trees. This image reminds me of when I was younger and how much I used to enjoy walks here. When I took this image into photoshop I added a slight contrast, I decided not to do much editing on this image because I wanted it to be as realistic as I could make it, reminding me of memories I had here.


Overall, I am proud of this set of images and I think I have portrayed the Atmospheric Lancashire in an effective way, using different weather conditions and waking up at the right times to find the right places to shoot. If I was to do anything again I would photograph using film as I think I could achieve some great effects using it. I would also try using the ND filters that I have to achieve a slow shutter effect.


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