Tag Archives: High key

How to use camera angle to change body shape

How camera angle affects body shape.

How camera angle affects body shape.

The camera height to subject angle is important.

How you approach your subject can significantly affect their shape. The camera height affects the relative size of parts of the body. The part of the body nearest to the camera appears largest. So the angle you take to the body can affect emphasis and shape. Your lens can also affect body shape too. These two factors in your shots can really change the view of your subject.

Basic shooting positions
  • Getting down low gives your subject height and presence.
  • At waist level the angle is even across the body placing no strong emphasis on any one part of the body.
  • At eye level the head appears more significant and you can really draw out the features of the face, focus on the eyes for best effect.
  • From above the head and shoulders are emphasised and the legs are foreshortened.

From these basic positions you can also use different camera lenses. A 50mm lens is the lens that most closely matches the visual abilities of the human eye. Using one of these will help you to see the body as the eye will see it. On the other hand a wide angle lens (around 24mm) will help to bring out the emphasis of the body length. If you use a wide angle lens in portrait view from below you will tend to make your subject look statuesque – tall and grand. If you view the subject from above you will shorten the body and legs and make them look squat. These forms of emphasis have powerful impacts in pictures where you are trying to portray a persons presence. Statuesque tends to convey power and presence. Bodies that appear more compact tend to emphasis a more physical presence.

How camera angle affects the body shape – a video

The video brings out in detail the above points. The shoot is on the Bonneville Salt Flats, which is a wonderful location – even if it is flooded! The white of the salt brings out some great high contrast shots.

TheSlantedLens External link - opens new tab/page (Published: 02.Apr.2013)

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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Simple photography in the bath – high key shots

Use a bath for quick and effective high key shots.

Here’s a quick tip. High key shots, with brilliant white backgrounds, are popular. With a white bath you can do high key shots without setting up an infinity wall.

If you would like to do high key shots here is a way to get started if you are doing individual or small items. I have previously covered the subject of high key photography with these two articles… A simple way to make and use a seamless white wall and How to shoot bright white backgrounds. Also there is a definition for high key from our Photographic Glossary: Definition: High Key lighting/photography. If you have read these articles you should have a pretty good idea of how to go about this type of work. Here are some examples of high key images from Google…
High Key lighting/photography images on Google External link - opens new tab/page.

The quick tip

A white bath is, in photographic terms, an infinity wall. It’s a seamless white background. The object of the exercise is to create a distance between the subject and the white background of the bath. If you can find a way to suspend items into the bath, or hold them above it, you have a way of holding your item for the shot. Then you can illuminate the bath around your subject, or below it, without lighting the subject itself. Using a bath is simply an extension of the same principles in the articles mentioned above.

In essence, all you need to do is to create a little distance behind the subject so you can light the bath (within that distance) to about two stops more than the subject. Then you will create a white seamless background behind your subject. There are two main ways to do this…

  1. Suspend the subject above the bath and illuminate behind it into the bath from each end. Shoot directly down on the subject.
  2. Place the subject in the bath bottom about half way down the length of the bath. Illuminate the back end wall of the bath from above the subject and shoot from the tap end down the length of the bath.

You will need to consider the same principles in the bath as those in the article “A simple way to make and use a seamless white wall“.

Some things to consider…

  • DO NOT USE ELECTRIC MAINS LIGHTS in the bath! The proximity to water is a health and safety hazard. Please be sensible.
  • Make sure the bath is clean and dry. That will preserve your equipment.
  • Place thin wood strips across the bath from which you can use fine white sewing cotton to suspend your subject. I am working on a frame to do this so I can photograph between the wooden crossbars directly at the suspended item.
  • It is best to shoot downward into the bath and illuminate along the length of the bath.
  • If shooting an object that is standing in the bath, shoot along the length of the bath and light the bath from above.
  • The bath technique is great for small items, but you get side-shadows if you try to photograph large items. A large item is too near the side and cuts down the illumination around the object.

It is fair to say the high-key bath technique is limited in its usefulness to small items that you can easily suspend. Having said that, the set up is easy and the results are good. Why not give it a try. Like any photographic techniques, experiment until you become good at it. I have had some fun with this today. Enjoy!

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

Can you write? Of course you can!
Write for Photokonnexion...

We would love to have your articles or tips posted on our site.
Find out more…
Write for Photokonnexion.

A simple way to make and use a seamless white wall

The infinity wall is a way of completing a seamless white background

The infinity wall is a way of completing a seamless white background. Notice the flash (F) lights the background NOT the subject (S). The latter needs to be separately lit.

Seamless white backgrounds are popular and fun.

White is the perfect background for high brightness shots. Sufficient brightness will blow out the white image areas to pure white. The white highlights your subject giving it prominence. To produce this High Key effect you need to create a curved wall to project light onto. As the wall is made from a curve no lines will be apparent on the shot. It is only lines and shadows that show up. So the curve, if brightly lit, will create a seamless wall. When you look at it in the shot it will appear to go on for an infinite depth. The brightness in this technique will create a high key shot. This is a popular technique in photography and is enjoying great popularity in fashion and magazine media.

Creating the wall

As you can see from the diagram above (simplified) the principle is easy. It can be applied at any scale. I create a small table-top studio for product shots and still life. Here is how it is done…

  1. Create a flat surface up against an upright surface. I push a table against a wall.
  2. Use a large piece of white card say, European size ‘A0’ 1189 x 841 mm (46.8 x 33.1 in); or ‘A1’ 841 x 594 mm (33.1 x 23.4 in.).
  3. Fix it so the card is bent gently into a curve between the table and the wall. The side-diagram above shows the approximate shape.
  4. The diagram shows the flash below the camera. This position is for diagrammatic reasons. Normally the light will be alongside the setup or the subject (more on this below). The light beam shows the direction of light. This illuminates the card along the table and bounces off the curve lighting the wall above. This provides a well illuminated white surface.
  5. If the flash is about 2 stops brighter than the subject it will show as brilliant white in your photo. If you don’t have a light meter you can test the brightness with a few shots. If the white is brilliant white and seamless in your test shots you can start to set up the subject.
  6. The ‘subject’ in the diagram is your photo-target. Find a way to mount it, hang it or support it off the white surface. The aim is to make the light pass under, behind or around the subject. You are NOT trying to illuminate your subject. The light or flash is for the background curve only, to create a shadowless white depth. If you need to illuminate the subject do it separately – see below.
  7. Place the subject a clear distance from the infinity wall. Too close and the bright light reflecting from the wall creates a hazy white back-light on the subject. Experiment to position it away from the bright background. About 2 or 3 feet separation on a small wall is good. In a studio with people or larger objects the subject can stand about 2 to 3 Meters (6 to 12 feet) from the wall. This allows sufficient space to illuminate the wall clear of the subject.
  8. Placing your subject on something will create a shadow. Place the flash to the side of the subject. The idea is to create a light that goes around or between the wall and the subject. The reflecting back light will illuminate the space between the wall and the subject and over-ride any shadow created by the subjects own light.
  9. The illumination of the curve and white areas is created by an off-camera flash. If you don’t have one you can use any bright light(s) that you can direct at the curve/white areas behind the subject. Beware of any colour cast it may create. If you get the light bright enough the colour cast will go white anyway. You should make sure you compensate for any colour cast you detect.
  10. Positioning light(s) for the background is a matter of experiment. Try out different positions to get the optimum lighting. Sometimes you can place the light completely behind the subject. Other times you might place them either side of the subject. It could be just one side of the subject. In fact you can place the lights anywhere as long as they don’t illuminate the subject. It all depends on:
    • The size of wall/curve you are lighting
    • How close you can get the lights without illuminating the subject
    • The power of the lights

    Each shot is different. A few test shots will reveal the best position(s).

Illuminating the subject

Since the subject is not illuminated by the infinity wall light(s) you will need to consider separate flash or light sources for that. You could use a pop-up flash on your camera, the ambient light or off-camera lights.

Creating the blown-out brilliant white effect is the result of bright light on the infinity wall AND the difference in light intensity to the subject. You may need to experiment. A light meter will help you judge for about a two stop difference between the two. However, you can do it by experimenting. Your subject should look normally exposed. It should not be over-bright. Skin tones should be normal if photographing people in a larger set-up.

Using artistic licence is of course up to you. Some photographers like high-key shots to be almost all white. In this case a white sheen is found all over the shot including the subject. Others like to have the subject in a moodier lower light situation to create a strong contrast. This latter approach is difficult. A very dark subject and a very bright background creates a silhouette. So, again, try experiment. Here are some examples on Google…
High Key lighting/photography images on Google.

Taking the shots

Once you have illuminated your subject you can take the shot in the normal way. If you are using a manual mode you should be careful to meter off your subject. If you meter too close to the bright white area the meter will expose for the white background. This will create a silhouette of your foreground subject. If you are using auto-mode you must make sure your focus points in the viewfinder are pointed at the subject.

You can set your aperture as you would normally. You are working relatively close. So with bigger subjects and people working at f5.6 is great. Working with larger apertures (say f4.0 or larger) gives you a shallow depth of field. This is an advantage because the white background will not reveal bokeh but will make the blown-out white a more even colour. If you find you need to work with very small apertures (say f14 or smaller) you are probably over-lighting your subject.

To master the high key technique takes practice like all other photography work. However its fun and interesting to get this technique right. Please leave comments or questions below. I would be happy to provide feedback too. Please send links so I can look at your shots.