Dec 06

Low Key

Low-key lighting is a style of lighting for photography, film or television. It is a necessary element in creating a chiaroscuro effect.  Low-key lighting makes the most of dark tones and shadows to create images with drama and atmosphere.  Low key light accentuates the contours of an object by throwing areas into shade while a fill light or reflector may illuminate the shadow areas to control contrast.  The backdrop is mostly hidden in the shadows, while particular features on the subject are illuminated to make them stand out.  For this technique the ambient lighting needs to be as low as possible, so shooting indoors is ideal.  The term “low key” is used in cinematography to refer to any scene with a high lighting ratio, especially if there is a predominance of shadowy areas.  It tends to heighten the sense of alienation felt by the viewer, hence is commonly used in film noir and horror genres.