In my last blog "Winter Birding in Sub Zero Weather", I shared how we combine bird-watching with our love of photography, using birds as our "models" to practice our photography skills. I commented on using the down-time of winter to explore creative use of camera settings and modes to achieve different results.
This blog is a follow up to that post, illustrating one of the ways I put camera settings to creative use to achieve "different looks", practice portrait photography, and familiarize myself with my cameras at the same time.
My gracious subject is a greedy Blue Jay who stood guard over the feeder until all the peanuts were gone. Being a beautiful and candid subject with his many "expressions", I decided to take advantage and use him for a portraiture model.
It was an extremely bright winter day, with sun bouncing off all of the snow, and glaring on our windows. Instead of putting the camera away, I decided to use it creatively to practice some "Low Key" Blue Jay portraits.
Low key photography is created by intentionally limiting the amount of light factoring into your exposure (allowing less light in than you normally would for a "balanced exposure") and thus creating a darker image. In a studio setting, one can use modifiers, backgrounds, etc to help achieve this look.
Low key photography can be done outside of a studio, even in full sunshine and bright light, and produce "studio like" results without modifiers. Using nothing but the creative control of camera settings, you can "trick" your camera to expose for the look(s) and "mood" you desire.
A low key photo uses light in a very selective way so that the surrounding environment is overall dark. It can be used to make background light partially or completely fall off to dark tones, enabling you to isolate your subject from busy backgrounds and create mood for your pictures/portraits.
This can be achieved in several ways with creative combinations of these in camera tools:
-Using Exposure Compensation to decrease exposure
-Using Fast Shutter Speeds to Limit Light
-Using Low ISO to decrease sensors sensitivity to light
-Using Smaller Aperture (allowing less light in and grabbing more detail)
-Using Spot Metering with AEL (auto exposure lock) to meter on bright area-lock with AEL and reframe subject (some cameras allow you to lock exposure and re-frame with half press of shutter button-some do not).
You can experiment with many different combinations for different effects. I find that results differ from camera to camera. Some are easier to use with Spot meter/AEL than others. Mirrorless cameras give the advantage of being able to see what your exposure will look like in the Electronic View Finder (EVF).
Experiment until you get the effect that YOU are trying to achieve. If you find settings that you love the results of and plan to use it often, your camera may have the option to save those settings, in a user preset, for future use.
This series of examples were shot using my husbands very first Sony dslr using a fast shutter speed and exposure compensation of -3EV. If I remember correctly, I also used the "spot metering/AEL" on many, to get a really dark background. Note: The exposure compensation may have not been necessary, had I remembered to lower the ISO from the previous shooters setting.
Every camera I use (and lens combination) rends slightly varying results, so I find it necessary (and fun) to experiment with each camera until I achieve the result I am aiming for.
Next time it's "Too bright and reflective" to take pictures...take advantage of the light and experiment with your cameras settings for "Low Key" photos!
THE END....UNTIL NEXT TIME...