Low-Key Me

I have to say, I was a little apprehensive about doing this week’s task.  Not because I wasn’t looking forward to, or was intimidated by the idea of low-key, but because I knew I had some catching up to do.  Yes, the fact that I’ve skipped a couple of topics is in the forefront of my mind each time I begin working on a new week.  This week, I’m happy to report,  I’ve included the subject of one week’s task in the low-key realm: me!  Remember a couple weeks ago when I was supposed to do a few self-portraits and I didn’t?  Well here we have it, ladies and gentlemen, me in low-key.

I love taking pictures of people, but with this love comes a few problems.  For starters, I don’t have a lot of handy volunteers, as you know, so finding models for my somewhat strange ideas is a little difficult at times.  The other three weeks which need catching up on all have models in my mind; one could do without, though I’d rather have them, and the other two would fall into the strange category, so I’ll just keep searching.

My next, and undoubtedly biggest, issue with photographing people is that I’m incredibly shy.  When I have a model, it’s always someone I know, so I should be comfortable, right?  Wrong.  It takes me a while to get into a groove, and I’m completely uncomfortable directing them.  I’m sure in this case I would do much better with someone I didn’t know.  I would feel comfortable in being much more direct, and I don’t have to hear from them how stupid I sounded afterwards, right? 🙂  It’s just like any other job; I’m completely professional and can handle everything on a day-to-day, until a family member visits me at work, and then I’m a total doof.

Hiring a model for all these projects is a little out of the question at the moment, so I’ll have to suck it up.  Which brings me to the people who I don’t know and do have at my disposal.  Street photography.  Ahh, yes.  I love it so much, but have I ever done it?  That’s a big n-o.  It’s not like I’m uncomfortable being in public and shooting pictures; I’d actually walk around all day taking pictures of things and looking like the complete “tourist”, which I know is a big deterrent for a lot of people.  But as soon as I think about pointing that camera at the random interesting stranger walking around, I can’t bring myself to do it.  It’s something I need to work on, I know, especially since I have this nagging feeling that I need to just get out there and do it.  I don’t think I’ll be satisfied until my portfolio contains a good amount of street photography shots.

To get back on topic, the point of this is to say that while I wanted to photograph someone for the low-key project, I was out of volunteers, except for myself.  While completing all of what seemed like a million self-portrait projects in my drawing class, my professor often told us that “you are your best model”, if for no other reason than simply because of availability.  I often scoffed, internally, at this.  It’s not that she was invalid in saying this; she’s absolutely right!  I, on the other hand, hate taking pictures of myself, hate being in pictures, hate drawing myself, and the list goes on.  So as I mentioned before, I wasn’t enthused about the self-portrait project, but knew I just had to do it to stay on track.

So after being selfied-out from taking my school ID badge picture earlier in the day, I decided to not let a good hair day go to waste.  After it got dark, I got my low-key set up together, which consisted of my camera, tripod, mini hand-held flashlight, Nikon WMU, and cell phone.  Now, this is quite the cumbersome set up, but it gets the job done.  Once you get the hang of getting your camera settings correct for a low-light setting, then using your phone to preview and take pictures while posing, holding for the long exposure, and moving the light around, you can get some decent shots.  My arms were pretty tired from holding things up for a while, and I was semi-blinded from shining the light in my eyes a million times, but it’s all for the sake of art.  Glad no one caught me, because I must have looked crazy all contorted and trying to do this.  Oh, and one more thing about me not liking pictures of myself: I never smile.  Unless it’s a group photo where I’m instructed to “smiilllleeeee!”, it’s not going to happen.  Even MICA didn’t get a smile for the ID picture, sorry guys.  Also (ok, so it’s two more things), I also like to shoot more abstracted views of myself.  You’ll see; it’s me, not smiling, and semi-cut off in a lot of these!

Originally, I thought that I would go all black and white with these images, but after seeing the final results, and actually loving them without any edits, I decided to leave the majority of them in color.  I do love how the black and white images give a slightly warmer feeling to the composition, which I was pleasantly surprised by.  The color images are fun because of my crazy hair color; I love it when the light hits it and it’s a really intense color, which is what you’ll see here.  I may have hit the highlights a little high in some of these, but I think I’ve captured the essence of low-key.  The difference between black and white and color also plays a part on this;  not only do the black and white photos appear warmer in my opinion, but they also make those highlights look more toned down, even though I didn’t do anything different to those images than I did with the color images.  I say, as far as successfully completing this project, the black and white images win, but I love the pops of the color images!  Either way, enjoy, and let me know what you think!  Black and white, or color?

Week 32: Low-Key

When I did my posts on high-key a little earlier this year, I immediately checked the list to see if low-key was going to be included later on.  It was, and it’s finally here!  You know I had some challenges working through that week, since light and happy are not things that I typically do, unless you’re talking about nature, which is pretty, and exudes the light and happiness.  Working in the opposite manner is a welcomed change.  Though, I do feel I work better when I have a more specific task like this at hand, as in, a method of shooting rather than a grab bag of a theme.  High-key wasn’t all that bad in the end.

Anyways, low-key! Yay!  Working with shadows, darkness, limited lighting, and just hints of an object or person.  All of these things sound fun to me.  I touched on this a little during my silhouette week, and have been waiting for this to come around.  Though I would love to revisit the type of images I did in that shoot with some proper lighting, I feel like it would be cheating this challenge if I did such a similar theme.  I was thrilled with the final images of that week, having completed both the silhouette challenge, and then being able to play around a little, but will have to save that second attempt for another time.  Time to get working on some ideas!  I’ll be at the beach soon, so you know the odds of something low-key coming from that are pretty unlikely.

Looking through previous images, it seems like low-key is something I never do.  I’ve always admired them, but I guess I’ve felt like I don’t have the studio or equipment to capture a successful image.  Unlike the high-key week, where I was able to find plenty of images which would fit into that theme, I really couldn’t find anything for this week.  Other than reposting a few images from week 12, I stumbled across a few listing photos from my Etsy shop which fit the bill.  It makes me wonder about my photography a little.  I sometimes have trouble with exposure; not paying attention to which area of the frame my meters are focusing on, and exposing for the incorrect spot.  After reading up on low-key techniques a little today, and actually snapping a low-ish-key shot unintentionally (I’ll share it with you soon!), some things are starting to make a little more sense, and I’ll have to try to keep them in mind with future shooting.

In reference to the Etsy pics: one works because I always shoot things on a dark background, and the other works just like how this happenstance photograph that I got today works; sometimes I get lucky.  With the first picture you have a great example of my issues with exposure.  I like a black background, and I also like shooting my listings in natural light, which can cause some pretty big exposure conflicts.  I’ve figured out how I like to shoot things now, but with earlier listings, I have a lot of mess up shots.  With a little editing, my mistakes, and the fact that the necklace shown is shiny and reflective, it gives that low-key feel.  The second photograph of the butterfly is my lucky one.  While visiting a friend in Florida she wanted to take me to the zoo; she said there were some amazing things there that I was going to love, but she wouldn’t tell me what they were.  I packed my camera, and off we went.  Once we walked around for a while, we entered the butterfly garden — I had never been to one, and had been dying to check one out, especially since I got my new camera.  So, on with the bigger lens to catch some close up pictures…..or so I thought.  These butterflies could move, or at least my lens thought so.  Working in manual, all the way zoomed in, and still feeling out the functions of this camera made for a difficult butterfly experience.  Plus camera shake….so much camera shake.  I’m sure you would laugh if you saw just how many blurry butterfly pictures I have from that day.  Eventually, I figured some things out enough to get a few successful shots, but it was tough!  In working so hard to catch a butterfly in frame, I was only working on what would expose them best and I ended up with another semi-low-key photo.  Now, I have edited to accentuate the low-key aspects of this picture, but you get the idea, and I didn’t have a lot to work with!  So enjoy my two semi-low-key photos, and wish me luck!