WikiNow lets you discover the news you care about, follow the topics that matter to you and share your favourite stories with your friends.

© WikiNow

Low-key lighting is a style of lighting for photography, film or television. It is a necessary element in creating a chiaroscuro effect. Traditional photographic lighting, three-point lighting uses a key light, a fill light, and a back light for illumination. Low-key lighting often uses only one key light, optionally controlled with a fill light or a simple reflector.

Low-key photo portrait of a woman
Ultra Low-Key lighting arrangement in The Night of the Hunter (1955). Note the placement of the key light (main light) off the subject, (Lillian Gish), to illuminate Robert Mitchum in the background.

Low-key lighting is a style of lighting for photography, film or television. It is a necessary element in creating a chiaroscuro effect. Traditional photographic lighting, three-point lighting uses a key light, a fill light, and a back light for illumination. Low-key lighting often uses only one key light, optionally controlled with a fill light or a simple reflector.

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 relative strength of key-to-fill, known as the lighting ratio, can be measured using a light meter. Low key lighting has a higher lighting ratio, e.g., 8:1, than high-key lighting, which can approach 1:1.

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.

In film, low-key lighting is associated with German Expressionism and later film noir.

How To Light Low Key Video | Lighting, Exposure & Grading Tips

Check out my original royalty free music on my website www.harvvideo.com In this video I give you my thoughts on how to light, expose and grade a moody low ...

Low Key Portraits: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

http://www.adorama.com Low Key lighting is more then simply photographing against a black background. Join us in this episode as photographer Gavin Hoey ...

How to photograph a low key portrait

This is featured on http://slrcoaching.com/recreating-a-low-key-portrait/ as a response to a readers question.

How to shoot a Boudoir using low key light with ad600

This video shows how I shot a boudoir session using Low key light, using 1 or 2 ad600 strobes. It explains how i position the OCF and how i pose the subject to ...

Low Key lighting - Cinematic Lighting

Check out my gear on Kit: https://kit.com/CinematicJ Low Key Lighting is a technique to create cinematic images. Normally using one back light or side light and ...

One Light Low-Key Portrait: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

https://www.adorama.com This is part four of a four-part series on basic lighting principles. In this episode Mark Wallace puts it all together to create a low-key ...