When thinking about Landscape Photography we think about an entire scene that is in nearly perfect exposure. When thinking about Nature Photography we think about the elements within a landscape scene that are in nearly perfect exposure. Now what if Week 3we pushed those boundaries and took something that is mostly used in portrait photography and apply those to landscape and nature photography. This is where we can start to create more photographic art and give a scene more mood for these types of photos. Low key photography is defined as having most of your scene within the shadows or dark areas on the histogram. Think of it as looking at the histogram, it will peak at the left and then gradually slope down as you move to the right, or the higher points in the histogram will be on the left side. This will create a photo where the majority of the frame is dark while a small portion is brighter.

What exactly can this do to create a better photo? I believe that by darkening the parts of the frame thatDSC_2183-2 are more distracting, this leaves the eyes to be drawn to the portion of the frame that you want to showcase. While photos like this may not do well in a normal photographic setting where they care more about proper exposure overall, in my opinion they do draw more attention and tend to make it up on the walls more often rather than just sitting in the archives on a computer or file cabinet. This is where landscape/nature photography can become more fine art photography. By doing this, it allows us to take something in its normal setting and apply creativity in a way to make it stand out where it would otherwise have gone unnoticed.

RestingWhen doing low key photography of any type, the most important thing to think about is how the light is hitting the subject. By creating shadows it helps create a more creative photo. It is when the subject is only partially lit that it can help you create more mood in the photo. I have only recently dipped into low key photography but have seen the benefits it gives. I’m hoping to continue learning more and will think more about how I take my shots in order to create more of a low key effect by how the light is positioned. We all know that light is one of the most important things in photography. It’s how you position that light that can help create the art you have in mind.



Low Key in Landscape/Nature Photography

9 thoughts on “Low Key in Landscape/Nature Photography

    • Thanks Shannon! I would like to do another post on high key photography for landscape/nature shots but don’t have enough examples to showcase it yet. It’s much harder to do high key when you live in a place with so much vegetation and this year the snow keeps melting within a few days so when I have a chance to get out I’ve got a lot of dark background to work with rather than the white snow.


        • We’ve been getting plenty of snowfall. It’s just that afterwards the temps make it up to the upper 30’s so it melts away. It is nice having warmer weather for getting photos. Especially when working with the tripod. But harder to get specific types of photos when you want the snow to stay. Next month I am planning on making it to Northern Wisconsin where the snow hasn’t melted so maybe I’ll get some better winter photos.


  1. Thanks MM! I really like the artistic quality of both low key and high key photography so decided that instead of just enjoying it from others that I’d give it a try. I do think that low key is easier to do than high key for me at least. I think it’s because it’s easier to find subjects with a darker background than with a brighter background.


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