Lost Files from Vegas

I’d been dragging my camera around all day, taking mediocre pictures in mid day. Exhausted, I sat down on the bench at a bus stop and waited. When I looked up I noticed the beautiful lights of Mandalay Bay sparkling against a beautiful blue sky as the sun set. I took this picture at 1/6 sec. ISO 2000 and f/8. I also took this picture handheld, since I had no tripod with me. It’s slightly blurry, but overall I’m pleased with how it turned out. 🙂


Low Key Lighting in Mid Day

Right before the holidays I had the privilege to photograph a subject using low key lighting techniques. She approached me with an interest in taking a photo “with alot of shadows” to disguise her more unflattering areas. I was eager to do this, since it would be my first time experimenting with low key lighting. All of the research I did on how to shoot a low key image used the shadows for an artsy effect, instead of for a practical purpose. (such as hiding unflattering areas). After doing much research, I was fairly confident that I could use this same technique on my subject to give her what she wanted. (however, just to be sure I tested different lighting techniques on my husband for hours the day before)!

My subject wanted to shoot on a Saturday at 10am. I use a personal training facility with huge windows, and there was much daylight spilling in through the windows at that time.


A stock image of the personal training studio I use on a bright day.

Had I not done my research, this would have posed a huge problem for me. Yet I was able to expose with the natural light, and incorporate strobes to only highlight the areas I wanted.


Im not a fan of the “floating head effect” which often accompanies low key images when subjects wear dark shirts. So I added a hair light which spilled onto her shoulders as well. I would have liked a little more light on her shoulders to separate her from the background. I’ll have to improve on that next time.

Your eye is drawn to the brightest parts of the picture. Distracting from her neck/chin area, and from the shoulders down. It was tricky to use harsh shadows because she wanted her face well lit.


This was my first experience shooting a subject using low key lighting techniques. Id like to improve on a few areas, but overall, myself and my subject were both very satisfied with the outcome.

If you’d like to know how I was able to achieve this lighting technique in such a bright room, please subscribe to my blog and comment with your email address. I’ll send you an email. Thanks for reading!