C&C High key, silhouette, or B&W?


Mu-43 Top Veteran
May 25, 2016
Delaware, USA
My wife was harvesting dill to throw in the dehydrator when I snatched a small sprig to play around with. I taped a piece of white tissue wrapping paper to the kitchen window, set a bar stool about a foot from the window, taped the sprig to a toothpick that was taped to a glass and resting on the bar stool. Even by cranking up the exposure it still took a ton of slider work in LR mobile to lose all the details around it. What would this now be considered? I think in my mind I was calling it “high key” but am now not so sure since it took so much work in post to create it. Thoughts? Should the goal be to finish the effect SOOC or do most folks need to blow the photo out more afterwards? Tips for me moving forward? Thanks!

Here are the after and before versions so you can see what I was working with:

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Mu-43 Veteran
Aug 6, 2019
Maybe someone will weigh in with actual definitions, but I would call the top photo a silhouette and the bottom hand held image is close to high key, maybe 1/3 or 2/3 EV away from high key. IMO high key conserves details, not necessarily in the background but in the subject.


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Mar 25, 2018
The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, UK.
Real Name
I would refer to the top one as silhouette. I think it's a nice image and can see lots of possibilities for using it as a texture, background or pattern in photoshop.

For high key straight out of camera without killing the contrast in your subject, you need to balance the light on the front of your subject with the white surface behind your subject. This is relatively straightforward with a hand held meter, a white sheet of material and a couple of flashguns, but not so easy with the camera's built in meter which is trying to turn everything grey.

Some trial and error will be needed. If you overdo the backlighting, the light will flare around the many edges of your dill, but as you have found, if you undercook it, you have to do a tonne of work in lightroom.

The image linked below was metered at exactly f8 incident light, level with the figures' heads, meter pointed at my background (a white reflector with a diffused flash behind it), and exactly f8 falling on to the front of the figures' heads from my keylight. The backlighting was very slightly too much (I got some edge flare but got away with cranking up clarity and contrast) and if I do it again I will dial it down 1/4 stop and tidy it up in Lightroom. However, with the two strobes balanced, it took a single sweep with an adjustment brush to get a pure white background.


Without getting into multiple flashes, if you use your window diffuser and tape everything up so it doesn't move, perhaps do a range of flash exposures (flash off camera so not pointing directly at the background) at 1/3 stop increments. It's quicker to take 15 bracketed pictures than it is to try to fix one in post with a mid grey background. Take the best looking one into lightroom.
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