Chiaroscuro

Louie the duck.

Chiaroscuro literally means light and dark. Some objects in the image are very dark while others are beautifully lit. I’ve always loved chiaroscuro and when my two year old wanted me to take pictures of some of his favorite toys I decided to give it a try. I don’t consider myself a photographer. I just have fun and snap lots of pictures for inspiration. I don’t have any fancy photography equipment. In fact, all I used for these shots was a window, an iPhone and a very giggly two year old. I think they turned out rather nice.

The Wes man. 
I love the bright shimmer of his hair and the fact that you can’t see the messy playroom behind him. 
Mr. Bear
A little worn, a little matted but full of love (and probably boogers).

Here is how to create some of your own chiaroscuro photos:
  1. Select a window with very bright direct sunlight. I chose a window on the West side of our house just before sunset. 
  2. Place your subject in the middle of the beam of light. 
  3. Set your exposure to the brightest area on your subject. If you are using an iPhone like I did tap the screen so that the blue focus box is on the brightest area. Wait. You should see the exposure change so that the background appears darker and you can see detail in the highlights.
  4. Crop and adjust the contrast if needed. I only had to tweak these photos slightly so that the background was true black.

If you need a visual Mr. Giraffe has volunteered to be an example.

Well done Mr. Giraffe. 

Post links to your photos in the comments if you decide to try this. I would love to see them!


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