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Andy Brown • The Key To It All

The choice of which light tones – low, mid or high – to use can be problematic. What looks good one day may not on the next. Andy Brown tells us about the pitfalls to avoid

Have you ever painted a wall at home, confident it’s going to look great once the reflected light enriches the hues and it all comes together, only to look at it the next day and realise the tone simply doesn’t gel with its surroundings? That has literally just happened to me. I envisaged a mid-tone and instead ended up with an overall higher key than anticipated, hence I shall be disappointedly traipsing back to the paint store shortly.

Deciding on a key, ranging from high to low, is just as problematic when figuring out how to present a photograph. Most of us tend to play it relatively safe, opting for a concentration of mid-tones accentuated – or perhaps punctuated – by smaller regions given over to permeating shadow tones and highlights (some of them possibly even specular) in order to inject a visually appealing array of contrasts and thus unite the overall feel. A quick mention regards specular highlights, which are those small areas of reflected light often hitting shiny surfaces – you might for instance see them following rain when wetness amplifies reflective qualities. Don’t try to control these, they ...

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About Author

Andy Brown

An ardent devotee to most genres of landscape photography, Andy’s primary fervour and passion is for mono and split-toned, ultra long exposure imagery.

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