Sunday, December 6, 2009

Asian High-Key Lighting

I've been in Taiwan for 10 days now and I've noticed that the Asian style of photography is usually much more high-key and with less contrast. This picture was shot by my buddy Jerry in his "Photography/Lighting" class. The teacher set up the lights and each of the students had a chance to shoot with the model.

And it's truly indicative of the style of photography and lighting that you see in the magazines, album covers, etc. In fact the last time I was here a fellow photographer exclaimed that Asian photography doesn't often use hard lighting. Don't believe me? Check out one of the biggest modeling agencies in Taiwan here.

If they only knew that I sometimes shoot with the afternoon sun unmodified :)

Anyway, so I had Jerry send me some of his sample pictures and I tried my hand retouching. You're seeing the results. I cleaned up the skin, the uneven skin tones, drew in the cheekbones a little, sharpened, gave it some texture, played with the levels, corrected the color balance, put in some highlights... that's it. Took me about 30 minutes or so.

Photographer: Jerry Chiu

Retoucher: Charles Yeh

Model/Makeup/Wardrobe: Karen


  1. 30 mins? Wow! You've really sped up your retouching skills. I just read one of your blogs when you spent 10 hrs on retouching one photo. This turned out really great!

    I never really noticed the differences in lighting until I've started getting interested in strobing. I look at a lot of Japanese magazines and they employ this technique a lot. Do they use the same exposure of fill light as the key?


  2. same question as V.

    looks like paramount/beauty lighting. butterfly under the nose, nice shadow on the chin cam right. i'm guessing the fill (ring flash) was below the key (which was a beauty dish high high up cam left...

    gorgeous asian high-key! kudos to model, photographer and retoucher!

  3. Veronica, things have come along quite nicely. My workflow has sped up as a result of such but I'm still learning new techniques and willing as ever to employ the latest and greatest technique into my workflow. Hell, my workflow is ever-changing as I keep experiment :)

    The asian media doesn't like sharp cheekbones, harsh shadows, contrast, pretty much they hate everything I like. LOL.