High Key & Low Key Photography: Low Budget Experiment

Some people say that photography is a luxurious hobby; required bunch of money to acquire expensive gear in order to create stunning photos. Well, I won’t say it’s wrong. Myself is included in the disciples of a somewhat popular statement: gear equals photo quality, which means; the more expensive gear you have then the greater photo quality you could get.

But the statement above does not mean for the opposite; if you acquire mediocre or entry level gear, doesn’t mean that you cannot produce stunning photos. There are many challenges on youtube where several professional photographers given entry level DSLR with mediocre lens, yet they still capable of producing great photos. Well, as a newbie photographer–who sometimes blame her cheap gear when she couldn’t get a proper shot–this fact actually pissed me off. On the brighter side, it drives me to be more creative. I realized that the true power behind every great photos is skill, not gear. Eventually, this fact had my mind to think out of the box. Ow-yeah.

The Origins

Honestly, it was my friend who intoxicated me with the idea of low-key and high-key photography. I was being too pre-occupied with the idea of long exposure I forgot about the others. But then I googled it more, and become more interested. But then after seeing youtube videos about how to do it–light stand, tripod, umbrella, backdrop–me ain’t got no money, bro. So I just dropped this whole idea right away.

Then suddenly this friend gave me his low-key photo and I was like “Duuude how could you do it, did you rent that expensive light studio stuffs?” then he answered that he only used his phone flash plus his girlfriend’s phone flash and I was even more shocked. The other day when we met at the office, I asked for his expertise then so my own experiment begins.

Low Key: The Ingredients

  1. One Xiaomi Phone Flash
  2. Nikon Entry Level DSLR
  3. 18-55mm aka Kit Lens (cuz me ain’t got no anything wider, dude)
  4. One cute niece
  5. One cute nephew

Low Key: Results


Not so great, huh? The cuteness of my nephew and niece didn’t captured well on those photos. They all looked gloomy even somewhat creepy. Although it was difficult to capture it because, you know, kids especially in toddler age moves a lot. I should find the right moment when they give the right expression. Well oh well, what can I do. Me ain’t got no boyfriend or even husband so I should utilize every possible resources available. Haha. *silently sobbing*

After some discussion, my friend gave me suggestion that if my object is baby, I should try high-key instead. At first I doubted that I could do it cuz I would need some clear bright background to do it. Plus, high-key requires more light into the camera, which means I should keep my niece and/or my nephew do a static pose–boy one does not simply to make them do it. They are a creature with full of bouncing energy. After some contemplation, one idea came to me; how if I do it with static object instead? A little one, preferably, so I could just use plain HVS paper as my background.

Then so the second experiment begins.

High-Key: The Ingredients

  1. One Xiaomi Phone Flash
  2. Nikon Entry Level DSLR
  3. 18-55mm aka Kit Lens (cuz me ain’t got no anything wider, dude)
  4. One small toys with good quality plastic which you “borrowed” from your nephew’s toy box.
  5. Three HVS plain paper
  6. Some carton or anything to make your background stands. (Even the famous Khong-Ghuan can)
High-Key: Behind The Scene

High-Key: The Results


After somewhat successful attempts with Minion, I decided to stick those HVS paper on the wall and lured my nephew amd niece to stand in front of it. Hoho. Here’s the results.


Despite of too-zoomed in photo, I think the cuteness and the bright mood has been successfully captured into the shot. Some might complain about why I took it too close–dude I had limited white background with only 3 A4 paper combined, this is the best that I could get. Haha. Although, if I gain a little bit more niat and buy white karton manila, I could make it better.


With limited resources and null budget, there’s still possibility to keep being creative and producing something. Just remember the old proverb you can find in the bottom of every page of KIKY notebook when we were still in school:

Where there is a will, there is a way

Peace out.


Firly — the self-proclaimed amateur photographer and research scientist wannabe.


DSLR Lens DIY Cleaning Experience: A Rookie Mistake

DISCLAIMER: Mengingat peminat fotografi cakupannya sudah dunia, maka saya akan menulis post ini dengan bahasa yang diakui UNESCO sebagai bahasa internasional: English. So, if by any chance you notice grammar mistakes in my post and that’s tingling you, feel free to remind me on the commentary box. Or if you found it but you just don’t care enough, just enjoy.

The best foolish experience is the one that can still bring out an useful insight for the others

–quote by me, created just a minute ago.

Unsurprisingly, this quote is what brought me to document this foolish experience on my blog, even though my credibility as an intelligent human being is at stake. But yes, I do this because I know, someone out there, some rookie photographer like me might still wondering about how to clean that teeny tiny fungus of his/her lens DIY-way because they are simply got no enough money or just being extremely frugal to take the lens to service center. Maybe they’re just being curious. Well, congratulations buddy, you’ve found the right article!

Continue reading “DSLR Lens DIY Cleaning Experience: A Rookie Mistake”