Push to Open

I've been pushing myself a little harder this year to enter photos in the photo club assignments (see my New Year's resolution post). While I was on my honeymoon, I came across a scene that struck me as being a good candidate for the May photo club topic of "Low Key." There is a lot of controversy within the club about what photos qualify as low key. It's no wonder, what with all the conflicting definitions floating around. Cleveland Art and History defines it as "Consistent use of dark values within a given area or surface." Another website defines it as "The dark end of the tonal scale. In a lowkey [sic] image the picture is dominated by shadows." Joseph's Glossary of Film Terms calls low key "a method of lighting often found in mysteries and thrillers which emphasizes shadows and pools of light."

The Random House Dictionary® defines low key this way: "(of a photograph) having chiefly dark tones, usually with little tonal contrast." The Collins English Dictionary defines low key as "having a predominance of dark grey tones or dark colours with few highlights." Perhaps my favorite explanation, which is too long to quote here, comes from Encyclopædia Britannica. The point is, nobody really seems to know for sure exactly what low key is. It is one of those "I know it when I see it" subjects that defies succinct and concrete definition.

So, with that very long lead-in out of the way, I must say that I was surprised at what the photo club judges considered "good" low key photographs. Not that I disagreed with them, I was just surprised. My entry for the category, shown below, won a Silver Award and tied for high score of the night.

I'm not sure my photo neatly fits any of the definitions I found. The glut of definitions and their conflicting natures once again highlights the very subjective nature of art. Nevertheless, I knew it when I saw it and I'm glad I decided to shoot it.

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