Photography Monthly's tip week: Perfect portraits, tip 3
It’s time for our third tip in the portrait themed week where we will be delving a little deeper into lighting.
Yesterday we looked at unusual lighting techniques and today we are going to explore the more conventional techniques of how to light a studio.
There are five key lighting techniques that photographers can use to light their studio for portrait photography:
1. Short light: This is the sort of studio lighting setup where the side of the subject’s face that is furthest away from the camera gets the most light. The effect you get when using this lighting setup is a thin face due to the two sides being lit differently. Short light will always visibly thin your subject.
2. Broad light: This setup works in the exact opposite way to short light in that the side of the face closest to the camera gets the main light. In both these cases, you can place a reflector on the opposite side of the light (at about a 45 degree angle) to help fill in the shadow that may make the subject look too thinned or filled.
3. Split light: To obtain the split light effect, position your main light on one side of your subject so that it’s exactly 90 degrees to the subject. If your main light is a flash, you might want to consider a secondary light; not for exposure but just for light placement. This is the ‘model light’.
Using the ‘model light’, make sure the line between light and dark runs directly down the centre of your model’s face, right down the tip of the nose. The model should be looking directly at the camera. This is what is called a split light portrait.
4. Rembrandt Light: In relation to the name, this type of lighting is considered an artistic classic. The main light is positioned high and on the side of the face that is away from the camera. Generally the subject is placed at a 45 degree angle to the camera (as opposed to just looking straight on). This technique produces an illuminated triangle on the cheek closest to the camera. The triangle will illuminate just under the eye and not below the nose. The face should appear illuminated on one side and heavily shadowed on the other.
Place your reflector (or white poster board) on the opposite side of the studio light. The reflector should be angled so that it reflects any remaining light in the room to the subject’s darkened side. The key here is not to eliminate the dark shadows, but to add detail within them.
5. Butterfly Light: This lighting effect is achieved by positioning the main light directly in front of the subjects face and adjusting the height to create a shadow directly under, and in line with the nose. This lighting technique creates hard shadows in the eye sockets and under the chin, depending on the size of your main light and distance to your subject. Use a reflector under the main light source to fill in the underside of the face (eye sockets, under nose and under chin areas).
Why not try experimenting with the different lighting setups above and upload your photos to the gallery after?
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