Example Portrait 1.1b

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Lighting Applications & Variations

This lighting is good for a variety of faces and is quite useful for doing entertainers' headshots.  Using just this one setup, one can reposition the body and head to give a variety of looks.  Another portrait taken with this same lighting is shown below in example 1.1b.   As the lighting is almost exclusively frontal, this lighting is not the best choice when trying to impart depth and roundness to the face.  This lighting can accentuate facial width and prominent ears.  With appropriate posing, this lighting can be used with heavy faces, but it would not be my first choice. 

Minor changes to this lighting setup can produce significant changes in the light quality.  To create a softer variation of this setup,  use a barebulb flash head (without reflector) and position it within the shoot-through umbrella so that it evenly lights the entire umbrella surface.  This will create a  larger, more even source of light.  To further soften the look, replace the silver reflector with a white reflector and position as close to the face as possible.  This combination creates a very soft light that  minimizes facial irregularities and is best with lean subjects.   A large diffusion panel can be used in place of the umbrella with similar results.   A harder, punchier light can be created by using a smaller shoot-through umbrella and adjusting the silver reflector to  increase the light reflected.


Adjust the silver reflector with care.  An improperly positioned reflector can accentuate facial sheen and turn subjects with oily or leathery skin into a shiny mess.


Lighting Diagram 1.1b (side view)

Lighting Diagram 1.1a (top view)

Example Portrait 1.1a

Here is a lighting setup that works well with a variety of faces.  A single flash unit, a large shoot-through umbrella, a silver reflector,  a  light stand, and a white sheet are all you'll need.  


The Lighting Setup

The the  lighting apparatus used for this portrait is shown in diagrams 1.1a (top view) and 1.1b (side view) below.  The main and only light was a monolight fitted with its standard reflector.  This source was fired into a large (60") shoot-through umbrella and positioned such that light was somewhat "hotter" in the center of the umbrella.  Light that was not transmitted through the umbrella was reflected back to the cloth-covered wall, providing a large source of fill light.  The overall light, produced by the light from the shoot-through umbrella in combination with  the wall fill, was quite soft.  A 32" silver reflector was placed between the camera and subject to subtly increase the specular reflections (brilliance) on the face and to direct more light into the eyes.  Without the reflector, the lighting would have lacked verve. 

The monolight was set to a low output (approx. 50 watt-secs.) in order to achieve a light level requiring an f3.3 setting for the camera lens.  This lens setting provided the limited depth of field necessary to set the background wall and floor out of focus.