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Lighting Applications & Variations

This is a basic loop-lighting setup.  It works well for a variety of subjects and can be adjusted to work well for almost all types of faces.  By varying the lighting modifiers and fill-to-main lighting ratio, a vast number of looks can be created.  In this example, the main light was bounced into a silver umbrella, which produced a fairly hard light with distinct shadow edges and heightened skin texture.  This type of light works particularly well with younger subjects.  If you are photographing adults, especially women, you may want to substitute a satin umbrella for the silver one.  This will result in a much softer light that is preferable when lines and wrinkles must be de-emphasized.   If your subject is wearing eyeglasses,  you may need to raise the main and fill lights slightly to avoid lens glare.  If your subject has deep-set or tired eyes, you may want to lower the fill and main lights slightly.  The main light and subject's facial orientation can be moved for additional looks.  



This example does not use a separate background light, so the background is darker in the image than it appears to the eye in the studio.  You can minimize the light fall-off by moving the subject closer to the background, but there are limitations to this approach.  If the subject is too close, shadows from the main and fill light may be visible on the background.  The shadows from the fill and main light should fall behind and below the shoulder line of the subject.


Lighting Diagram 2.2b (side view)

Lighting Diagram 2.2a (top view)

Example Portrait  2.2

Here is a simple and versatile lighting setup that you'll find used for basic school and church-directory shots.  The lighting consists of a main light (silver umbrella) and a fill light (satin umbrella).  The same setup can be used for individual subjects or small groups with only a minor adjustment.


The Lighting Setup

The  lighting apparatus used for this portrait is shown in diagram 2.2a (top view) and 2.2b (side view) below.  A power pack and with two heads provided the light.  The main light head was bounced into a 46" silver umbrella and feathered slightly toward the camera so that the face was lighted by the edge of the umbrella's hot spot.  The fill light was bounced into a 39" satin umbrella and placed immediately adjacent to the camera on the side opposite of the main light.  The main and fill lights were positioned such  that the main light was 1.5 f-stops more intense than the fill light.  Both lights were back further from the subject than is usual for headshots, as this lighting was used for both individual and group portraits.   The background, a light, dappled gray, was placed approximately six feet behind the subject.  The background appears to be a medium gray, as the light level at the background was approximately one f-stop lower than at the subject.