Additional Example Using Same Lighting
Lighting Applications & Variations
I find this setup very versatile. As the lighting is frontal, you can pose your subject in many ways and directions with great results. It works well for fashion and editorial purposes and is good if you will be doing compositing but don't want to use a Chroma-key background. If your subject is wearing eyeglasses, this lighting can be a problem, as unwanted reflections in the lenses are a certainty when your subject faces the camera. This setup does not appear to add weight to subjects, as relatively little light wraps around the body.
You can modify this setup in many ways. You can eliminate the background lights and still get a nice look. Your background will be gray instead of white, but the strongest shadows will fall behind the subject and should not be too obtrusive. If you are compositing, you might want to bring down the level of your background lighting to minimize any lighting halos created by the white background. If you like a super-white background with a bit of flare around the edges, pump the background lighting up one f-stop
I like my images crisp and sharp, and avoid an over-the-lens diffuser with this kind of lighting. If you like your high-key images soft and dreamy, then this setup with lend itself nicely to mild diffusion. Go easy on the diffusion as even mild amounts can lower image contrast significantly with broad areas of bright white in the image.
Lighting Diagram 4.2b (side view)
Lighting Diagram 4.2a (top view)
Example Portrait 4.2
The Lighting Setup
The lighting apparatus used for this portrait is shown in diagram 4.2a (top view) and 4.2b (side view) below. A monolight fitted with a 16" reflector with a "shower cap" (Xenophon) diffuser was placed above the camera as the main light. Immediately below the camera, a monolight was bounced into a 36" satin umbrella fitted with a diffusion cover (Photek Softlighter). This light provided overall fill and added just enough light near the subject's feet to keep the white sweep "clean". This fill lighting was set to two f-stops less than the main source. Two flash heads were fitted with barn doors and covered with beam-spreading-diffusion gels. They were placed beside the subject, just off of the seamless paper background, and aimed back at the background. Two pieces of black foam board were placed between the background lights and subject to keep light off the subject and counter flare. The background lights were adjusted to produce an incident reading at the background about 1/3 f-stop less than the incident reading at the subject (main & fill).