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Old 11-10-2012   #1
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Default Studio lighting newbie with barebones setup

I work as a graphic designer for a newspaper. We have small studio in the building that rarely gets used. Sometimes I'm often asked to take photos for ads or promos as part of my advertising department duties. Our studio setup is kinda bare. We have two old White Lightning lights. One has a softbox attached, the other has the flag doors thing. We don't have any backdrops, just a semi-white wall.

I was given the task of shooting some very informal portraits of some of the writers/reporters for a promotional ad series that we are running. I was given a "crash course" in how to operate the actual lights by one of our journalistic photographers. The only "lighting theory" has been what I've been able to glean off of this and other websites.

For the below portraits, I arranged a very basic setup. The main light (softbox) to camera left illuminating the subject. The other light was to camera right, aimed at the wall to try to "blow out" the background. Let me know what you guys think and anything you can think of that might make these any better.




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Old 11-11-2012   #2
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Default Re: Studio lighting newbie with barebones setup

There are a couple of things that tells me you understand how to handle a camera. The cropping on the last two shots is very well planned. The exposures and color balance hit the target. The last shot is lit very nice I think.
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Old 11-11-2012   #3
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Default Re: Studio lighting newbie with barebones setup

Not a bad effort at all. If you want to take things to a higher level I suggest you start off by reading Benji's excellent tutorial on portraiture. I keep a printed copy of the Rules (from the PDF file) handy to read over every now and then just to remind me of various things to do, and to NOT do.

Benji's Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial

Benji - The Rules Of Good Portraiture in PDF Format
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Old 11-12-2012   #4
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Default Re: Studio lighting newbie with barebones setup

Wow! Thanks for that link. I had seen Benji's other website before, but that is the first time I have seen that in PDF form. Very handy!
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Old 11-12-2012   #5
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Default Re: Studio lighting newbie with barebones setup

Very very useful tips. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-12-2012   #6
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Default Re: Studio lighting newbie with barebones setup

I see 1 big issue in all of these. You can see exactly where the background light is hitting. Its white, then its gray. Id try to either find a way to spread the light (pull it back or use a light modifier like an umbrella to toss the light around a bit more) or crop the shots. There are many places where there is a hard line where the light stops. A perfect example of this is #3. The light stops right over her eye. You can see the background transition to gray. (Also, her smile says 'are we done yet?')

#4 is about perfect. The light fall off is right near the bottom. I would almost have the ball turned a bit more to see all the logo, or none of it.

The first gentleman could of used a reflector to bounce light up into his face. Thats just my opinion though. A bit too much shadow on the one side. (good smile on him though) Maybe shoot him from a bit higher up so he has to lift his head and help with the neck skin bunching up.
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Old 11-12-2012   #7
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Default Re: Studio lighting newbie with barebones setup

Douglas' comments got me thinking.

To even out the background try keeping the subjects at least 6' from the background and place the background light on a stand directly behind the subjects shoulders. That way the light is pretty even behind the subject.

If you want the background to be pure white just increase the power of the light slowly until the Highlight Alert of your camera shows it blinking all around the head and shoulders. Add about 1/3 more stop of power and it is set.

To reduce the double chin in the images do as Douglas says, position yourself a few inches above eye level but also have the subject push their forehead toward the camera. This "turtle" move stretches out the neck, reducing the double chin and making the jaw look a bit thinner.

Peter Hurley! | It's all about the Jaw
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Old 11-12-2012   #8
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Default Re: Studio lighting newbie with barebones setup

Great tips guys! Can't wait to implement them on the next go-around!


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