Butterfly lighting questions
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Old 08-22-2006   #1
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Default Butterfly lighting questions

I am doing pageant headshots that go to a retoucher for retouching. They require NO SHADOWS whatsoever. I'm told that butterfly lighting is the way to go for no shadows, but according to the diagram I have, I don't see how it's possible.

The diagram I got from the net shows the key light and the fill light placed at a 45 degree angle to camera right with the key ligt higher than the fill light.

How can the fill light take care of the shadows if it's placed in the same spot as the key light? I just don't see it. Seems like there should be another light to the left of the camera. The suject HAS to directly face the camera, because these shots are never done in 3/4 face. (Don't know if that's the correct term.)

The diagram came from a site called studiolighting.net and was very helpful, but I still don't understand how butterfly lighting can be done without getting ANY shadows.

I have two umbrellas and one 36X36 softbox. HOw should I place my lighting, and which ones should I use?
Debbie

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Old 08-23-2006   #2
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Default Re: Butterfly lighting questions

I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe butterfly lighting is normally a key light placed higher than the model with fill below, but both directly in front of the model's face. So if you're shooting full face, the key light would be over your head, with the fill underneath. Normally you can replace the fill with a reflector in the model's lap bouncing light upwards, if that's practical.

I've found the key light works best if it's not particularly high - I normally use a 36 x 36 softbox, and then shoot with the camera pretty much level with the lower edge.

Cheers,

Tim.
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Old 08-23-2006   #3
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Default Re: Butterfly lighting questions

So if the lighting is directly in front of the model's face, exactly where does the camera fit in?

Debbie
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Old 08-23-2006   #4
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Default Re: Butterfly lighting questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvperrin
So if the lighting is directly in front of the model's face, exactly where does the camera fit in?

Debbie
The main is over the camera, usually behind it. The fill is trickier because it's still supposed to be fairly high. Personally I like the fill a bit lower and use a reflector just below and out of the frame.

Watch the shadow under the nose as you move the lights. You're going for a light butterfly shape below the nose. It looks best if the shape isn't distinct but darker where ther shadow meets the bottom of the nose and kind of graded as it goes down, disapearing before it reaches the lip. You can move you lights to the side of the camera and, assuming your several feet away from the subject, it won't change the look much... that way you can try different heights for the main and fill.

Chip
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Old 08-23-2006   #5
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Default Re: Butterfly lighting questions

Thanks, Chip. Now I need to go find me a subject to practice on, because being my own subject simply isn't working! (And even the dog will not cooperate! LOL)

Debbie
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Old 08-23-2006   #6
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Default Re: Butterfly lighting questions

People are best but lacking a patient subject, go to the junk store, find yourself a cheap bust and paint it light grey.
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Old 08-28-2006   #7
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Default Re: Butterfly lighting questions

I use butterfly as a "one lighter" with a beauty dish (any decent softbox works though) and boom arm to hang the pan above and in front. Ideally you want your lighting to be an equal distance front of the model as above. If you are hanging the light 3 feet over their heads - move it out to 3 feet in front and position at 45 degree down angle.

I would throw up a stand on each side of the model just out of the frame with reflectors clipped to bounce some light backand then toss one in their lap to fill in under chin. For a headshot I would put the reflector just under your low crop point. The model can usually hold it themselves if they like.

You will get a very small amount of shadowing under the nose hence the butterfly identifier (the shadow looks like a butterfly). It's minor compared to a great deal of fashion shots with left and right main and fill lighting ratios running 2-1 and up.

Below is an example of butterfly lighting. I would show this to your employer and point out the shadowing and ask "is this what you had in mind"?

For a true "shadowless shot" a ring flash that encircles the entire lens is the one setup that comes to mind. A true ring flash is a big , expensive & heavy studio stand and the camera mounts behind so the lens pokes through the donut hole. you - get - zero - shadows.

In a pinch a macro ringflash can be used for portable setups on location.

If I had to choose, I would use butterfly with a dish vs a smaller & harsher light source going POW right in their eyes. Especially in portraits where you want them "looking right into the lens"

Pop a ring flash in their eyes from 8 feet and you are set at ISO 100 f/11-13 and you will need an assistant to walk them out.

With the light coming from above they hardly feel a thing and you can dial up all the power you want.

Hope this helps!

D



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Old 09-01-2006   #8
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Default Re: Butterfly lighting questions

Every form of lighting will give you shadows, except the ringflash.

You can use butterfly lighting and a white reflector on the bottom of your subject just out of the frame for bounce.
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Old 09-01-2006   #9
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Default Re: Butterfly lighting questions

Thank you so much. I've got something set up and I think it might work. Although, I do have to say that I don't really see much of a shadow under the nose. I'm going to have to send a sample shot for you to see. I need all the advice I can get.

Debbie
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Old 09-02-2006   #10
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Default Re: Butterfly lighting questions

At Darrels shot there is a clear shadow seen, to be honest it takes away from an otherwise great shot.


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