Basic Studio Lighting
In the studio you have basic lights, which you may use to create a professional portrait.
Basic studio setup
As you see, here are five light sources. Each of them has its own purpose:
- (M) Main - This type is your main source of light, it is most powerful light in the
whole set. It is used to light the person and create mood of the portrait.
- (F) Fill-in - This light is less powerful and is used to soften the shadows, which
are created by the main source of light. Usually the ratio of main light to the fill-in is about from 1:2 to 1:9. The weaker the fill-in the
more prominent the shadows. Use the light to create three dimensional feeling (the ratio is about 1:3).
- (B1) Background I (Optional) - You will use this
light to remove shadows on the background and create a bright spot on the background, which will help you to separate the head of the person
from the background.
- (B2) Background II (Optional) - This light usually used
to create a nice hallo around the person's head and is another way to separate the head from the background. The light is usually good for
women because they have fabulous haircuts and the light will add "air" to it.
- (H) Hair Light (Optional) - Actually there are two types of this light.
One of them ( Hair Light ) is to enlighten the hair generally and usually placed above the head. Another one is to create a small
beam of light placed upon a shoulder or side of the head and is called Accent Light , this light source will create a small highlight
on the hair or shoulder to give some accent to it.
I cover the lights and their purposes in more details on page " Portrait Lights"
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Using an Umbrella
A photographic umbrella is very useful tool for creation a soft, broad and pleasing light. Sometimes you may use
only one light with the umbrella to create a good portrait. Usually the umbrella is used for photographing kids, they could move easily without
restrictions and you don't have to adjust the lights every minute.
Umbrella as main light
Here the umbrella is used as the only front light source, you may even remove the rest of lights. It will be the simplest setup, but you will
still produce good portraits.
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Umbrella and Reflector Board
You may upgrade the previous setup with a reflector board to soften the shadows as shown below:
Umbrella as main and reflector to fill-in
Moving the reflector board to and from the subject will change the power of the reflected fill-in light falling on the subject.
You even use a black reflector to remove some light from the subject and create more depth. A black reflector is a good tool for location
session in a cloudy day, when the light just envelopes the subject, by using the reflector use remove some light and give it some direction.
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Umbrella as Fill-in Light
You may prefer to broaden the fill-in light and use the umbrella for it. The following diagram shows the setup:
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Umbrella as fill-in