Portrait Lighting - Help Please

Discussion in 'Formal Portraits and Weddings' started by Firestorm_westy, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. Hi all,

    I love the work I see on here and it really inspires me to have a go at Lighting.

    I don't want to jump straight in with the full "£1500 worth of Strobes" set-up, so though I would have a go with my 2 SB-800s, Umbrellas, Cheap stands, and a (very unusually willing) model (Clare!)

    I would really value your help and advice on where I am going wrong... I know a third light to halo her hair would help (although I quite like the dark background look), but I am also looking for help on Posing etc.

    I am shooting manual (both Camera and Speedlights). I have ordered a Sekonic light meter which I know will help me get the 'moody lighting' effects that I am after.

    I welcome your help!

    (Clare really likes them btw!)

    Paul

    [​IMG]

    A little too hot?

    356768240_iat8y-L.

    356770135_cmEss-L.

    Does the B&W work better with the Dark background?

    356770602_pcT36-L.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2008
  2. Hey, Paul, good to see a post from you!

    I like the last one the best...for sure. I like the overall feel of the image, and the contrast between black and white. Her hair blends into the background, but I really like that about the image.

    I like the first as well, but the selective vignette is a little distracting to me.

    The second is nice, but she blends too much into the background...and unlike the last one, I don't think this adds to the image.

    Just my thoughts, of course. I'm glad that Clare likes them!
     
  3. If only I could get 3 ABs for the prices that you guys pay!!! Thanks John.
     
  4. rbellphoto

    rbellphoto

    632
    Jun 8, 2006
    SoCal
    Nice that you have a (somewhat) willing model to practice with. Generally speaking, the more lights you add, the more difficulty you have with control. For the moment, forget the secondary and hair-light and concentrate on what you can do with a single source. Start with one umbrella and get/use a reflector to fill in as necessary. (A 3x3 or 4x4 sheet of white foamcore will do nicely.) Do a quick search online for a Rembrandt Lighting tutorial and you'll be off and running.
     
  5. I agree, I like the last the best, then #2. The first doesn't click for some reason, maybe the bracelet is too distracting; not sure.
     
  6. It's hard to tell where the lighting ends and the vignetting begins, Paul. If you're going to vignette that strongly, there's no sense in using a hairlight.

    What was your setup? I can't figure out where the second flash was located, or if it contributed at all.
     
  7. Frank,

    These were taken with just the one Sb-800, fired into a brolley.

    I had set-up a white background, with the second light firing into that, but I didn't like the results.

    It is really difficult to visualise the light without a modelling light to work with.
     
  8. fyreflie24

    fyreflie24

    896
    Jun 24, 2005
    Charlotte NC
    I actually love the lighting and expression in the first... maybe rework it but I wouldn't trash it.

    The second... yea too hot, a bit too contrasty (as in, if you expose for those hot areas, you won't have much illuminated but if that's what you're going for you're getting there).

    Third: light looks good... be careful of that arm (and in the first too)... it's not the most flattering angle... a new camera postion and/or cropping could help that a lot!

    The last is nice :)  Don't forget reflectors! I love 40"x60" foamcore... tape two together to make a bookend (or two) and the possiblities are endless!
     
  9. Firstly, thanks you so much for the constructive critique... I want to learn!

    What did you mean by re-working the first one? What would you suggest?

    I will look into making some reflectors.

    Thanks again,

    Paul
     
  10. fyreflie24

    fyreflie24

    896
    Jun 24, 2005
    Charlotte NC
    Rework=remove vignette... :)  if you want to shoot me a copy I'd be happy to take a look and offer you some suggestions. My mentor used to re-edit my stuff for me all the time when I first started and it was SO helpful!!
     
  11. Thanks for the help - Happy for you to have a play...

    The file is here:

    http://idisk.mac.com/firestorm_westy//Public/Pictures/D30_1787.jpg

    Paul
     
  12. Aha, no wonder I couldn't find where the 2nd flash contributed. I was going by the following comment in your opening post...

    In such a dark room, it would be adviseable to use both of your flashes. Here's one way you might approach it.

    89459532.

    Note: In this sample, the main and fill strobes were reversed, and the subject wasn't quite as alluring as yours :Teeth:.

    View attachment 241825
     
  13. Thanks for this Frank... What ratio of power should I use with the 2 flashes? I am guessing that the fill should be 1/3 the power of the main?

    I don't have a softbox at the moment - I have a brolley for reflecting (silver inside, black outside) and also a white one for shooting through.

    Sorry that my questions seem so basic, but, as I say, I don't want to waste a fortune on kit that I don't need!

    Thanks again,

    Paul
     
  14. First let me note that the proper name for this setup is split lighting, since each strobe lights a specific side of the subject's face and doesn't contribute much to the illumination of the other side.

    The matter of ratio is purely a matter of personal preference. Like you, I favor a high ratio, so 3:1 is probably a good starting point. I'd start off with that assumption, and then chimp my way into the final setting.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2008
  15. rbellphoto

    rbellphoto

    632
    Jun 8, 2006
    SoCal
    I would hesitate before making such a blanket statement. Certainly the venue is a factor in making lighting choices, but shouldn't the desired photographic end-result be as much (if not more) of a factor? The goal here isn't to light the room, but to adequately light the subject. A single source of light and a bounce card is going to provide a more controllable setup, and will provide a quick(er) route to a classic style of lighting. Adding a second light immediately increases chance for error.
     
  16. But that's precisely what my setup and sample addressed. :confused:  My intent was simply to keep the subject from being lost in the darkness.

    Good that it works for you, but imho, CLS/AWL and a pair of strobes on stands with light modifiers is far superior in terms of ease of setup, flexibility, and control.

    But rather than debating me, why not just show the OP your suggested setup and some samples?
     
  17. Frank - I see you mention CLS here... Do you shoot in 'A' or Manual... Does CLS work with either?

    Thanks,

    Paul
     
  18. rbellphoto

    rbellphoto

    632
    Jun 8, 2006
    SoCal
    Not trying to debate you, just commenting that dark-room doesn't always equal two-flashes.

    Here's a link to a diagram for how I set up most (> 50%) of my shoots. I move the reflector closer or farther away 'til I get desired ratio.

    [​IMG]

    Here's some representative examples...

    #1
    original.

    #2
    View attachment 241829

    #3
    View attachment 241830

    #4 (I moved the reflector much further away to darken one side of her face.)
    View attachment 241831
     
  19. Bob,

    Can I ask how far your subjects are from the backdrop?

    Thanks,

    Paul
     
  20. rbellphoto

    rbellphoto

    632
    Jun 8, 2006
    SoCal

    I had to go measure, but it's about 9 feet. As I look at these again, I think I used a (1/4 power) backdrop light on #4.
     
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