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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> lighting technique I would like to share
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12/14/2007 05:46:03 PM · #1
Although plenty of you have probably already done this, this is a lighting setup that has been working pretty well for me lately and would like to share it:
622399.jpg
I had my softbox turned horizontal way above and right behind me lighting Aaron's face almost straight down from the lights position above us. I then I had my oval reflector right under his face to bounce the light back into his eyes. It created smooth lighting onto his face while still having depth. The background is a white background very lightly lit with a back light but I had Aaron stand so far from the background it appears gray/blue.

:-D

Message edited by author 2007-12-14 17:47:14.
12/14/2007 05:54:31 PM · #2
That's a beautiful shot. May I ask what kind of light it was? (I'm still learning about studio lighting)
12/14/2007 06:01:09 PM · #3
I have two alien bees lights the B400 and B800. The B800 is what I used mainly in this with a 24x30 softbox on it :)
12/14/2007 06:02:32 PM · #4
looks good, catchlights a re a bit harsh though.
12/14/2007 06:23:34 PM · #5
Yeah they are kind of intense but they could be toned down by moving him father from the lights, for this shot i liked them there though :)
12/14/2007 06:41:59 PM · #6
I like it - I think it looks great!
12/14/2007 06:48:54 PM · #7
I like it alot and think it looks great. Were did you learn the PP for this as I would love to read up on some of the techniques that you used w/ the various layers. Nice work!
12/14/2007 07:13:41 PM · #8
I've been thinking about this type of setup for a while now. I've tended to stick to the softbox to the side, but after seeing this result, I definitely have to try it out above. Nice work, and I love the catch-darks in his eyes. :) I call them catch-darks because what really stands out is not so much the light spots, but the dark rectangle across the middle. Very nice! :)
12/14/2007 09:06:19 PM · #9
So, basically, Butterfly lighting.
12/14/2007 10:58:58 PM · #10
It's not butterfly lighting, it's flat lighting. You have no shadows to speak of and the catchlight is dead center in the eyes. If this is what you are going for and you like this kind of lighting, you did a excellent job. The problem with flat lighting is the eyes look very strange and un-natural with the catchlights in the middle of the irises like that. You also don't get the shadows that gives you a 3D effect on a 2D image. This is why his face looks flat. Exposure looks good but you seem to have a slight magenta color cast.

Again, if you were going for and like this kind of lighting, you did good. It does have it's place amoung the different lighting types. On your comment about toning down the catchlights by moving the light back, it would make the catchlights smaller, but it would give you much harsher lighting, and it's pretty harsh as it is.

Of course all of this is just my opinion and could be (and probably is) different from most others.

Mike

12/14/2007 11:19:24 PM · #11
There are no correct ways to light, but there are plenty of wrong ways.
12/14/2007 11:31:07 PM · #12
If I understand correctly, that is usually referred to as "clamshell" lighting. I use that often myself, usually to downplay a prominent feature like a nose. Instead of the light behind me, I put it in front of me and above and shoot between it and the reflector underneath.

An example:

small.jpg

12/15/2007 07:14:34 AM · #13
See, this thread irritates me a little. Sorry to go off topic, but I don't think there is a wrong way to light. Yes there are very bright catch lights in his eyes and yes it has a strange effect but why do we have to pick this photo apart like that? The photo is beautiful, his eyes stand out. I said "Wow" when I saw it.

Not everyone lights the same or aims for the same effect. Photography is an art and there really is no wrong way to express yourself. I see a common thread in these photography forums that are condescending towards anyone that does stuff different from the 'standard' whatever that is. It's really an unattractive side to the community.

I love the photo, and I like the distracting catch lights. When I finally get to play with lights, I will try this set up myself.
12/15/2007 08:46:38 AM · #14
people post things here to get opinions.

getting irritated at a post with a differing opinion than yours does this community no more good than no response at all.

Originally posted by kellian:

See, this thread irritates me a little. Sorry to go off topic, but I don't think there is a wrong way to light. Yes there are very bright catch lights in his eyes and yes it has a strange effect but why do we have to pick this photo apart like that? The photo is beautiful, his eyes stand out. I said "Wow" when I saw it.

Not everyone lights the same or aims for the same effect. Photography is an art and there really is no wrong way to express yourself. I see a common thread in these photography forums that are condescending towards anyone that does stuff different from the 'standard' whatever that is. It's really an unattractive side to the community.

I love the photo, and I like the distracting catch lights. When I finally get to play with lights, I will try this set up myself.


Message edited by author 2007-12-15 08:47:29.
12/15/2007 09:36:22 AM · #15
Originally posted by Gatorguy:

If I understand correctly, that is usually referred to as "clamshell" lighting.


That would be correct :-D
12/15/2007 10:01:16 AM · #16
Originally posted by kellian:

See, this thread irritates me a little. Sorry to go off topic, but I don't think there is a wrong way to light. Yes there are very bright catch lights in his eyes and yes it has a strange effect but why do we have to pick this photo apart like that? The photo is beautiful, his eyes stand out. I said "Wow" when I saw it.

Not everyone lights the same or aims for the same effect. Photography is an art and there really is no wrong way to express yourself. I see a common thread in these photography forums that are condescending towards anyone that does stuff different from the 'standard' whatever that is. It's really an unattractive side to the community.

I love the photo, and I like the distracting catch lights. When I finally get to play with lights, I will try this set up myself.


I understand where you're coming from as far as getting irritated at the critiques of the lighting. And I understand that it's frustrating to read threads like these and feel like everybody has to pick apart someone else's work.

It's perfectly fine to like the photo, and to want to try to replicate it. It's fine to think out of the box and not always follow the rules.

BUT.

It is a necessary thing, what happens in these threads - the critiquing and pointing out of flaws and different techniques, etc. And it is a necessary thing to KNOW the rules.

Think about it like this: everyone has a different (sometimes wildly different) handwriting. Yet most everyone at one time or another was taught the 'proper' way to form their letters according to a particular standard form so that they could understand what the letters should look like. Once they understood that learning the standard forms allowed them to decipher variations of those forms, then they can go on to more elaborate forms of handwriting (say, calligraphy) with the understanding that the basics are still there.

Lighting is much the same, but there are more variables.

Once you understand the basics, you have a much better grasp of the things that you can change and still get an acceptable effect. One of the reasons people point out things like harsh catchlights or distracting shadows is to remind the photographer (who may be madly in love with the picture/subject/whatever) that the average viewer may find these things odd or even disturbing. If the photog is aware of these things, but still likes the shot, or if that was the aim of the photo, then perhaps someone else can learn from these things.

The intended audience for a particular shot will vary. And we (as critics/teachers/opinion offerers) don't always know whether the intended audience is versed in photography or not. Heck - we don't even know if it's a shot for a client, for the photog, or for a showing, most of the time. So in our responses, we come from the frame of mind (especially with a portrait) that the photo is for a paying client or for a general (and probably lighting un-educated) audience who might not appreciate some of the more artistic things that show up on the site.

The plain fact of the matter is that portrait clients pretty much expect a standard lighting/pose/set-up/etc. And if they are presented with something out of the box, there's a better-than-average chance that they will not like it. Possibly even enough to either not pay, or to not recommend a particular photographer in future. Admittedly, this is not always the case, but when we as a community are presented with a straight-on portrait, we tend to assume that it is for a client, and we tend to assume that they as a client are going to expect certain things. Unless we are informed otherwise (i.e., this guy wanted a different style of portrait or I'm trying to get a particular effect for such-and-such reason), I don't think that it is an unreasonable assumption.

And I don't particularly find it reasonable to take the attitude that one doesn't have to learn anything about the technical aspects of an art form in order to excel in that art form. This may not be the attitude that you have, but that is how it comes across when you say that
Originally posted by kellian:


Photography is an art and there really is no wrong way to express yourself.


As an example, some of my work (which I KNOW is NOT anywhere near a professional level).
I was trying to go for a low key shot, but I had no idea what I was doing.
so I ended up with this:
310759.jpg
after some feedback, I got this:
310758.jpg
and after more feedback, I finally ended up with this:
329039.jpg

I could have stuck with what I figured out on my own, but I don't think it would have worked as well. And if I hadn't bothered to learn the basics, I wouldn't be able to duplicate it. I certainly don't think that the first shot was the 'right' way to do it. But in order to get there, I had to take the critiques, the feedback, the tearing apart the photo so that I could figure out where I went 'wrong'.

I'm not trying to 'attack' your opinion in this, or your likes and dislikes, or even your photography. What I'm trying to do is show you why photographers need this type of criticism. And I feel it's necessary to point out in plain English that using the phrase "but it's art - there is no wrong way" as an excuse for not learning the technicals and not accepting critiques is a quick way to mediocre art. No, it's not always necessary, or even desirable, to follow the rules all the time. Some wonderful photographers have made careers out of exploiting the rules rather than sticking to them slavishly. But I cannot think of ANY who did not KNOW the rules.

12/15/2007 12:33:32 PM · #17
Originally posted by Gatorguy:

If I understand correctly, that is usually referred to as "clamshell" lighting. I use that often myself, usually to downplay a prominent feature like a nose. Instead of the light behind me, I put it in front of me and above and shoot between it and the reflector underneath.

An example:

small.jpg


The difference with your example, Gatorguy, is that you have shadows to define the nose and chin area because your lighting is higher. It's probably a foot higher. It also appears you have a bigger light source or it's closer, which helps to soften the lighting on the woman's face. Which is usually what is wanted with a woman. It just shows how a little bit of change in the lighting can change the effect.

Mike
12/15/2007 12:52:42 PM · #18
Originally posted by saracat:


I'm not trying to 'attack' your opinion in this, or your likes and dislikes, or even your photography. What I'm trying to do is show you why photographers need this type of criticism. And I feel it's necessary to point out in plain English that using the phrase "but it's art - there is no wrong way" as an excuse for not learning the technicals and not accepting critiques is a quick way to mediocre art. No, it's not always necessary, or even desirable, to follow the rules all the time. Some wonderful photographers have made careers out of exploiting the rules rather than sticking to them slavishly. But I cannot think of ANY who did not KNOW the rules.


I don't think you're attacking my point of view, nor would it bother me if I thought you were. I just thought the tone of some of the comments were condescending, and I pointed it out. lovethelight is hardly a beginner in need of learning the 'rules' of photography. And I'm fairly certain the point of the thread was just to share with us a technique she was excited about.

Enough hijacking, my apologies.
12/15/2007 01:20:02 PM · #19
haha i still consider myself somewhat of a beginner....my studio lighting experience is still pretty limited and i just wanted to share something new I tried with people who might be having trouble thinking up new things to do with their lights...if people want to critique it then great, it is nice to get some opinions. everyone needs to just relax :)
12/15/2007 01:54:07 PM · #20
Originally posted by kellian:

See, this thread irritates me a little. Sorry to go off topic, but I don't think there is a wrong way to light.


Hmmmm...interesting.

So you are saying when you blow out an image because your key is at an f22 when it should of been knocked down to an f5.6, and your back light is too soft giving you an f1.8 instead of a f4/5.6, and your fill is a kelvin of 5500 when it should of been, say for example a 2900 K.....

....you say that this is good lighting?

Interesting, but I will have to disagree with you.
12/15/2007 02:20:51 PM · #21
Originally posted by Man_Called_Horse:

Originally posted by kellian:

See, this thread irritates me a little. Sorry to go off topic, but I don't think there is a wrong way to light.


Hmmmm...interesting.

So you are saying when you blow out an image because your key is at an f22 when it should of been knocked down to an f5.6, and your back light is too soft giving you an f1.8 instead of a f4/5.6, and your fill is a kelvin of 5500 when it should of been, say for example a 2900 K.....

....you say that this is good lighting?

Interesting, but I will have to disagree with you.


I have no idea what you mean by this.....

and i have no idea what you mean by this either
"There are no correct ways to light, but there are plenty of wrong ways."

you are really confusing me....
12/15/2007 02:32:32 PM · #22
Originally posted by MikeJ:

Originally posted by Gatorguy:

If I understand correctly, that is usually referred to as "clamshell" lighting. I use that often myself, usually to downplay a prominent feature like a nose. Instead of the light behind me, I put it in front of me and above and shoot between it and the reflector underneath.

An example:

small.jpg


The difference with your example, Gatorguy, is that you have shadows to define the nose and chin area because your lighting is higher. It's probably a foot higher. It also appears you have a bigger light source or it's closer, which helps to soften the lighting on the woman's face. Which is usually what is wanted with a woman. It just shows how a little bit of change in the lighting can change the effect.

Mike


Yes, you are right. The large softbox was at about 45 deg up, and directly in front. It was only about 2-3 feet or so from her face. The reflector was just below (barely out of frame).
12/15/2007 03:09:37 PM · #23
Originally posted by lovethelight:

Originally posted by Man_Called_Horse:

Originally posted by kellian:

See, this thread irritates me a little. Sorry to go off topic, but I don't think there is a wrong way to light.


Hmmmm...interesting.

So you are saying when you blow out an image because your key is at an f22 when it should of been knocked down to an f5.6, and your back light is too soft giving you an f1.8 instead of a f4/5.6, and your fill is a kelvin of 5500 when it should of been, say for example a 2900 K.....

....you say that this is good lighting?

Interesting, but I will have to disagree with you.


you are really confusing me....


To end confusion.

If you have a meter, the f stops should be self explanatory. If you know what an f stop is, then an f22 is way hot, that is, depending on the sensativity of your ISO or ASA.

There is no correct way to light.

The way you light, and the way I light are correct. The way Joe Smith lights is correct. The way the Director of Photography lights for his multi billion dollar movie is correct.

What I mean is Style.

In other words, lighting is like painting. Van Gogh paints differantly than Dali, but, their paintings are beautiful. Hence, their style may be differant, but there is no correct way to paint.

Lighting is the same. There is no correct way to place your key, or your fill, or your back light. There is no measure of how many lights to use, or what wattage, or what Kilo watts to use. There is no correct color temp to use, or party colors. There are no standards.

There are guidelines, however.

As in the actual use of your camera, using guidelines to capture the image. Guidelines are only there for you to observe some simple principles.

From there, it is up to you.


12/15/2007 03:53:03 PM · #24
Originally posted by Man_Called_Horse:

Originally posted by kellian:

See, this thread irritates me a little. Sorry to go off topic, but I don't think there is a wrong way to light.


Hmmmm...interesting.

So you are saying when you blow out an image because your key is at an f22 when it should of been knocked down to an f5.6, and your back light is too soft giving you an f1.8 instead of a f4/5.6, and your fill is a kelvin of 5500 when it should of been, say for example a 2900 K.....

....you say that this is good lighting?

Interesting, but I will have to disagree with you.


lol.. Isn't this more of a wrong setting on your camera as opposed to a wrong way of lighting... lol..

Thanks for sharing the technique you used to achieve these results..Regardless of what "should" or "shouldn't be done".. Experimentation is always fun and what's attractive to one may not be to the next, so I look foward to trying this myself..
12/15/2007 03:58:28 PM · #25
with studio lights i think you set the power of the light by f:stop.

so at f:22 the light is going to be super powerful and too bright assuming you're camera is set to say a typical f:8...

Message edited by author 2007-12-15 15:59:17.
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