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Studio lighting tutorial - part three

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Category: Portraits and People

Studio lighting advice for fashion shots - Creating portraits with a fashion edge in the studio.

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For this next shot I used the same lights as before, a Bowens Esprit Gemini 2 head 250 kit. But as you can see from these pictures I wanted to create more of a fashion type shot, using strong lighting from behind the subject.

Studio lighting

Once again I worked with Sam on this series of photos. This type of picture works really well with Sam and for that matter anyone with long hair. The set up couldn’t be easier, using the standard brolly again as a main light and the second light positioned directly behind Sam pointing towards the camera.

Just like the last shot in the series, I set up one of the Gemini 250’s with the standard Wide Angle reflector and attached the Bowens brolly. I positioned the light about 1.5 metres in front and just to one side of Sam angled at about 30 degrees above her head. Once again, using the brolly to bounce light in this way will give you a very soft, diffused natural light and if positioned correctly will also give you beautiful round catch lights in the eyes.

Studio lighting set-up

I can’t emphasise this enough, it’s always the eyes that make the shot so they say, so make sure you get the catch lights in the right place. Move the light around your subject so that you can get the catch light just inside the darker part of the pupil of the eye. This looks so natural and looking at the pictures of Sam you’ll know exactly what I mean.

I didn’t use the 60x60cm soft box on second Gemini 250 this time, but removed it and just used the bare tube instead. Ideally you would use another Wide Angle reflector on this light, or even the Backlite reflector either would do. The Wide Angle reflector would create more flare than the Backlite. But in this series I am just showing very basic set ups, you can always add on the proper accessories to do the job later.

So with the main light in place, the second light can now be added behind the subject. This light should be pointing at the camera at around the models shoulder height angled up towards the head, just out of camera shot. Obviously not too close, we don’t want any accidents here, so leave at least half a metre gap between the light and the subject.

I would suggest that the main light with the brolly be set at around f8 to f11 and the back light set at around f5.6 to f8, about a stop less. Make sure that the backlight is giving a nice even spread of light around the subjects head and not in camera shot. The nice thing about this shot is that you can really experiment here without making any real mistakes.


By turning the power of the back light up or down you can create different amounts of flare. You may need less light for someone with lighter coloured hair than you do with dark hair. The important thing is to get the shot you want. Get your model to fluff up her hair a little to make sure that you get plenty of light streaming through. Like Sam, get the model to hold her hair with her hands to really accentuate this set up.

Here are the pictures of Sam and a simple diagram of how the lights were set up. Hope you have lots of fun with this shot.

My thanks to Chris at ReeveBanks photography for his help and coffee making skills and to Sam Gooden-Wood for putting up with me for a day and also to Chris’s assistant Mark, for all his help.


You've read the article, now go take some fantastic images. You can then upload the pictures, plus any advice and suggestions you have into the dedicated Photo Month forum for everyone at ePHOTOzine to enjoy.


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