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Helpful friend

By JackAllTog      
A Helpful friend helping me tryout my new umbrella & softbox.

Tags: Portraits and people Flash and lighting


croberts 15 2.2k 8 Ireland
20 Jul 2009 1:24PM
If you can have another go, try using just one or the other. so you dont even out the light so much, Shadows are as much a part of a picture as the light. Perhaps use one light behind him, to put a nice edge of light round his hat.

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banehawi Plus
15 2.2k 4082 Canada
20 Jul 2009 2:24PM
Hi Stuart, - a good first effort with studio lights.

Youve started with a difficult subject (not your friend!), but with him wearing a hat. This forced you to position one of the lights low which results in some ahdwos under his eyes, and a fairly flat appearance. Start without the hat; place the main light at 45 degrees to his eyes, and slightly above; place a fill light over the camera position, and at a lower power that the main light. This should provide some decent contrast, and is a good place to start.

If you then shoot the hat, have him tilt it back or sideways a little, - the shadow of the brim can be a good element to include also.

Also, - calibrate your white balance, - its a little cool in this one. Shoot the light set up using a grey or white card, shoot RAW, and use this as the reference for subsequent shots.

Ive loaded a mod with some colour balance adjusted, sharpening, and Ive faked a shadow on one side to give an idea what I mean with the lighting placements.

Hope this helps


JackAllTog Plus
10 5.8k 58 United Kingdom
20 Jul 2009 4:10PM
Thanks Guys, I like the shadow idea.
malc_c 13 2 167 England
21 Jul 2009 5:50AM
Hi Stuart,

I'm no expert at studio lighting and I'm not going to add to the technical notes above. What I would add is that this shot doesn't work for me because the lighting looks so unnatural, in fact almost gothic.

Portrait shots should be natural, and flattering to the characteristic you are trying to bring out in your subject, unless you are making a very specific point. And studio lights allow you to control the environment to achieve that. But as soon as unnatural shadows creep in you are in danger of breaking the illusion and losing the story.

I hope this makes some sense

NickParry 14 1.0k 79 Wales
22 Jul 2009 12:59PM
My only further suggestion to add to the good comments above would be to possibly put a reflector on the lap of the sitter to lift the detail in the face when taking the shot (even a quality street tin lid would be ok Smile). This would eliminate the shadow from the hat slightly.

I would also be inclined to add some back lighting to give an outline of the hat.

In post-production I would maybe consider the following to add further drama to the image:

In PS:

In the layers pallete select the channels and select the blue channel. Then go to select all and copy this blue channel. Click back so that all channels are selected again and paste this blue channel on top of the background layer. Then invert this blue channel layer, use 'Overlay' as the blend method, then Gaussian blur to taste. Then flatten the image.

This, surprisingly, adds a little 'punch' to images like this.

Nick Smile

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