For a while now my wife has been wanting some portraits of herself that are more in her style, or a magazine type style. Far be it from me to deny a model who actually volunteers, so up went the lights.
You can pretty much do a shoot like this with a single light but I wanted some more depth and nuance to it, so I used three. Since this was to be in a bit different style than my usual stuff I wanted to keep the lights soft, none of those hard lights I often throw in there. Actually I don’t think there’s that much to say about this setup since it pretty much worked out the way I wanted it to. I did some small variations in the placement of the key light after the initial setup but other than that, things remained more or less constant. Instead it was the model who changed both wardrobe and pose to give me a whole bunch of usable shots. Not to worry though, obviously we’ll still cover the details and have a look at the setup.
If you look below you’ll see that I even remembered to take a setup shot – that’s twice in a row, don’t get too used to it though, I don’t want you to get disappointed when the old forgetfulness kicks in again. Now take a gander below (I just wanted to use the word gander).
As you can see, the key light is a YN560 in my new softbox and I think it does an excellent job, definitely a good purchase. Next we have the rim light from camera left, something I would normally use a bare light or just a small softbox for. However, here I choose to use an umbrella instead (with LP160), to keep even the rim nice and soft. The fact that the rim light will spill over a lot on the background didn’t really matter this time since I wasn’t planning on lighting the background separately anyway. For this kind of beauty shot I really think a softer rim light works very well, especially in the hair, it just gives a much more even spread than a bare light would do.
The final light is a LP160 with a small softbox from above and behind, slightly to camera right. This light doesn’t add that much to the scene so it’s rather subtle. It does however add a bit of a highlight in the hair and also to some extent on the left shoulder. As you can see, this light is harder than the others, even though it still uses a softbox as well. I think it does a nice job of adding dimension while keeping the image from appearing overly lit. I wanted the light in these shots to enhance without really being noticed.
Speaking of notice, you might have noticed that the rim lights appear colder than the key light. That’s because the key light has 1/4 CTO gel on it. I did that to provide an extra level of separation between the lights and make the whole scene feel a bit more dynamic. By the way, I triggered the flashes with the camera’s popup flash. Normally I would keep it on the lowest setting for something like that but this time I let it add just a touch of fill to the scene. It’s barely noticeable though.
In the end I have to say that I’m rather pleased with the outcome of this photo shoot. Not only did the lighting work the way I had hoped, I also think I managed pretty well with the editing. As usual I haven’t done anything too radical in post, mainly changed the tones and tweaked the levels until I was satisfied with the feel and polish of the images. The exception is the shot to the left here, which I felt I needed to do something more with in order to make it work. After this edit it actually became one of my favourite shots from the whole session, though I think my number one favourite is the first shot in this post.
Let me know which one is your favourite and don’t forget to check out the rest of them from the thumbnails below, I got a lot of keepers from this one so it’s worth a look.