I know that many of my portraits are low key and often quite moody with lots of shadows, I happen to like that look, but I can actually shoot some brighter stuff as well (shocked gasps all around), so today I’ll show you that.
It even so happens that the shot to the left here turned out to be one of my favourite portraits of my wife. I’m not quite sure what it is about it that appeals so much to me but I do know that I like it a lot. The way I first envisioned this was with her wearing all white against a white background. However, she didn’t have any white clothes that she deemed suitable, so this is what we ended up with. Not exactly like my vision but still acceptable. If you take a look a bit farther down you’ll see a conversion to black and white (well, mostly white) that I did on a couple of the shots, I think that worked out pretty well. It always kind of annoys me when I have more than one edit that looks good, I’m terrible at choosing but at the same time I don’t want to upload two versions of the same picture. Enough rambling, let’s have a look at the setup (no, I don’t have a setup shot, you’ll have to use your imagination).
Very simple setup with three lights; main, fill and background, textbook stuff. Since I wanted things bright, I looted a white bed sheet to use as a background, threw up some lights and done…what, you wanted a bit more than that? Ok, we start with the key light, a LP160 in umbrella, coming in from camera left. The reason I’m using an umbrella instead of my softbox is that I’m looking for soft light that wraps around the subject as much as possible, and the umbrella provides a bigger light source than the softbox, meaning less contrast and more wrap. Besides, in this scenario we don’t need the control of the softbox since spill light won’t affect things in an unwanted way.
Next we bring in the fill light to further fill in the shadows and, consequently, soften things up even more. I used a YN560 in umbrella as close to the camera as I could get it. A side note; I prefer to use one of my YN560s over the LP160s for the fill light. The reason for that is that the YN560 lets you vary the power in smaller increments than full stops, giving you much finer control over your fill. Light in place, it’s just a matter of dialing in the power until you think it looks good – there’s no right or wrong.
Finally we top things off with a bare LP160, nuking the background. The rest is easy, just insert pretty wife in light setup and hope she’s in a modelling mood, which she happened to be, more or less. Take a few snaps, change pose, rinse and repeat. Quick, simple, perhaps a bit uninspired but at the end of the day I came away with some portraits that I really like and that’s a win in my book.
Hey, I didn’t even criticise myself today, I guess I’ll leave that to my readers. Let me know if there’s anything you think I should improve for next time.