Rifqi's photo

My photographic journey

One thing I probably need to get better at is to experiment more with different ways to light my portraits. In light of that (ain’t I funny?) I did a shoot of my wife that’s decidedly different to anything I’ve done before. The idea I had was to use a pretty flat light and then add a bit of punch to it, something to bring out some life and make the whole thing a bit more dynamic and interesting. No setup shot but it should be fairly simple to understand anyway, so let’s get cracking.

Most of the time, when I’m using some kind of fill light, I add the fill last. It’s a way to bring out details in the shadows after bringing out the shape with a key light. This time I did it the opposite way and went all out on the fill to get a pretty bright and flat look. The light was accomplished with one LP160 in umbrella on each side of the camera. I used two in order to get the light symmetrical and together they create a bigger, softer source than you would get with just one. I guess you could stop there but it’s not all that interesting, not bad either though.

Next thing was to add something extra and for that job I used a gridded YN560, boomed above and in front of the subject. A gridded light is usually quite hard but when you have a lot of ambient light or you’re adding your own fill light, you can control some of that hardness. By putting the gridded light just above the fill light (in terms of power) it doesn’t appear very harsh, it just adds a highlight to draw attention to the face.

I would say the experiment was fairly successful but there are a couple of things I could have changed to make it better. If you look at the shots you’ll see that there’s a shadow from the nose and lips that isn’t very flattering. I can think of two ways to get rid of that: a tighter grid or a more frontal position of the light. Maybe a combination of the two would be best. We don’t want the highlight to be too tight but we also want to avoid banging the light into the subject head on. If I experiment a bit with those tweaks I definitely think this could be a technique to pull out from time to time.

What do you guys think, is there a good shot hiding there or am I barking up the wrong tree?

/Rifqi

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3 Responses to “Light with some punch”

  1. disperser

    I had not noticed the shadow until you mentioned it.

    One thing that looks a bit odd (at least I noticed right away) is the dual reflection in the eyes.

    Don’t know how to minimize that, and perhaps you can see that in professional shoots as well, but it stood out for me.

    Other than that, I thought it was a nice portrait.

    Reply
    • Rifqi

      Thanks, maybe it’s just me nitpicking my own stuff, that’s usually how it goes. I agree about the dual reflection as well. I think the only way to minimize that effect is by altering the position of those lights or to photoshop out one of the reflections. I think the solution in professional portraits is to use a much bigger light modifier for the fill light. If I was very rich and had more space than I knew what to do with, I would be using a big octabox, which would be a bigger lightsource than two small umbrellas put together. Unfortunately I have neither space nor money :p

      Reply
      • disperser

        Space . . . the final frontier. And money . . . the other final frontier.

        . . . I know them well.

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