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Exploration of Studio Lighting

In order to successfully make a studio photoshoot, lighting is key. It will unlock all of the doors in order for you to get a good quality picture out of your camera. Moreover, it allows you to play around with aperture, ISO and shutter speed. When working with these 3 components, they are the ones that will determine if your picture is blurry, if it comes out out of focus, depending on aperture, and if your picture will be grained (loud). 

This is why I like to take pictures that are very high in quality, usually by prioritising my ISO, leaving it below 500. Specially in these situations, where you want to highlight the model and her clothes. The lights that I'm working with are LED lights, and since they are very modern, they allow me to play with the intensity that I want them with. Because at times, the light can be too much on a model, and it can really heat up a specific environment. Having previously worked with these lights, I already have some background knowledge on how to work with these lights, but, since I really want to enhance my performance with studio images, I decided to do a little bit more research on how to work with them.

The first thing that I saw while exploring this topic, is that in most situations, a studio has a very wide backdrop, and several lights to work with. In this case, I am in a bit of a disadvantage. I only have two lights, and my backdrop is very narrow. So I really have to look at the theory behind a good studio photoshoot and try to adapt it to my environment. The initial articles that I was reading, was talking a lot about working with lighting in a good studio environment, so in other words, they have all of the appropriate equipment. As you can see from the images below, you can see some of the equipment necessary in order to take a good headshot. Some of the necessary equipment for you to take a headshot are the following:

  • Lights (at least 2)
  • Backdrop
  • Reflectors
  • Stands
  • Domes
  • Camera

These are some of the necessary equipment. Now, I don't have most of them, and since I'm working alone, I wouldn't be able to use a reflector. The only materials that I was able to gain access to were the two lights, stands, backdrop and of course, my camera. The main thing that concerns me when looking at this layout is that it only focuses on the face, which is mostly why they use reflectors, in order to focus the light on one specific part of the body. 

After looking at both of these images, I was thinking on how I should apply the two lights that I had in order to create my images, where I not only want to focus on the model, but also on the background. Another important consideration to keep in mind is that my background has very thin lines, so I'm going to need to use a large aperture that requires a lot of lights. So when considering the distance that I want to keep in between my model and the background must be relatively close. While making sure that the environment isn't "hostile". So while I was doing more research on what type of lighting arrangements I should make, I came upon this website titled "How many studio lights do you really need?" and it basically highlights how you can work with a studio environment without needing all of the necessary equipments. Below, you will be able to see a map, that basically lays out 3 different scenarios, that basically shows simple studio set-ups. 

As you can see, the first two scenarios (left to right) shows a simple set up that works with just one lights. We can safely assume, that this is based on the fact that the photographer was aiming to work with shadows. I think that working with shadows is a great technique in order to show some depth of field, and to highlight that the model isn't just floating in the air. The third set up is quite interesting, because the photographer set up three lights, two of which are shining directly onto the background, I think that this would create a really cool effect in order to show the model coming out of the frame, and creating a "angelic" effect. But, for the purposes of this project, I think that it wouldn't fit my meaning. Working with studio lights is quite complicated, and I think that when it comes to this project, I think that I really need to consider what type of lighting I want to use. My film teacher told me that the basic theory when working with LED lights, is that if you have them at a perfect 45 degree angle from you subject, with a proportional distance from each other, there should be no shadow. This theory is basic, and harder that it sounds to perform. I've tried it one before on a white, and a black background, with the black background, it works just fain, but the white background really highlights the imperfection in the set up. 

Overall, I think that I have to go with the regular theory, I think that with this particular set up, I don't have the space to play, literally, and I have to work with what I'm comfortable with. I think that this will be a successful shoot, and I think that in the end the lighting can be solved on photoshop, and always, but my main concern in the shadow that the model could potentially cast upon the background. 

Henrique MontesantiComment