Note

Keep in mind that these are not the easiest examples I could choose. Instead, I chose lighting setups of medium to advanced difficulty to test your eye and get you practicing analyzing light.

Figure 7.12

This image was illuminated by a beauty dish (centered and straight on) and fill card (placed beneath the torso).

Figure 7.12

This image was illuminated by a beauty dish (centered and straight on) and fill card (placed beneath the torso).

■ Quality of light. The light is even and relatively soft. It has a glowing quality to it.

■ Catchlights in subject's eyes. There are two main catchlights (defined highlights) in the eyes. First, there is a main circular highlight (with a small circle within) located just above the subject's pupil and slightly to its left. It is more or less center. Second, there is a faded highlight in the bottom of the eye. It is rectangular (edges visible) but faded.

■ Highlights. There are no distinct highlights—just the main light on the face.

■ Shadows. There are no distinct shadows—just a bit of a soft shadow beneath the nose and chin. The shadows are relatively even with a direction. (They don't fall hard right or left.)

■ Summary of likely lighting setup. This image was illuminated with only one light. This light, a beauty dish, was placed above the camera almost directly in front of the subject. It was raised slightly above the subject's head, as you can tell by the location of the catchlights. The light was made glowing and even by putting a large white foam core board just out of the bottom of the frame. This type of board ($5 or less at arts and craft stores) acted as a bounce card to almost eliminate shadows. The light and its glowing quality resulted from the combination of beauty dish and foam core reflector. The rectangular faded highlight in the bottom of the eye is evidence of this reflector.

Figure 7.12 was an artist's portrait for her promotional materials and an article to appear in a local magazine. This light is flattering for women who have nice facial structure. This lighting setup does not work well for men.

Figure 7.13

This image was illuminated by a softbox (left side of frame) and kicker strip light (back 45-degree angle).

Figure 7.12 was an artist's portrait for her promotional materials and an article to appear in a local magazine. This light is flattering for women who have nice facial structure. This lighting setup does not work well for men.

■ Quality of light. The light is directional with clear highlight and shadow areas, but it also has a softer quality and wraps around the face and body.

■ Catchlights in subject's eyes. The catchlight is in the shape of a rectangle in the left side of her eye.

■ Highlights. There are two highlights. The first is the light on the subject's face, which is softer and more broad. The second is a relatively crisp highlight on the right side of the image on the subject's arm and chest.

■ Shadows. The shadows are soft and not very dark but also not very filled in. Here they give definition to the face and body and add a bit of drama to the image. The shadows from the nose on the face fall almost level to the right (perhaps even slightly upward).

■ Summary of likely lighting setup. There are two lights in this image. The main light is a large softbox to the left of the frame. The softbox is about level with the torso of the subject, which is why the shadows fall almost level from left to right and even slightly upward. The light is soft and broad, which characterizes a softbox. The softbox is positioned farther to the left of the frame, creating the shadow on the right side of the face. You can tell the location of the light based on the catchlights and the direction and location of the facial shadows. The second light is a kicker light to the back 45-degree angle (on the right) of the subject. This light could either be barn doors (open slightly broader) or a strip light (long narrow soft-box for highlights). In this case, it actually is a strip light, and it is not as sharp of a highlight as would be created by barn doors.

Figure 7.13 was a portrait taken as part of a model portfolio while building up my fashion flair portfolio a few years ago. This lighting setup (softbox and kicker) is the most common portrait lighting setup. Although this setup is somewhat traditional, the poses and direction of light make it an engaging fashion flair image.

■ Quality of light. The light is harsh and dramatic.

■ Catchlights in subject's eyes. There are no catchlights because there's no front light. The eyes are cast in shadow.

■ Highlights. Note the two sharp and narrow highlights on the left and right side of the subject's body. Light is restricted to the sides and back of her head and face indicating light coming from an appropriate back 45-degree angle.

■ Shadows. The large shadow in the middle of the subject's face is dominant, sharp, and very dark.

Figure 7.14

This image was illuminated with two silver dishes (two strobes) from back 45-degree angles, creating two harsh highlights on either side of the face. This image was part of a model portfolio.

Figure 7.14

This image was illuminated with two silver dishes (two strobes) from back 45-degree angles, creating two harsh highlights on either side of the face. This image was part of a model portfolio.

■ Summary of likely lighting setup. This image was lit with two strobes and silver dishes. You can create a similar effect with two lights with barn doors, although the beams of light would be narrower (and likely not spread onto the face as much). These two lights were at a back 45-degree angle on either side of the subject. The light was at an even distance and angle on either side to create this symmetrical image.

The setup for Figure 7.14 was for a local model portfolio, but you could easily use this light for any subject with a strong profile. I've used this setup often for images of musicians playing their instruments, because the light is dramatic and feels very much like stage/performance lighting. For musicians, I often use one light as a silver dish to be a bit broader, and a more focused barn doors highlight for the back side.

Backlit Photo With Reflector
This image, part of a high school senior portrait, was backlit by the sun and a silver reflector to illuminate the subject's face.

■ Quality of light. The light is bright and glowing. The light on the background is harsh and bright, whereas the light on the subject is crisp and even (much softer than background light).

■ Catchlights in subject's eyes. The main catchlight is an oval/round one on the left side of the her eye, centered. There is also another very broad and soft catchlight covering the rest of the eye.

■ Highlights. The main highlight is behind the subject on the background and on her shoulders and hips. The highlight is strong and crisp.

■ Shadows. There are minimal shadows in this image. The light on the subject is even overall, with no distinct or defining shadow areas.

■ Summary of likely lighting setup. This image was taken about an hour before sunset with the sun to the subject's back and a silver reflector illuminating her face. The sunlight was bright and crisp, so it created the distinct highlights on her body. The silver reflector was to the front and slightly to the left of the frame, which is why the distinct catchlight is to the left of her eye. The other more broad highlight in the image is actually created by the light in the open sky behind the camera. In other words, for this image the main light is illumination on the face from the silver reflector bouncing light back onto the subject. The fill light for this image is the open sky, and the rim light (backlight) is from direct sunlight.

Figure 7.15 was taken as part of a high school senior portrait and dance portfolio shoot. In a typical photography class or professional club competition, this image might get lower marks because of the blown-out highlights and lens flare. In fashion photography, however, this lighting is common and highly praised because it is flattering and creates a dreamlike, fantasy feeling. This was one of the client's favorite images from the shoot.

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