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Thread: Indoor lighting help needed for headshot

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    Indoor lighting help needed for headshot

    I was asked to do some head shots for a girl entering pageants. Im not so sure of the lighting . This is what i have to work with . I will be using a black muslin backdrop. I have 2 65w umbrella lights , 430 ex ii flash and a reflector. I have in the past used 1 umbrella light off to the side and used the flash shot thru umbrella at an angle almost in front of the subject but as with one of my posts indoor session I had problems with lighting and my set up. The room I will be working in is 10 feet wide and I will be about 15 feet away as I would like to use my 50 mm or my 85mm . I would love the light to be soft . Should I use the flash and 1 umbrella or should i use flash and reflector and how should i set up the lighting for a soft look. Thanks in advance



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    Joylyn, I would consider using clam shell lighting for headshots. Specially since they are for pageants. I have just started trying to do this type of lighting but from the videos and reading it seems to me to be the best type for women. At this time, I am trying to do it with an umbrella with the off camera light above and a reflector below. There are a lot of good youtube videos out there for it.

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    Joylyn, those 65w umbrella lights are useless... they don't out out enough light for anything but long exposure product protography... Humans move, and that won't work. Not only that... but using those with flash could potentially give you mixed lighting (two different colors of light) and that can be grief when doing post. You really don't have the equipment to do serious pageant type shots (if it is any kind of serious pageant! I haven't shot a pageant or pageant contestants since the 80's... but I doubt that it has changed.

    If you are doing more than a headshot, you really need a Key light, a fill light , reflectors as needed, a hair light, and maybe a rim light too ( if she has dark hair, or dark clothing, shooting on black). A

    Are you just doing a true headshot? Just upper shoulders and head? See these: highly effective headshots - women.

    As far as modifiers for the light go... you are limited somewhat having a speedlight. It lacks the power to drive a large modifier, but if you are truly only doing a headshot, you can probably get by withit and an umbrella (I think I remember you have 33", right?).. just keep it close to the subject.

    If they just need a simple one light headshot... Flash as key , reflector for fill. (I would still want a hair light... again, especially if she has dark hair, other wise you will lose it on the black background). The clamshell lighting that Ron suggests requires two lights and a reflector (depending on the ratio you are after, you could use one light /reflector). I would suggest going for butterfly lighting.. as that can be done with one light and a reflector and I find it more flattering (personal preference). You can research that on the net... practice it before you go shoot though.

    The 85 would be a good choice if you have room.
    Last edited by cgipson1; 02-08-2013 at 07:44 AM.

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    Charlie, What is the second light for? The background or rim lighting? I was watching Scott Kelby and Joe McNalley doing it with one light and a reflector. (Scott used a beauty dish on the light).

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronlane View Post
    Charlie, What is the second light for? The background or rim lighting? I was watching Scott Kelby and Joe McNalley doing it with one light and a reflector. (Scott used a beauty dish on the light).
    You can shoot clamshell with one light, and a reflector.... but unless you have some power on the light, it can be hard to hit the reflector with enough light to get a really good clamshell effect. I just prefer a light low front, and high front. Personal preference, I guess. It also depends on the ratio's you are shooting fot...

    sort of like this... The 2 Light Setup that Never Fails

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    If your model has round or oval facial features, not necessarily over-weight, a short lighting pattern will result in a slimming effect.

    I suggest to look at all the links on the bottom of the page.

    Tutorial: Basic Light Patterns
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    Thanks for all your replies. First off I'm not doing serious pageant photography its for a small town pageant. No charge of course cause many would not approve . I have seen so many tutorials in the last 24 hours on portrait work done with only 1 light , and my equipment isnt good enough??? I plan on purchasing better equipment as money allows but with no way of just going out and purchasing a soft box today I have to make what I have work for now. I'm not a pro and I have tons to learn but would love to produce good looking images with what I have now.

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    Hi, joylyn! I assume your comment about "many would not approve" is directed at this forum. Yes, some members have been flamed when they reveal that they have been paid, but let's try to keep everything in perspective. Such criticism usually occurs when someone claims to be a "professional", but whose photographs aren't very good.

    As to your "not serious" pageant photography; you should probably treat even a child's photo for a small town pageant as fairly important, to both of you. The contestant wants to put her best effort forward, and so should you.

    As to your "equipment isn't good enough"; it may surprise you that modest equipment can make fairly good photographs. The key is to know as much as you can about the equipment, along with light, composition, and all the rest. What that means is: When you have progressed to the point of overshooting your equipment, then you will know quite a bit about photography.

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    I understand completely just stating that fact so that no one gets upset with the fact I am not a professional . Every picture I take I take very seriously and it is important to me that I produce good images. Learning is what I am here for and asking the professionals their advice . I value everyone's opinion and make note of what the professionals have to say. I guess it rubbed me the wrong way when it was posted my equipment isnt good enough I more less took it as forget it you will never achieve good results. Let's just say my skin has gotten abit thicker . It is all about learning and knowing how to take the bad with the good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Designer View Post
    As to your "equipment isn't good enough"; it may surprise you that modest equipment can make fairly good photographs. The key is to know as much as you can about the equipment, along with light, composition, and all the rest. What that means is: When you have progressed to the point of overshooting your equipment, then you will know quite a bit about photography.
    The three question marks after her comment seem to indicate that she's questioning what some folks are saying here. You're telling her, and I would agree, that she CAN make good photos with her current (one light) gear.

    I would add that she need not necessarily take the "advice" of the TPF gear snobs who love to jump into these kinds of conversations too seriously.
    Designer and joylyn like this.
    Your honest C&C is always welcome and appreciated. For those with such interests: My Gear
    "Photography's never been merely about photographing what you could see; it's always been about photographing what you wanted to see." ~ Ctein
    Life is like photography... FOCUS on what's important, CAPTURE the good times, DEVELOP from the negatives, and if things don't work out, TAKE ANOTHER SHOT!!!

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    Joylyn, don't let us determine whether your charge or not! Let the quality of your images, and your skill level determine that... Just remember that if you charge, you are acting as a Professional, and your images should reflect that. Determining what is "Professional Quality"... that is up to the individual! You have already shown that you care about the quality of your images... so that is your call...

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    Quote Originally Posted by joylyn View Post
    I understand completely just stating that fact so that no one gets upset with the fact I am not a professional . Every picture I take I take very seriously and it is important to me that I produce good images. Learning is what I am here for and asking the professionals their advice . I value everyone's opinion and make note of what the professionals have to say. I guess it rubbed me the wrong way when it was posted my equipment isnt good enough I more less took it as forget it you will never achieve good results. Let's just say my skin has gotten abit thicker . It is all about learning and knowing how to take the bad with the good.
    PM sent concerning my comment on your continuous lights... if that is what you are referring to...

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    Quote Originally Posted by joylyn View Post
    ..... I guess it rubbed me the wrong way when it was posted my equipment isnt good enough I more less took it as forget it you will never achieve good results. Let's just say my skin has gotten abit thicker . It is all about learning and knowing how to take the bad with the good.
    Your (lighting) equipment is certainly "good enough" to take quality portraits. I think the advice that they are useless might be reserved to consideration prior to purchase. Since this is what you have on hand, make the most of what you've got. I started a thread for one light portraits..... The ONE-LIGHT PORTRAIT Challenge. In addition to the examples posted, I suggest to read the linked article found in the Rangefinder magazine. Adaptation and imagination are key ingredients.

    To get you a little further along, here are some diagrams that may help you.



    The snoot can be a DIY of a rolled cereal box taped together with duct tape and fitted around your single speedlight.












    I hope this helps just a little. You really can do wonderful things with a single light and a reflector.
    joylyn likes this.
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