Portrait Lighting

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by munday79, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. munday79

    munday79 TPF Noob!

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    I am new to portraits and lighting I have 2 calumet 335 self contained monostrobes and 2 soft boxes. The problem I'm having is that I'm getting nasty reflections off my subjects' eyes. Is there any way to alleviate the problem? JPG: Photos: "Portrait work" by Michael Munday
     
  2. LBPhotog

    LBPhotog TPF Noob!

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    um, I believe you referring to the "catch lights" and, usually, portrait photographers WANT those ...
     
  3. JimmyO

    JimmyO TPF Noob!

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    The white balance, flat lighting, and wierd composition are bigger issues.
     
  4. munday79

    munday79 TPF Noob!

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    well yes I do want one or two but not three or four, besides they have a flaring effect to them i'd rather prefer that they were softer
     
  5. LearnMyShot

    LearnMyShot TPF Noob!

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    Hi..you're using more that one front light...that's why all the highlights in the eyes....use one frontlight, one light on the background and if you have a third that's your fill light or hair light
     
  6. LBPhotog

    LBPhotog TPF Noob!

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    Not to mention the slouched subject, and the improper framing of this image ... :er:

    Yes, if you have three lights you need one to illuminate your subject and create the exposure, one to fill in the background and one to fill in the shadows and separate the subject from the background.
     
  7. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    The reflection of the lights in your subject's eyes are called "catch lights'. They are usually something you do want to see, because they give they eyes a sparkle. Eyes without catchlights tend to look dead.

    However, you may not want to see too many catchlights, it doesn't look natural. Your example has several catchlights, for example.

    Where and if a catchlight appears in the eye, is a simple matter of reflection. The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. Basically, the eyes are little round mirrors, and if the angle/position of the lights and the camera match up, you will see them in the eyes. The easy solution is to move the lights so that they don't show up in the eyes.
    The usual method is to place the main (key) light so that it produces the lighting pattern that you want. As a starter, position the key light to give you a catchlight at 10 or 2 o'clock. Then position the fill light. A traditional place to put the fill light, is on the camera axis, which is likely to show up as a catch light...but if you place it back farther, the catchlight gets smaller. Many photographers will place the fill light on the opposite side from the key light...at least far enough so that it doesn't show up in the eye...although you could move it higher or lower, depending on your needs, to help hide the catchlight.

    Lastly, it's not uncommon to just edit the catchlights. It's pretty easy with digital, but it wasn't out of the question for people to edit them on film negatives, back in the day.
     
  8. munday79

    munday79 TPF Noob!

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    thank you robert, the problem i'm having too is that I have limited space so the strobes can be a problem because I can't move them off to the side enough, but I see what you're saying, i've also tried one light but it seems like my photos are underexposed to one side and overexposed on another, can you offer any advice about that? thank you.
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Portrait lighting is all about the ratio. You usually don't want flat lighting, where the subject's face is evenly lit. You usually want to create some shadow and modeling of their face. That is why we position the key light away from the camera, to create those shadows. The fill light is used to control the darkness of those shadows, and thus the ratio between the bright side and the dark side.

    Using only one light, you will likely have dark shadows....but all you need to do, to brighten them, is to use a reflector on the opposite side from the light. Of course, you can use another light for fill, but you need to control it's power/light to control your ratio.
     
  10. munday79

    munday79 TPF Noob!

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    "improper framing" What does that mean?
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well, this shot is "sort of" a half-body shot, but it has the man's hands cut off. He is seated, but the way his body and hands are positioned does not show his hands; for example, if he were seated and his arms were folded across his chest, or if he were standing and his hands were on his hips, or one hand was on one hip and the other hand were in a pocket, this half-body pose would be what is called "a completed pose". However, he is seated, but he is shown hand-less...the camera ought to be much closer to do a head and shoulder pose, or backed up enough to show him in what is called a half-body pose.

    The framing you have in the sample image is something that many people without training in formal portraiture would probably not understand as being improper or "incomplete". It is called a double amputation. Man, seated,half-body, double amputation. In a print competition with professional judges, this pose would not even be judged. That is what is meant by "improper framing". Either it needs to be a head and shoulder portrait, or a half-body shot WITH the hands not visually amputated.
     
  12. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi, Michael.

    If that is the case, you'll have to find a larger space.

    But.... If you haven't seen someone work with studio lighting, you may not realize that the MAIN LIGHT should be in close to your subject. So close that it's just out of view. It looks like you have it pulled back.

    What a soft box does is make a small light into a large light source, producing diffuse light with softer shadow edges. The farther you place it from your subject, the more you cancel the benefits. The lighting begins to become more directional... like the small light you started with.

    -Pete
     

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