need help lighting darker skin tones

gabelimom

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Hi-

I just had a Beauty shoot, and was working with 3 models. One was white, one was asian and the other was african-american. The lighting stayed the same throughout the shoot. I used a small softbox to light them with an additional reflector to bounce the light back up. The first two models photographed beautifully, but the african-american model's skin tone came out terribly ashy. You could literally see all the makeup she was wearing on her cheeks. Essentially, her skin looked like dust.

Is there some special lighting technique that I would need to use for lighting darker skin tones? I've heard of using gels, but am not that familiar with them. Also, is there any particular side of a reflector (white, gold, silver), that works better with darker complexions? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

EOS_JD

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Sounds like you have slightly overexposed the black skin. Were you shooting manual?
 
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gabelimom

gabelimom

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Yes, I was shooting manual. Should I underexpose darker skin tones?
 

shingfan

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maybe you were overexposing the other two as well but they were more forgiving having whiter skin
 

fmw

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Dark skin will require more exposure than light skin because it is less reflective. If you have dark and light skinned models in the same image, it can be a difficult thing to handle in terms of exposure. That's where having a wide selection of lights and modifiers really helps. Without such a selection, you just have to find an average exposure that compromises the least in either direction.
 

Mike_E

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To photograph dark skinned people you need to shoot them as a zone 4. Light skinned people as a zone 6. Also, for darker skined people you need to wrap them in light or in other words you should use lighting from the sides and feeather it and you need to watch out for your kicker or you will get a halo. :) mike
 

Mike_E

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Could be, but if you are not used to shooting darker people they can hang you up. Try dropping your exposure compensation by a full stop if you are shooting them by themselves. In a group, just pray for dynamic range. ;)
mike
 

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