[Serious] How can I improve this studio shot?

NedM

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Hey guys. I'm finally diving into the world of working in a studio environment. I recently shot with a model in my studio the other day and when I put the images onto my computer I noticed a lot of discrepancies.

Here's a shot straight from the camera:
STUDIO SHOT

Camera settings:
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
F/11
1/200 sec.
ISO-160
Tamron 24-70 2.8 shot at 50mm
White Balance: Set to custom at 5700K

Lighting setup:
I had two Flashpoint 620M 300 Watt monolights setup both at 1/2 power. I had one 24x36 Softbox and one 30x60 Softbox setup. You can see my setup more clearly here:
SHOT OF STUDIO

Here are some questions I have:

Why is my background not completely white but instead a bit more warm in some areas?
How can I improve or reduce the shadows in her eyes and also caused by her hair?
How can I make her skin tone more flattering? It's a bit orange or saturated to me.

These are the only questions I have right now, but any help would very much appreciated!
 

Designer

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1. The variance in the light on the background is due to natural falloff. With only two softboxes the background is not evenly lighted.

2. It seems you need a light closer to the lens pointed straight at the model.

3. Adjust your white balance.
 

tirediron

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To add to Designer's points: You generally need two dedicated background lights when shooting wide seamless, and it's usually best to cross light (Light on the right illuminates the left side of the paper and vice versa). Read up on the inverse square law to learn about light fall off.

Your lights should be raised; I generally like to have the lowest part of the modifier above the waist, and often closer to the shoulder. I'm not sure that I would add a light to illuminate her face straight on, but if the hair couldn't be moved and you couldn't tweak her pose or the light position just a bit, than I would up in with a couple of reflectors to kick some light back into those shadow areas.

Is 5700K the correct WB for the your lights with those modifiers? I would recommend the acquisition of an X-Rite Colour-Checker Passport and its associated LR plugin for optimal colour accuracy.
 

Braineack

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for that tamron at f/11, it seems really soft at 100%

so my number 1 would be: getting the focus nailed.
 
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NedM

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To add to Designer's points: You generally need two dedicated background lights when shooting wide seamless, and it's usually best to cross light (Light on the right illuminates the left side of the paper and vice versa). Read up on the inverse square law to learn about light fall off.

Your lights should be raised; I generally like to have the lowest part of the modifier above the waist, and often closer to the shoulder. I'm not sure that I would add a light to illuminate her face straight on, but if the hair couldn't be moved and you couldn't tweak her pose or the light position just a bit, than I would up in with a couple of reflectors to kick some light back into those shadow areas.

Is 5700K the correct WB for the your lights with those modifiers? I would recommend the acquisition of an X-Rite Colour-Checker Passport and its associated LR plugin for optimal colour accuracy.

I have heard about the inverse square law and I figured that inconsistent background was due to some light fall off but I definitely need to look into it more. When you mention modifier are referring to the soft boxes I have attached to the strobes? I'm not at all too familiar studio jargon.

Her hair just happen to be in front of her face for that shot and I was just curious to see if there was a way to eliminate or at best reduce those kinds of shadows. I was shooting for a client for their e-commerce and so the model did do a lot of different poses. If I raise the soft boxes higher or above her waist would that result in more flattering lighting on her face? Here's a shot where her hair is out of the way but the lighting on her face seems a bit off to me: SHOT

I set the WB to 5700 because I thought that would yield me a 'whiter' or more color corrected image. How can I figure which WB is correct for my setup?
 
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NedM

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for that tamron at f/11, it seems really soft at 100%

so my number 1 would be: getting the focus nailed.

You think so? I thought my focus was spot on but I can see what you're referring too. Before the shoot started I pre-focused using live view and zooming in to have the focus sharp on the model's eyes. I left it alone after that. The model did move around quite a lot and she probably moved out of the plane a few times. I figured f/11 would have given a larger plane of focus, so I wasn't too worried. Maybe f/11 isn't my lens sweet spot... I see that you have same lens. Which f-stop is sharpest for you?
 

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Tirediron's comments on lighting are good advice to follow, he's helped me a lot. Another thing to consider is that if this was a head/shoulder shot, two lights would probably work well, but a full body shots takes more lights to keep even illumination. In lieu of additional lights or in addition to, reflectors can easily be used to tweak the shadows.

On white balance I leave the camera set to auto WB, then hang this in the first shot. Vello White Balance Card Set for Digital Photography WB-CS B&H In LR it's really easy to get the WB right. You highlight all the images in the set to select. Go to the first image with targets, and use the eye dropper tool to sample the white, gray or black to get the best WB, and or tweak it manually. Then click Synch>White Balance only. All the photos in the series will now have the same WB. You can do the same in PS but a little more difficult.
 

KmH

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Designer

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Before the shoot started I pre-focused using live view and zooming in to have the focus sharp on the model's eyes. I left it alone after that. The model did move around quite a lot and she probably moved out of the plane a few times. I figured f/11 would have given a larger plane of focus, so I wasn't too worried.
You should work out the DOF more accurately, not leaving it up to a hunch.

Also, why not focus every shot? If you are concerned about focus, then leaving it to chance is not the best strategy.
 
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NedM

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Before the shoot started I pre-focused using live view and zooming in to have the focus sharp on the model's eyes. I left it alone after that. The model did move around quite a lot and she probably moved out of the plane a few times. I figured f/11 would have given a larger plane of focus, so I wasn't too worried.
You should work out the DOF more accurately, not leaving it up to a hunch.

Also, why not focus every shot? If you are concerned about focus, then leaving it to chance is not the best strategy.

In the OP, I'm not super concerned about needing every shot to be pin-tac sharp. To reiterate, I was working for a client who needed their e-commerce done, so we went through about 200-300+ outfits that day taking about 7-10 shots per outfit. We only had 8 hours, so there was just no time for me to fiddle with the focus for each shot. As long as the shots were relatively sharp, both the client and I were satisfied.
 
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NedM

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I figured f/11 would have given a larger plane of focus

Its a single person with a white background you don't need that big of plane of focus.

Yes, I'm realizing from everyone's post that my f-stop is unreasonably put at f/11. I'l probably read the articles Kmh sent and put my f-stop somewhere at f/8 for better results!
 

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Reducing the eye shadows caused by the hair: in shot #1, the left-hand side's softbox WILL cause a shadow on the face, because the hair is in between the softbox and the model's face/eyes...you need the main light to be more on-axis, and not so much off to the side. RE: the orange makeup...you can tinker with the oranges and reds and yellows in Lightroom, and tone those down, to get a more-realistic or should I say a more-pleasing makeup look. Some makeup will photograph with that type of coloration.

A good idea is a key light coming from a slight angle to the model, and the second light, or the fill light, placed RIGHT NEXT TO the camera and aimed straight ahead at the model, and not as you have lighted this wioth cross-lighting. Cross-lighting is fine on backdrops, but often causes issues with the people in front of the background.

If you want a white backdrop, you can add light to it, or subtract light from the subject, and then expose for the dimmer subject, which will drive the backdrop "Upward", or brighter. For example, had you exposed her at f/8, the backdrop would have looked whiter.

Shooting this with just two lights is not nearly as easy as it would be with three, or with four light units.
 
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NedM

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Reducing the eye shadows caused by the hair: in shot #1, the left-hand side's softbox WILL cause a shadow on the face, because the hair is in between the softbox and the model's face/eyes...you need the main light to be more on-axis, and not so much off to the side. RE: the orange makeup...you can tinker with the oranges and reds and yellows in Lightroom, and tone those down, to get a more-realistic or should I say a more-pleasing makeup look. Some makeup will photograph with that type of coloration.

A good idea is a key light coming from a slight angle to the model, and the second light, or the fill light, placed RIGHT NEXT TO the camera and aimed straight ahead at the model, and not as you have lighted this wioth cross-lighting. Cross-lighting is fine on backdrops, but often causes issues with the people in front of the background.

If you want a white backdrop, you can add light to it, or subtract light from the subject, and then expose for the dimmer subject, which will drive the backdrop "Upward", or brighter. For example, had you exposed her at f/8, the backdrop would have looked whiter.

Shooting this with just two lights is not nearly as easy as it would be with three, or with four light units.

Exactly the information I was looking for! Thank you so much for your input. I'm definitely going to give that 'upward' tip a shot when I get back in my studio. For now, I'll just have to settle with two monolights. I'll need to invest into a third and possibly a fourth strobe so I can get the results I want.
 

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There are many ways to liught things. Here is one suggestion you could try:

IF YOU have the space...move the main light farther away from her, so its intensity drops from f/11 to about f/5.6...then crank one background light to Full power. So, one main light that illuminates her...from relatively far away...and at less than half-power, and the exposure set to get her into decent focus...say at f/5.6 or f/6.3...and the second light set so it hits the backdrop from a fairly straight-ish angle, just out of camera view, but behind her foot position on the seamless paper's front or "apron"...

Using LESS light, on her, and exposing for a dimmer main light, with lens set to f/5.6 or f/6.3 or so, and one light lighting the white seamless, at a higher output level than the main light, will give a pure white backdrop.

That would be one way to shoot this in a smallish office like you did. You do not necessarily "need" a second light for shadow fill-in. In a low-ceilinged office and with a white seamless paper on the floor, there'sprobably enough ambient spill from the main light to fill-in the shadows cast by one softbox.

And by the way, the softbox is not a very large one...moving to a larger box could be helpful. But not 'necesary'. There are many,many ways you could light this type of e-commerce catalog or site stuff.

Look on-line for studio videos on YouTube, or on web sites dealing with white background shots and how to do them.
 

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