Portait Lighting

One photo, a million lighting solutions. In this studio session we looked at lighting options for portrait photographs. Starting out with the soft box it was simple to create consistent soft lighting. We first lit Arvind entirely in what is typically a butterfly lighting, with the light positioned directly above him and a reflector below to get rid of some of the shadows. Next, we decided to a short and broad light. The short light was positioned a little too far up (which was later adjusted) but one can clearly see the thinning effect brought by short light in comparison with the butterfly light. Arvind's face seems thinner in the second photograph - a common tool prescribed especially for people who have a large fact that they might be rather conscious about. The next case was broad light, though the more text book approach would perhaps have Arvind face the left a little (with the light hitting the broader side of the face).  In the short and broad light example, we see the Rembrandt triangle making it's presence - something quite fancied in the portrait world. 

Next comes the split light. This was rather interesting in several respects. The first was the uncanny resemblance to many sports related shots that play with the idea of mystery or perhaps even that of 'the dream'. Notice the background. In the prior photographs, we see that the background is lit by the soft box. In this case though, the split lighting results in Arvind's face being perfectly split as expected, but without any detail in the background. While this brings about a simplicity, the dark hair essentially results in the subject being lost within the composition. 

This is where we bring in a rim light. The purpose of the rim light is typically to separate the subject from the background. This prevents the photograph from looking flat, especially in the studio where shallow depth of field isn't an option thanks to the incredibly powerful lights.

The next set essentially takes the same split light set up and adds a reflector to it to add some fill light to the shadows. Finally, we bring back the short light example, except in the first case, Arvind is turned and creates for an interesting short light set up. Some of the more dramatic portrait lighting effects are Rembrandting and split lighting which both play with the shadows formed on the face. Being able to quickly select a lighting strategy to emphasize a subjects underlying character is the key to good portrait photography.

Brian SmithComment