Studio lighting tips for Portrait Photography
Today I am going to share some studio lighting tips for portrait photography with you and I have also included a behind the scenes video so you can get a clearer idea of the positioning of the light modifiers.
We’ll be going over two different, one light set ups that you can use for your Portraits and you can also use both of these Westcott modifiers with studio strobes or speed lights. The first lighting set up is a Westcott 7 foot silver parabolic umbrella with diffusion and it creates a beautiful soft wrapping quality of light.
Here’s a portrait lighting tip that might come in handy, “the larger and closer the light source, the softer the light will appear”. Which makes the Westcott silver parabolic umbrella great for softly lit portraits.
The Westcott 7 foot silver parabolic is positioned just left of the camera position but it is such a large light source that is casts a very soft shadow on the Models right cheek. The studio strobe you will see in the video below is a Paul C Buff, Einstein e640. Pay close attention to the right side of her face and you will see the gradual fall off.
But you can also use the Westcott 7 silver parabolic umbrella with a speed light mounted on a cold shoe mount like the one pictured below. The umbrella works great with a speedlite it may just require a little different position than with a centre mounted strobe.
This image below is a good example of trying to capture genuine emotions in your portraits. No doubt your gear is important but capturing real moments are what portrait Photography is all about.
The first part of the video below features the Westcott 7 foot silver parabolic umbrella but in the second half of the video we switched to the Westcott Rapid Box Duo with a Canon 600 EX RT speed light.
If you are looking for a portable set up for your speed light, I highly recommend the Westcott Rapid Box Duo for a couple of reasons. One it is light and portable and two it also allows you to mount up to two speed lights for more power or a faster recycle rate for your strobes.
Mounting two speed lights on the Westcott Rapid Box Duo will give you an extra stop of power which could be a life saver when you are shooting outdoors on a sunny day.
The image below is a close up shot taken with the Canon 100mm Macro lens at F 5.6, Shutter Speed 160 and ISO 100.
Here’s another studio lighting tip for portrait photography, if you only have one light the white side of a 5 in 1 reflector can give you just the right amount of fill to soften the shadows and it if you don’t have an assistant you can also get a stand for your reflector.
Another great feature of the westcott rapid box duo is that it comes standard with two layers of diffusion and you can also get an optional deflector plate that will allow you to use it like a Beauty Dish.
If you are serious about controlling your light, you can also get the optional egg crate grid for more control as well. These are especially important in tight spaces or for hair lights or rim lights.
Another feature I like about the Rapid Box Duo is that it has a silver interior for more contrast and it is also 32 inches in diameter which makes it perfect for shooting head shots on location or in the studio.
If you would like more light coverage and an even fall off of the light you can move your light source further back to shoot 3/4 length shots like the image below, but the further you move the light away from your subject the harder the light source will appear. Here is an example of the fall off…
Now whether you go with an umbrella or a soft box comes down to how much control you would like to have as well. You are going to get less spill and more directional control with a soft box but it a slightly harder light source than what you would get with the bounce from an umbrella.
If budget is a concern you can’t beat the price of the 7 foot umbrella with diffusion which is a third of the price of the soft box. As you can tell from the images on this page you can’t go wrong with either choice.
It really comes down to budget, room and what type of look you prefer for your particular style of Portrait Photography. One critical factor to keep in mind is that proper lighting and retouching can’t save an image with a life less expression or a bad pose.
I know this article is supposed to be about studio lighting tips for portrait Photography but it’s not always about the gear, they are just tools.
As Photographers we sometimes get so hung up on the gear we are using and we forget about what really matters and that is capturing genuine expressions and emotions of the people we are Photographing. Our subjects are not interested in the gear we are using all that matters to them is that you make them look their absolute best.
I like to set my lights up as quickly as possible and then forget about them and shift my focus to the person I am working with and my goal is to really become in tune with the person and the moment. When you can do that, that is when the real magic happens and you can walk away from the shoot with images that you are really proud of.
It is almost as if you become one with the camera and the lighting and you tap into a creative zone that leads to incredible images. Let’s call it Zen Photography, it seems like a good title for a future Workshop.
Which reminds me, before you go make sure you check out my Interactive video training site called Image Classroom where I have over 85 advanced retouching and lighting tutorials.
I hope you enjoyed these studio lighting tips for portrait photography and let me know if you have any questions, all you have to do is leave a comment in the comment box below.
I will leave you with another shot of the Model above with out all of the make up. The shot below was taken with a silver beauty dish with a grid on the Canon 5D MK III with the Canon 24-70 zoom MKII.
If you are a Speedlite fan then this article and video may interest you. It covers a Speedlite Photography Portrait lighting Set up.
Before you leave… you should check out my Check out my Portrait Lighting and Retouching Course Click Here