Thursday, February 6, 2014

Day 25, Learning 25: Modern Light Patterns

Back on Day Five I wrote about the Classic Lighting Patterns.  If you page through any magazine and look at how the models are lit, you'll realize that probably 80% of all photo shoots are using the classic patterns as the skeleton of their design.  At least when it comes to the face.  But there are alternative "skeletons" upon which to build and improvise, so I'm offering up a couple here.

2 Sides and a Reflector

This puts the shadow area in a line down the center of the face.  It's a very angular, masculine look.  The reflector keeps the shadow from being too dark (though this can also be accomplished without the reflector if the ambient is close to the flash strength).


The Diagonal setup is very similar to a classical Loop with a rim light.  The difference here is that the back "rim" light is down lower-- approximately head-height-- instead of from above, and it's at the same strength as the "key."  This moves the shadow to the far cheek.  It works best with short hair (or if the hair on camera left is pulled back to reveal the face).


Generally speaking your fill light is usually on axis with the camera, but there's no reason why it can't be 30-40 degrees opposite your key.  That's essentially what this set-up does (though you can have the flashes set to equal strength as well).  The bounce cards are 4x4 feet or so, creating a nice big light source.  Often times you need a reflector to fill in the center of the model's face.  I'm actually not a huge fan of this one because it seems to use an awful lot of "power" to create a fairly traditional look.

Now the pop quiz.  How was this shot lit?

At first glance it looks like there's light coming from either side, but then how are my nose and lips lit?  There's only one light and a reflector in this rig.  A 24" softbox is above and slightly forward so the light is feathered onto the face; reflector is on the floor angled up to catch the remaining light and bounce it back up to reduce the shadows.  Now if you know your Inverse Square law you'll be able to balance the ratio of shadows and light without futzing about.  Don't know your inverse square law?  Tune in tomorrow.

Oh, and Whoo-Hoo!  I'm one quarter of the way through my 100 Days of Learning!

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