Marc Le Galle, a Bath Spa Alumni in the flesh, graciously came in this week to teach a lighting workshop. His session was extremely useful, having not been in the studio for almost a year now. I find the studio to be a very sterile and rigid place, which is probably why I have naturally deterred from such a space. This workshop ignited a friendly atmosphere in the studio, Marc was phenomenal at getting the group to work together, and he made sure we got our hands on every angle of studio equipment.
After we looked over the worksheet together, we began to set up the studio for our first task: Rembrandt Lighting.
Rembrandt Lighting Example + Steps:
Set up seat for subject and set up a 45 degree angle light + diffuser. Turn on light, get a light meter too. First, make sure the camera and light meter are on the same settings. Begin with ISO, select the best setting, which is 100 (ALWAYS). Next, determine shutter speed before you start. Factors that determine shutter speed include the presentation of movement or no movement. Using a slow shutter speed will allow us to catch blurred movement while using a fast shutter speed will freeze the subject matter in time. For someone seated, 125 is good. Never go too high (beyond 250), because the flash can only fire so quickly. Synch the camera and the light meter with the chosen settings.
Next, do a light test. Set off the flash (test button on camera receiver). Hold the meter on the subject's face while doing so. Find your aperture based on these settings. Make sure you have light meter on flash mode.
If you chose f22- everything would be in focus. If you did f 1.4, there would be a very shallow depth of field. It might be nice to go for f5-f8 so that the face is in focus, but background isn’t.
Meter says f4, so now we need to move the power up on the physical light. Know what the difference between model light and flash is. Model light does not affect the picture, the flash one does. Shift the settings around until you test with f8 results. Now, set the camera to match that aperture (to f8 in this case).
Tip: Use Lightroom to tether your camera to a computer for the purpose of realtime feedback on your computer. Doing so will give you the best quality in reviewing your shots. Not only will this help you save time, but prevent you from human error in focusing. Look into a USB to micro SD/mini usb: https://www.tethertools.com/product-category/cables-adapters/
Check if it’s detailed enough, not too white. Look for the Rembrandt triangle on the cheek, just below the eye.
If the image is too dramatic for a simple head shot (see above), use a reflector. Simply stick with a white board or a silver one. Using a gold one does make it warmer, but you can always do that in post production. This will give more definition on the other side of the face.
Clamshell Lighting Example + Steps:
Set up seat for subject and two lights up at a 45 degree angle. They will eliminate shadows from the face.
Get your light meter and begin testing the flash on the subject. We came up with f11, which is a bit bright. So we turned the lights down on both sides. Make sure they are equally set. Next time around is was 5.6. We decided to aim for f8 (by adjusting the lights themselves). You need to test both sides of the face with the light meter to set up each light individually. The point of controlled lighting is that you don’t need to change much in camera since you have so much control on the physical light.
Do a test shot.
Decide if the background is black enough, if the face is too bright, etc. If we really need to make changes even further, we can make the aperture changes in camera. To make it darker, move your aperture up to f11. To make the background blacker, you can move the sitter and the lights further away from it, that means less light is spilling onto. The more light that is spilling onto it, the more gray. But if you are already set up, try blocking the light from the background
Other things you can do: add reflector facing upwards from below the sitter, it gets rid of unflattering shadows. It should be subtle, not harsh or creating upwards shadows.
The Backlit Lighting Example + Steps
Set up seat for subject and set up rembrandt lighting first. Get the light meter out and running. Test the face of the subject. We had f8. Set the camera then and do a (TEST SHOT). Look at it and analyze.
Set up the backlight now. Have a cone on the light behind the subject. Make sure it is low behind the subject. You can use what is called a “pigeon’s foot” to mount the light. It is very small and portable.
From there, turn the power up or down on the backlight to adjust the outcome. We also decided to go down a stop the make the background darker from f8 to f5.
Rim Lighting Example + Steps
Get rid of the diffusers. Set up the subject’s seat. Set up two lights, directly at eye level (for the sitter) very directly place on the left and right of the sitter.
Get the light meter out and running. Test the face of the sitter (left and right) and set the lights accordingly. Aim for f5.
Do I need to make the background darker? To make it darker, block off light or pull the lights and sitter further away from the backdrop. To make the background darker, you can even hold a had blocking the light
You can also hold a reflector above the subject, this takes some of the harsher shadows away from the face. Put a reflector above, you make the bottom of the subject softer and the face more harshly shadowed.
Turn the sitter directly to one of the lights, also creates a cool effect
Notes/tips from session:
- You don’t really need to turn the lights off in the studio for shooting, as the over heads don’t affect the image too much.
- Taking off/putting on the Bowens lighting equipment. To take it off, tip it back, press the button, twist, and slowly pull piece away (straight) as to not knock the light bulb, especially while hot. Use both hands. When putting something on, twist the diffuser (for example) until you hear the ‘click’.
- The point of controlled lighting is that you don’t need to change much in camera since you have so much control on the physical light. Don’t forget that you pick up and move the lights while shooting.
- Back lighting is more noticeable on the black background. Less noticeable on white. It’s helpful for picking up on hair details, like color for example.