Setup #1: One Light Key Setup
For the first setup, Jay P set up one light with an umbrella as the key light on camera-right. You will notice that as the umbrella is panned left and right, this creates more or less light on the subject’s face and consequently more or less light on the backdrop. To open up the shadows on the left side of the subject’s face, a reflector can be used. If you a reflector is not readily available, just find something white to bounce that light back in to the shadow area (a bed sheet would work).
Setup #2: Two Light Setup
For the second setup, Jay P has chosen to keep the first light and add a second on camera-left to use as a rim light. Jay has moved the umbrella closer to the source to prevent too much light from spilling all over the set and the subject. This rim light opens up the shadows on the side of the subject’s face and works great when you are only trying to light one person.
Setup #3: 2 People, 2 Lights
If you have two people doing an interview or posing together, the placement of the lights in setup #2 would cause shadows to fall across their faces. To prevent this, Jay P has moved the key light directly in front of the subjects, right above camera. Now both of their faces are bright. There is not a lot of light on the background with the key light directly in front because the subjects are closer to the light than the background, but this is still a nice look.
Setup #4: 2 People, 3 Lights
Building on the previous setup, now Jay P wants to brighten up the background but keep the same amount of light hitting the subjects’ faces. To do this, he has added a third light, low to the ground, between the subjects. Jay P prefers the Photoflex FirstStudio Portrait Kit lights because the lights are small enough that he can place them fairly close to the subjects and the backdrop and not worry about getting too hot or starting a fire. Because there is not a lot of room in most home studios, there often isn’t room for an umbrella on the third light so it is pointed directly at the backdrop. This can make the light too bright, as you can see in the next image.
If you do not have diffusion or a neutral density gel to add to the light, parchment paper is a good alternative (yes, the parchment paper that you use to bake cookies). Since it is made to withstand the heat of an oven, Jay P know can trust that it will not burst into flames. Here is the three-light setup with diffusion added to the middle light.
The first four setups are pretty basic for a nice wash of light over the subject(s). Alternatively the FirstStudio Portrait Kit can create some dramatic looks as well.
Setup #5: Dramatic Lighting
Jay P is working with a big umbrella and wants to create a dramatic look but the bright key light is it is illuminating everything. To adjust this, Jay P has moved the subject several feet away from the backdrop, closer to the key light. This creates more light on his face so when the exposure in-camera is lowered, the background is darker. Jay P has also panned the key light so that only the edge of the reflected light is hitting the subject’s face, creating a nice Rembrandt effect.
If I want to open up the shadows on the left side of his face more, bring the reflector in again.
Jay P is working with really affordable lights here but it isn’t about the type or cost of the light that matters as much as how you learn to use and feather them to get the look you want. Go to The Slanted Lens now to get an exclusive deal on the Photoflex FirstStudio Portrait Kit and Soft Gold LiteDisc.
Jay P reminds us to keep those cameras rollin’ and clickin’!