Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Home STUDY An advanced lighting scheme and 4 options for portraits

An advanced lighting scheme and 4 options for portraits

In this new part, we’re going to start strong by putting into practice everything we’ve seen so far, while adding background lighting. We are going to test more complex schemes, with up to 3 light sources, but we are also going to consider more creative and unique options, which are very simple to implement, but which will make a big difference.

Advanced lighting scheme: 3 light sources

We’ll start with the most complete: an advanced lighting scheme with background lighting. We will try here to obtain the strongest possible lighting, while eliminating almost all shadows. To do this, place two light sources at 45º on each side of the bust, as well as a third source behind it and directed towards the bottom and finally, a white reflector under the chin to eliminate possible shadows.

This type of pattern gives a very soft and flat light, so it is ideal for blurring facial wrinkles or skin imperfections. It can also be used to photograph children or give a touch of glamor to the image. To realize the importance of illuminating the background, we will turn off the light source that illuminates the said background and we will compare. And you see, the difference is noticeable.

To trigger your flashes remotely using more than one flash and thus triumph with a slightly more complete lighting scheme, the essential accessories are triggers. With these triggers, you can remotely trigger one or more flashes, so it will seem easier to work with a little more complete equipment.

Other lighting scheme options: creativity and nuance

We have so far tested the most basic and common diagrams which will be used in most situations that will arise as well as this last advanced lighting diagram with multiple sources and accessories. But we must not lose sight of the small nuances and the touch of creativity that should appear in the image. We will therefore work on four options to find the little extra we are looking for.

1. Color the background

Now that we know how to light the background, we should be able to choose the color without having to change this background. To do this, we will use the visor that allows you to fix color gels in front of the studio flash.

For this scheme we used a translucent umbrella (instead of a reflector as in the previous post) and visors to direct the rear light and not affect the main lighting, also provided with grooves to insert the gels of color.

If you don’t have a visor, an easy and economical solution to color the background is to use gels on your shoe flash. Easy, convenient, fast.

2. A lighting scheme to illuminate the hair

Another detail of great importance for fashion and press photography is the lighting of the hair. We will use a light source as the main source and a side flash with a snoot for the hair. Well, okay, our model has no hair but there is a solution to that…

I placed a 45º window of light, a snoot on the side focus that concentrates the light on a beam (this is what will give us the shine), a black folding background (to change it up a bit) and a wig, Of course. As you can see in the upper left part of the photo, the model’s “hair” is now much shinier, but we can also question the relevance of the color of the wig, that’s for sure…

3. Place the light source in an unexpected place

Until now, we had placed the light according to an objective: to make it as advantageous as possible for the “model” even if it will not always need to follow this objective. If you want to produce different results, you will need to place the light in different places. We will therefore place a light source just under the chin. Go for more info right here.

4. Rembrandt lighting (a classic among classics!)

Finally, we will create one of the most famous and used schemes in the world of portraits: Rembrandt lighting. It is so called because it imitates the light in the paintings of the famous Dutch painter. The light is on the sides, at 20 or 30º in relation to the model, and a little above his head. We must raise and lower the lamp until the nose gives us the triangle of light on the cheek, which is precisely what attracts the attention of the spectator.

We used the collapsible black backdrop again here and as a source of lighting. a spot without any element in front (umbrella, softbox window, etc.) so that the lighting obtained is safer and more direct, therefore easier to direct.


As we have seen, the world of studio lighting offers a lot of possibilities, so only your investment and your creativity will allow you to achieve your goals. And it’s like almost everything: the more time you put into it, the more you’ll master these lighting schemes and the better your results will be.


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