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You are watching Digital Photography One on One, where we answer your questions. Here is your host Mark Wallace.
One of the most common requests I get in email is for a demonstration of some basic lighting setups. And that is exactly what I am going to do in this episode. I am going to show you some setups and for each of those I am going to show you how the lights are setup, talk to you a little bit about the light ratios that are used and I will also show you some pictures that I took using each of these setups. So, that is a ton of stuff. Let us get started.
Our first lighting setup uses two soft boxes, a small one below and a large one right above it. The lighting ratio is 2:1. This is a very basic two light setup. It consists of a small soft box and a large soft box. The large soft box acts as the key light and it also illuminates the background. The small soft box acts as a fill light and the lighting ratio is 2:1. So, the small soft box should be about half as bright as the large soft box. And in this lighting setup you actually shoot right through the soft boxes.
Our second setup used is a 4x6 soft box with a grid and a large foam core bookend as a reflector. This setup is great for folding the shots in catalogue work. You can move the foam core reflector closer for more fill or farther away for the less fill. This setup usually uses a 4:1 or 8:1 lighting ratio.
This setup is very similar to the previous setup. The difference is that now we are using a beauty dish instead of a large soft box. This gives us light that is a bit harder with a touch of more contrast. The lighting ratio is 4:1. This setup is also a two-light setup. It uses a standard head with a honeycomb grid to illuminate the background and a small soft box to illuminate the subject. We have added a flag to the key light to keep it from spilling on the background. The lighting ratio for the background is 1:1. The key and the background light should meter exactly the same. By simply adding a foam core bookend to this setup, we are able to achieve some amazing results.
This is one of my favorite setups and it uses six lights. The key light is a ring flash with a soft light reflector above and to the left of the model. The fill light is a small soft box below and to the right of the model. The lighting ratio for this is 2:1. The key should be one stop brighter than the fill. Behind the model are two large foam core bookends positioned at 45º angles. Use bare lamps to illuminate this. These will give the model very nice soft highlights from behind. This should be one stop brighter than the key light, a 2:1 ratio. Behind the bookends, you will need two additional lights to illuminate the background. I use shoot through umbrellas to evenly distribute the light. This should meter one stop above the key light, a 2:1 ratio. To give the model a more dramatic look, I also added two subtraction panels also known as black reflectors to each side of the model.
Here is the actual setup in the studio. You can see the key and fill light in the foreground and the subtraction panels and foam core bookends on the side. These are the bare lamps illuminating the foam core bookends. There is the one on the left and the one on the right. Here is our fill light and our key light. Now, let us take a walk around the side to take a look at the shoot through umbrellas illuminating the background. These give us a nice even distribution of light to keep the background perfectly white.
This setup uses five lights. The key light is a ring flash with a soft light reflector. There are standard heads that are placed behind the model that are used as separation or ticker lights. These lights will need to be flag to avoid glimpse flare. Two more lights with standard heads are used to illuminate the background. The lighting ratio between the key light which is the ring flash and the kicker lights is 2:1. The kicker light should be one stop brighter than the key light. The ratio between the background lights and the key light is also 2:1. The background should meter one stop brighter than the key. We have some flexibility in this setup. Try using a 1:1 light ratio between the key and the background lights or try a 2:1 ratio where the kicker lights are one stop less than the key light. You will get some interesting effects.
In this last setup we use the ring flash above and to the right of the model. We place the bare head just behind the model to give us some intentional lens flare. The lighting ratio was 4:1. The bare bulb meter two stops brighter than the key light.
Well, that is about does it for this episode of Digital Photography One on One. All of the lighting diagrams and sample photos from this episode can be found at studiolighting.net. And as usual if you have a question that you would like us to answer just send it into firstname.lastname@example.org. We will see you next time.
This episode is brought to you by snapfactory.com and studiolighting.net. For more information about our workshops, visit snapfactory.com.