Digital Photography 101 - Learn how to use 2 different Light setups
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You are watching Digital photography One on One where we answer your questions. Here is your host, Mark Wallace.
Welcome back to Digital Photography One on One. This is the third episode in a three part series where we are answering the question, what should I buy. In episode three, we talked about the basic principles of light. In episode four, we talked about all different kinds of lighting equipment. In this episode, we are going to talk about how all that lighting equipment can be used in a basic three light setup which is really the foundation for any lighting set up. So we have got all of our light modifiers, grip and light sources, now all we need is a model. I have asked Megan to join us so now let us get started.
A three light setup consists of a key light, a fill light and a separation light. Now the key light is the light that all other lights are based off of. In fact, if it was our only source of illumination we would have a nice elimination on one side of the subject but the rest of the subject would have dark shadows to the side and behind. And so to open up those shadows, we use the fill light and that fills in this side of the subject.
Many light kits in fact are sold with just two lights, either two umbrellas or soft box or reflectors just for this reason, they have a main light or a key light and then just a fill light to make sure that the shadows are not too dark in this side of the person, and that works pretty well. However, if you have a subject that has dark hair and you have a dark background, the subject is going to be lost in the background. And so to separate that subject from the background, we use the separation light. What that does is it gets a nice sheen to the hair and an outline to the subject and really pulls them out of the background and makes everything look very, very nice.
So for this setup, I really want soft light, so I have elected to use two large soft boxes to make everything really nice and soft and even a small soft box on our separation light. So let us take a couple of pictures and see how this three light setup looks.
Boy those look really great. Now let me walk through the equipment that we used so we can tie everything together. The stands are Matthew C stands that I really like and then the heads, we have Pro Photo Acute D4 heads, attached to that is our light modifier. This is a Photoflex light dome Q3, it is a large soft box which gives really nice soft light all these stuff is powered by a Pro Photo Acute 2 1200R. Now the R stands for radio so it has got a PocketWizard built right inside which makes metering and triggering really, really easy . Our background is a Westcott Muslin Background, it is sort of a brown black background and it is supported by a background support stand. It also have a small soft box on the separation light. Now to meter all of this stuff, I used a Sekonic L358 light meter with also a built in PocketWizard. For more information on metering, make sure you watch episode two of Digital Photography One on One because we are going to metering quite a bit.
Now do not worry about writing down all these different pieces of equipment. On studiolighting.net we posted each piece of equipment, where you can purchase it and some pointers where you can read reviews and things like that so make sure you check it out.
Now let us take it up a notch, this is a very basic three light set up but it is really the foundation for all kinds of setups. So we are going to take this, we are going to add a grid and reflector, throw in a flag and do some really, really neat stuff. So let us get started.
We will start over here with our key light. This is a small soft box attached to a C stand and I wanted to make sure that the light did not spill on the background. So I added a flag and this really make sure that the light hits Megan but stays off this dark area of the background and it is really going to be key in our image. So to get some separation, I am using this five degree honeycomb grid and what that does is it make sure that we have a nice splash of light on the background but it also controls things. So instead of having a separation light that illuminates our subject, we are illuminating the background, it does the same thing, it just has a little bit different effect and I think looks a little bit groovier.
So make sure that we have a nice high contrast image, our key lights over here but on this side, what I have done is I have constructed sort of wall of subtraction so these black panels are going to make sure that the light does not bounce back into Megan’s face so we will have a darker side over here and a lighter side over here so we have side light in addition to these black panels, higher contrast. I am going to make sure she does not get lost in that high contrast, we have our five degree spot.
Let me talk about this panels over here, if you step over here you will see that these are the panels I showed you earlier, in episode four. And to secure them, I have a couple of sandbags to make sure that they do not fall over and I have also secured the second one just with this real small clip that you can get over at home depot.
Now one of the stars of grip, I did not mention last time, are ladders, and what this allows you to do is to hop up, change you lights and come back down pretty rapidly and also make sure that you are safe in the studio. Now if you did your math, you are probably asking how is this, the three light set up, we only have two lights. Well, what I can do is if I want to add a little bit more light to this side of Megan, I can add some fill with the reflector and I do that with an assistant.
So Paul Sebring is a photographer here in Phoenix and he is helping us out on this shoot. And so Paul is holding this little reflector here and I can direct him as I shoot to add a little bit more fill or less fill and by the way that he holds his reflector, we can get more light underneath Megan’s chin or to the side, it is really, really cool. So this acts as our fill light. So that is a three light set up, we have got our key light, we have got our separation light and we have our fill light. So let us take a couple of pictures, take a look at how this looks and then we will wrap things up.
All right well thanks for joining us for this episode of Digital Photography One on One. Before you leave, I want to talk to you about this really cool book that I like called Photographing People. It is published by RotaVision. Inside, it has got some amazing photographs and next to each photograph it has a thing called a plan view and this shows you all the equipment that was used, a soft box as light sources, reflectors and things like that as well as the settings for the camera, what kind of camera was used and then sometimes the photographer will even talk about some of the challenges that went in to photographing that particular subject so a lot of students that I have, I ask them to buy this book and then go through it, find a photo that they really like and then set things up according to the plan that it is in the book and see how close they get to the end result. Once they nail that one, move to the next subject and try again, it is a great tool for learning new techniques in improving your lighting skills.
Now do not forget all of the information and links about the equipment that we have used, this book and all the other stuff is published at studiolighting.net, check it out.
Well thanks for joining us for this episode. I 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