Happy Monday everybody. I’m sharing one of my favorite portrait lighting set-ups – one that creates lots of drama and shadows yet it’s super easy to set-up.
Above: We’re using just one light — an Elinchrom ELC 500 strobe (but this technique will also work, or course, with a Canon, Nikon, Phottix, etc. flash as well), with an Elinchrom Rotalux “Deep Octa” softbox here (but you can do this technique with whichever softbox you have). It’s not so much the type of softbox — it’s how you position it. The key to this technique is putting your softbox way up high — a bit in front of your subject, and aiming down at your subject at a really steep angle, almost like it’s a shower head.
Why does the background look black?
You can see there’s a 5′ wide roll of gray seamless paper behind her — so why does the background look black? It’s because there’s no light hitting that background at all. The light is literally aiming down at the floor, and since she’s not too close to the background, no light makes it back there at all, and the background turns solid black.
Above: When you have this light way over to one side like this, you’ll have to remember to tell your subject to “play towards that light.” If they turn the other way, you’ll get a really well-lit shot of their ear. You can see the position of the light pretty well in this example, and how I’ve had our subject turn toward her body toward the light.
As far as camera settings go: I’m in Manual mode (as always when shooting flash), with my Shutter Speed at my standard 1/125 of a second, my ISO at 100 (I always try and use my lowest native ISO when shooting flash to get the cleanest shots possible), and my f/stop was f/6.3. I’m using my go-to lens for portraits, a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, and I stand back and zoom in tight to take full advantage of the lens compression (I feel it’s much more flattering for portraits).
Above: Here’s another view of the set-up, just so you can clearly see the placement.
Well, there ya have it. I hope you give this one a try. :)
If you want to really dig in further on this type of lighting, (including adding a 2nd light, and some really helpful accessories) I did an entire course on this type of dramatic lighting – but using a regular rectangular softbox (I’m putting the official trailer below – it’s just 30-seconds – hope you’ll give it a quick look).
Here’s a direct link to the class (you can watch it right now, free – just take the 10-day free trial and start learning immeidately).
That’s it for today. I’ve got a cool little Photoshop Camera Raw tip for ya tomorrow. :)