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Archive 2013 · Lightning portrait
Joshua J. Ahern
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Lightning portrait

Hi there

could you tell me how can I achieve this kind of lightning?

I do work with speedlights flashes (3)
I have umbrellas and softboxes
4 feet diameter octo-soft box
3 feet diameter reflectors (white, gold and silver)

amy ideas?

than you

Edited on Mar 03, 2013 at 09:41 PM · View previous versions

Feb 25, 2013 at 11:31 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Lightning portrait

The background is obviously lit. Could be two separate strobes or it could be spill from the side lights which I describe below. I think it is probably the side lights that are also lighting the background.

The subject is lit with three lights. One on each side (side lit) which provide the accents on the cheeks and the back of the shoulders and a third light that the subject is looking straight into which produces the fill light in the face, body and the catch lights in the eyes.

You can see the location/separation of the three lights via the shadow on the cheek and forehead. The rear areas are lit with the side lights while the front is lit with the third light.

The side lights were probably strip boxes since they provide the ability to control the light spill better. It's hard to tell what the front light was, but I would guess a beauty dish since the catchlights appear to be round.

You can get pretty close to this effect with either bare strobes on the side or umbrellas. You just need to pay attention to the light spill and try to contain it as much as possible to get that nice shadow on the face which prevents the image from appearing too flat.

Feb 25, 2013 at 11:46 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Lightning portrait

I see this as a whole lot of PP.

I can't get a good read on the lighting ... imo, there are just too many incongruities for it to be a product of the lighting alone.

Feb 26, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Joshua J. Ahern
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Lightning portrait

thanks guys!

any other comments?

Feb 26, 2013 at 12:54 AM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Lightning portrait

I agree that much of the "look" comes from post processing manipulation.

As for the lighting itself, if you look at the background you'll see that it's pure white near the top but darkens to light gray near the bottom. That suggest to me that it's lit from above the subject with a light or lights that are aimed downward onto the background. Since his shoulders are backlit but his triceps aren't, it may be the same light as is lighting the background that's back-lighting him.

The main light on him is fairly hard but broad; possibly a large beauty dish. If there's a fill light being used, it's low and not too bright; possibly a reflector panel or a large soft box at floor level.

Feb 26, 2013 at 05:26 AM

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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Lightning portrait

Key looks like beauty dish elevated camera left, probably one rim light with the rest of the rim light coming from whatever is lighting the background. A big part of this look though is in the processing.

I've gotten a similar look for edgy sportraits using my own variation of this:

It was fun to play around with. One important part is using the dodge brush to slightly highlight the highlights and the burn brush to slightly burn the shadows. That helps to add that kind of gleaming plasticy look but it is key to create those highlights and shadows with the lighting first. Follow the rest of the directions from there. The high pass layer is where you see the major transformation. You have to decide how much of that you want to come through.


Feb 26, 2013 at 02:17 PM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Lightning portrait



The above Joel Grimes videos cover a bit of how he does sport photos with two gridded lights facing 45 degrees at the subject on either side from behind. He has an overhead key/fill light just above his camera. You'd need to use your 3 lights in those positions generally speaking, and of course to get the white background, you'd need to light that up separately if you want it blown out white, but it doesn't necessarily have to be blown out white (and isn't in this video).

I agree with the above post about enhancing the macro contrast in photoshop, lightening up the highlights, and to a lesser degree burning darker here and there.

On that page, there are a few more worthwhile videos as well. Seems like the studio sports photos these days use this type of lighting particularly.

Feb 26, 2013 at 04:54 PM

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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Lightning portrait

I think Craig's beauty bar gives this "glowing" look too.

Feb 27, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Joshua J. Ahern
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Lightning portrait

thank you guys for all the informations

Mar 03, 2013 at 09:41 PM

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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Lightning portrait

I use Alien Bees 1600 and a vagabond mini on a wheeleez cart that I can wheel around anywhere. The 1600 has a softbox.

Mar 04, 2013 at 01:18 PM

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