Need some feedback on this portrait lighting
/forum/topic/1173933/0



mrhoni
Registered: Jan 02, 2009
Total Posts: 417
Country: United States

I need some input on a couple of things I notice in this photo I took of my wife.

Setup:
28"x28"' softbox camera left, Up higher than subject and angled down.
Reflector on stand, camera right, angled slightly to bounce up
Strobe with mini soft box on boom above subject
Trigrip reflector on subjects lab for fill under chin

1) Doing some reading, it seems my hairlight was too strong and should have been more subtle? I was fiddling on where to position. Is the light supposed to hit the shoulders and if not, how should it be positioned?

2) I thought softbox was about 45 degree, but tight space in living room made it difficult to play much with position. I wondered about the position such that catchlight is only in her left eye and not the right eye.

3) Not lots of room, so backdrop 4-5 feet behind subject. On this photo, the left side of the back drop was hit with light and so I had to darken it in post. Sometimes the full backdrop was dark. I didn't play with moving the softbox further away. Mostly adjusted power.
Any ideas on most probable cause?

4) I noticed the hair on both sides above the ears fade to the background. Think I needed some separation.
What might I have done with this setup or what should I have added?

5) I was unsure on position of reflector camera right. I was trying to figure out based upon position of softbox where to put it. Struggled with this. Normally I would have just used another flash and soft box, but wanted to try reflector. Looks like I got close to 1:1 ratio?







Mark_L
Registered: Sep 28, 2010
Total Posts: 2550
Country: United Kingdom

1) It is all personal taste, there is not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Play until you like what you get, if you don’t want light on the shoulders so much control it more (grid/snoot) of maybe place it more to one side or more behind (more like a rim light)

2) I noticed the missing catchlight too, try moving it closer to on axis. No catchlight means the light is not 'seeing' the eye

3) Not totally sure what you mean here, if you didn’t move the lights and kept the exposure consistent each frame should have a similar amount of light on the background.

4) For separation you need some rim light or similar light that lights from an angle from behind the subject.

5) A 1:1 ratio is totally flat lighting which is almost what you have here, the idea with off camera light is to create shadows and have one side of the face darker than the other.


Observations aside from your questions: your lighting is very flat because you have light coming from just about every angle, start with your main light and then ONLY add lights/reflectors one at a time for specific reasons. Look up basic portrait lighting setups.

You have the subject’s face right into the camera, have a read on broad and short lighting

The totally dark uniform background looks very lifeless, a bit of spill on the background to give some gradient may be more interesting or perhaps a lighter background.



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8552
Country: United States

mrhoni wrote: 2) I thought softbox was about 45 degree, but tight space in living room made it difficult to play much with position. I wondered about the position such that catchlight is only in her left eye and not the right eye.

It's not just the position of the light, it's the way it interacts with the pose / facial angle. The catchlight is just barely visible, but it's position is mostly obscured by your wife's eyelid.

Positioning the light lower would reveal the light in both eyes, but it wouldn no longer be at the "11 o'clock" position. That's okay, it's just part of your creative choices. You could, as an alternative, change the tilt of her head. That would be my choice. I'd also have her turn her head more to camera left; as it is, her face and shoulders are facing in slightly opposite directions.



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8552
Country: United States

mrhoni wrote: 3) Not lots of room, so backdrop 4-5 feet behind subject. On this photo, the left side of the back drop was hit with light and so I had to darken it in post. Sometimes the full backdrop was dark. I didn't play with moving the softbox further away. Mostly adjusted power. Any ideas on most probable cause?

The light was too far from the subject, causing the amount of fall-off between subject and background to be too small. Moving the light further away would have required an increase in power to keep the same amount of light on your subject, making the problem at the background worse.

If you move the light closer to your subject, and then decrease the power to get the same subject exposure, the amount of light falling on the background will be less. (It's that old Inverse Square Law at work.)

If that seems contrary to common sense, look at it this way:

Let's say your light is 5 feet from your wife, and your wife is 5 feet from the BG (the light is 10 feet from the BG). You have a 2:1 ratio. (10/5=2.)

If you move the light to only 2.5 feet from your wife, keeping the BG at 5 feet back, you will have a 3:1 ratio. (7.5/2.5=3.)

If you then move the light to just 1 foot from your wife, you will have a whopping 6:1 ratio. (6/1=6.)

HTH.