Photofilter: Looking for help with portrait lighting
November 23, 2007 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Photofilter: How can lighting effects like this be achieved? (link inside)

Interested in doing some portrait photos someday. How can I replicate the lighting in this photo:
posted by zander to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you are seeking the focus of all the light being on the face then use a snoot, a tube through which you fire your strobe, turning it into a spotlight. This model's face looks like it was lit from both the left and the right. It also looks like the center was kept and the rest of the picture dodged out during printing or perhaps with a filter on the camera.
posted by caddis at 5:46 AM on November 23, 2007

More on snoots, (Strobist, by the way, is a great resource for lighting techniques).
posted by caddis at 5:53 AM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't think the lighting in this photograph is that complicated. It looks very flat to me so I think it comes from a softbox on one side which is bounced back from the other.

What I think makes this photograph look special is the unsharpness present. You can see this in the background, or even better in the next image on the blog with a girl with closed eyes (look at her hands). I am not sure how he achieved this, but large format camera would be my guess.
posted by A! at 6:07 AM on November 23, 2007

The background was burned in so that it appears darker. Snoots tend to focus light so that shadows appear sharper. The lighting on this seems broader and more diffuse than snoots although definitely not umbrellas as the catchlights show. The postproduction work looks more involved and this is not a straight print by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by JJ86 at 7:54 AM on November 23, 2007

It's not a snoot, light from a snoot is very hard and the light on her is not (otherwise there would be hard shadows on her face). To me it looks like a small softbox to the left as the main light and either another softbox to the right turned down a stop or so or a reflector. Judging by the catch lights it's probably 2 softboxes. It's obviously been burned a lot to get it darker. Possibly there is a snoot or grid on the background but probably they just burned it in to get that circle.
posted by bradbane at 9:27 AM on November 23, 2007

Just a dramatic vignette. A simple levels adjustment in photoshop can clip all the dark tones to black while masking out the face/background. You could also do it with a piece of black construction paper with a hole in it attached to the lens via filter holder. Otherwise, like everyone else said, it's more or less vanilla combination lighting.
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:02 AM on November 23, 2007

My original answer seems to have been deleted. Perhaps I was a little vague.

To restate: look into her eyes.

The key is nothing more than a softbox. The vignette was added at the printing stage.
posted by popcassady at 2:25 PM on November 23, 2007

Yeah, that was an inappropriate comment deletion. I am sure whoever did it just failed to recognize what you were saying.
posted by caddis at 4:28 PM on November 23, 2007

Personally, I don't think this lighting setup acheives the desired effect, which would seem to be to draw attention to the face. To me, they just look overly contrasty against the blacked out background. Rather than draw my eyes to the face, it actually makes it slightly difficult for me to focus directly on the person. Maybe it looks better in print. So my question would be - are you asking how to replicate this particular lighting setup/post, or how to achieve the effect it achieves, or how to achieve the effect I think it's going for?
posted by Caviar at 8:37 AM on November 27, 2007

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