The Double Main Light

It’s both possible and practical to use more than one light and modifier, together, to create a main light that will give your images a look that’s beautiful and unusual. Yes, it does take a little more time because you’ll need to correctly meter the situation, but it’s worth it. You’re reading this because you want to learn some tricks that will outsmart your competition. If an extra few minutes does that, it’s time well spent. If your competition never buys this book, well, that’s even better (for you, not for me).

I’ve created my test setup with one light fitted with a medium softbox and a second with a basic parabolic reflector and 10 degree gridspot. I first set the light with the softbox in place, using the modeling lamp to get the correct angle for a good shadow. When I was satisfied my model’s face would be nicely rendered, I placed the second light at exactly the same angle, directly in front of the softbox and butted up straight ahead of the first light. See image 7.1.

With only the softbox light turned on, I metered her face and made note of the exposure strength. This is important only because, even though the next light will determine the actual value of the light, I always try to power this first light to a perfect whole stop or perfect third. Adjustments will be more readily accomplished if I don’t have to make more than minor (e.g., 1/10- or 2/10-stop) changes. This first image was made at what would be –2 stops from my final target aperture. Note that it doesn’t matter what your target exposure is— f/5.6, f/8, or whatever—that’s up to you and depends on the limitations of your system or what you want to portray.

Next, I turned the softbox off and powered up the parabolic to 2 stops brighter than the reading from the softbox. A parabolic reflector is a strong source, throwing relatively hard shadows that really need to be softened for most images. When a softbox is used as an additional modifier, it will negate some of the hard look associated with a basic reflector while adding light to the periphery generated by that first light. See image 7.2.

Finally, I turned the softbox back on and metered the two lights together. Because the effects of light are cumulative, the resulting light meter reading was brighter than either light alone. I adjusted the softbox down, until I got to a perfect reading on the model’s face. The light from the softbox is not as important as the light from the parabolic, but the final, working f-stop must be perfect to guarantee a correct exposure. See image 7.3.

So little light falls on the background that “tonal merger” is evident almost everywhere. Tonal merger occurs when the exposure value on the subject is the same as the value seen in the background. It primarily occurs when shadows merge with unlit backgrounds but can also be seen in high key photos, when light on the edges of the subject blows out to pure white and blends with a white background. Unless tonal merger is a planned part of the composition, it should be avoided.

I set a strip light off to camera left, behind the subject and aimed at the background, feathering the light across the surface rather than aiming it directly at the wall. When feathered, a light will evenly light a larger portion of the background. In order to keep the background light subtle, it was powered 1/3 stop less than the combined exposure of the two main lights. See image 7.4.

My model’s hair is quite dark and still shows areas that could be considered too dark, even though the shape of her head and body are visibly separated from the background. The lighting scenario was completed by the addition of a hair light, in this case a beauty bowl with a 25 degree grid, powered 1/3 stop over the double main light. The final sample (image 7.5) is a very interesting mix of highlights, subdued highlights, and shadow.

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The use of the hair light presents additional options. Because of its angle and because it was positioned almost directly over the model, the light spread. Turning the model into the light spilling over her shoulder creates even more highlights and definition, without diminishing the overall effect of the double main light. See image 7.6 and diagram 7A.

You’re not limited to standard parabolic reflectors when creating this scenario, nor are you bound to place the light close to the softbox.

My second scenario used a beauty bowl as the brighter of the two lights. It throws light in a broader arc than a standard reflector, so it was moved into the model’s space until I saw an effect I liked, about 3 feet away. The model was standing only 5 feet from the background, a position I chose because I wanted enough light to hit the background to illuminate it enough so as to not need a hair light. See image 7.7.

I used a large softbox, set 3 feet farther back, or about 6 feet from the subject. As you know, a large softbox placed so close to the model will produce very soft light. Image 7.8, lit by the softbox alone, is quite lovely.

I followed the same lighting and metering regimen as in the previous example and, as before, the difference between the two lights was 2 stops. Even though the final light, at first blush, looks much like the first example with the beauty bowl, closer examination reveals softer shadows and less harsh highlights on the model’s hair along with a snappier light on her face that’s softer than that of the beauty bowl by itself. See image 7.9 and diagram 7B.

Of course, you’re not tied down to a 2-stop difference between the lights. Depending on how bright your subject’s clothing is, and the ultimate effect you want to see, you could power the softbox as high as a 1-stop difference or as low as 4 stops, if you want the least detail possible while still being able to see “something” in the shadow areas that face into the light.

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I set two strip lights in front of the camera, one on each side, separated by about 6 inches.My model stood about 5 feet in front of the two lights while I shot from between them. Both lights were powered equally and set vertically. I also set the height of the lights lower than usual because I wanted to see multiple catchlights that ran fully over the curve of her eyes. Shooting from between the two lights guaranteed a catchlight on each side of her pupils. See image 7.10.

When setting lights like this, the only problem that I can see is the creation of a double nose shadow if the subject is looking straight into the camera. As soon as she turns her head in either direction the problem is solved, and a single shadow is created from the two lights. See image 7.11.

Angling the two lights into an inverted V creates the same look but produces a different, angled catchlight pattern. See image 7.12.

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Accessory Flash Diffusion

Even if you have only one flash unit at your disposal, you can create stunning imagery if you plan your attack in a logical fashion.

We know, of course, that large, broad light sources will deliver an even spread of soft light. These sources are almost always large softboxes or umbrellas and, while there is definite value in having studio equipment available, here are a couple of ways to approach beauty and glamour photography with minimal equipment.

You will need to have an accessory flash with some power behind it. To be as accurate as possible, you’ll also need a flash meter. The flash will need to be set to manual mode; when it’s in auto or TTL mode and is aimed at something other than your model, it will limit the strength of the flash for either what bounces back from the subject to the camera or the amount of light that falls upon the subject. If you introduce diffusion or reflective material and aim the strobe at it, the strobe will read the light as it affects the material, not your model. The inevitable result is underexposure. Using the flash at full power in manual mode ensures consistent and measurable power output.

I keep an older, column-style Metz flash around for those moments when I need a small but powerful source. My model is the CT-2, expensive when it was purchased (and a real workhorse) but quite inexpensive now on eBay or through dealers that specialize in used

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equipment. If you decide to buy one of these units, inspect it first. You’ll want as clear (nonyellowed) a flashtube as possible. These units can be refurbished by the manufacturer, but it will add expense—and you’ll almost certainly have to buy a new battery too.

Of course, you can use a single studio strobe, even your camera manufacturer’s accessory flash unit (if it has enough power), in exactly the same fashion, as I’ll demonstrate with my old Metz unit.

First, and to demonstrate the difference between modified and unmodified light, I’ve set the Metz on a stand and aimed it at the model. I’d painted the wall behind her with a semigloss latex enamel to get a bounce-back reflection from the light. In manual mode, I metered the flash output, measured at her chin with the meter’s dome aimed at the camera, and set the aperture accordingly.

It’s not bad light. The only potential problem is the contrast of the flash, especially the nose shadow. I’d engaged a professional makeup artist for my model, so the amount of specularity on her skin from the flash is minimal. You may not be so lucky when your subjects do their own makeup, so you’ll have to take a close look at an enlarged LCD image (knowing that the LCD is not the final arbiter of exposure and contrast) and make a decision whether or not to send the client back to the dressing room for more powder. See image 6.1.

For my second setup, the flash was placed on a stand and positioned behind the camera, about 3 feet behind and aimed at the center of a 52-inch white Photoflex diffusion disc (see diagram 6A). Depending on the flash you use, you’ll have to do a little testing to find the optimum flash-to-diffuser distance. You’ll need to have the flash far enough from the diffuser to cover the material but not so far as to spill light on the subject or the background, at least within the image frame.

There’s a tremendous difference in “feel” between the two images I created. The first shot (image 6.1), nice as it is, is not nearly as soft as the second (image 6.2). The second still shows the bounce-back reflection, but the overall look of the light is more glamorous.

I wrote about accessory flash diffusion techniques more extensively in Christopher Grey’s Advanced Lighting Techniques, and I’d encourage you to check them out. If you typically work with a minimal gear set, you’ll want to try some of them. The results are terrific. Though accessory flash is inexpensive, working with it presents a unique set of problems. If you’re serious about shooting, you and your clients will be well served by your purchase of better gear.

Over the past few years, many manufacturers have made significant progress in creating modifiers for accessory flash units.While I still believe that no accessory flash (or any series of flash units slaved together) can take the place of studio strobes, I will admit that, when properly planned and understood, small units can do a good job within their limits. If you can live with long recycle times, lower power, and the difficulties and expense of trying to make them perform like something they’re not, well, bang away. Personally, I think your best bet is to buy a set of studio strobes, even of entrylevel quality. I think you’ll be much happier in the long run, even if your entry-level strobes are slightly inconsistent from flash to flash (which they almost certainly will be).

They say it’s a poor carpenter who blames the tools. I say a good carpenter avoids poor tools.

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Silhouettes and Backlight

There are few lighting effects more evocative than the silhouette. While showing line and form to great advantage, and without the visual detraction of many body “flaws,” it’s the very fact that so much of the image is left to the viewer’s imagination that makes the silhouette so successful.

Just as there are many ways to approach a silhouette, there are many ways to light it. Let’s begin with the simplest approach: lighting a white wall or background sweep. In my opinion, it’s best to do this with softboxes because parabolic reflectors throw uneven light, usually with a slight hotspot, and we want to light the background as evenly as possible. Umbrellas can be used, but they tend to spray the light more than softboxes. If you use umbrellas, be sure to place gobos between the lights and the model.

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In most lighting scenarios, it’s difficult if not impossible to light the foreground as brightly as the background if you’re using a simple paper sweep. Once you add light to the foreground, some will spill onto the model, ruining the silhouette effect. With a flat foreground/ background, you’ll have to do some Photoshop work to get an even white. (Don’t worry. It’s not difficult, even if your model is wearing white clothing.)

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For a perfect silhouette, you’ll also need to keep spill from the background off the model by placing her as far from the background as possible. It’s also a good idea to use gobos between the lights and the model, and my preference is black bookends. While it’s almost impossible to avoid all spill, more control will allow for the darkest silhouette. Personally, I think a little wraparound spill light makes a more believable silhouette, as it lends some dimension to an otherwise visually flat surface. If you prefer a darker silhouette, the easiest way to accomplish it is to move the model farther from the background, so any spill will fall off before it reaches the model.

Begin by placing two lights with identical softboxes about 18 inches to 2 feet from the background, with the height of the strobe heads equal to 3/4 the height of the model, and at equal distances from the edges. As a starting point, aim the two lights at each other, rather than at the background. The idea here is to feather the light across the sweep, to get as even an exposure as possible. This will be easier if you can figure out how much of the background width will actually be represented in the image, which will depend on the focal length of your lens, how far the subject is from the background, and how far the camera is from the subject.

Begin metering at one end or the other, moving the meter in 1-foot increments and making a mental note of how the light falls. You may see distinct differences in the exposure readings of the light as you move from one side to the other, which indicates that one light or the other will need to be angled differently. Feathering a light takes practice and is usually best accomplished in small movements, but the result will be an evenly lit background. If you’re feathering lights for the first time, you’ll be amazed when you see the final angles of the light; it appears their placement defies logic, as you can see in diagram 5A.

Once you have the lights balanced and blocked off, set your camera 2/3 to 1 stop brighter than the meter reading. If your meter reads f/11, for example, an extra 2/3 stop means f/9, which will ensure that most of your evenly lit background will be too bright to register as a flat surface or to show any texture.

An easy way to get a more perfectly white foreground is to buy at least two sheets of shiny white tile board, a Masonite-based, 4×8-foot panel typically used as a bathroom wall covering. It’s a tough and inexpensive material found at major hardware or remodeling stores. Lay the sheets on the floor so they overlap toward the background, to maintain a visually unbroken white surface. The tile board will reflect white light from the background better than any paper surface. You may also use sheets of white Plexiglas, but you should lay white paper underneath them as they are somewhat translucent. They will give you a cleaner, whiter reflection than tile board but cost about three times as much. Neither will present a “perfect” solution, however.

If there’s any downside to using tile board or white Plexiglas, it’s that you may pick up a reflection of your subject in the surface. Usually this extra reflection is desirable because it’s somewhat unusual and something many photographers don’t know how to achieve. You’ll get the deepest silhouette with both gobos in place, but the foreground will show a shadow. You can easily fix this in Photoshop. See image 5.1.

If you remove the gobos or reposition them to allow more light on the foreground, you’ll add detail to the image as light wraps around the subject. Again, there will be some darkness in the foreground. I removed the camera-left gobo, adding detail to that side of the model and brightening the foreground. See image 5.2.

When both gobos were repositioned, the foreground was brightest, but the silhouette effect was diminished. Light spilled over and lit some of the model’s face. The effect is not necessarily unwelcome, but it does change the look. See image 5.3.

A BASIC PHOTOSHOP TRICK

You can make slightly gray background areas in your images white by taking the time to make some quick adjustments in Photoshop. Here’s how it’s done:

First, select the light-gray areas using the Magic Wand tool. See image 5.4.

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Once the area is selected, go to Select>Modify> Feather, and set the Feather radius from 1 to 3 pixels (the latter will provide a softer transition against clothing and may even help hold an edge). See image 5.5.

Use Levels to increase the brightness of the whites. If your subject is centered against the light, the brightest area of the image will be directly behind her and already be perfectly white. Feathering the selection will help retain detail in many of the delicate areas, like stray strands of hair. See image 5.6.

This trick will work with any silhouette technique, provided the spill light and exposure are controlled. See image 5.7.

SOFTBOX AS SOURCE

A large softbox (a medium softbox will work for tighter compositions) or a modifier such as a Halo may be easier to deal with than trying to evenly light a large expanse of background, although they present their own problems. If your softbox can be equipped with an interior diffuser, please attach it if it’s not already in place. You’ll want the extra diffusion to even out the light as much as possible.

Begin by metering the flash output directly from the softbox fabric. If your flash meter allows it, retract the dome so you can lay the meter flat against the fabric. This will give you the most accurate reading of the light’s strength since there are no opportunities for even the mildest shadow along the contour of the dome.

For accuracy and control, power your strobe to read to a whole stop or a perfect third, as doing so will make any testing easier to document and understand.

I’d recommend you set up a test, beginning with the metered aperture value and shooting one image per 1/3- or 1/2-stop aperture increase. Examination after downloading will give you an excellent idea of how your subject will be affected by various exposures. This image was made with an exposure 1 stop greater than the metered value of the softbox. Notice there is a slight vignette at the corners, where the spread of light out of the box is weakest, but that’s a minor problem that can be easily fixed. See image 5.8.

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PLEXIGLAS AS SOURCE

One of my favorite lighting tricks for partial silhouettes is to hang a 4×8-foot sheet of 1/8-inch thick milk-white translucent Plexiglas about 4 feet in front of a large softbox (a medium softbox will work but may confine your composition slightly), then place my model directly in front of it. The Plexi acts more like a large fiber optic, spreading the light more evenly and consistently than a fabric diffuser itself. It will flare, but not as much as a standalone softbox, and will produce nice edges with wraparound light. See image 5.9.

You don’t need to buy an expensive background hanger mechanism to hang the Plexiglas or seamless paper. You need two light stands (extendable to at least 8 feet), four squeeze clamps, and a 10-foot length of aluminum fence tubing (available at any major hardware store). Place the clamps over the tops of two light stands and place the aluminum tube across the handles. With the stands set just below 8 feet, simply hold the Plexi against the tube and use the other two clamps to anchor it to the tube, and you’ll be in business.

My preferred exposure for almost everything I shoot this way is 2/3 to 1 stop over the meter reading, which is made as it was for the softbox, with the dome retracted and flat against the plastic, aimed at the light, and metering the light that comes through the diffusion panel. At +2/3 stop, the background is perfectly lit, almost totally white, and with enough wraparound to illuminate the inside edges enough to see skin tone and add dimensionality. The Plexiglas is difficult to hang (it’s easier with a second pair of hands), but it’s worth it for the quality of the light you’ll get from this setup. At the time of this writing, a 4×8-foot sheet of 1/8-inch Plexiglas cost about $75.00. Look under “Plastics” or “Plastics Supply” in the Yellow Pages for the nearest vendor or check the Internet for availability in your area.

You may, of course, make silhouettes against any other color background, including colored Plexiglas, or cover the source with a colored gel. You may also place white tileboard on the floor to reflect whatever color comes through.

ADDING DETAIL

Regardless of the method used to create a silhouette, detail can be easily increased by moving in a white bookend or other reflector to catch some of the light coming through the background and send it back to the model. The amount of light will vary depending on the type of reflector used, its distance from the subject, and how much of the form you wish to reveal. See image 5.10.

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LASTOLITE’S HILITE

Another of my favorite methods for producing beautiful silhouettes, as well as perfect high key backgrounds, is a super-large softbox made by Lastolite, the HiLite. Available in a number of sizes (mine is 6×7 feet), it’s a softbox that works like none other. For example, lights are loaded into the side of the 18-inch deep unit, so the footprint on your studio floor is smaller than what you’d expect for such a large piece of gear. Also, the fabric is different from that of a typical softbox and will disperse the light more evenly. The best part? It collapses into a shape that’s 1/4 its setup size and comes with a carry case for location shooting. See image 5.11.

When it’s used without any reflectors or bookends, the silhouette effect is fantastic. Image 5.12 is from a series of shots for which the aperture was set 1 stop brighter than what was read off the background. The special fabric of this box spreads light so evenly that it produces a perfect, clean white, from corner to corner when used in this manner.

You can re-create, to some degree, the look of a supersoft softbox by hanging a large sheet of cotton cloth, as tightly as possible to avoid wrinkles, from light stands and/or supports. You will almost certainly have to do some Photoshop work when dealing with fabric in this manner, but it’s simple. The only problems you’ll see are minor wrinkles in the fabric at the edges and, perhaps, a slight shoot-through view of the light behind the fabric.

I once bought a huge bolt of fabric, about 8×40 feet, which I used to ring 75 percent of a large machine. I lit the machine through the cloth, using the next technique in reverse, creating soft highlights and even light over its entire surface. I’ve used this piece of cloth many times as a makeshift background. While I can’t use its full length in my studio, I have used it to create backlit backgrounds larger than the HiLite. I’ve also found that, if I double it up, I won’t have the same problems with shoot-through light, though the amount of light coming through the cloth will be significantly reduced.

I used my largest traditional softbox (4×6 feet) and set it about 8 feet behind the sheet of fabric so the light would spread evenly over the back of the cloth. The model and the foreground were set immediately in front of it to appear as if a stained and finished piece of plywood, the “stage,” was butted up against a pure white background.

The exposure was measured, into the cloth, at the center of the set. I opened up my camera’s aperture 1 stop over that reading. Even so, One other note: because the background was so much larger than the HiLite, there is more wraparound light in play. The result (image 5.13) is a somewhat diluted silhouette, but it’s still gorgeous.

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We choose our models for a number of reasons, both physical and social, and we’ll often structure the shoot to highlight their physical attributes. Depending, of course, on what it is we wish to accent, a strong backlight can become a remarkable background, especially when paired with an additional accent light that will create a partial silhouette.

The base exposure for image 5.14 was 1 stop over the measured meter reading at the fabric of the HiLite. An additional light, a beauty bowl (without a grid), was attached to a boom and positioned at a slight angle over the model’s head to light her beautiful red hair. It was powered to the working f-stop of the camera, 1 stop over the power of the HiLite.

TRANSLUCENT DIFFUSER

You could certainly use a translucent diffuser as a light source. Smaller sources, such as some made by Photoflex, will work well because of their size. Smaller sources mean less wraparound light, so the silhouette will be more intense and show less detail.

Begin by hanging a translucent diffuser from a frame or from a boom arm. The diffuser may be circular or rectangular, that’s up to you, and you may need to retouch some edges if you want the diffuser to appear as if it’s not supported. I used a large, circular diffuser for image 5.15, hanging it off a boom arm and digitally removing the strap and support in my final image. I set a strobe with a 40 degree grid on a stand about 4 feet behind the diffuser, aiming the light dead-center to the white field, illuminating the diffuser completely, but without spill. It was a smooth and easy solution to create a silhouette with minimal wraparound light, mostly because the source, the diffuser, was relatively small compared to others that you’ve seen, but also because the fabric of the diffuser is different from that of regular softboxes or the HiLite. As you’ve seen from these samples, every fabric, like every modifier, has its own personality.

The diffuser was clamped to a boom arm by its strap and lit with a 40 degree grid, aimed at the middle of the diffuser from about 5 feet behind. All traces of the strap and light stand have been retouched out. The camera’s aperture was set to 1 stop over the actual value of the light coming through the material.

Bare-Tubed Strobe

A bare-tubed strobe is about the closest one can get to a true “point” light source. Without any modifiers, not even a basic parabolic reflector, the light will emulate sunlight, and its specularity, sharpness, and deep shadows will increase as the light is moved farther from the subject. While this light may not be especially attractive for, say, a family portrait, it can be perfect for many other subjects. Those of you engaged in advertising photography should play with this lighting style, as it has recently become pretty popular.

The subject-to-background distance will determine the strength of the light on the background. The Inverse Square Law tells us that light traveling from point A to point B will be only 1/4 as strong from point B to point C when point C is twice as far from the source as point B. This means that if we want the light to be evenly exposed over a wider distance, we must move the light farther from the subject.

To create our first image (4.1), the bare-tubed main light was set about 8 feet from the model, who stood about 8 feet from the white background. Notice how evenly the model is exposed from the top of her head and down her black outfit all the way to the bottom of the frame. Since the main light was placed almost directly over the lens axis, the white background is also evenly exposed but becomes gray because the strength of the light has been lessened by distance. If the main light metered f/11 at the subject, it would meter f/5.6 (1/4 the strength of f/11) at the background.

We can use this principle creatively. To create image 4.2, the same snappy light was used, but this time it was placed about 4 feet from the model, who maintained her distance of 8 feet from the background. Two things happened because the light was placed closer: it lost strength more rapidly (look how it falls off about halfway down her figure), rendering the background darker, and the model’s shadow began to creep up the background because the strobe itself had to be lowered to maintain the same shadow angle.

Bare-tubed strobes can throw quite sharp shadows, especially when the subject is close to the background, and you can control the sharpness of those shadows by changing the distance of the main light to the subject. The farther the main light is from the subject, the sharper the shadow will be.

When we go back to the original light-to-subject distance of 8 feet but snug the model up to the background, we can get an almost perfect white background and a terrific dark shadow. Bear in mind that you can never get a perfectly clean white background because the paper (or any other material) is not a perfectly clean white and will not photograph at a value of 255 unless it’s been lit separately and slightly overexposed. Even though this exposure is darn near perfect, the value is about 250 at its brightest, with still enough detail to register on a print (although a little more work in Photoshop would help). Where the light falls off, near her camera-left thigh, the value is about 220. Doubling the main light-to-subject distance to 16 feet would increase the evenness of the exposure by 50 percent and increase the apparent sharpness of the shadows. See image 4.3.

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I prefer to set my main light with the strobe tube angled sideways to the model, not head-on. I don’t want any of the light to kick off the front of the unit and soften the shadows. Although the manufacturers don’t recommend that you do this, you may find you’ll get an even sharper shadow if you remove the dome that covers the flashtube and modeling lamp. The dome is there to protect you and your subjects should the tube or lamp explode when triggered. That’s never happened to me, but take note that I’m not recommending it, either. It’s your call.

Place your subject in front of a softbox that is at least large enough to cover the subject so you can extend the white (if needed) without having to do any major retouching on whatever parts of the model extend out of frame, and you can use the bare-tube technique to produce very interesting images with sharp, sunlight-like shadows against a pure white background. This is a lighting scenario that you don’t see often, because it’s generally not on anyone’s recommended shot list. The bottom line is that it’s pretty darn cool and should be tried whenever you think you have a subject that deserves it. Of course, there are many derivatives of this technique, many of which you can discover for yourself, just by playing with your toys.

For the first image (4.4), I placed the bare-tubed strobe about 6 feet from the subject and about 4 feet over her head. You may think that this is an unusually high angle for a main light, and you’d be correct. For most applications, it is. However, you must balance the height of the light, knowing that most sunlit images are made with a higher source, against that of perfect portrait lighting. Of course, the shape of your subject’s head and face, the angle at which the face is presented to the camera, and the effect you wish to achieve will help dictate the right spot for the light. Also, when you move a bare-tubed strobe farther back (to get depth of light, an even spread of light over a given distance), you’ll have to raise it higher to get an appropriate and attractive nose shadow.

I’d placed my model about a foot in front of a very large softbox, a Lastolite HiLite. At 6×7 feet, it’s a source large enough to wrap around the subject while providing plenty of white space on each side. I measured the output from the box and powered the main light to be 1 full stop less. This was my working aperture and guaranteed the background would be completely white without flaring into the lens and softening contrast.

Next, I added a beauty bowl to the bare-tubed strobe. The look of the light is similar, although the spread is more concentrated in an arc that extends from the reflector. Note that the falloff of the light looks substantially different than that from the bare tube. Also, as you can see, the shadows are a bit softer. It’s just another option, but one with its own personality. See image 4.5.

Bare-tubed light looks great on black, too. My model was about 8 feet in front of a black paper sweep, and the strobe was about 6 feet to camera left. I’d flagged the light with a piece of black Roscoe Cinefoil to keep all light off the background. I’d also moved a black bookend in behind the model to absorb any light that might bounce back from a wall.

Because the light is strong and omni-directional, I clamped another piece of Cinefoil to a stand and created a shadowed area that I could move around in without fear of lens flare. See images 4.6 and diagram 4A.

Like everything I write about, I encourage you to try the bare-tube look for yourself. It’s one more bullet in your creative arsenal, and you’ll find it’s a very large caliber, too. Just spend some time playing with it to understand it.

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