Underlight As Accent, For Power and The Main Light for Photography

Underlighting, in which fill or accent light comes from
under the topic, is not widely used technique in the traditional
Portraits, even though it will have its place. for
Beauty and glamor of the work, there are many cases
when under light Extras will zip be a welcome addition
Your images.

There are a couple of details you should be aware of when lighting from below:

  • Underlight must be brighter than the main light; otherwise, it’s just fill light.
  • The underlight should never be the main light on a face unless you’re going for the “bad horror movie” look. Instead, let the light “kiss” the face in areas that are not overly important to the physicality of the model such as the edges of the mouth, nose, and forehead.
  • Watch all up-shadows. Angle your lights so shadows falling on the body are minimal, if they are there at all.
  • Follow the usual guidelines for main light placement. Make sure the nose shadow follows the line of the cheek in a graceful and attractive manner.

Underlight As Accent

There’s one significant problem with underlighting: because the light needs to be brighter than the key, you have to pay attention to how it affects the underside of your client’s throat, nose, and eye sockets. Further, underlight can throw a shadow up from your subject’s upper lip. You’ll have to look carefully and tweak the position of the light(s) or the pose of the subject to minimize these problems. Note that none of these problems are deal breakers. Upwardly directed light can be sexy and sultry just because it’s different and unexpected; you’ll just need to change the problems this light presents into assets that benefit your vision.

Just putting a light on the floor may not allow for enough light-to-subject distance to get the desired depth of light. In other words, the subject needs to be positioned so as to avoid rapid falloff of the light.

For my first set, I began by building a “stage” out of a sheet of 4×8-foot plywood that had been placed on three metal sawhorses, 30 inches above the floor. This is where the model would stand.

In front of the stage and on the floor, I set two strip lights in a wide V pattern, propping them up on sandbags to aim the light properly, about 2 feet from the left and right corners. A medium softbox was placed at camera right, over the strip light on the floor, and aimed at where the model would be standing. Additional lights included a beauty bowl with a grid and a strobe with a 20 degree grid set under the stage and aimed at the canvas background. See diagram 13A.

The two strip lights were powered to 1/3 stop over the key, as was the background light. The strength of each of the strip lights was metered at the model’s shoulders, allowing the light below the meter-mark to be brighter. The background light was metered at the hot spot.

 Underlight complicated setup

This was a complicated setup, but the result (image 13.1) was worth the effort. The light contoured the model differently than one would expect, while the height of the model (relative to the floor) allowed the light to do its job.

the background light

I had a minor flash of insight as my first set came to a close. While the model was in the changing room, I moved the two strip lights from the sandbags they’d been leaning on and clamped the edges of the softboxes to the sides of the stage itself. This meant that I’d lose a lot of the light’s power because it was now aimed straight up, but it also meant that the light, now coming from an angle perpendicular to the camera, would soften some of the effects of light placed almost directly below the subject. Also, the light would be more even at the bottom of the image because most of it was shooting straight up. This time, however, I metered the strip lights at her waist, producing a hard hit at her elbow while allowing a soft kiss of underlight on her face. You just gotta love it! See image 13.2.

soft kiss of underlight

Underlight For Power

For an extremely dynamic look, ring your subject from behind and below with strong, gridspots.

Using the same platform as in the previous example, I first set a large softbox slightly to camera right, about 5 feet from the model. This would be my main light.

To camera left, I placed a white bookend to bounce light back into the shadow side. The bookend was snugged up, closer to the model, to bounce a strong fill.

I set two strobes, fitted with 30 degree grids, on the floor and aimed them up to the model from each side. They were placed close to the platform to get a dramatic upward sweep and were powered 1 full stop over the main light to blow out detail and create perfectly white highlights over most of the area they would hit. An additional light, a beauty bowl with a 25 degree grid, was set on a boom above, but within 2 feet of the model, and powered to 1/3 stop over the main light as measured at the shoulder. Taking the meter reading from the shoulder meant the strength of the light on the top of her head would be stronger than +1/3. See diagram 13B.

top of her head would be stronger

The final image (13.3), with strong, upward sidelight, features impressively strong highlights. Shapeconforming light like this lends a feeling of aggression, a dynamic of strength, to the image that’s not achievable with softer light.

Underlight As The Main Light

The keys to good glass bead photography are focus, exposure, diffuse lighting, and in some special cases underlighting.  It is worth getting your camera’s manual out to find out how to put the camera in “spot focus” mode.  The normal focus mode of most digital cameras is some sort of average focus mode.  That means that the camera will try to look at an area and base the focus on an area of what it sees.  It’s better for close up photography to put the camera into spot focus mode, this will allow you to see exactly what the camera will  be focusing on. Getting the camera to focus properly on the beads entails some effort, but the results should be worth it. A final word on focus.  The above steps assume that you are using your camera’s auto focus feature.

A couple of words about tripods and product photography. Use one. As you get closer to an object any motion of the camera is greatly magnified.  Even a surgeon probably doesn’t  have hands steady enough to take a good product photo without using a tripod.  A sturdy tripod is essential for sharp images.

We mentioned above that the other key to some glass bead photography is the under lighting.  The Illuminated flat panel we chose to use for our underlighting, matches the 5000k daylight color of the ShortEZ lightset we used. Whatever lights you choose, it is critical that the color temperature of all your lighting matches. The illuminated flat panel is not necessary for most product photography, and will do little or nothing at all for most. However for translucent glass with the right degree of transparency, the underlighting can give you almost magical results, highlighting inner glass details that would otherwise go unnoticed.

This technique will work best if your model angles her head down, toward the underlight.

I began by setting my HiLite background behind where my model would be standing. In a bit of reverse engineering, I powered up the HiLite first, to a perfect f/16. This meant that my main light, a combination of two lights, would need to equal f/11 so the background would overexpose by 1 stop.

The HiLite is a very large softbox, lit by strobes that are inserted into its sides. It produces a very even light over its entire surface and is used to create a white background with light that wraps around the sides of a subject. You might also try using a large softbox, or perhaps something like an Octobank, to get a similar look. See image 13.4.

Camera large softbox

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After my target f-stop had been established, I set a 2×2-foot softbox on a short stand on the floor, aiming it up to my model’s face. The effect wasn’t particularly unattractive, but it did have a bit of a bad horror movie look to it. I metered for the correct f-stop, a –1/3 f-stop of f/10.Why f/10? As just one more affirmation of the fact that the effects of light are cumulative. I knew that when I added the next light, the combination of the two could easily be tweaked to f/11, the target aperture. See image 13.5.

effects of light are cumulative

Next, I set a light with an umbrella above where my camera would be. I’d turned off the underlight in order to correctly gauge the power of this light, which would act as general fill. Having the model look directly at the camera, and setting the light for a correct shadow, meant she could move to almost any position and still present a proper and attractive nose shadow. Prior to taking a meter reading, I moved a white bookend to camera right, next to the model, to open the shadows and mitigate the future effect of the underlight. This image (13.6) was made at the metered f-stop, f/8—1 full stop under the target.

By tweaking the power of the umbrella’s strobe, I got the exposure to a perfect f/11. Notice, if you will, that the exposure in image 13.7, while correct and showing detail in all white areas, lacks a certain “snap,” the little extra that would make the image noteworthy. If you look at the top of her head, you’ll probably agree with me that her hair, while holding detail, could look better with a little more life.

I moved an additional strobe and umbrella, mounted on a boom, mostly centered over the back of her head but favoring the right side. I made certain the light was far enough behind the model so as not to throw any additional light on her face, primarily across her nose. Without turning off the other lights, I balanced the new umbrella light to the target f-stop.

Complicated? It sounds like it, but the truth is it took about 15 minutes. When you master the effect (and I hope you do), you have at your disposal one more trick that will set your work apart from that of your competition. See image 13.8.

Note that even though there are lots of lights within this scenario, and each one throws something into the mix, the overall exposure is correct because the meter was calibrated to the camera. With that kind of control, you’ll never need to shoot RAW files to get results like this. See diagram 13C.

calibrated to the camera

Double Main Light And Underlight

I began by setting the two strip lights in their horizontal positions, one over the other and separated by about 3 feet. Each light was independently powered and adjusted until the output was the same, then remetered with both strobes firing. That measurement would be the working f-stop.

My model was posed about 3 feet from the lights. Having her this close meant that a couple of things would happen: the reflections of the lights would be large in her eyes and the lower light would not intrude into the shadow under her chin because her body would block it. I also set a beauty bowl and 25 degree grid on a boom arm over her head, to accent her hair and kick her out of the dark background. This light was powered equal to the other two lights, as measured at the middle of the back of her head, so the top would be only slightly brighter.

The first image (13.9), with all of the lights powered equally, was stunning. There was beautiful light from above, with underlight to fill in shadows under her brow and nose, as well as her hair.

the lights powered equally, was stunning

You can, of course, vary the power of the underlight for a more subtle effect. Image 13.10 was made with the underlight at 1/3 stop less than the upper light. The catchlights in the model’s eyes are still spectacular, as are the reflections on her lipstick, but her face is slightly more contoured than in the previous example.

stop less than the upper light

A wardrobe change to a lighter garment pointed out a potential problem that you may encounter, too. Because she’s so close to the lights, the underlight is stronger where her body gets closer to it. The lighter cloth and the position of her elbows meant a further reduction in power would be necessary to avoid blowing out any detail. I reduced the underlight by another 1/3 stop, now 2/3 stop less than the top light. In image 13.11, the catchlights and reflections are still terrific, and her face is more contoured, but the exposure in the bottom third of the frame is equal to the rest of the image.

the catchlights and reflections are still terrific, and her face is more contoured

Image 13.12 shows what the setup looked like from behind the model. The camera was positioned directly in front of her head.

setup looked like from behind the model

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How To Fix Overexposure As A Creative Tool, The Complete Guide

As an creative tool, overexposure is sort of underrated. What I’m close to propose could be a deliberate and well thought out technique for manufacturing pictures that area unit extraordinarily compelling however impossible by different ways. It’s associate amalgam of pre-visualization and Photoshop, and also the results area unit fantastic.

One problem you’ll see with dramatic lighting and proper exposure control is that shadows and tonal merger can be issues. Many dramatic beauty and glamour images are made against dark backgrounds, and for good reason: the drama of the scene demands it. By itself, image 12.1 is a nice photo. The image was made using only two lights with beauty bowls, one as the main light and the other as a hair light (powered 1/3 stop below the main light, to keep its effect minimal). See diagram 12A.

dramatic lighting and proper exposure control

What if we could deliberately move beyond that constraint to create images that transcend the boundary? Well, it is possible to create a great image that has white values of more than 245 (as seen in a histogram), even though conventional wisdom tells us that we will not have detail in the highlights beyond this point. Let me show you how.

We can seriously animate the result of the image by ramping up the sunshine, primarily overexposing elements of it. Now, this is often not a trick you would like to leap into. you actually ought to pay your time wiggling with it and bending it to your own can. solely then can you perceive however you would possibly add this trick to your repertoire.

ISO numbers work the same as shutter speed and aperture numbers. Doubling the speed from 100 to 200 doubles the sensitivity of the sensor, and halving the speed from 100 to 50 cuts the sensitivity of the sensor by half. Similarly, opening the aperture from f/8 to f/5.6 doubles the amount of light striking the sensor while stopping down from f/8 to f/11 will cut the amount of light reaching the sensor in half. The same principle holds true for shutter speeds. The three functions, working together, create an effect called “reciprocity,” which can be used to your advantage.

Rather than re-powering the two strobes for image 12.2, I simply upped the ISO of the camera from 200 (the ISO used in the first shot) to 400—a 1-stop increase in the strength of the light as the sensor would see it. When you look at this image, you’ll see immediately that some of the highlights are blown out to pure white. This is just fine. As it is, it’s a visually interesting and provocative image, simply done. Of course, your client won’t know how easy it was to create it, and you can charge more for the “special” image.

the ISO used in the first shot

Increasing the working ISO

Increasing the working ISO another half stop, to ISO 640, presents images that are unusable, at least as they were shot. It’s not so much that the highlights are too bright but rather that the midtones are so bright as to be objectionable if printed as they are. See image 12.3.

Here’s where Photoshop comes into play. Simply open the image, duplicate the layer, and selectMultiply from the blending modes. Multiply will approximately double the density of any pixel it can wrap itself around. With images that contain blown-out highlights (areas of no detail) Photoshop is unable to add density because there’s nothing there at all. The result is a darker image (where it counts) containing areas with zero detail. It’s a stunning effect that may be regulated by moving the Opacity slider until you get an effect you like (I set the opacity to 25%, reducing the Multiply layer to 75% of its original density). See image 12.4.

Let’s kick the ISO up another half stop, to ISO 800. In my opinion, 2 stops is about as far as most images can be pushed with this technique. (I’d encourage you to try this yourself, of course. You may find a trick I’ve not even thought of to get something even better than what I’m writing about.) I think this is about the limit because too many details, the important details such as the slight shadows that define contour, become so bright that they begin to disappear. Without contouring, the overall image is visually flattened. Also, as you can see, some color gets washed out to the point where it changes its own appearance. See image 12.5.

ISO up another half stop, to ISO 800

For this image, I used the technique just described, this time setting the opacity at 100% to add as much density as possible. You may wish to duplicate the multiply layer yet again for your images, as the extra density of a third layer may help. It’s your call. See image 12.6.

These “adjusted” images make great black & white or toned images, even at +2 stops. In fact, the heightened effect of the conversion only adds to the built-in surrealism of a toned monochrome print.

After conversion to monochrome in Photoshop’s ChannelMixer (Red 40, Blue 30, Green 20) I used one hit each (at the default strength) of red and yellow in Image>Adjusments>Variations to get this beautiful sepia tone. I added an additional multiply layer, setting its opacity to 30%, for a little more contrast. See image 12.7.

In Christopher Grey’s Advanced Lighting Techniques I wrote about using pieces of thin cloth as soft focus filters. This is a beautiful technique that can add intrigue to an ordinary image but can work magic on an image that’s deliberately overexposed.

My demo shot was lit with only one beauty bowl and grid. I’d placed a piece of peach glitter organza, cut to size and placed between a clear UV filter and a retaining ring, and attached it to the lens. I knew that using only one light would allow some of the dark tones and shadows to merge into the black background, but I felt the effect of the fabric would make the image interesting enough that the detail wouldn’t be missed but would actually add to the mystery. This image (image 12.8) was made at 1 stop over the meter reading.

The weave of the fabric acts a bit like a fiber optic in that a thread will reflect and carry light from the thread next to it, with the light diminishing in intensity the farther the thread is from the reflected light. Because the threads are woven at right angles, it can also create a star effect out of specular highlights (the effect is similar to, but not as sharp as that produced by diffraction grating filters). The angle of the star can be varied by rotating the filter, as the effect will follow the weave. I chose the peach fabric because it warmed the image slightly, changing a little of the color. See image 12.9.

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Overexpose your camera exposure settings?

Despite all the sage recommendation to bracket, meter and permit for a few latitude in your camera exposure settings. you’ll be able to and may contemplate deliberate over-exposure of your digital photos underneath sure shooting conditions. Certainly, you have got over a passing familiarity with ways in which to confirm correct camera exposure settings once shooting digital pictures commonly. thus what conditions may precipitate deliberate over-exposure? We’ll contemplate that terribly side here during this article thus you’ll be able to undertake the techniques for yourself.

How to Get Correct Camera Exposure Settings on Digital Cameras

To get correct exposure settings on your digital camera, you can opt to use several accurate methods including the use of the auto exposure mode  Correct camera exposure settings then, are not necessarily a problem for most digital photographers. Over-exposure, however, can be either accidental or deliberate. Either way, results can be distinctively different from those produced via correct camera exposure settings.

  • Using an in camera exposure meter
  • Using typical exposures for certain commonly-encountered conditions
  • Setting your camera manually based on personal knowledge and experience
  • Use of a hand-held light meter or exposure meter
  • Camera settings based on your digital camera operating manual
  • Bracketing of exposure settings

Reducing a Cluttered Background Using Over-Exposure

There area unit things during which deliberate over-exposure camera exposure settings may be helpful in reducing AN overly-distracting or littered background in your digital pictures. the utilization of photograph writing code to extend color saturation, improve distinction or differentiate areas of interest among the digital image photographic composition ought to allay fears of laundry out everything once deliberately over-exposing digital pictures. If your subject is in shade or shadow with sturdy lighting behind. Metering on or deliberately over-exposing the darker subject can throw the background into a white-out or over-exposed state. gap up the camera aperture any|an extra} stop or 2 can intensify this impact even further. There area unit some straightforward ways in which to deliberately over-expose camera exposure settings.

The simplest and most direct of these are:

  • Opening up the camera lens aperture by one, two or more stops
  • Metering or exposing for the darkest area of your subject
  • Using flash or flood lighting in a bright light digital photography scenario
  • Use a slow shutter speed in combination with a wide lens aperture
  • Metering off of your hand, the inside of your coat or off of a nearby dark object

Creating Special Effects Using Over-Exposure Camera Exposure Settings

Have you ever been to Antarctica throughout an important snowstorm? however regarding for an informal stroll on the sun? ME neither. except for making tricks like double or multiple exposures, fog-like eventualities, blizzard, snow, white-out backgrounds or alternative digital image tricks, are often simply accomplished mistreatment over-exposure manufacturing camera exposure settings. Exposing for the darker foreground subject mechanically throws a lighter toned background into associate over-exposed state. Very light, washed-out or deliberately over-exposed backgrounds build adding additional pictures or tricks a snap to make and complete.

Creating Photographic Wallpapers exploitation Over-exposure Camera Exposure Settings

When it’s time to make a number of your tailor-made backgrounds, scenes or wallpapers for an internet site or screensaver, exploitation deliberate over-exposure camera exposure settings as an explicit tool for reducing or eliminating extraneous parts in your digital pictures which may be done whereas doing the first shooting sequences. this could create overlays or further super-imposed graphics or pictures so much easier to provide. exploitation over-exposure as a photography inventive tool, you’ll simply turn out high-impact multi-dimensional digital pictures associate degreed backgrounds as simple as falloff a bibulous moose’s butter-slick backside throughout an earthquake. And you can’t get a lot of easier than that, currently will you?

Photoshop for photographers books

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7D Mark II is Canon’s best DSLR cameras without full-frame sensor.

The expected long-awaited Canon EOS 7D Mark II are shipping in November for $ 1,799 without a lens. With a higher price tag, you would think it would be safe to assume that the flagship of consumers of sport sensor full-frame, it does not, it does not represent a big step up from the original format – Mark II. including just about everything a professional photographer. (Guns and videos) is a non-integrated sensor 35 course and WiFi integrated, but a 20.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, which, despite a specification that assimilation is an improvement over what you will get with the 70D. you also can take advantage of the new 51,200 ISO and shooting 10 frames per second continuously. (At full resolution, of course), powered by a DIGIC processor with 6.

7D Mark II Canon

You can capture up to 4 frames per second in silent mode, which, although not completely silent, is certainly the best option for shooting performances and other events where a clanging shutter wouldn’t be appropriate. The 7D Mark II now includes 65 autofocus points, compared to just 19 on the original model. There’s a dedicated AF lever for jumping between modes, and when you’re shooting video, Canon reps liken the focusing performance to what you’d experience with a camcorder. You can also adjust the speed at which the camera will focus and track subjects while you’re capturing video, with five levels to choose from. You can capture MP4 or MOV clips at up to 1080/60p to a CF or SD card, or output uncompressed footage (with audio) through the HDMI port. Speaking of ports, there are plenty to choose from, including USB 3.0, a mic input and headphone output, a PC socket for strobes and a wired remote connector.

Canon 7D Mark II hands-on

The camera has a magnesium alloy construction, so even though you’ll want to avoid it, the body should survive a tumble or two (though there may be a different outcome for the lens). The new 7D is even four times more dust and weather resistant than the original model — reps say you shouldn’t have any problem shooting in moderate rain, assuming you’re using a weather-resistant L lens. There’s a new, slightly higher capacity battery on board (the LP-E6N), though the camera will work with older packs too. You will need to buy a new BG-E16 grip, however. Finally, the shutter, previously rated for 150,000 shots, can now handle more than 200,000 without repair. The 7D Mark II is expected in stores this November for $1,799 body only, or $2,149 when bundled with an 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens.

Canon 7D Mark II Reviews


Low key photography and How to isolate your subject.

Low key photography doesn’t depend on underexposure to make its point; the key to low key is that the majority of tones, even correctly exposed tones, fall below middle gray. This can be verified by looking at aluminum floor register box resting in a parabolic reflector.

The strobe was powered 2/3 stop less than the main light and measured at the paper just behind her head, so the brightest part of the light would be less than “perfect” and fall away quickly. It’s not necessary to power each light equal to, or greater than, the main light. Digital photography is touchy, but it will react favorably to underexposure, creating delicate areas of highlighted, yet saturated color.

The second example with this scenario uses just a little bit of fill light to add detail to the shadow side. I set a medium softbox over but behind the camera and powered it down to 3 stops less than the main. (Three stops is about the limit that digital can capture with a degree of clarity.) Even at such a low power, the fill light puts detail into the shadow areas of her dark dress and face without detracting from the look of the lighting.

Low key imagery is also possible with only one light. The trick is to add just enough fill to light the unlit side.

underexposure, creating delicate areas of highlighted, yet saturated color

My example (image 11.4), with the one light and only one bookend, takes advantage of light falloff by setting the main light close to the model (so the highlight- to-shadow distance is short). I placed the main light, a large softbox, about 2 feet from her so the highlights would be bright, but I also set the bookend close (about 2 feet from her) to maximize its reflective qualities. This allowed me to get a bright edge and richly colored shadows. I’m not sure you’ll be able to see it on this small sample, but the bookend fill adds color and contour to her eyes.

I placed my model about 5 feet from the background, a medium gray paper sweep. She was positioned close because I needed the main light to be strong enough to register with some degree of gradation and, to make it more evident, I angled the softbox so the light was aimed at the camera-left side of the background, more into the bookend. The slight gradation across the gray field gives the image more depth and a feeling that the background itself is angled away from camera. the histogram for a low key image. My first sample, image 11.2, produced the histogram in image 11.1.

produced the histogram

This example uses only two lights. The main was a parabolic with a 20 degree gridspot, aimed at my model from the side.My intention was to light only half of the model’s face, letting the rest quickly fall into deep shadow. A side benefit of using small gridspots is that they produce their own vignette, falling off quickly at the edges and producing light that is very circular.

To keep her dark facial shadows from blending into a dark background, I used a background light with an Another way to use the low key look would be to isolate part of the subject or group and let the rest of the scene fall off. For this image of three sisters, I used a beauty bowl with a 25 degree grid with a piece of thin, white cloth stretched over it. The cloth diffused the light while spreading it beyond its typical boundaries. The result is a soft spot of light in the center that falls off, still illuminating detail, to points beyond.

I knew that the subjects’ dark hair would merge with the background, so I hung a strip light from a boom above them and allowed a little of its spill to fall onto the black paper. The hair light was powered 1/3 stop less than the main light as measured at the shoulder. The slightly stronger light at the top of their heads was about equal to the output of the main light, creating visual interest, while the light falling on their shoulders and below became a simple accent. See image 11.5.

The histogram shows this image to be perfectly exposed with the majority of tones below middle gray. It is a perfect example of low key lighting. See image 11.6.

perfect example of low key lighting

You can use the concept of lighting to isolate for other images as well. If you photograph couples for engagement photos, you may wish to extend the shoot from the usual newspaper announcement or standard portrait style and spend a little extra time exploring the romantic aspect of your client’s relationship.

Think about it: They may never be more deeply in love. You’ve probably had them hugging each other already, although they were focusing their attention on the camera. Now, you’ll want them to focus on each other.


You can use this same simple scenario to create equally sensuous images of body lines. This is one time when lack of shadow detail works in your favor.

Softer light, with less contrast, works great and looks great in a low key situation when it’s controlled to the nth degree. I wanted a soft rim of light on my model, but simply aiming the light toward her face sprayed too much light on the background. I used a strip light but turned it away from the model, aiming it into a black bookend, to get just the edge of the light on her with only a hint of spray onto the background. The bookend also served as a gobo, keeping the light from flaring few frames and minimal direction to get this beautiful image (image 11.7).

few frames and minimal direction

I sent the woman into the dressing room to change into a strapless top. While she was gone, I set up another light, a strip light, at camera right. My intention was to keep the skimmed beauty bowl light scenario while adding a strong (+1/3 stop) accent to the man’s face. I planned to crop more loosely this time, but I wanted to have the images composed tightly enough to avoid a highlight on the side of her head, something I felt would be a distraction. I also feathered the light a bit, aiming it more at the background than at him, because I wanted a little more definition on the cloth behind him. The light on the man was powered to 1/3 stop over the light on the woman.

The result (image 11.8) is an image that’s both strong and tender. The two lights individually accent two distinct personalities, but the composition clearly shows them as a couple.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in this chapter explaining how to avoid tonal merger. Personally, I think it should be avoided most of the time but, like every “rule” of photography, it can be used as an attentiongetting element when properly implemented.

I wanted a soft but contrasty light source for this next image, so I set an extra-small (14×20-inch) softbox about 3 feet from my model. By my calculations, the sum of the length and width of a softbox will indicate its optimum working distance, where it will produce a soft light with a minimum of specularity. I put a black bookend behind the model to soak up any stray bounce. There was no light falling on the black background. The net effect is an image that’s compelling, mysterious, and sensual. See image 11.9.

The two lights individually accent two distinct personalities

Softer light, with less contrast, works great and looks great in a low key situation when it’s controlled to the nth degree. I wanted a soft rim of light on my model, but simply aiming the light toward her face sprayed too much light on the background. I used a strip light but turned it away from the model, aiming it into a black bookend, to get just the edge of the light on her with only a hint of spray onto the background. The bookend also served as a gobo, keeping the light from flaring into the lens. A second softbox was set behind me and aimed at the ceiling. It was powered 2 stops below the main light, as measured at her shoulder—just enough to give me some shadow detail and avoid tonal merger.

lack of shadow detail works in your favor

some shadow detail and avoid tonal merger

Since I wanted the least influence possible from the main light on her face, I aimed the meter’s dome at the light. This ensured that I’d only be metering the specular highlight, the brightest part of the scene, not getting a reading of the average of the highlight-to-shadow ratio. This is one of the very few times when you can use the light meter in this manner to creatively skew the exposure.

High Key Lighting Techniques for Professional Photographers

I’ve written many times about high key lighting techniques and how to achieve them. The term “high key” is a bit misleading. As I’ve often said, high key has nothing to do with overexposure of the subject (though a photographer can opt to take that approach if it suits the subject); it merely means the vast majority of tones are above middle gray and that the background is almost always white but may show some detail.

The nice thing about high key is that there are many ways to create it; I continue to find new tricks and variations on scenarios I’ve previously written about. Some are impressively simple; others are more complicated. As always, I’ll leave it to you to experiment with them and decide what will work best for you and your studio. I wish it were practical to include each and every technique in this book, but I’d be critiqued for repeating myself (and there isn’t enough room in this book, anyway). In a heartless bit of shameless promotion, I must advise you to buy all my other lighting books, now and in the future, to learn every trick.

My first scenario falls into the “simple” category and is really easy to set up, using two lights with umbrellas.

Simple High Key Lighting

The first light, the main light, is set on a stand in front of and to the side of the subject. The second light is set slightly behind the subject and aimed at the background. It’s best, in my opinion, to mount it on a boom so it can be centered over the subject’s head, but it will work nicely if mounted on a floor stand and feathered over the background. If you want a completely white background, the exposure behind the model’s head should be at least 2/3 stop brighter than the main light.My sample set the exposure value of the background light to be equal to that of the main light, and the result is a pure-white background behind her head that gradually falls off to light gray toward the bottom of the image.

I also set a white bookend at camera right and quite close to the model to open the shadows on her unlit side. See image 10.1 and diagram 10A.

I liked the look produced by the bookend fill card, but I wanted something with a bit more snap. I also wanted to get more contour to her face.

I set up two strip lights—one on each side of the background—and aimed them to the center. The lights were carefully positioned so there was no more than 1/10-stop difference over the 5 feet of important background behind the subject. The exposure value of the background lights, measured together, was equal to that of the main light. Setting the lights in this manner means the white paper background will have some detail (though slight) throughout.

Both strip lights were blocked by a black bookend to keep any spill light off the model and the camera’s lens.

The umbrella at camera left was swapped out with a medium softbox placed in approximately the same position. The white bookend at camera right was removed and replaced with a small softbox that was moved a bit farther back toward the background but aimed at my model’s side. This softbox was powered to be equal to the main light. See diagram 10B.

With all lights powered equally, I ended up with a series of images with a definite high key feel but with detail everywhere. Although I didn’t try it, I think this scenario would work equally well using umbrellas for the two subject lights. Larger, “normal” softboxes would work in place of the strip lights but would require more room. See image 10.2.

I thought it might be interesting to see a graded background, from the top down, so I turned off one of the strip lights and mounted the other on a boom, centered over the subject but far enough behind her that the light would not impact her look. I also replaced the medium softbox with a large softbox that was set at the same position to produce a broader, softer light. There is some spread of light from any modifier, of course, so I made sure the model was positioned far enough from the background so the light that fell on her from the strip light was equal to that of the main light. It took a few minor adjustments in her position, but the extra minute or two was worth it. Notice how the light from above defines her shoulders without being overly bright. It was metered to be equal to the main light at that point. See diagram 10C.

Look at the diagram and you’ll see that I also turned the small softbox toward the background. Because of its distance from the paper, it doesn’t add much more than a little extra gradation from the right to the left side. I powered it so the little bit of light that splashed to her side was equal to the main light. Because the effects of light are cumulative, it appears there is a highlight along her camera-right arm. Smoke and mirrors. And physics. See image 10.3.

The most important tool in your arsenal, especially for high key photography, is a light meter that’s calibrated to your equipment (using a meter straight out of the box is sometimes a mistake). No doubt you noticed that my model was wearing white clothing against a white background but there was detail wherever it was important. That would have been difficult to pull off if I had to guess at the exposure or use my camera’s LCD as a light meter (both are poor decisions). If you don’t know how to calibrate your meter, look at my blog (www.chrisgreylighting.com), where the process is described quickly and simply. The key to creating high key imagery, any imagery, is confident control over the lighting. If you know your meter is right on the money, you can set and power your lights exactly how you want them. Your camera will then do its job correctly.

Another approach is to use a large softbox (at least 3×4 feet, but bigger is better) as a background. Meter it by retracting the dome of the incident meter and pressing it flat against the fabric. The reading you will get will equal what’s needed for a perfect shot of a white surface. In other words, if you use that reading you will see detail in the fabric of the softbox, something you probably don’t want. Make note of the reading; it will become important when you set the main light. I set my large softbox on the floor. I would normally set it on a stand, but I wanted the posture that my model would give me if she were on her knees. When kneeling, the transfer of physical power from the legs through the torso and shoulders is subtle but different enough to use to one’s advantage.

My main light was a basic 36-inch umbrella, set directly over the lens. I powered the umbrella’s light to be 1 stop less than the reading I made from the front of the large softbox. This lesser reading would be the working aperture on the camera. In other words, the background light would overexpose itself by 1 stop, becoming completely white. Also, the full-stop overexposure would negate any shadow thrown by the umbrella while allowing some light to wrap itself around the model. Image 10.4 presents a practical overview of the lighting scenario, a very simple setup.

My main light was a basic 36-inch umbrella

When you crop in to the image, the beauty of this setup becomes evident. Facial features are nicely defined, while the background is pure white. There is detail in almost every part of her clothing, even those areas that intrude into the pure-white background. Working with calibrated equipment is essential to pulling off tightly controlled shots such as this. See image 10.5.


Set two white bookends on each side of the large softbox, angled parallel to the subject. Set a bare-tubed strobe on a boom, with the tube directly over the camera, powered to 1 stop below that of the softbox. You’ll still get the wraparound effect of light from the softbox, while the two bookends will soften the effect of the bare-tubed strobe. See diagram 10D.

wraparound effect of light from the softbox

You’ll notice immediately, if you’ve measured the light with a calibrated meter, that the model’s white dress is perfectly represented, with detail in all areas except those affected by wraparound light. This is beautiful, simple, beauty light. It’s high key, but with important detail throughout.

Here’s an easy way to vignette a high key image to a white border, a very effective way to enhance the high key effect. Begin with your favorite image. Image 10.6 was made with a medium softbox in front of a larger softbox, powered 1 full stop less than the big box.

In Photoshop, use the Lasso tool to create a freehand shape around the subject. The intent is to make everything outside the line feather to white. Personally, I think this works better if the shape is a more irregular, organic shape than a basic oval or circle. See image 10.7.

Once you’ve drawn the shape, go to Select>Modify> Feather and set the pixel amount to soften the edge. Larger files require a larger pixel spread for a soft boundary; play with your files to determine what you like. This file (image 10.8) was rather large, about 45MB when opened, so I feathered by 150 pixels.

Next, go to Select>Inverse. This means you will affect the area outside the line, rather than the interior of the selection. See image 10.9.

Fill the selection with white. If you have other colors in the Foreground/Background palette, choose White from the menu. Check to be sure the Blending Mode is Normal and Opacity is at 100%. See image 10.10.

You’ll probably have to go back and re-draw the Lasso pattern a few times before you get the perfect effect. It takes only a minute or two to get through the procedure, and the result will add a great deal of visual interest to your final image, making it look even more high key than how it was shot. I think it’s an easy jump to see how effectively this trick would work on other forms of portraiture, such as seniors or bridal portraits. See image 10.11.

Lasso tool to create a freehand shape around the subject

re-draw the Lasso pattern a few times before you get the perfect



The Search for Super-Soft Light for Best Photo


Softboxes are nice, as are umbrellas. Either will efficiently create large amounts of relatively soft light. But what if the source isn’t large enough? What if the shadows, soft as they are, are not as soft as you’d like them?

Umbrellas and softboxes are limited in size. The largest softbox in my studio is 6×7 feet and my largest umbrella has a 7-foot diameter. Both are wonderful sources but take up a lot of real estate, especially the umbrella. Amazingly, neither produces as soft a light as I sometimes would like.

Super-Soft Light

In order to solve the problem, I first looked at the size of the source. I postulated that the optimum lightto- subject distance for a softbox was the sum of its height and width, 13 feet with the 6×7-foot softbox, 14 feet with the large umbrella. While I’ve loved the light these gadgets produce, I’ve frequently wanted a look that’s even softer. I’ve provided the following tips to help you get the softest light you can out of your studio space—without the trial and error.


This will work best if you have white walls in your studio. Off-white trim around doors or windows won’t be a concern, as you’ll need to do a custom white balance anyway, just to negate anything funky.

If you don’t have a white wall, use a roll of white seamless paper. Set two or, preferably, three strobes on stands aimed at the top, middle, and bottom of the paper, vertically toward the middle of the sweep, from a distance of about 6 feet. Power each one to the same output. If you’re in doubt about that, meter each one individually from the same spot and make adjustments as necessary.

Super-Soft Light Diagram

Super-Soft Light Diagram

Set up the background you’ll be using for your model at least 10 feet from the white seamless (15 feet is better still). What you’re doing is creating a source that’s larger than any softbox or umbrella, and the result will be softer light. For example, if you’re shooting into a wall that’s 12×10 feet, you won’t see any significant contrast unless you set the second background more than 22 feet from the white wall source.

Set the lights “ahead” of the model. In other words, if the model will be 10 feet away from the camera, set the lights at a position at least 8 feet from the camera so the light will wrap around the model a little as it bounces back from the white wall or seamless. Remember, none of the three lights are aimed at the model.

Meter this as you would for a profile, with the dome of the meter placed under the model’s chin and aimed at the light. Be sure all three lights are equally powered.

Your first images will show delightfully soft light across your model’s face, with shadow coming in from the unlit side.

Now, to open up the shadow side, bring in a bookend or other fill card to bounce light back into the shadows. Because the source lights are so far away, the depth of light is such that the strength of the bounce is not too much less than the light from the main light—there is more than enough to provide contour and depth. Open the bookend or use a large reflector to push as much light as possible across the model.

I decided I’d build on the concept of using a room as a light source by creating an even softer source, placing existing lights in new positions and adding more if necessary.

I moved all but the highest light off the white sweep, placing the remaining two lights on stands approximately 8 feet to each side of the camera, aimed at the white ceiling but at an angle that would direct the bounce light to the model. All three lights were metered separately and powered to the same f-stop, then metered again to the cumulative aperture value. I added another light, fitted with a medium softbox, directly above the camera and aimed at the model. This light was powered to –1 stop below the rest of the lights (metered with the other lights turned off, of course) to add fill without overpowering the softness created by the others. The scene was re-metered one last time, with all the lights firing, to get the working aperture for the camera.

Search for Super-Soft Light

Search for Super-Soft Light

The light I’d left shooting into the white background added just a little more contouring to the side of my model’s face and figure, but the overall light was beautifully soft and rich. The light from the softbox filled in any dark shadows under the eyes. The other lights, while not flat, generated light that was still very soft.

In the interest of simplicity, I turned off the light beaming into the white sweep on the left. While the slight contouring from that light was a welcome addition to the overall scenario, I found the results without it to be very satisfactory. The final scenario of one softbox aimed at the model and two lights with reflectors aimed at the ceiling was both simple and soft, exactly what I’d hoped to accomplish.


I like to make use of every square inch of my studio space for placing backgrounds and lights (except for the refrigerator area, where the beer is stored).

This next setup used one wall and two corners of the studio to create a very large source using regular parabolic reflectors. My first light was aimed up and into the wall approximately 15 feet to the left of camera and about 5 feet from the wall itself. The second was aimed into the corner of the room behind my left shoulder. That light was also pointed upward so the bounce would travel up the walls and bounce back from the ceiling toward my model. Both of these lights were powered to the same output, measured at the subject.

Super-Soft Light Diagram

Super-Soft Light Diagram

Search for Super-Soft Light

A third light was aimed into the corner of the room behind my right shoulder. This light was powered 1 stop less than the combined power of the other two (metered with the other lights turned off), to provide some very soft contouring on the model’s face. See diagram 9D. Obviously, a custom white balance is essential in situations like this.

For those of you with small studios, turning the walls into sources of light is an easy and very inexpensive way to get “big” light. An added benefit is that the depth of light increases because of the extra distance between the lights, the walls, and the subject.


Should you own two equally sized softboxes, especially large ones, here’s a great way to build a contoured, super-soft light that looks like a million bucks.

Search for Super-Soft Light

I placed my two large softboxes directly in front of the lens and one to each side of it, horizontally, with a slight upward angle at their centers so I’d have a little extra room to move the camera up or down. The model was separated from the boxes by less than 4 feet, so the two sources would be very large and very soft. The soft box at camera right was powered to 1 stop less than the other.

Search for Super-Soft Light

The black background was nothing more than a 4×8- foot sheet of black foamcore. I’d begun the shoot with my model about 6 feet from the background, but the light from the two softboxes did not fall off fast enough and the background was a medium shade of gray. I moved the model, the lights, and the camera 3 feet farther from the background, which meant that the light would lose strength faster over the extra distance, producing a deep, dark, charcoal-gray background. This is a relatively simple two-light shot, without hair or background lights, yet the image has great depth and character. This is perfect light for model or actor headshots, as they do not usually require kickers.


I’ve written in other books about how small (accessory) flash units can be made to perform like larger, studio units by adding extra diffusion. I’ve also written about how to use small softboxes, beamed into a larger diffusion panel, to create even softer light.

What if that’s not enough? An additional layer of diffusion will benefit any situation where softer light is desired. For this set, I mounted a large softbox and set it far enough behind a queen-sized white bedsheet to allow the light to hit most of the sheet without spilling over. I’d clamped the sheet to a boom arm, but there are a number of other ways to mount such a large piece of cloth, the easiest of which is to simply stretch it between two light stands, ensuring that it is taut enough to eliminate any wrinkles or folds that could create an area of negative density within the image.

This is a very simple trick, and the light looks beautiful. You might want to try any of these tricks when dealing with a more mature model, as the light is substantially softer than that produced by any one softbox and will soften age lines somewhat.


Here’s another nifty little trick that will produce very soft light that falls off noticeably as it travels down a subject’s body. A caveat: it will only work with a white or neutral-colored ceiling.

Mount a medium or large softbox on a stand and aim it at the ceiling (I used a medium softbox). Leave just enough of the lower edge in view of the subject so that a little of the light will actually fall on her. Knowing where that light ends, the point at which the edge of the frame blocks the white diffusion front, will tell you where the light will fall off.

medium softbox

Aim the softbox at the ceiling from a distance that allows a full bounce down to the subject and creates nice shadows. Meter as usual, under the chin, reading both the bounced light as well as the little bit of oblique light coming from the angled box. The bounced light below the oblique light will be less strong and will fall off at that point. As with any trick that involves light bounced off a surface, a custom white balance is a necessity. I know this looks odd (it is), but it produces a terrific soft light that’s also quite unusual because of the vignette.

This first image was made with the model about 4 feet from the edge of the softbox and about 10 feet from the background. Notice how soft the light is on her face, due to the large surface area of the ceiling and the slightly more defined light from the edge of the softbox. A hair light, a beauty bowl with a 25 degree grid (a favorite combination), was set on a boom arm directly over the model’s head. It was powered to the same f-stop as the main light, providing just enough kick to give the model extra dimension.

We created a nice variation with this lighting when the model held a translucent umbrella and the hair light was boosted an additional 1/3 stop. The halo from the umbrella, along with the angle of its handle and the model’s arms, combined with the light’s falloff to direct all attention to her beautiful face.

If you like this as a general idea but prefer less falloff, simply increase the distance between the model and the light . The softbox will spread the light more evenly. You’ll also see an increase in the brightness level of the background, as the Inverse Square Law comes into play and the light on the background is closer in value to that of the model.

Light for Best Photo

Sony RX100 aftereffect leaks in Japanese chiral images, adds angry screen, hot shoe and WiFi

Sony RX100

We were added than a little ardent with Sony’s aboriginal RX100, a high-end Cybershot point-and-shoot apartment a notable 1-inch 20.2-megapxiel CMOS sensor alongside a f/1.8 Carl Zeiss lens. It looks like there were abundant barter that anticipation the same, because SonyAlphaRumors has gleaned several images from the chiral for a aftereffect device. The website has added to share, but it’s blockage its translations first. In the meantime, these antecedent images already point to some notable accouterments additions. Alongside a awning that can angle up and down (plus a ablaze sensor to acclimatize accuracy automatically), the mark two RX100 will allegedly bolt up with Sony’s NEX series, abacus congenital WiFi too. There’s aswell the accession of a hot shoe for mics and added peripherals, but abhorrence not: there’s still the congenital beam to the larboard of it. Naming, appraisement and availability are still unknowns, but according to the site’s mole, the camera will get formally appear after this ages on June 27.


Canon 50D assets video recording through Magic Lantern RAW hack

Canon 50D gains video recording

It may be time to dust off that Canon 50D you purchased aback in 2008. The association abaft the Magic Lantern firmware add-on accept pulled yet addition aerial out the accepted hat (or is it lantern?) by enabling RAW video recording on the APS-C-based DSLR. What’s even added absorbing is that the 50D lacks video abutment out of the box, so this new-found functionality is absolutely magical. This drudge comes hot on the heels of the Magic Lantern aggregation adulation the Canon 5D Mark II / III into capturing 24 fps RAW video. With the firmware add-on installed, the 50D is able of cutting video up to 1592 x 1062 pixels at 30 fps. There are some caveats, though. First, there’s no audio recording back the camera lacks a microphone ascribe and associated electronics. Second, capturing RAW video requires fast CF cards (at atomic UDMA 6). Third, we now absolutely apprehend to see the 50D accelerate in amount on the acclimated market. Hit the breach for a few sample videos.






Canon EOS 70D Rumored For July Launch

Canon EOS 70D

Canon’s EOS 50D and 60D while being pretty decent cameras, are set at mid-ranged level, leaving devices like the EOS 5D and its generations for the higher-end market. If you think that you only need a mid-ranged camera for now and you want something a little newer, rumor has it that Canon is getting the EOS 70D prepared for a launch, with some speculating that the camera could even be launched in July.

This is according to the folks at Canon Rumors who have gotten word that the EOS 70D is apparently in its final testing stage and is in the hands of some “Explorers of Light”, which we presume are select photographers who are going about taking photos to show off what the EOS 70D can do. Apparently Canon is also in the middle of production for some commercials for the EOS 70D, so assuming all of this is true, a launch in July would seem plausible. Until then take it with a grain of salt.

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Alleged Panasonic Lumix GX2 Specs Leaked

Panasonic Lumix GX2

If you’re in the market for a new camera, Panasonic might have something for you in the form of the Lumix GX2, the successor to the company’s Lumix GX1. While we’re not sure when Panasonic plans to launch the Lumix GX2, the folks at Digicame-info have managed to get their hands on what appears to be some leaked specifications of the upcoming device. These aren’t the complete specs, nor are we sure if these are even the right specs, but for now they are all we have to work with. According to the specs, the GX2 is expected to sport a tiltable built-in viewfinder with a fast shutter speed of 1/8000s. It will sport a new 18MP image sensor and will come with image stabilization capabilities. In any case take it with a grain of salt for now and be sure to check back with us down the road for more updates!

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Sources : ubergizmo