Studio Lighting Techniques

studio lighting techniquesTo many of us taking a picture simply means pulling out our camera phones and pressing a button, but to others taking a picture is an art form. Photography is a very detailed discipline, and it requires everything to be just right in order to take the perfect photograph. One of those things is the lighting. With the right lighting, it’s possible to completely change someone’s appearance, highlight important features, and give a photograph an entirely different feeling.

Making things great through simple means can be hard, but there are a lot of techniques and tips you can learn to really make your photos shine. Check out the Portrait Photography with Simple Gear course on Udemy and find out what you can do with a few items and a lot of creativity.

Although the concept of studio lighting may seem daunting, there’s a lot you can do without having to spend thousands of dollars, but still getting an amazing photograph. These are just simple things that can be done with a few accessories and your trusty camera.

Creating a Great Home Studio Setup

If you really want to create a great atmosphere for lighting, then you can use your own home as a place to setup. This may limit you as you may want to prefer using more natural means of light for your subject, but for the most control there is nothing better than your own home setup. These are some of the items that you’re going to need to help create a simple, but effective home studio for photography.

  • Flash Heads: These little devices come along with a flash tube and you can get two of them in most kits. Flash heads are a light source and they work well for your subject. These items can usually be triggered by each other, so you only have to connect your camera to one.
  • Light Stands: These devices help support the flash heads and direct them away from the subject. You can your flash heads with these stands and adjust the angle and distance to help you get the subject in the right light.
  • Umbrellas: I’m sure you always wondered what those umbrellas were for when you were taking your school pictures. The light is directed into the umbrella (or brolly) and the light is then reflected back onto the subject. You can get different surfaces to reflect what style suits you best; they usually come in silver, gold, or white.
  • Softbox: A softbox is a tool that’s a bit more sophisticated than the umbrellas, but they work the same way. Once you get the hang of them, you may prefer these over the umbrellas since they tend to create a softer light. There’s also the added benefit of getting more even lighting than what you can get with the umbrellas.
  • Snoot or Honeycomb: For concentration and focus, this tool is usually used for your backlights or when you want to put more emphasis or focus onto a part of the subject.
  • Reflector: Finally for your home set up you need a reflector. You can fill in hard shadows with this device, and you can really improve on the way the subject is hit by the light with this item.

Having a great home setup means you always have a go to place for taking your photographs whenever you want to make high quality pictures. You can adjust and work with the lighting in an environment that you’re familiar with as well.

If you want to explore beyond that though and learn about the finer details of lighting and how to achieve it no matter where you are, you can try the Lighting Asylum course on Udemy that goes through all of the important types of lighting and how you can achieve it.

Tips and Techniques for Creating Great Lighting

There’re many techniques that you can use in your photography setup to get great results. There’re several techniques and tricks that you can use with lighting to alter the look of your subject in photographs. Below you will discover some of the more advanced techniques and lighting positions you can use to bring your subjects to life through their photographs.

These techniques can be great tools, but if you really want to get into photography you should check out The Fundamentals of Photography course that gives you some general knowledge and advice on taking better pictures.

The Triple Reflector Technique 

This is an innovative way to light your subjects, and remove shadows. What you do is place three small reflectors directly underneath the subject. Since all of the panels can move independently from each other you can remove shadows from all sides. You then add a light above the model’s eye and point it downwards towards the reflectors. This gives a very flawless and well illuminated photograph. You can even add a hair light to this technique as well to help give it a fuller effect.

The Advanced Hair Light Technique 

Now that you have your setup, you should use one of the techniques many studios don’t regularly apply. The hair lighting technique adds emphasis on more than one side of the subject’s face. Getting more than just the subject’s “good side” and putting an extra light towards the back of the set gives you an imagine that looks more three-dimensional.

The way to apply this additional light source is to place it in a careful location behind your subject on one side, but you should never place it where it shines in the lens. After you do this, you meter the light while all the others are turned off so that it can be dimmer by about half a stop than the main light sure you’re using.

Once this is all done, you should use your snoot or honeycomb to create a small direct light path that highlights the texture of your subject’s hair. This gives your subject a much more vibrant and fuller look making the photograph seem less flat.

Broad Light 

The broad light set up places an emphasis on the side of the subject that is facing the camera and places more light on it. This tends to be a technique that a lot of photographers don’t use because it makes the subject seem a bit “chubby”, but you can adjust this by adding a reflector opposite to the light source.

Short Light 

Short light is the direct opposite of broad light and the lighting source puts an emphasis on the side of the face that is looking away from the subject. This helps makes your subject have a thinner appearance visually. Again, just like the broad light though a reflector can be placed along the opposite side of the light source to lessen the shadows on the subject and make the photo with a more even lighting.

Rembrandt Light

For many photographers this is a very artistic lighting technique. In fact, many professional photographers use it. The way to create this lighting setup is to place your main light source high and position it to the side of the face that is facing away from the camera. In most cases your subject will be placed at a 45 degree angle towards the camera and not looking directly at it. In photos that use this type of lighting the face is illuminated on one side and the shadows are very dark and heavy on the other.

Split Light 

In this lighting setup you take your light source and you place it facing 90 degrees towards the subject. This places a very dramatic shadow straight down the face of your subject. Your model should look directly at the camera, and you should always see the shadow go down the direct middle of the face, so much so that it even hits the tip of the nose. The results have a dramatic tone to them, and they can be really engaging.

Butterfly Lighting  

This technique can be achieved when you put your main source of light in front of the subject and raise the height so that a shadow is created under them and it’s in line with their nose. This is a more glamorous style of lighting, but the results are fantastic. If you want, you can add an additional light source to illuminate darker parts of the subject’s face, such as the chin and under the nose.

Expanding on Your Subjects

Some subjects may not be found in the convenience of your own home. There are tons of pictures you can only take outside of the studio and away from the setup. The Landscape Photography course that’s taught on Udemy is a great source that you should check out if you want to learn how to take photos of the area beyond your studio.

There’s a lot you can learn about photography, and once you master it there are some amazing pictures you can take. You may even want to start learning about and trying your hand at filmmaking, as you can learn about in this blog post.