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1 Ed Verosky’s Lighting Guide For Portrait Photography

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  • 1Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography

  • 2Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography

    Lighting GuideFor Portrait Photography


    (Previously Titled: Basic Lighting)

  • 3Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography


    Introduction ...............................................................................5Light Sources and Gear ..........................................................7

    Three Types of Light .............................................................................................. 8Basic Lighting For Any Budget .............................................................................. 10Light Stands ......................................................................................................... 28Lighting Modifiers .................................................................................................. 29Starting Points ....................................................................................................... 35Backgrounds ......................................................................................................... 42Light Meters .......................................................................................................... 43

    Portrait Lighting Basics ..........................................................49Lighting For Faces ................................................................................................ 49The Five Basic Lighting Patterns .......................................................................... 50Flat vs. Dimensional Lighting ................................................................................ 54Background and Environment Considerations ...................................................... 55What Else Makes A Good Portrait? ....................................................................... 59

    Dramatic Portraits ...................................................................60Everything Starts with One Light ........................................................................... 61Adding Fill Light..................................................................................................... 65Adding Hair Light................................................................................................... 66Adding Background Light ...................................................................................... 67

    Side Lighting ............................................................................68Single Side Light Profile ........................................................................................ 69Split Light .............................................................................................................. 72Two Side Lights ..................................................................................................... 73Adding Fill Light..................................................................................................... 75Halo/Hair Rim Light ............................................................................................... 75

    Full-Length Lighting ................................................................78One Light From Above .......................................................................................... 79Two Lights for More Coverage .............................................................................. 82Big Softbox without the Box .................................................................................. 84Wall Bounce for Bigger Light ................................................................................. 85Another Solution: Move The Light Farther Away .................................................. 86

  • 4Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography

    Contents continued...Lighting For Headshots ..........................................................88

    It Begins with One Light, But You Already Knew That ........................................... 89The Fill Light ......................................................................................................... 92The Hair Light........................................................................................................ 94The Background ................................................................................................... 95Clamshell Lighting ................................................................................................ 100Headshots come in many styles ......................................................................... 104

    The White Background ..........................................................105White Backgrounds Are Easy............................................................................... 106A White Background Isnt Always White............................................................... 107The Basic White Background ............................................................................... 107Wrap-Around Lighting .......................................................................................... 110 The Light Source As Background......................................................................... 111One Light Can Work ............................................................................................. 112

    Freestyle Lighting ...................................................................113Conclusion ..............................................................................116

    Additional Resources .......................................................................................... 116

  • 5Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Introduction

    Lighting can be one of the most challenging aspects of photog-raphy, but something every pho-tographer should strive to learn more about, no matter what their skill level. Ive written other books to address the desire to learn lighting theory and the technical aspects of lighting and exposure, and I feel that a solid understand-ing of lighting and exposure is crucial to being a well-rounded photographer. However, I also think theres much to be gained from just jumping in and creating good lighting from wherever you are in the learning curve. Produc-ing great portraits is the goal after all, but getting somewhere with your work right now is also encouraging. Knowing that you have it in you to create good images will only make you want to improve your technique and understanding as you move forward.

    This book is designed to lead you on a path of learning by doing. The ex-amples I ask you to follow are organized so that you can create great im-ages right away, and its my hope that youll gain some important insight as you move through them. Every step of the way, youll pick up a new tech-nique or principle, possibly use it in another example, and before you know it, youll be applying these techniques to your own lighting combinations!



  • 6Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Introduction

    Theres a tendency to want to fill up a book like this with some of my favorite stylized examples for each lighting setup, but I went the other way this time. Instead, I made the decision to stick with basic, no-frills images that would serve as instructive templates to work from. The images showing some of the lighting setups and gear, and the perspective diagrams were also con-sidered carefully. For the sake of uniformity and simplicity, the illustrations mostly feature main and fill lighting represented by small flash units modified with shoot-through umbrellas. However, any of the light sources can be re-placed by other types of lighting and modifiers to suit your particular needs. I think Ive struck a good balance with all of the visuals in order to commu-nicate the concepts Im trying to teach. Hopefully, youll agree and find the presentation easy to follow and straight to the point.

    Finally, I recommend you not only use these examples to learn where to place your lights, but also how to control their output manually, as opposed to limiting yourself to using automatic technologies like E-TTL II or i-TTL as they are available with small flash units. This isnt to say I dont want you to use TTL at all, I just want you to learn how to mange your lights and cam-eras manual features, too. These are going to be very important later.

    Well get started first with some basics about the type of lighting you can use, the portraiture lighting patterns you should be familiar with, and then move on to the examples you can follow to create your own impressive portraits!

  • 7Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear


    Light Sources and Gear No matter what your budget or how limited your work space or experience level, you should be able to use this book to create great portrait lighting immedi-ately. Although you wont need studio strobes or shoe-mount flash units to create the lighting patterns Im going to cover in this text, I strongly recommend that you invest in some type of flash/strobe lighting for your portraiture work. As I explain below, this will afford you the most control and versatility with your lighting (see Figure 1.1).

    Still, its the way light and shadow fall across your subject that matters most; the type of light being used is less important to the final image.

    So, if all you have to work with are house-hold lamps and/or natural light (Figure 1.2), use your creativity to direct your light where its needed to approximate the examples in this book. By doing so, youll improve your portraiture as you learn the principles that will guide you should you eventually choose to include flash/strobe lighting in your work.

    Figure 1.1. Portrait lighting setup. From left to right: softbox, hair light, fill light, and background light.

    Figure 1.2. A room filled with win-dow light is great for natural light portraits.

  • 8Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    Three Types of LightFor the purposes of photography, lighting can be broken down into three main categories: constant, natural, and strobe. Understand that youll occa-sionally have to deal with mixed lighting scenarios, but for now, well discuss each type of light individually in the list that follows:

    Constant LightingConstant (or continuous) light is artificial light that is produced for a duration that lasts much longer than the average exposure. Examples of this type of light source are household light bulbs, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), flashlights, video lights, street lights, car headlights, any neon or electronic screen illumination, candle light or light coming from a bonfire. Constant lighting is generally less powerful than strobe, but arguably easier to control than natural light. As with natural light, one of the great advantages to work-ing with constant light sources is that you can see and somewhat control the effect of the lighting on your subject in real-time. Natural LightingWhen we talk about natural light, were usually referring to the light pro-duced by the Sun. Natural light is the constant ambient light that surrounds us outdoors and makes its way indoors via windows and skylights. Sunlight can be harsh when striking your subject directly, or beautifully diffuse (e.g. on cloudy days). Lets not forget the Golden Hour, that time just before the sun dips below the horizon, or just after it rises in the morning, when the sunlight passes through the atmosphere in such a way as to create a less intense, warm glow.

    Many photographers think of natural light as the easiest type to work with and it can definitely seem that way. As with other types of constant lighting,

  • 9Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    natural light allows you to see where the light and shadows fall across your subject in real-time, giving you a pretty good idea of how theyll appear in your images. But much of the perceived simplicity of working with natural light has to do with our limited ability to actually control it; its not like you can alter the Suns output or move and position it around your subject the way that you can with lamps, flashes, and studio lights, so when working exclusively with natural light, there are fewer settings and pieces of gear to concern yourself with.

    Of course, having less control over your lighting can also be limiting, but under the right conditions natural light can be a pleasure to work with for creating beautiful portraiture. Flash and Studio Strobe LightingFlash and studio strobes are among the most powerful and versatile lighting sources you can use, but theyre also the most misunderstood. The chal-lenge of working with flash or any strobe lighting has to do with the relatively short duration of the light output and its variable intensity. A single burst of light produced by a strobe occurs for only a fraction of a second. This makes it difficult to see and judge the light prior to reviewing your shots on your cameras preview monitor. Managing a strobes intensity and/or bal-ancing it with the output of other strobe units (in a multi-light setup) can also be frustrating. Things can get even more complicated when mixing strobe with constant or ambient light sources. These are more advanced topics well only briefly mention in this book.

    Although working with strobe lighting can initially be more complex than working with natural or continuous light, the benefits are certainly worth the effort. And once you gain some experience with strobe lighting, its actually quite simple to use. In fact, many photographers feel that working with

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    strobe lighting is easier than working natural light. Fortunately, you can learn to create beautiful portraits with strobe even before mastering (or com-pletely understanding) how flash works. Automatic flash exposure systems like Canons E-TTL II and Nikons i-TTL can do much of the complicated work for you, allowing you to concentrate more on the position of your lights than on their power settings and metering. As you progress in your under-standing of flash and its more advanced techniques and uses, youll likely want to control the light output manually for most portrait work.

    Basic Lighting For Any BudgetIf youve made the effort to acquire a DSLR and a computer for your pho-tography, Im assuming youre also willing to invest in some flash or studio strobe units, or at the very least, a low-cost continuous lighting solution. On the other end of the spectrum, theres high-end studio lighting, but for basic work the costs of top-of-the-line lighting might greatly outweigh the benefits. Perhaps your comfort zone is somewhere in the middle, where good quality for typical use is often reasonably affordable. Here are a few suggestions for putting together your own affordable basic lighting kit:

    Clamp Light KitClamp lights are those inexpensive work lights shaped somewhat like a bell (see Figure 1.3). These are essentially utility lights for workshop and household use but they can be an excellent source of light for your photog-raphy, too. Youll find that theyre made up of four basic pieces:

    Light receptacle Light bulb/CFL Reflector Clamp

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    The three pieces that make up the clamp light hardware are usually available for purchase as a unit. You can use regular incandescent light bulbs but I prefer compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) because they run cooler and provide plenty of light to work with. CFLs cost more than standard light bulbs but what you can save on the energy and replacement costs will more than make up for the initial expense over time.

    A CFL that uses 42 watts of power can provide as much illumination as a 150 watt incandescent bulb. There are in fact CFLs that can produce light equivalent to a 500+ watt incandescent light. The amount of light youll need will depend mostly on your cameras handling of noise at higher ISO settings. As long as you can achieve your preferred shutter speed and ap-erture setting, your clamp light kit is producing enough light to work with.

    Since the setup described here does not employ three-way or dimmable lights, youll have to make one or more of the following adjustments to con-trol lighting intensity and/or lighting ratios (where lighting intensity varies in the scene):

    Number of lights. Just as with any type of lighting, the number of lights you use will determine where the light falls and how much light appears in your shot. Using more lights from a single position will naturally pro-duce more intensity from that position. You can think of a tight grouping

    Figure 1.3. Clamp light with CFL.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    of lights as single light source. Conversely, removing lights from that position will make that light source dimmer.

    Position. By increasing the distance between light source and your subject, youll decrease the intensity of that light as it appears on the subject. As a matter of fact, just moving your light a few feet can dra-matically diminish its intensity. Bringing a light in closer to your subject, as you might guess, will increase the lights intensity on the subject.

    Angle. This is related to position, but here were dealing more with a technique called feathering. If you leave your light in the same position in relation to the subject, you can still decrease the intensity of that light on the subject by angling it off to one side. As you turn the light farther away from a straight-on orientation to your subject, youll decrease the amount of light reaching the subject from that light source.

    Modification. A light modifier is anything that changes the quality, ef-fect, or angle of a light source. You can modify clamp lighting much the same way as you can any light source if you have the equipment and accessories to do so. For example, Ive occasionally used a clamp light hung from a light stand with an umbrella modifier, instead of my usual studio or flash unit (see Figure 1.4 and Figure 1.5). Just make sure you arent placing anything flammable directly against the light or hot parts of the hardware. Continuous, or hot lights, can be a fire hazard, so take precautions when working with these lights.

    I would like to point out that the adjustments described above make use of fundamental lighting principles that youll learn more about as you progress as a photographer. So, keep in mind while youre making any adjustments to the lighting setups, that most of what you do with constant light sources can be applied to strobe and other types of lighting.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    Facts About CFLsUsing CFLs over standard incandescent light bulbs is recommended (see Figure 1.6). If you decide to use this type of lighting, you might be interest-ed in knowing the following facts:

    It can take at least 30 seconds for a CFL to reach its maximum and most consistent light output level. The type of units with a cover over the bare tube can take longer to warm up and reach full output.

    CFLs produce less heat and use about 75% less energy than their in-candescent counterparts.

    You can choose CFLs with the color temperature (Kelvin scale) that matches your needs; 2700K-3000K for incandescent-like color,

    Figure 1.5. Portrait using clamp light with umbrella modifier and reflector for fill.

    Figure 1.4. Clamp light on a stand, with umbrella modifier.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    3500K-4100K for whiter color, and 5000K-6500K for day-light-balanced color.

    Dimmable and three-way units are also available but not recommended for standard clamp light applications.

    You should discard old CFLs responsibly because they contain a small amount of mercury.

    Whether you decide to use regular incandescent bulbs or CFLs, make sure to use the same type and brand throughout in order to keep the lighting color consistent between sources. Cost per light, including CFL bulb, can be under $10, making this an extremely affordable solution. A clamp light kit, just like any continuous lighting does have its drawbacks: bright, continuous (and often hot) lights can make a subject uncomfortable and create some degree of eye squinting and the look of constricted (small) pupils. And, with-out modifiers, the light can appear rather harsh. Commercial continuous lighting kits that use CFLs are also available.

    Studio StrobesIf youre willing to invest a little more, you might consider a basic studio strobe kit. It might surprise you to know that top-of-the-line small flash units made by the likes of Canon and Nikon can be much more expensive than their budget studio strobe counterparts. This isnt to say you shouldnt use

    Figure 1.6. CFL.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    shoe-mount flashes--they offer lots of advantages over studio strobe light-ing--but if budget is an issue studio strobes might be a better option for your portraiture.

    There are several reasonably priced studio strobes that offer good, consis-tent performance. While not all of these will necessarily fit into everyones idea of budget-priced, many of the photographers I know have been very happy with the performance of these products despite the fact that these arent high-end solutions. If youre interested in investing in pricier gear and prestige brands, I have listed a few at the end of this section.

    Here are some of the brands and models that many new, as well as some seasoned pro photographers swear by:

    Alien Bees. Paul C. Bluff has designed and manufactured several rea-sonably-priced lighting solutions in-cluding the White Lighting, Einstein, and Zeus lines and their respective accessories and modifiers. Buffs Alien Bees line of monolights has become especially popular over the years (see Figure 1.7). These units are easy to use, dependable, and relatively inexpensive. Alien Bees come in several colors and three basic versions: the B400, B800, and the B1600. More info:

    Novatron. For some seasoned professionals, units like the Novatron

    Figure 1.7. Alien Bees B800 monolight.Image: Paul C. Buff, Inc.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    M500 (see Figure 1.8) and M300 make for solid workhorses without the weight and hassle of larger lights. More info:

    RiME Lite. These are available in most areas under the name RiME Lite (see Figure 1.9), and in Canada as Lightrein brand strobes and ac-cessories. These units can handle 300 watt modeling lamps and some models boast impressive digital features. ( &

    Other Brands. The following brands are also favorites with many of the photographers I know: Calumet Genesis (, Photoflex StarFlash (, Photogenic (, and Elinchrom D-Lite RX4, which is an entry-level Elinchrom unit that packs lots of features including EL-Sky-port functionality. (

    Prestige and High-End Brands. Some brands like Elinchrom have en-try-level products as well as higher-end models. Along with Elinchrom, professional photographers also use Profoto, Bowens, Broncolor, and Hensel among others.

    Figure 1.8. Novatron M500. Figure 1.9. Rime Lite Fame 4.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    When shopping for a studio strobe kit, Id suggest sticking to the brands and models that are equipped with modeling lamps. Modeling lamps are essen-tially continuous light sources provided as a useful feature on some strobe units. These modeling lights provide two advantages: they help you visual-ize lighting ratios and where shadows will fall, and they can serve as lighting sources all on their own, for continuous light photography.

    Keep in mind that some studio strobes are flash heads that need to be powered by external power packs, while others are self-contained units. Either way, these lighting kits will require an AC power source or limited capacity battery pack to function.

    Small Flash UnitsAlthough theyre not considered profes-sional studio lights, shoe-mount flash units, such as the one shown in Figure 1.10, can be just as expensive as bud-get studio strobes, or more so. So you might wonder, why spend more money on smaller, less powerful flashes? As I stated earlier, small flash units offer many advantages over larger studio strobes; theyre more compact, lighter, operate on convenient size-AA batter-ies, and theyre actually very powerful for their size. They also give you the option of using newer automatic flash metering technology (e.g. Canons E-TTL II or Nikons i-TTL) and simplify flash ratio control. Many photographers

    Figure 1.10. Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT. Small flash units like these are very portable and pack great lighting power for their size.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    prefer them for their size and portability. There are also many light modifiers and other accessories for these types of strobes making them very suited to portrait work.

    Off-Camera Flash TriggeringUsing a flash mounted directly to the camera via the hot shoe has its ad-vantages, but this book is about working with lighting setups, specifically addressing off-camera lighting. So now is a good time to cover the various ways you can trigger one or more remotely positioned flash units. But keep in mind that there are big differences between each method with regard to effectiveness and functionality. For example, one thing that often comes as a surprise to photographers who are new to off-camera flash is the fact that through-the-lens metering (E-TTL II and i-TTL) and automatic flash output control arent available in every scenario; some of these solutions require you to use manual camera and flash settings.

    Heres a breakdown of the major off-camera flash syncing methods:

    E-TTL II and i-TTLIf you use either the Canon or Nikon flash system youre probably familiar with their respective versions of automatic flash exposure control (E-TTL II and i-TTL/CLS). Essentially, these systems allow the camera and flash to work together to maintain proper flash output. Each time the shutter re-lease button is depressed, and just before the shutter is released, an almost imperceptible preflash is fired allowing the camera to calculate the flash output necessary for the actual exposure. When the flash is mounted to the camera, the camera sends communication signals to the flash via electronic contacts located on the cameras hot shoe and on the foot of the flash.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    Whats great about these systems is that some of the flash units can, aside from their ability to fire a preflash, also send E-TTL II or i-TTL control signals to remote flash units via flash pulses. This means that higher-end flash units and some built-in (pop-up) flash units can serve as master flash controllers to remote slave flash units. These systems can work great in normal shooting situations, especially indoors, but can suffer from spotty signal reception where there are line-of-sight obstructions or very bright day-light conditions to compete with the signals. Whats also interesting to note, is that even though these systems were designed to make automatic flash output control possible with remote units, they can also be used to trigger flash units set to manual mode giving the photographer more precise, direct control over flash output. I recommend that you use your flash units and camera in manual mode as you progress through this book.

    Canon and Nikon have other ways to control remote units using their pro-prietary flash systems, including dedicated sync cords, special transmitter units (see Figure 1.11) and Canons new radio transmitter/receiver capa-bilities of the Speedlite 600EX-RT and the ST-E3-RT unit. Radio options eliminate the line-of-sight limitations of the standard E-TTL II and i-TTL light pulse communications between master and slave units. Although at the time of this writing, Nikon does not have an integrated radio option, as youll see later, other companies have provided work-around solutions to the problems associated with native optical trans-mission. More on Canon and Nikon later in this section.

    Figure 1.11. Canon ST-E2. Speedlite Transmitter unit capable of sending E-TTL II signals to Speedlite slave units.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    Dedicated Sync CordsDedicated sync cords like the one shown in Figure 1.12 are brand-specific and configured with electronic contacts that match up to your camera and flash. Essentially, these extend the connection necessary for the camera to relay automatic output control mes-sages to the flash. This way, your flash can be positioned within arms dis-tance of the camera, or even farther with longer cords or by daisy-chaining two or more cords.

    PC CordsWhile not a wireless solution, and cer-tainly not E-TTL II/i-TTL compatible, the PC cord, as shown in Figure 1.13, (and having nothing to do with personal com-puters) is a quick and easy way to sync your camera to a manually set flash

    Figure 1.12. Dedicated sync cord.

    Figure 1.13. PC cord attached to Canon Speedlite.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    unit located somewhere away from the shooting position. If your camera has a PC connector terminal or a hot shoe adapter that provides this type of connection, you can plug a PC cord into it, and plug the other end into a flash with a similar connector or adapter. PC cords with the screw lock feature are less prone to accidentally detaching from their terminals than their more basic counterparts, but they still have a reputation of being unreli-able. This, and fact that theyre a wired solution, makes them more prone to accidents and failure and somewhat restricts the photographers movement during shooting. Also, its not always possible to reliably hook up more than one flash unit at a time using PC cords. The one advantage a PC cord (or any simple cord connector) has over optical wireless transmission is that there is no line-of-sight signal problem to contend with.

    Optical SlavesIf youre looking for a very simple low-budget wireless solution for syncing any number of manually controlled flash units, optical slaves might be a good option. These are typically small units that connect to your flash (See Figure 1.14), either directly or via a hot shoe adapter. An optical slave flash trigger is essentially an electronic eye that responds to the flash burst from a master flash or other flash in your setup by sending an electric signal to the flash its connected

    Figure 1.14. Sonia brand optical slave attached to Canon Speedlite. This model is specially designed for use with Canon EX-series flashes.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    to, causing that flash to also fire. So, when you take a picture and the flash connected to your camera fires (or any flash fires), each remotely positioned flash, equipped with an optical slave, will also fire. This happens instanta-neously so all flash units contribute to the exposure. There are a couple of important things to be aware of when using optical slaves:

    1. Do not use E-TTL II/i-TTL or any automatic feature that creates a preflash or otherwise uses a connected flash for anything but the actual exposure. Since any flash-type pulse of light will trigger a standard op-tical slave, the remote flash will likely fire during the first pulse it sees. In the case of preflash, the optical slave will react to the preflash, causing the remote flash to fire and end before the shutter opens. Of course, this means the remote flash wont have enough time to recycle and fire during, or contribute to, the actual exposure. Some optical slaves are designed to take preflash into account, ignoring a first pulse, and trigger-ing on the second pulse (presumably the flash of the actual exposure). These however, have received mixed reviews from users. Its just best to set the camera for manual flash when using optical slave triggers.

    2. Make sure you use an optical slave that is compatible with your spe-cific type and/or brand of flash unit. When using Canon Speedlites, for example, its recommended that you attach optical slaves that are ex-plicitly compatible with the EX series of flashes.

    Of course, there will still be a line-of-sight limitation, as with any optical wire-less transmission/reception solution, but, again, you wont have a problem with most close-quarters indoor shooting because even if your optical slaves arent directly in-line with your master flash, theyll likely pick up the light pulse as it bounces off other surfaces (i.e. walls) and fire at the appropriate time. Outdoors in bright daylight, might be more of a challenge.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    Radio TriggersAlthough Canon now has a radio transmission solution to the line-of-sight problem associated with the optical wireless transmission of E-TTL II signals, third-party radio solutions have been available for quite some time. Radio-Popper, PocketWiz-ard and others have come up with ways to capture and relay the proprietary optical signals from Canon and Nikon cameras to their Speedlite/Speedlight units.

    There are many basic radio triggering solutions available for non-TTL ap-plications, including the PocketWizard X, PockeWizard Plus II (see Figure 1.15), and other PocketWizard models, and many low-cost triggers from other manufacturers. One note of caution: before investing in a set of radio triggers, make sure you do your research and look for models with good reviews. A lower-priced set of radio triggers might sound like a bargain until youre having to deal with frustratingly unreliable flash syncing.

    Next, well talk about the flash units available from Canon and Nikon. There are other viable flash units available from manufacturers such as Sigma, Bower, Metz, and Yongnuo that you might also want to consider.

    Figure 1.15. PocketWizard Plus X and Plus II transciever units.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    Canon LineupCanon has several quality flash units perfect for small studio work and out-door shooting. Off-camera units can be mounted to light stands and posi-tioned anywhere around the scene and controlled with E-TTL II, Canons version of through-the-lens automatic flash metering and output control.

    Of the models listed below, the Canon Speedlite 580EX II (as well as its pre-decessor the 580EX) and the 600EX-RT, can be mounted onto your camera and serve as master controllers for any of the units listed here when those units are set to slave mode.

    Here is a list of some of models you might find useful:

    270EX II. While this models flash head doesnt rotate (it only tilts verti-cally), that becomes much less of a limitation when remotely mounted to a light stand and/or swivel adapter; in that case, the flash head can be positioned as needed to point light in any direction. The settings for this unit are limited and can only be adjusted via a direct camera connection or E-TTL II optical wireless master. Unfortunately, it has limited use in multiple light setups where youd want to control it as part of a desig-nated group; it only operates as a member of E-TTL II Group A and will fire regardless of the channel setting on the master controller. This unit is the smallest and least powerful in this group, but it can still serve as a good secondary light. Ive found it especially useful as a hair light or rim light. This Speedlite is best used as part of an E-TTL II configuration and not a fully manual setup.

    320EX. This is an interesting model that boasts a built-in LED light which can be useful for some DSLR video recording when better light

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    is not available. The LED can also serve as modeling lamp and focus assist. As an off-camera slave unit, it allows you to manually adjust the Speedlite group and channel you wish it to operate on. As with the 270EX II, its great for use in an E-TTL II setup, but it will be of limited use in a fully manual setup.

    430EX II. For more serious off-camera shooting, Id recommend going with no less than the 430EX II. Unlike the 270EX II and 320EX, the 430EX II will allow you to make important settings adjustments directly on the unit, including manual output control. Its easy to navigate its menu with the LCD monitor and a few simple buttons. The only major things setting this unit apart from the big players listed next are the fact that it is not as powerful and cannot serve as a master controller.

    580EX II. The 580EX II (discontinued) can remotely control all other units in this lineup via optical wireless transmission using E-TTL II. When connected directly to your camera, the 580EX II can be setup as the single master controller to any number of remote slave units. These units can all be set to fire off of one of four selected channels (1, 2, 3, or 4) and can split into three groups (Groups A, B or C) with each group being controlled as a single unit. This setup allows you to control the ratio of light output between Groups A and B, with Group C firing independently, with its output controlled via Flash Exposure Compensa-tion (FEC) for that group, for example.

    600EX-RT. This is the first Canon Speedlite capable of radio wireless transmission to slave units as a built-in feature. Of course, this requires the use of slave units capable of receiving radio transmission from the master unit, and as of now, the 600EX-RT is the only Speedlite with this ability. So, if you want to use the 600EX-RT for radio wireless control of slave units, those slave units must also be 600EX-RTs. You also should

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    be aware of the fact that some of the more advanced features of this unit cannot be used with Canon DSLR models introduced prior to 2012. If you do have a 600EX-RT you can still take full advantage of Canons standard optical wireless system, because this unit can do everything the 580EX II does in that regard.

    The 580EX II and 600EX-RT (see Figure 1.16) can be set to operate as on-camera master units without emitting flash that contributes to the ac-tual exposure. This is helpful if you dont want part of the lighting on your subject coming in from the camera position. Two special master control units that dont actually produce flash and offer a much lower profile than the 580EX II or 600EX-RT are the ST-E2, which provides optical wireless control of all Speedlite models, and the ST-E3-RT, which only provides radio control when used with 600EX-RT slaves.

    Finally, Canon DSLRs with built-in (pop-up) flashes, beginning with the introduction of the 7D, are equipped with integrated Speedlite transmitters, meaning those cameras and their built-in flashes can control remote/slave

    Speedlite units. Ra-tios and other set-tings are controlled via the cameras menu system in this case. This feature is similar to Nikons Commander mode which has been available for several years.

    Figure 1.16. Speedlites 580EX II and 600EX-RT.

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    Nikon LineupJust as with Canon Speedlites, Nikons Speedlights (note the subtle differ-ence in spelling) also give you the advantage of automatic flash exposure through the i-TTL/CLS system. Speedlights are controlled via optical transmission much the same as Canons. Here are a few Nikon models of interest, excluding the ones that cannot reliably be used as wireless slaves. Note that the first three listed here (models SB-600, SB-800 and SB-900) have been discontinued but are still available as used items through various retailers and on-line sellers and auctions:

    SB-600. The Speedlight SB-600 (discontinued) has a flash head that tilts but does not rotate, however that is not a limitation when its at-tached to a light stand with a swivel/umbrella adapter. This unit can controlled by i-TTL/CLS remotely, operating on any of the four channels (1,2,3 or 4) and three groups (A, B, or C). To use the flash in manual mode using Nikons SU-4 mode, an SU-4 mode adapter must be used. Of course, a compatible basic radio or optical slave trigger will also work.

    SB-800. This unit (dis-continued) can operate as a master in wireless Commander mode when mounted onto a compatible Nikon DSLR. It can also serve as a remote slave in i-TTL and fully manu-al modes using a radio trigger or SU-4 mode (adapter not required as an optical slave is built-in).

    Figure 1.17. Nikon Speedlights SB-700 and SB-910.

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    SB-700, SB-900 (discontinued), and SB-910. Increasingly sophisticat-ed, these are the latest Speedlights in the Nikon line (see Figure 1.17)which can perform master and remote/slave functions while taking full advantage of the latest CLS features.

    Even with all the great on-going improvements in through-the-lens automat-ic flash metering and output control technologies, it should be noted that any good flash unit capable of being set to manual mode and triggered via optical or radio sync will do the job. As a matter of fact, for any shooting situation where your light and subject placement will remain fairly static for several shots, manual camera and flash settings will often give you the most predictable, consistent results. So, you dont need to use the features of E-TTL II or i-TTL to get great portrait lighting. However, those automatic features can be useful when you are going to be moving lights around fre-quently, or in fast moving shooting conditions (like event photography).

    Light Stands Whether youre using clamp lights, strobes, or small flash units youll need a convenient way to vary the height and position of your lights in order to take full advantage of your setup. Not only are light stands (see Figure 1.18) a good place to mount your lights, but they also make it easy to use light modifiers in various configurations.

    I suggest you have a light stand and the necessary adapters and attachments for each light in your setup. If youre just Figure 1.18. Light stand.

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    using clamp lights, this isnt as important, but where strobes and flash units are concerned, these additional attachments come in very handy. On the low end, you can look to spend about $40 per stand and basic swivel adapt-er for umbrellas and similarly attached modifiers, with better combinations running over $100 per stand setup.

    As I like to travel light, Ive used various low-budget stands and can recom-mend Impact brand and the light stands sold by Paul C. Buff, Inc. for their quality at reasonable price points.

    Other lighting accessories include umbrella adapters, shoe adapters, and adapters for syncing and securing your lights to stands and modifiers. See my book, Ed Veroskys Mini-Guide to Off-Camera Flash for quick and easy details and specific items you can use to put your own off-camera flash stands together.

    Lighting ModifiersThe look of your portraits is affected not only by the type and intensity of your light sources, but also by the quality of the light they produce. Think about a lamp with a bare bulb versus one with a lampshade attached; with-out the lampshade, the light produced is harsh and direct, whereas with the shade, its softer and more pleasing. Light modifiers for the light sources in your photography work to produce more pleasing light in much the same way.

    Most of the modifiers used are of the diffusion type; fabric panels often made of translucent nylon are commonly used for softboxes and photo-graphic umbrellas to transform the illumination from a small flash or strobe into a much larger light source relative to the subject. There are modifiers that can bounce, focus, block, color, and shape light to your needs. In this

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    book, Ill cover the basic modifiers youll need for many of the looks Ill show you how to create.

    Here are some commonly used light modifiers you should be aware of, and I encourage you to take the time to get familiar with:

    The Basic Foam Bounce CardThese are almost exclusively for use with shoe-mount flash units (as a mat-ter of fact, Ive never heard of bounce cards like this being used with any other type of photographic lighting). The idea behind this ingenious little DIY crafting foam attachment (see Figure 1.19) is that you can secure it to your flash head when its pointed straight up in the 90 degree position and it will reflect light off of the card and onto the subject.

    The advantage here is that the surface of the bounce card (essentially a mini-reflector) is larger than the surface of the flash head lens. When your flash fires this makes the effective relative size of your light source larger than it would have been, and larger light is often better light. Further adding to the overall size of your light source is the way that your flash is pointed toward the ceiling when using this modifier. As you might know, bouncing that additional light off the ceiling creates yet another light reflector situation where the ceiling and subsequent scattering of light around the room can make for beautiful soft and even lighting.

    Figure 1.19. Foam bounce card. Positions shown for use with both horizontal and vertical shooting.

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    Since most of the setups discussed in this book are going to be about set-ting up light sources rather than using on-camera flash, we wont cover the use of this type of modifier in any more detail, but you should get familiar with it as a great way to create better light when you have minimal time and gear to work with. Diffusion AttachmentsPlastic diffusion attachments, such as the STO-FEN brand shown in Figure 1.20, can also be handy for throwing light from the flash head around the room. These translucent plastic caps work by sending light into many direc-tions so that it strikes walls and the ceiling, thus making the light scatter and more diffuse so that your subject is being illuminated more evenly. These are not useful outdoors if there are no surfaces to bounce the flashs light off of. Again, this type of modifier is included here for completeness and be-cause of its wide use and effectiveness in fluid indoor shooting scenarios (e.g. wedding and event photography). Bounce Panels & ReflectorsReflectors are one of the true secret weapons of photographic lighting. With them, you can create and direct nice light anywhere you want it. White, sil-ver, and gold surfaced reflectors are the most commonly available. I sometimes think of reflective surfaces as virtual light sources because they can provide addi-tional illumination for your subject.

    Figure 1.20. STO-FEN Omni-Bounce for a diffused bare-bulb effect.

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    In real-world situations, you can use a white wall, a sidewalk, or any surface that bounces light onto a subject as a reflector/light source in your setup. But you can also use foam core panels, white poster boards, or commercial-ly-made photographic reflectors (see Figure 1.21) to get the results you want. Reflectors and bounce panels are most often used to reflect light back onto the shadow side of the subject to cut down on contrast and provide fill light. Umbrellas

    Standard and shoot-through photographic umbrellas are an affordable solution that can give you the benefits of reflectors and diffusers (for softer main lighting and/or fill lighting), but in a more controlled and focused way. Using an umbrella in the traditional way, a strobe is pointed away from the subject and into the umbrella. The light from the strobe is reflected off the inside surface of the umbrella creat-ing a larger light source, relative to the subject, so that the subject benefits from a nice, wide circle of illumination.

    Another way to use an umbrella is the shoot-through method (see Figure 1.22) Figure 1.22. Shoot-through umbrella.

    Figure 1.21. A gold reflector is used to bounce warmer tones onto the subject. Image: Paul C. Buff, Inc.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    whereby an umbrella made of translucent fabric is positioned with its top, rounded area pointed toward the subject. In this configuration, the flash is still pointing directly into the umbrella with the round diffuse fabric between it and the subject. The result is similar to what you might get from a softbox of approximately the same size, without the box. Is an umbrella used like this just as good as a softbox? Sometimes, yes! But it allows much of the light to escape out of the back side away from the subject and into the room. This can be a great advantage or a hindrance, depending on the look youre trying to achieve.

    However, compared to softboxes, umbrellas can be much cheaper to re-place and much easier to transport, setup, and take down. There are also hybrid solutions; umbrellas that have opaque backs to them, essentially turning them into round softboxes. SoftboxesSome photographers consider the soft-box (see Figure 1.23) an indispensable studio item. They come in all sizes and dimensions, but one things for sure, people love the light they produce and the control they offer. They are so popu-lar that when working with small flashes for serious portraiture hit its stride a few years ago, manufacturers scrambled to produce everything from mini-softbox attachments to full-out softbox solutions for them. Softboxes dont tend to run cheap, but theyre well worth the money if you like the look of the light you can get from them.

    Figure 1.23. Softbox mounted to an Alien Bees strobe. Image: Paul C. Buff, Inc.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    Keep in mind that just because a particular modifier might technically qualify as a softbox, the very small ones (namely the type designed for use with a flash unit mounted to a camera) arent likely to produce the quality of light one might expect. This is because, as a light source, those types of modi-fiers arent very big; its the larger light sources that will give you softer light after all. If youre looking for ways to get that softbox look, Id suggest going with an off-camera softbox that is no less than 2 x 2 for a single subject. And even with a softbox that size, youll need to move it in very close to your subject to take full advantage of its effect. Snoots & GridsFor dramatic looks and in order to focus smaller pools of light onto the sub-ject or background, you can use a snoot or grid (see Figure 1.24) to do just the opposite of what reflectors, umbrellas and large softboxes do. Snoots and grids narrow the beam of light which makes them perfect for lighting small areas and background accents.

    GelsFinally, there are ways to use your lights with gels or color filters to create color effects, or to balance the color of one light source with another. For ex-ample, its common to stick an orange gel over a flash, Figure 1.24. Snoot and Grid.

    Image: Paul C. Buff, Inc.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    as shown in Figure 1.25, so that the light it produces will be in the same color temperature range as the surrounding ambient light (where the ambient light is mostly incandes-cent). Gels of other colors can be used for background color effects and for any creative uses you can come up with.

    Starting PointsI highly recommend that you find and use some simple starting points for your current lighting setup; some initial setup configuration and camera settings that you know will work from the moment you start shooting. From there, of course, youll find that making adjustments is easier than if you had started off from no real reference point. I often refer to this as standardiza-tion: your personal, predetermined system of default settings and lighting configurations. This topic is covered extensively in my book, 100% Reliable Flash Photography.

    Here are some examples of lighting setups to get you started. For each that you plan to use, position the lights, do some tests until you find a combina-tion of light positions, power settings, and camera settings that produces results that youre happy with, and write these down for future reference.

    Figure 1.25. Gels are used for color balancing flash to other light sources and for background and special effects.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    For each type of setup, youll know what you need to do to get good exposures on your next shoot without taking too much time on initial test shots.

    Ill provide three example setups and settings next, but use whatever you have and create your own starting points for each type of lighting scenario youll use:

    Clamp Lights: Two-Light SetupAs noted earlier, putting a clamp light kit together (see Figure 1.26) is probably the most economical way to go, but it can also be somewhat limiting in terms of output power and making adjustments to achieve desired lighting ratios and other effects. However, knowing the limitations of your gear can help you make good creative decisions and allow you to use them to your advantage. I often use clamp lights to produce harsher lighting for dramatic effects because the quality of this type of light and reflector are suitable for such looks. This isnt to say you cant use clamp lights for traditional portraiture, which is what the following example configuration might be useful for. Note that extension cords will probably be necessary.

    Two Clamp Lights. Bare bulb (no reflector), CFL equivalent to 100 watt incandescent bulb.

    Two Light Stands. Capable of at least 8 height.

    Camera Settings. ISO 1600, f/4.0, shutter speed 1/100 sec.

    Figure 1.26. Clamp light on a stand.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    Hang the clamp lights on each stand, and turn on only the first light. This will be your main light and will be positioned approximately 1.5 from the subject, 45 degrees to the subjects right or left as shes facing the camera, and approximately 45 degrees above her head.

    The second light will serve as the fill light and it will be positioned directly opposite of the main in front of the subject. This light however will be 3 from the subject so that it will provide less illumination than the main (re-member, as distance from the light source to the subject increases, the lights intensity on that subject decreases).

    Small Flash Units: Two-Light Setup (Manual Flash)Ive used this setup (see Figure 1.27) for several years and, for me, its proven to be a great place to start with everything from editorial portraiture to Boudoir. The main light is the most important thing to concern yourself with, as it is with most any setup. The second light can be used for fill or as

    a rim/hair light. The benefits of modifying these lights with shoot-through um-brellas include the diffusion of the main light on the subject, and the additional light spread around the room, as light not only gets thrown onto the subject, but also bounces out of Figure 1.27. Small flash unit light stand setup. Shown are the flash, shoot-through umbrella, umbrella swivel adapter and PocketWizard

    radio trigger receiver all mounted atop a light stand.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Light Sources & Gear

    the umbrellas which can give you some added fill and pleasing background illumination. Again this setup is covered extensively in some of my other books, but generally, heres what I use:

    Two Flash Units. 580EX II units. I set these to a power of 1/8 initially and approximately 3 from the subject.

    Two PocketWizard Radio Trigger Receivers. These are the basic versions, not the E-TTL II or i-TTL type. Since this setup uses manual flash and camera settings, I wont be using any automatic flash output features. PocketWizard Plus X models are combination transmitter/re-ceiver units that will automatically switch to receiver mode when another PocketWizard Plus X is acting as transmitter.

    One PocketWizard Radio Transmitter. This slips onto the cameras hot shoe. Again, a PocketWizard Plus X unit will automatically assume the role of transmitter when used as such.

    Two Light Stands. Impact brand light stands capable of at least 8 height.

    Swivel/Umbrella Adapters. Manfrotto brand, coupled with cold shoe mounts to attach the flash units.

    Two Translucent Shoot-Through Umbrellas. These will be attached to the swivel umbrella adapters and will modify the light emitted by the flash, effectively making the light source much larger in proportion to the subject at closer distances.

    Camera Settings. With a Canon 7D, my settings are Manual, ISO 100, f/4.0, shutter speed 1/250 sec.

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    For a similar setup that takes advantage of automatic flash (E-TTL II), I use the following:

    Two Flash Units. 580EX II units. Set to E-TTL II (reads ETTL on the flash menu).

    One ST-E2. This is Canons optical master transmitter that controls re-mote slave units. It allows you to make simple lighting ratio adjustments between Groups A and B via buttons located on the unit itself. Note that the 7D Im using can control remote slaves with its integrated Speedlite transmitter (via pop-up flash), so the ST-E2 isnt necessary for that. But Id rather not have the 7Ds built-in flash firing during a portrait shoot so I prefer to use the ST-E2 and its infrared-filtered flash to communicate with the slave units.

    Two Light Stands. Impact brand light stands capable of at least 8 height.

    Swivel/Umbrella Adapters. Manfrotto brand, coupled with cold shoe mounts to attach the flash units.

    Two Translucent Shoot-Through Umbrellas. These will be attached to the swivel umbrella adapters and will modify the light emitted by the flash, effectively making the light source much larger in proportion to the subject at closer distances.

    Camera Settings. With a Canon 7D, my settings are Manual, ISO 100, f/4.0, shutter speed 1/250 sec. Yes, even though your camera is set to manual mode, giving you full control over your ISO, f-stop, and shutter speed, E-TTL II (or in the case with Nikon, i-TTL) can still handle your

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    flash exposure automatically. You might need or want to make some adjustments to the flash output using the Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC) controls, or by some other means, but you wont have to concern yourself with manual flash settings.

    The benefits to using E-TTL II or i-TTL for flash control include not having to make manual adjustments to flash output settings, as the flash and camera work together to adjust for changes in flash to subject distance. This might make it easier to move lights around because the flash output will adjust to the changes automatically.

    Studio Strobe Two-Light Setup:If your lights are going to stay in one place, or youre OK with schlepping around some heavier gear, studio strobes might be the best choice. Small flash units are more than adequate for most portrait photography, but theyre battery-powered and require longer recycle times; theyre just not built for faster continuous shooting like the more powerful strobes are. I tend to like the monolight variety because theres no big heavy power pack to deal with and each light has its own self-contained power source (it must still be plugged into a battery, generator, or wall outlet).

    Im going to describe my Alien Bees setup here (see Figure 1.28 and 1.29), because thats what Ive used extensively in the past. I like many of the other brands offerings, though so dont take this as an endorsement for one brand over another. I will often use studio strobes with umbrellas, in much the same way as I described their use with small flash units, but here Ill change out the main lights umbrella for a softbox:

    Two Strobe Units. Alien Bees B800s. I set these to a power of 1/8 initially, about 3 from the subject. These units are equipped with built-in

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    optical slaves, so they can be triggered without the radio triggers listed below. However, the radio triggers will offer more reliable triggering, especially in cases where a strobe units optical slave is somewhat ob-structed from detecting the main triggering flash.

    Two PocketWizard Radio Trigger Receivers. These are the basic versions, not the E-TTL II or i-TTL type. Since this setup uses manual flash and camera settings, I wont be using any automatic flash output features. PocketWizard Plus X models are combination transmitter/re-ceiver units that will automatically switch to receiver mode when another PocketWizard Plus X is acting as transmitter.

    One PocketWizard Radio Transmitter. This slips onto the cameras hot shoe. Again, a PocketWizard Plus X unit will automatically assume the role of transmitter when used as such.

    Figure 1.29. Alien Bees B800 unit on a light stand with umbrella modifier, triggered by a PocketWizard Plus X.

    Figure 1.28. Alien Bees B800 unit on a light stand with softbox modifier, triggered by a Pock-etWizard Plus X.

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    Two Light Stands. Impact brand light stands. Alien Bees arent de-signed to fit on a swivel umbrella adapter, and one is not needed; the Alien Bee has a built-in swivel mechanism and an umbrella shaft holder.

    One Translucent Shoot-Through Umbrella. This will be attached to the umbrella slot on the B800, and it will modify the light output, effec-tively making the light source much larger in proportion to the subject at closer distances.

    One Photoflex LiteDome Q39 Medium Softbox. This attaches to the B800 via a Photoflex Speed Ring adapter.

    Camera Settings. With a Canon 7D, my settings are Manual, ISO 100, f/8.0, shutter speed 1/250 sec.

    BackgroundsWhile not part of the lighting gear, free-standing and other placed back-grounds are often an integral part of the portrait setup. Well refer to seamless backgrounds later in the book, but in case youre not familiar with what that is, Ill go over it now. Seamless back-grounds are essentially large paper rolls which are available in different colors and sizes (see Figure 1.30). These are distributed by companies such as Savage. A pole or background cross- Figure 1.30. Roll of white seamless back-

    ground paper.

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    bar is inserted through the cardboard tube or spool of the paper roll and placed between two background stands. Its then raised and the paper is unspooled to the floor, or even farther so that it covers an area of the floor toward the camera. This creates a nice floor/background surface with min-imal shadows and distractions. Cloth and vinyl backgrounds are also avail-able from various suppliers. They do have a tendency to wrinkle but theyre reusable, unlike paper which is easily soiled and needs to be frequently replaced.

    Light MetersHand-held light meters like the one shown in Figure 1.31 are not relied on as much as they were in the days of film photography. Digital photography

    and the LCD preview monitor on most cameras have made it easy to quickly evaluate the effects of lighting, and changes in lighting, in a scene without the use of an ex-ternal light meter. However, a light meter can still be a valuable tool for certain types of photography, including studio work with strobes where it can help maintain lighting consistency and aid in determining specific lighting ratios (see Are Lighting Ratios Important? below).

    Even where off-camera metering isnt technically necessary, some photographers prefer to use a light meter according to their working style.

    Figure 1.31. Sekonic Flashmate L-308S light/flash meter.

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    Are Lighting Ratios Important?Lighting ratios are very important in photographic lighting, but not neces-sarily important to quantify. In other words, you can achieve a good lighting ratio visually, without using the numerical data from a light meter. A few test shots to guide some simple adjustments to your lighting can yield great results, too. In this book, we dont cover the advanced and varied ways to express and arrive at traditional lighting ratios; were more concerned with building up good lighting visually. But the basic understanding and applica-tion of ratios, in the sense that youd want one light to be a stop or two lower than another, is important. And using a light meter can be very helpful in that regard.

    If youre unfamiliar with these devices, a light meter (or exposure meter) is a tool used for measuring light and calculating exposure settings for pho-tography. Light meters are very useful when shooting with cameras that dont have working exposure meters, in film photography where instant image previews arent available, and in studio work, especially where strobe lighting is used. Before using a meter, you should become acquainted with what stops are and the basic math of photographic lighting and exposure. If you need to learn more about this topic, please take a look at DSLR: The Basics.

    Two Types Of MeteringLight meters usually allow measurements to be taken in two general modes: Reflected Metering and Incident Metering.

    Reflected (or Reflective): This mode of metering is essentially the same as what the cameras internal light meter does. The light meter measures the light being reflected off the scene or subject from the perspective of the camera. The area being measured can be large which will give you an

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    average reading. By placing the meter closer to smaller areas of the scene, the meter will measure those smaller areas individually giving you similar functionality to a cameras spot metering.

    I personally dont use an external light meter for reflected metering when shooting with a camera with a built-in meter as I find it redundant.

    Incident: This mode of metering is not available in the camera. With in-cident metering, youre using the light meter to measure the light that is striking the subject, not the light that is being reflected off the subject. In other words, it measures the light coming from the light source directly. This is useful for flash/strobe photography. It allows you to measure the light coming from individual light sources, or the combination of more than one light source. When using a light meter in Incident mode, a white dome-like surface is used over the meters lens (electronic eye). This allows the meter to read light coming in from a wide angle.

    The Meter Is Accurate, Not PerfectSomething to keep in mind is that whether youre using a hand-held light meter, or relying on the one in your camera, metering does have its lim-itations. Most importantly, light meters are calibrated to assume they are metering for a standard, middle-of-the-road tone and reflectance, but not all subjects and scenes fit neatly into that category. If your subject is an even gray or something similarly neutral, no problem. Youll get a very accurate suggestion for your camera settings. However, if your subject is mostly very dark, or light, the light meter will provide you with exposure settings that will render the blacks as too light, or the whites as too dark, respectively. Also, in some cases, its a good idea to calibrate your light meter to your cameras response (see your meters manual for more information). So, while it can be very accurate, the light meter might be thought of more as point of refer-ence from which to base your final exposure settings.

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    Using A Light MeterOf course, you should consult the documentation for your model of light meter to learn how to use it for your needs. But, Ill give you the general idea here:

    As stated earlier, I dont find much reason to use my light meter for reflected metering. I know some photographers who swear by it for their style of shooting. Start by making sure your light meter is set to Reflected metering mode. To get an average measurement for exposure, just stand near the camera and point the light meters lens (without the dome cover) toward the scene and click the measuring button. If the scene is not too bright or too dim, the meter will give you a suggested aperture and/or shutter speed setting based on the ISO setting youve provided. Of course, you can ad-just one or more of the settings up or down to get different corresponding settings for the same exposure. You then just have to adjust your camera settings to match the suggestions provided by the light meter to get the suggested exposure.

    Incident light metering, used with flash photography, places the meter not at the location of the camera, but at the location of the subject. Start by making sure your light meter is set to Incident metering mode. Metering is achieved by placing the light dome cover over the meters lens, holding the light meter very near the subject, and pointing it back toward the camera. Clicking the measuring button will tell the meter to wait for a flash of light, which it will measure when you set off the strobe(s). What youre attempt-ing to measure is the light at the point where youre holding the meter. De-pending on where you place your meter, youre trying to get an idea of how the light is affecting your subject and other areas of the image, including the background.

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    Assuming a portrait setup with a key light, a fill light, a hair light, and one additional light on the background, we might observe a photographer using a light meter in the studio in the following sequence. It should be noted that turning all lights off, except the current light being metered, will give you more accurate results:

    1) The photographer places the meter near the subjects face, pointing the light dome in the direction of the key light and triggers the flash. The meter reads 8.0 for an ISO of 100 (shutter speed is not really an issue here, but will generally be set to the cameras x-sync). However, the photographer wants to use an aperture of f/5.6, so he dials the key lights power down one stop (say from 1/4 power to 1/8 power), takes another reading which does say, 5.6 this time.

    2) Since the photographer is looking for the fill light to be one stop less than the key light, the meter, still at the subjects position, is now aimed toward the fill light when the strobes are fired. The combination of distance from subject to light source, and the power setting on the light source is giving a reading of 4.0 on the meter (f/4.0), which is right on the money. No chang-es are necessary.

    3) The hair light, which should be a little hotter than the main light is mea-sured next giving a reading of 16 which is three stops higher than the main light. The photographer wants good highlights in the hair, but this is prob-ably too much. The hair lights power is adjusted down to give a reading of 9 (f/9.0) on the meter which will give some nice bright highlights in the hair (technically a small overexposed area of the image).

    4) Finally, the photographer holds the meter against the background at an area where the background light strikes the backdrop to take a reading.

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    With any final adjustments, the photographer now knows the relationship between all the lights and can use this knowledge to avoid spending a lot of time with trial-and-error testing.

    You can see how this can be helpful with maintaining a consistent look or quickly achieving a desired, predetermined lighting ratio. For photographers who need to get their portrait lighting setup quickly, a light meter may be indispensable. I should note that some photographers prefer not to point the meter directly at the light source to take measurements, and methods exist that involve taking readings off of the main and fill at the same time, so use whatever method works best for you.

    Of course, a light meter isnt always necessary, even when using strobes on manual settings. For example, my usual setup is so simple and standard-ized that I usually only need to take a couple of test shots to know I have it all working. If my setup is more involved, I might use a light meter, especial-ly if I dont have time to shoot and evaluate several test shots.

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    Ed VeroskysLighting Guide For Portrait Photography Portrait Lighting Basics


    Portrait Lighting BasicsHave you ever noticed how some images are just so much better than others, but you cant quite explain why? Point a camera at someone and snap the photo and you might have a pleasing image, but it doesnt look like the better photos youve seen elsewhere. What makes one photographers images look so much better than anothers? Is it better cameras and lens-es, or better photo editing techniques, experience, or skills that you havent yet mastered? Well, the answer is that all of the above can contribute to the quality of a photographers images. But theres one thing that you can do right now that will improve your photography more than any piece of equip-ment or any other skill set; learn how to light effectively.

    With an understanding of the basic principles youll learn in this chapter and as you progress through this book, the quality of your gear, your post-pro-cessing skills, and your experience wont hold you back from making beauti-ful portraits. It all starts with the basics of lighting for the human face. Thats the key to good portraiture.

    Lighting For FacesMost people just starting out in photography concentrate on getting a good photo in terms of what they see through their lens. But they see their sub-jects with their minds and emotions first and may not even think about how the resulting image is going to look as a frozen moment in time. They dont consider the effect of the way the light and shadows fall across the face. So, they often end up with photos that just dont look right or arent flattering to the subject. But when you start looking at the scene and subject in front of you in terms of shape and form, light and shadow, youll learn to see

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    the potential of light in a whole new way. Youll learn to change the angle of your subjects head for the best look given the light youre working with. And in situations where you have some control over the lighting and its position (for example when working with studio strobes or small flash units) youll be able to apply basic portraiture lighting principles to create outstand-ing images.

    The Five Basic Lighting PatternsIn portraiture, there are five traditional ways to light a face. These are not the only ways, of course, and we dont always strive to apply these methods precisely. They are simply guidelines and often good starting points for setting up portrait lighting. Ill describe them here as basic examples using a single light, where the main light (or key light) is the only light source were concerned with. Quite often, one light is all you need when applying these patterns to create classic portraits, but photographers will commonly add one or more lights to the mix for specific reasons which well get into later. For now, I want you to go through the five lighting patterns that follow, then practice duplicating them. You can do this indoors with any simple light, including a clamp light or household lamp. I actually recommend you start with such a light, instead of a flash or strobe, so you can see the effect of the light and shadows in real-time. As you practice, strive to place the light and pose the subject in such a way as to identify the catchlights in the eyes at the 11 oclock or 1 oclock positions. These catchlights (reflections of the main light in the subjects eyes) add life and interest to the portrait.

    Pattern #1: Short LightingShort lighting is often used as a corrective technique to help make rounder faces look a little thinner. In this lighting pattern the main light illuminates the subject on the shorter side of the face (see Figure 2.1), where the dis-tance seems shorter from nose to ear (or nose to the edge of the cheek),

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    from the cameras perspective. An-other way to think about this is that when the subject has her head turned to one side, you are lighting the side of the face that is farthest from the camera.

    When viewing a portrait, our attention is first given to the details we can see and to the brightest parts of the picture. Shadows recede and brighter areas are predominant. On a two-di-mensional plane, there is actually less surface area visible on the side of the face turned away from the camera. With short lighting, this is the area that is highlighted with illumination from the main light. Since more attention is given to the narrower surface area, a visual illusion is created that makes the subjects face look thinner.

    Pattern #2: Broad LightingHere the main light illuminates the subject on the broadest area of the face, from the cameras perspective. When the subject has her head turned to one side, you are lighting the side of the face that is closest to the camera as shown in Figure 2.2.

    Figure 2.1. Short lighting.

    Figure 2.2. Broad lighting.

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    This lighting pattern simply places visual emphasis on the area of the face turned toward the camera--the area more in-line with the camera axis. On a two-dimensional plane, there is more surface area visible on the side of the face turned toward the camera, as opposed to away from the camera. With broad lighting, this is the area that is highlighted with illumination from the main light. Since more attention is given to the larger surface area than the narrower one on the side of the face turned away from the camera, a visual illusion is created that makes the subjects face look wider. Broad lighting is sometimes used on subjects with narrower or thinner faces as a corrective technique.

    Pattern #3: Rembrandt LightingThis lighting pattern, named after the Old Master painter, has a very classi-cal look (see Figure 2.3). The main light is positioned high and to one side of the subject creating a shadow from the nose that meets with the shadow from the side of the face opposite the light. The generally recognized defi-nition of Rembrandt lighting, where photography is concerned, prescribes the use of the main light on one side of the subjects face in just the right posi-tion as to create a triangle, or diamond shape, of light on the shadow side just underneath the eye, to extend down toward the mouth.

    This pattern tends to result in a portrait with very strong contrast, but that isnt a requirement. Loop lighting is a vari-

    Figure 2.3. Rembrandt/Loop lighting.

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    ation on this pattern wherein the tri-angle of light is broken, or opened up. In this case the shadow of the nose is shortened so it does not extend into the main shadow on the side of the face opposite the light. Rembrandt and loop lighting create a very classi-cal, often dramatic look which is very dependent on the quality and size of the light source, and the use of fill and background lighting.

    Pattern #4: Split LightingHere, the main light is positioned to illuminate one side of the head while casting a full shadow on the other side as shown in Figure 2.4 (think of the center of the nose as marking the border). Split lighting visually divides your subject into light and dark areas of the image. If your subject is facing the camera directly when split lighting is employed, her face is likely to have a distinct shadow cutting vertically right down the center. The effect is rather dramatic and a low-key but high-contrast image is the typical result. Of course, you can change the ratio of the split by altering the position of the light or camera. Contrast can be adjusted, too, but as you increase the fill lighting, or widen your tonal range between light and shadow, youll lessen the effect of the split.

    Pattern #5: Butterfly LightingButterfly lighting is identified by what is often referred to as a butterfly shaped shadow that appears directly beneath the subjects nose (see Fig-

    Figure 2.4. Split lighting.

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    ure 2.5). Its reminiscent of Old Holly-wood glamour photos and can be very dramatic. The main light is placed in front of, and somewhat above the sub-ject in order to create this look. This type of lighting is sometimes referred to as Hollywood or Paramount lighting because it has similarities to some of the glamour lighting styles perfected by Hollywood movie star photogra-phers. This technique is especially effective and dramatic on subjects with pronounced cheekbones. Since the light is coming in from high and in front of the face, shadows drop in under the cheekbones and the chin. This also tends to visually bring the front of the face forward, set the neck into shadow, and cause other areas of the visual space to be downplayed.

    Flat vs. Dimensional LightingThe goal of many portrait photographers is not only to capture a likeness, but to create a sense of physical dimension in their images. But trying to express a three-dimensional scene onto a two-dimensional medium (a print or a screen) can be challenging. Fortunately, with the right approach to lighting youll be well on your way to creating images that give the viewer a good sense of the textures and forms depicted in them. An approach to lighting that is counter to the goal of creating a strong sense of shape and detail, is flat lighting; very even lighting that tends to create minimal, if any, shadows for spatial reference. Flat lighting (see Figures 2.6 and 2.7) helps minimize the shapes of features and downplays texture, and is sometimes

    Figure 2.5. Butterfly lighting.

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    Figure 2.6. Strong fill lighting is used in this example to lessen the shadows produced by the main light.

    Figure 2.7. Bold, contrasting colors can add interest to flat lighting.

    a desired effect, but it can also result in uninteresting portraits. On the flip-side, Figures 2.8 and 2.9 show how light and shadow can work together to create sharp, defining contrast as well as convey visual information about the shape of your subjects face.

    Background and Environment ConsiderationsAnother important thing to consider when setting up for a portrait is the background or environment that will be depicted in the image. Sometimes this is simply darkness, where all of the visual information in the image is made up of the subject and surrounding negative space or shadow. Other times, minimal but useful background information is provided in order to make the image more interesting. The use of color or texture alone can

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    Figure 2.8. As the main light source is moved farther from the camera-to-subject axis, more shadows become visible.

    Figure 2.9. Highlights on the subject (in this case a hair light) and background lighting help create a sense of dimension.

    create a reference point so that your subject wont just appear to be floating in an empty space. As much background information as you want can be included in order to ground the subject visually in an atmosphere or identifi-able environment. Background can help tell the story by framing the subject in context.

    The main considerations when including backgrounds in your portraits are these:

    Distractions. Make sure your background provides just enough, but not too much, visual detail and information needed to tell the story or highlight the subject. Dont let the background become a distraction as in Figure 2.10.

    Illumination. The way the background appears in your image is going to depend largely on the lighting its receiving in the shot. If the lighting is too

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    low, the background might fade off into darkness (see Figure 2.11). If there are bright spots, they might pull the viewers eye away from the sub-ject (see Figure 2.12). The creative use of background often goes hand-in-hand with a thoughtful approach to background lighting.

    Balanced Lighting. The idea of bal-ancing your lighting comes into play here also. Lighting the background is a separate issue from lighting the subject, so light them separately, but keep things in balance. This is not only important when it comes to light

    Figure 2.11. Shadows blend into the back-ground. A rim light on the subject or illumi-nation on the background would improve this.

    Figure 2.12. Bright areas in the background can distract the viewers eyes from the sub-ject.

    Figure 2.10. Distracting background.

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    intensity for both parts of the image, but also where the color of the lighting is concerned. Be sure to check your white balance settings on your camera and adjust accordingly to reproduce the light in the colors you want.

    You may have to use lighting gels/filters when using flash or make selective adjustments in post-processing to fix color balance issues (see Figures 2.13 and 2