photo by dcdr via iStock
I know how expensive gear can be, but it is important to have at least one good off camera studio light, some kind of diffuser and a reflector when you are starting out as a portrait photographer. I am going to take you through one of the easiest and best single portrait light setups for your clients.
Portrait Lighting: Butterfly Lighting
photo by Xebeche via iStock
Picture a butterfly facing you with its wings stretched. That is the shape of the shadow that forms under the nose of your subject when you use butterfly lighting. (If you are the super hero type, it also sort of resembles the symbol for Batman.)
Butterfly Lighting is quite glamorous. It is a favorite technique of Hollywood. It accents cheek bones and because there is lots of light hitting the face it can help play down double chins and full in wrinkles. Your older clients are going to love that! It is also perfect for any subject, from kids to adults, any gender this simple and beautiful portrait lighting is incredibly flattering, creates a wonderful aesthetic, and it is very easy to master!
Have your subject sit or stand, however you are both comfortable. Your subject should face the camera.
Set up your light with your diffuser directly behind the camera,about a foot above your subjects head. Your camera should be placed close to your subject, a good distance is about 4 to 5 feet depending on your lens.
(You can also use an off camera strobe if you don’t have a studio light and a stand. You simply hold the light in the proper position.)
Step two: (optional)
Ask your subject to hold the reflector in their lap just out of the camera frame. (This will give them something to do with their hands.) The reflector will diminish the shadows and dispel any harsh contrast. The closer the reflector is to the chin the more evenly the light will spread.
Snap that shutter! (I told you this was easy.)
photo by PeopleImages via iStock
Because the light is above and in front of your subject you should get fantastic catchlights in their eyes. If you are using a reflector then you should see a double catchlight.
Watch the above video by CreativeLive for a fast demonstraion of this portrait light set up.
Portrait Lighting Tools
There are lots of choices when it comes to Portrait lights but I have found that Litra has great options without draining your bank account.
The LitraTorch 2.0 uses 16 LEDs (up from 8 in the 1.0 version) and offers three separate lumen settings of 800, 450, and 100. The color temperature is 5700K with a CRI of 90+ and TLCI of 92.
The improved optics of the LitraTorch 2.0 means clean, crisp, flicker-free light with a 70-degree beam angle for ultra-wide coverage. I’ve found that the new optics system projects more light more efficiently, too, and that’s led to a 10-percent increase in battery life (over 35 minutes of run time at maximum output and over four hours of run time on low output).
Other specs include waterproofness up to 60 feet (double that of the original LitraTorch), a built-in magnet for attaching the unit to metallic surfaces, and two ¼-20 mounts that give you flexibility in how you use the light.
At just 1.5” x 1.5” x 1.65” and 3.17 ounces, this little guy certainly packs a punch!
You’ll be amazed at the sheer output of light this little thing can achieve. Not only that, but the light is crisp and clean and truly gives you studio-quality lighting in a unit that you can literally put in your pocket.
There are tons of reflectors on the market. If you are in need of reflector right now and can't wait or you just don’t have the money to invest right now, you can DIY a reflector with a white piece of foam core. If you need more light reflected you can cover one side with aluminum foil.
But if you can afford it pick up a set high quality reflectors. Like the ones from Glow pictured above. A good set of reflectors will last for quite some time and improve the aesthetic of your portraits.