portraits with continuous lighting – Westcott Spiderlites

portraits with continuous lighting – Westcott Spiderlites   (w/ model: Lauraine)

This striking portrait of Lauraine is a combination of that sparkling mischievousness … and on the techie side, the selective focus of a wider aperture lens, and the flexibility of continuous lighting. The f/1.4 deliciousness of an 85mm – the best lens to change your portrait photography – really brings her eyes to attention.

During this part of the photo session in the studio, I decided to use continuous lighting. Lauraine is new to modeling for the camera and working in the studio, and the lack of flashes popping, helped in keeping the atmosphere gentle. The shorter telephoto length of an 85mm lens, meant I could work close and give instruction on posing. Slight adjustments to her hand or the tilt of her head could be more easily relayed.

Lighting was with two Westcott Spiderlites:

I used the softbox in the background as a hair light and to spill a little bit of light on the background.

The background is this 4 panel room divider screen (purchased via Amazon). Spilling a bit of light on it, and angling it properly, it allowed a hint of color and texture in the background, making the final setting for the portrait series a little more nuanced.

The pull-back shot shows the placement of the lights.
Camera settings: 1/500  @  f/1.4  @  500 ISO

The continuous light makes it so much easier to adjust the lighting and adjust the pose  – for me, even more so than the modeling lights of studio lighting would, since what you see is truly what you get.

I used 5 Daylight balanced + 1 Incandescent bulb in the Td6 so that the light from it goes a little warmer. The background Td3 only has Daylight bulks in it, so in the final editing where the color balance of the image is adjusted, the hair light / background light goes a touch colder.



Post-processing was done with the RadLab plugins from Totally Rad, via a Vintage flavored recipe that I generated and saved. I used this on a layer, and pulled down the opacity to make it more subtle. The post-processing sequence is very similar as to that described in the article on retouching for portraits.


equipment (and equivalents) used during this photo session


related articles


Westcott Spiderlite kits

3 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1 says


    the last photo should be the “thumbnail.” (in my humble opinion). The look on her face and her eyes combined with the out of focus tats make me want to know more about her. It was this photo that had my attention for several minutes….the lighting on her face and hair is superb…even now, I scrolled back up to look at it again…so good!


  2. 2 says

    I do have one question: Having never worked with continuous lights, are the files more forgiving/easier to edit? I find strobes to bring out too much detail in the skin and they reveal every “flaw’ an individual might have.


  3. 3 says

    That kind of detail has more to do with the direction of the light, and the size of the light source.

    So you could still end up with “too much detail” on the skin if you use the light at a strong angle.

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