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Why the Hot Spot?

Hi - from the event I did Sunday where the real-estate agent had people pose for a photo, I had an issue with a "hot spot" in every one of the photos.

I didn't have a ton of room, but I knew the groups would be small (under 6 people). The wall was off-white; I had people stand 2 feet in front to minimize shadows; I was about 8-10 feet from them, and I had a single reflective umbrella with Speedlight right behind me at about 8 feet up, angled downward to get any shadows to fall behind the people. I used a meter. Because I knew the groups would be small, I only used one umbrella.

No matter how I adjusted the light up, down, or in angle, every photo had a hot spot. Not blazing, but it made the look uneven.

I don't want to learn PS so I can make it better. I want to know if there was anything I could have done while taking the photos. The guy had me back this year (great), and is talking about next year already (even better). So I want to know if I did something incorrectly. Should I have use two lights? Seems like overkill. Different modifier? I only have a 24x24-inch softbox.

Any ideas or thoughts are appreciated.

Thanks - Dave


  • I use a 46" umbrella reflecting on a C stand with a boom arm. The umbrella is centered about 7-8 feet in front of background and about 11 feet high. The background is 8 feet wide in this pic. They were standing inches from the background. Glass glares are also minimized with this setup.

  • Nice photo. So, your method is "higher the better" is seems, as the shadows are nowhere to be seen?

    Thanks - Dave
  • Dave,

    Some walls act as, for lack of a better term, "glass glare" surfaces. Yes sometimes higher is better, but you may not get the luxury of raising the lights too high depending on the room you are shooting. Just have to play with the angles of camera and lights to counteract the hot spot. Softer light is better of course, so larger modifiers help. 

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    This has to do with your background being more reflective than a matte surface would be. The only way around this is to spread your light source more evenly, and make it even bigger. 

    Ultimately, I doubt your clients would notice, so it wouldn't be something I would chase .. especially for step & repeat photos. 
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