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Lighting a Studio Background evenly

tommertommer Member
edited April 2013 in flash & lighting
Hi All, just looking for some advice on lighting a background evenly in a studio setup, I'm struggling at the minute. Any tips? Thanks


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Get two lights on there. One from either side.
    Use a diffuser on the lights.
    That should sort you out.
  • Thanks Neil, will give it a try. Love the site.
  • jhilgersjhilgers Member
    edited April 2013
    My "personal" preference for a basic portrait shot setup is to use:

    (1) 43", white interior, reflective umbrella
    (1) 5 in 1 reflector
    (2) Speedlites
    White background

    1. Set up one speedlite aimed at the white background. I place it on the floor on a mini-tripod to hold it. I normally set it at a very low manual setting. You don't want too much power on your backlight; otherwise you will notice the light "bleeding" around your subject's face which is not attractive looking.
    - This back light helps with a few things: popping your subject out from the background, keeping any wrinkles in your background material from showing in the photo, and helps with blurring your background when you use a wide aperture.
    - I like doing portraits at either f1.2, f2.0, or sometimes f2.8 depending on the circumstance and subject. I normally use my Canon EF 85mm 1.2 II lens for this purpose.

    2. I set up my umbrella at the correct 45 degree angle so I can create a loop light effect on my subject. It depends on my subject (male or female) which side I place the umbrella on and what pose I sit them in.
    - I position my subject about four feet out from my white background too.
    - The speedlite in the umbrella is set to manual and at a low power. I sometimes end up either going into high speed flash sync OR end up using a ND filter on my lense with my SS set at 1/250 so I can continue to use my wide aperture settings that I was so I can get my narrow depth of field and blow the background out. It all depends. I don't care for the portraits where the entire person is in focus in a studio setting, that is just me though. I think it takes too much focus away from the person's face when all of their body is in focus. I want only their eyes and some of their face. The only time I would to that small of an aperture is if I was shooting a large group or something. This explanation is for shooting one person only anyways.

    3. I attach the 5 in 1 reflector to a reflector arm and attach that to another stand placing it on the opposite side of the subject to bounce some soft light back on the other side of their face.
    - You don't want too much light htting the other side of their face otherwise you end up with too flat of a light pattern on their face which I do not care for. If you like a flat light pattern look, then by all means that is the thing for you. If you want flat lighting, replace the 5 in 1 reflector with another umbrella and evenly light the person.

    This is just my preference for a "studio" style portrait. If I was going to give the person a professional mug shot that someone would use for a job interview, then I might go for the one light on each side of the person with the bright flat light/glamor shot look to it.

    I am sure a lot of people would disagree with the style of shooting I have explained to you, but once again it all comes down to your style and what you like. If everyone shot their portraits the SAME way for everything, photography would be boring.

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