Studio Lighting Fundamentals:

DSC_0188I’m receiving a lot of mail asking me to explain a little more of the thought process that goes into the “methods of my madness, when deciding how to configure lighting setups“. I skipped a few important steps when I fist started writing lighting tutorials. Perhaps I assumed this was common knowledge, but lets just start at the very beginning for those questing more. My setups are nothing unique and as badly as I wish I could take the credit for these, I can not…  All of my lighting setups are called Lighting Patterns,  I learned them in college many years ago and I use these lighting patterns religiously with every studio shot I make.

When working in the studio, it is important to understand the basics of classic studio lighting and there effects. One of the key elements that separate an acceptable portrait from exceptional portraits is the quality of lighting. By understanding the basics of studio lighting and having a few lighting accessories, you can produce exceptional photographs without breaking the bank with useless gadgets and add a higher degree of consistency to your results.


The Four Categories of Classic Lighting – Patterns.

There are four classic categories of portraiture lighting styles I use every day: Rembrandt, Paramount, (Butterfly or Glamour) Loop, and Split Lighting. Photographers typically refer to these four classic styles of lighting, regardless of the subject. I may for example tell my friends; I used butterfly lighting on a commercial car shot.

Today many portrait photographers prefer diffused light sources, which are very forgiving and do not create sharp edged shadows. They flatter years away by softening wrinkles and crows-feet near the eyes. With soft light setups, the background, the hair, and kicker lights may be diffused if you wish. For example, Stripboxes can be used to create long soft highlights in hair, outline the edge of a body, or create unique background shadows.  The overall aesthetics of using soft light is seen as more contemporary, enhancing images within today’s fashion industry. As a major plus soft light is also a lot easier to master. Big soft light sources are inherently forgiving, and since the subject is basically wrapped in soft light, postwork retouching is minimized. Also, the transfer edge, where shadow and highlight areas meet, are more gradual than with undiffused lights.

In the preceding light patterns I broke one of my own golden rules – Never shoot a human straight on.  Hey, I don’t work for DMV and I hope you realize this is not the most flattering angle for portraiture work, but it will show you the Light Patterns quickly and you can go onto other articles for posing suggestions (or buy my Android/iPhone posing app, coming soon!)

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Posted in Category: Tutorials

Welcome to my site! I am an award winning, freelance Commercial Photographer, a Photojournalist and Graphic Artist with over forty years of experience. I like to consider myself more of an artist than anything else. I was first published at the age of 16 and have been published numerous time since in magazines, trade journals, and newspapers. I specialize creatively in architecture, beauty photography, product advertising, sports and modeling portfolio development. Photography is the driving force of my life and the essence of my soul, it’s in my DNA. I look at all things in an artistic way, from the simplicity of a drop of dew on a blade of grass to the complexities of a ballet or opera.

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