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09-06-2021, 09:57 AM   #1
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"Standard" portrait lighting.

Note the quotes around standard, before replying;-)

Like many things Covid stopped projects in their tracks. One of mine was to start to shoot neighbours in my home studio. This got put on hold. When things improve I'll kick the project off again. In the meantime, I have time to plan. Equipment is sorted so this is not an issue.

My wife's been modelling for me as I try and "standardise" lighting configurations. Tricky for her/us as I've been trying to test different styles while imaging different possible models. Beauty lighting eg with a beauty light and clam shell is not that forgiving on older skin, neither is a small soft box giving a harsh, gritty light. I've been using mannequins with different wigs and skin colours to help - well they do help a little.

So to the question. I'm not asking for suggestions of actual lighting configurations, just categories that I can test and build from. So here goes. What groupings/categories can you suggest I consider? (I'm more than happy to completely, re-think this as it's early days.)

Let's start with waist up. (If there's a response, maybe I can try and draw out full body options). Not children. Probably seated.

Female:
# Old. Politely, with skin texture issues. Probably very soft lighting to ease the obvious ageing.
# Middle aged. Trying for 1) flattering and 2) moody
# Young. More aggressive lighting that young skin can take.

Male:
# Old, not trying to mitigate ageing - possibly this is stereotyping, I appreciate that.
# Middle aged and young. Similar lighting, probably moody as the norm.
Subsection: bald, thus rim and hair lighting a no no.

Generally, variants of each for basic skin colour differences and hair colours. This may be part of a standardised variety of backdrops, with/without a ball of light on the backdrop around head/torso. I'm thinking, blonde hair probably not on white etc.

Clothing and props are a whole other set of considerations, to be thought about ...

Etc etc. Hopefully, you're seeing where I'm going with this. Have a crib sheet of lighting configs so when invite a neighbour round, I have a standard, for them, configuration to begin with.This approach should allow me to save their time rather than fiddle around with major lighting set-ups while they're waiting.

I'll be shooting tethered so they'll be able to input small differences as we go - I prefer this interactive style, though It is problematic with Covid around :-( It helps, I've found, to manage those questions like, can you thin my face? Reduce nose size? Improve bags under eyes? Veins in hands? Etc. All possible with lighting adjustments and tethered conversations ... Trying to fix these things before I get to post.

So any thoughts if this might work and categories I should consider? However, you want to reply will be fine

Many thanks.

09-06-2021, 10:47 AM   #2
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How about Rembrandt lighting ? (Rembrandt lighting - Wikipedia), lots of good resources online on how to do it.

---------- Post added 06-09-21 at 19:49 ----------



---------- Post added 06-09-21 at 19:50 ----------

09-06-2021, 11:05 AM   #3
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Perhaps you can draw inspiration from the past. Look at some of Clarence Sinclair Bull's work and maybe adapt a modern variation of the lighting.
09-06-2021, 11:30 AM   #4
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Many thanks for the replies so far. It isn't really the how to I'm looking for, I've been experimenting with many lighting styles, Rembrandt included, it's really the next step as I see it, to categorise the lighting arrangements to get to that starting point I tried to describe.

09-06-2021, 11:49 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by BarryE Quote
# Old. Politely, with skin texture issues. Probably very soft lighting to ease the obvious ageing.
Especially for the ladies: not just soft - but, from the front! That helps eliminate the small shadows that emphasize age lines.

As for the guys - might depend on whether they want to emphasize or not their craggy, time-worn (and therefore worthy of respect) faces!
09-06-2021, 12:11 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by AstroDave Quote
Especially for the ladies: not just soft - but, from the front! That helps eliminate the small shadows that emphasize age lines.
Yes, I tend to either use a large 120x80 cm softbox or large octabox, at 45% ish to front and slightly above, and then fill in the other side. Maybe with a 120x30 SB from behind as hair light. (I like the SB catch light less than the octa). Wrinkles become less pronounced with this set-up. Guess this is my standard older female arrangement.
09-06-2021, 11:15 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Something else to consider is the subject placement together with the lighting.
For example for older female with skin texture i avoid having her looking straight at the camera. I turn her ~45 to the left or right and using "sort light" (most of the time i add a second rim light for hair that also help to separate her from the background). I found out that this lighting not only help for skin texture but is also flattering for face shape plus it gives a dramatic tone to the mood that suit older people.
On the other hand broad lighting for younger people or even clam shell as you mentioned above is gonna work better.

Rembrandt lighting is not flattering for women of any age so i usually avoid it.


Last edited by GQPhdFBI; 09-06-2021 at 11:17 PM. Reason: Added the Rembrandt lighting
09-07-2021, 05:49 AM   #8
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The bigger the SB and the further away from the subject it is, will always give you much softer lighting, you could also try with a second diffuser in the SB ?
09-07-2021, 09:00 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by chrism888 Quote
The bigger the SB and the further away from the subject it is, will always give you much softer lighting, you could also try with a second diffuser in the SB ?
Thanks Chris, perhaps a bit of a typo. The bigger and closer relative to subject to get increasingly softer light. I've got different approaches to the internal diffusers. Either one or two internal, also a cap diffuser and zooming in/out all make slight differences to the softness/crispness of the light.

---------- Post added 09-07-21 at 05:05 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by GQPhdFBI Quote
Something else to consider is the subject placement together with the lighting.
For example for older female with skin texture i avoid having her looking straight at the camera. I turn her ~45 to the left or right and using "sort light" (most of the time i add a second rim light for hair that also help to separate her from the background). I found out that this lighting not only help for skin texture but is also flattering for face shape plus it gives a dramatic tone to the mood that suit older people.
On the other hand broad lighting for younger people or even clam shell as you mentioned above is gonna work better.

Rembrandt lighting is not flattering for women of any age so i usually avoid it.
Thanks. The 45 degrees is indeed helpful. Also, for males in particular, angling the shoulders to 45 degrees and then the face to the front, removes the sense of confrontation. 45's a useful number

Broad v narrow lighting should be on my configuration list as this is helpful with different body shapes/sizes. Thanks for the reminder.
09-07-2021, 11:12 PM   #10
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Since you got a softbox and can direct light easily, trying this might be also helpful.
Strobist: SLC-1L-03: Need Light With More Edge? <br>Aim It Away From Your Subject.
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