Shoot­ing in a pho­to stu­dio, due to the vari­ety of attach­ments, sources and equip­ment, pro­vides a huge space for exper­i­men­ta­tion, which is impos­si­ble at home or in the open air. When clas­sic light­ing schemes no longer cause anx­i­ety, but cause bore­dom, this is the sig­nal. It’s time to try some­thing new.

We have col­lect­ed for you unusu­al light­ing schemes and tech­niques for cre­ative exper­i­ments that will diver­si­fy your shots.


mixed light

Mixed light is not so much about light­ing schemes, but about cam­era set­tings and the gen­er­al idea. It is under­stood that we use both con­stant light and pulsed light, adjust the cam­era, and as a result we get a frame with unusu­al col­or and light pat­terns and a mod­el in focus (or almost in focus).

Author’s illus­tra­tion

What you need to shoot with mixed light

  • Source of con­stant light. Respon­si­ble for blur. It must be pow­er­ful so that the pulsed light does not inter­rupt it, and they work in pairs.
  • Source of pulsed light. It will “freeze” the mod­el.
  • Light shap­ing noz­zles for pulsed light. It is nec­es­sary that it shines direct­ly on the mod­el, but does not touch the envi­ron­ment as much as pos­si­ble. For this you need a hard direc­tion­al light. A tube or reflec­tor will do. You can shoot with a beau­ty dish, but always with hon­ey­combs.
  • Tex­tured back­ground. If the back­ground is not smooth, the blur effect will be more read­able. Crum­pled fab­ric back­grounds, col­ored, with var­i­ous pat­terns are suit­able.
  • Cam­era set­tings. In order for the blur to appear in the frame, you need to make the shut­ter speed longer. Fits ¼ and longer. The longer the cam­era col­lects light, the stronger the blur effect. Over­ex­po­sure is most eas­i­ly dealt with by clos­ing the aper­ture between f/8 and f/16, or by putting an ND fil­ter on the lens that absorbs light. The exact val­ues ​​depend on the pow­er of the light and its dis­tance from the mod­el.
  • Traf­fic. To show the blur effect, ask the mod­el to step to the side, move her arms, turn her head, or move the cam­era after press­ing the shut­ter but­ton.

How to make a neon light scheme

An effec­tive yet very sim­ple light­ing scheme that pro­duces con­trast­ing, vibrant por­traits. You will need at least two light sources with reflec­tors and col­ored gel fil­ters.

The main thing here is to choose a “canon­i­cal” com­bi­na­tion of col­ors asso­ci­at­ed with neon. Clas­sics are blue and pink, green and red, blue and red or blue and red.

Author’s illus­tra­tion

How to make a gradient on the background and add color spots

If you want to add a gra­di­ent when the col­or on the back­ground (and maybe on the mod­el too) smooth­ly tran­si­tions from one to anoth­er, then you will need:

  • two reflec­tors with col­ored fil­ters, which will stand a lit­tle to the side and behind the mod­el and shine on the back­ground;
  • key light source for the mod­el.

Draw­ing is the light that reveals chiaroscuro, cre­ates vol­ume. The choice of noz­zle is up to you. If you need a more con­trast­ing pic­ture with dark, well-defined shad­ows, then take a beau­ty dish, a tube, a reflec­tor. Or maybe you want to exper­i­ment and shoot with­out a noz­zle at all? In this case, the source will also give a hard light. Del­i­cate, light and neat shad­ows are obtained with soft­box­es and umbrel­las. But even the light of a soft­box can be made more direc­tion­al by adding hon­ey­combs to it.

Author’s illus­tra­tion

Adding a Spot of Light

You can diver­si­fy the gra­di­ent (and any oth­er scheme too) with the help of light spots — bright accents of light with or with­out col­or, which will bring addi­tion­al col­ors to the pic­ture.

Instead of a flash­light, you can use a stu­dio light with a tube noz­zle / Illus­tra­tion by the author

To do this, add to the dia­gram above one more — the fourth — source. It should be a high pow­er direc­tion­al light. For a stain, a tube with hon­ey­combs is ide­al. If you are shoot­ing with con­stant light, a flash­light (the most com­mon or spe­cial­ized for pho­tog­ra­phy. The more pow­er­ful the bet­ter) may be suit­able.

You can also attach a col­or fil­ter to the tube to col­or the result­ing spot. If you use a flash­light, fil­ters are often includ­ed with it.

How to make a long shadow in a photo

A sim­ple light scheme, where only one source is enough.

  • You will need a hard direc­tion­al light. For exam­ple, a source with a reflec­tor.
  • Light back­ground. A white cyclo­rama is ide­al as it is wider than reg­u­lar paper back­grounds.

The main thing is to put the light at the right angle and at the right height from the mod­el. First, place the source at an angle of 45 degrees from the mod­el. Based on the result and desire, the angle can be changed. The more the light goes to the side, the more the shad­ow will move to the side.

The clos­er to the mod­el and the high­er the light, the low­er and short­er the shad­ow will be. If you want to length­en the shad­ow, low­er and move the source /Illustration by the author

Con­trol where the mod­el stands. If you put the hero very close to the back­ground, then the shad­ow will “stand” behind or to the side of the per­son, and not lie on the floor.

As an idea — in post-pro­cess­ing, make a col­lage where the pose of the hero and the shad­ow do not match.

spotlight effect in studio

When we talk about the spot­light effect, we imag­ine the hero in the cen­ter of the light spot, while every­thing around goes into dark­ness. Based on the task, we under­stand that we need a direc­tion­al light that will not scat­ter over the back­ground.

We need only one source with a hard light attach­ment. The tube will give the best effect. You can also try a reflec­tor. The nar­row­er the beam, the bet­ter.

Author’s illus­tra­tion

The fol­low­ing options are pos­si­ble:

  • If you want the light spot to be down on the floor and shine from top to bot­tom, like in a the­ater, then the source will need to be raised high above the mod­el’s head. You may even need to install it on a crane — a stand that will allow you to shine even strict­ly ver­ti­cal­ly.
  • If you want the spot­light to snatch the mod­el from the shad­ows to the chest or waist, then low­er the source below. Also, place the mod­el as close to the back­ground as pos­si­ble so that a round halo from the source appears around the hero. Anoth­er option is to put a sec­ond source with a tube or reflec­tor behind the mod­el and direct the light to the back­ground.

How to photograph silhouettes

A sil­hou­ette is an inter­est­ing solu­tion if you want to empha­size the mys­te­ri­ous­ness of the hero, put a spe­cial empha­sis on the pose, empha­size the plas­tic­i­ty of the body and show the beau­ty of the fig­ure.

Two ways to photograph a silhouette in a studio:

1. Light up the back­ground with­out illu­mi­nat­ing the mod­el. To do this, you only need a light back­ground and one light source. It should shine wide enough, so you can take a soft­box, or use a source with­out any­thing at all, so that it is not lim­it­ed by the shape of the noz­zle.

In the first case, the light will have to be placed on the side so that it does not fit into the frame. If it fits, it doesn’t mat­ter, but you will have to remove the pro­trud­ing ele­ments of the source in post-pro­cess­ing. If we use a “bare” light, then it can be care­ful­ly placed even behind the mod­el.

If the back­ground is not well lit, add a sec­ond source and place it on the oth­er side of the hero /Illustration by the author

Change the col­or of the light with fil­ters if the com­bi­na­tion of black and white seems too bor­ing.

2. Light up the mod­el with­out light­ing up the back­ground. To do this, ide­al­ly put the hero on a dark back­ground and high­light it from the side. It turns out that in this scheme only back­light is need­ed.

Strip braids are ide­al — a tall but nar­row soft­box noz­zle that will per­fect­ly high­light the sil­hou­ette with­out affect­ing every­thing around. To cre­ate an out­line that will bor­der the hero on both sides, take two strip­box­es and place them on either side of the mod­el.

Author’s illus­tra­tion

The width of the con­tour can be adjust­ed by shift­ing the source rel­a­tive to the mod­el. This gives space for exper­i­ments — in one case, you can cre­ate a thin strip that out­lines the con­tour, in the oth­er, you can make a wider con­tour, so that even facial fea­tures and relief will be vis­i­ble.

mixed light

How to make a neon light scheme

How to make a gra­di­ent on the back­ground and add col­or spots

How to make a long shad­ow in a pho­to

spot­light effect in stu­dio

How to pho­to­graph sil­hou­ettes


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