Friday, August 26, 2011

How To: Light This Image

Gear used: Nikon D3, Nikon 24-70 F2.8 lens, background and stand, tripod, 2- 4x8 sheets of black foamcore, 3 Dynalites, 1 Octabank, 2 Strip boxes.

Settings used: Manual exposure, 1/200 sec., F13, ISO 200, 28mm, custom white balance.

A Stripbox (below) is narrow softbox. This modifier allows the light to be even more directional than a normal softbox. It is also a good tool for creating what is called a rim light. The rim light creates a bright outline around the edge of the subject, to help visually separate the object from the background.

An Octabank or Octabox (below) is an eight sided softbox which produces beautiful, soft, even light. Octabanks are typically in the 3 to 7ft range. They are great for portraits and can also produce a round catchlight in eyes.

In this photo, an Octabank and two stripboxes were used as my main lighting modifiers. The Octabank is the "key light", or main light, and the two stripboxes create the "rim light". The object here is to make sure that the rim lights are brighter than the key light. Another very important step is to make sure the rim lights don't bleed into areas where you don't want them. This is controlled by "flagging" the light. In this setup, two 4x8 black foamcore boards were used to keep each rim light projecting where I wanted them, which was only on the edge of the subject.
The 5ft Octabank is on a stand about 5ft off the ground. It is angled downward onto the subject. The angle is slight which helps to minimize shadows on the forehead and under the nose. In this scenario, the Octabank gently lights the subject overall but not so much that it kills the rim lights. The rim lights are able to show, and the Octabank brings out the detail in the front of the subject.

This particular style of lighting is popular for sports, but it can be used for any type of portrait. I used this lighting setup symmetrically, meaning both rim lights were at the same power, and at the same distance away from the subject in order to make them even. You can experiment with the placement of your rim lights as well as the lighting ratios to get different effects.

© John Prince