Posts Tagged ‘lighting’

Lighting 103: Greg Heisler on Light and Color

18 May

Abstract: Chromatically complex light adds much more realism to your lit photos.

Today’s Lighting 103 post features excerpts from a bar conversation with Greg Heisler. It's just as if we cornered him at a conference (which I did) and he agreed to have a drink and talk color (which he did).

This is roadmap stuff. It's above and beyond the specific info he includes with each of the assignments in his book, 50 Portraits, the companion text to L103.Read more »

Comments Off on Lighting 103: Greg Heisler on Light and Color

Posted in Photography


Back to basics: A simple three-point lighting setup for headshots

16 May

Music photographer PJ Pantelis points out that three point lighting is nothing new, but it’s not something every self-taught photographer has learned. If that sounds like you and you’re looking to experiment with studio portraiture, his recent demo provides a great starting point. 

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on Back to basics: A simple three-point lighting setup for headshots

Posted in Uncategorized


Lighting Tips for Perfect Portraits

09 May

Snapping a portrait, is much more complex than than pinning up a laser backdrop and requesting your subject say “cheese.”

The key to a polished look is lighting!

Read our tips for making your pals look their best in any light (you might just want to add some shine to help them look their best).
Read the rest of Lighting Tips for Perfect Portraits (301 words)

© laurel for Photojojo, 2017. |
Permalink |
No comment |
Add to

Post tags:


Comments Off on Lighting Tips for Perfect Portraits

Posted in Equipment


Lighting 103: Use Gels to Tune Your Home’s Lighting

05 May

Abstract: You can use your knowledge of color temperature and gels to improve the quality of light in your home.

So far, everything we have done has centered on gelling a single light to create a single desired color shift. But before we make the jump into using multiple colors and light sources, one quick hack for your home's lighting that will help you to improve the quality of light in compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.

Like the gawdawful green-tinged lamp above, for example. Read more »

Comments Off on Lighting 103: Use Gels to Tune Your Home’s Lighting

Posted in Photography


3 Lighting Setups for Photographing Headshots

28 Apr

I do a lot of corporate and actors headshots around Washington, DC and I wanted to share some of the simple but effective lighting setups that I use over and over, which you can easily copy and use yourself.

lighting for headshots

The One Light Wonder

My standard setup consists of a large soft light source to the left or right of the subject, a reflector under the face, and another reflector opposite the main light source. I shoot hundreds of headshots per year using this simple setup. I use a Paul C. Buff Einstein unit with a large octabox in my studio, but you could easily put together something similar with a cheap speedlight, an umbrella, and a couple of $ 20 reflectors.

You can see this setup in the photo below, with my poor wife Karen standing in as a subject. She was just coming downstairs to make some tea, and got ambushed!

headshots lighting

Reflectors and adjustments

Once my subject is in place, I do some tweaking. First I will adjust the light source so it is slightly above their eye level. For most people, I think it looks best to have the light coming from above to cast subtle shadows under the chin, accentuating the jaw and helping to hide any double chin.

Then I will adjust the reflector underneath their face and bring it up to about their mid-chest level. This reflector helps fill in shadows on the face and provides a really nice extra catch light in the eyes. Some folks will use another (powered) light source down here, but I find the reflector to be much simpler to set up, and it also has the virtue of being idiot proof.

For example, if you have another light instead of a reflector below the subject, and you accidentally overpower it (so it is more powerful than the main light), you have created some horrible Frankenstein lighting! It is physically impossible to do this with a reflector, which can save from you from costly mistakes.

headshots lightingYou can see the side reflector in my studio in this photo (it’s just to Karen’s left).

Finally we have the reflector opposite the light source. For this one, I will often use a black-sided panel to create a darker shadow on that side of the face. This effect can be very dramatic, and has added benefit of slimming the face. The downside is that if your subject is very wrinkly, you’re not filling those wrinkles with light from that side. So it doesn’t work for everyone.

Here’s an example where of a headshot where I used this effect to create a nice dramatic edge:

headshots lighting

Some additional tweaks

With this simple setup, it’s very easy to make tweaks and see what works best with a particular person’s face. Often I will leave the basic setup in place with the black reflector, but a few examples where I might make changes are:

  1. The subject has a double chin, so I really want to define the jaw. In this case, I may raise the light up extra high to cast more shadow under the chin (make sure you don’t go too high and lose your catchlights), and/or lower or remove the under reflector.

headshots lighting

  1. The subject has long dark hair. In this case, the dark reflector is not necessary because we already have a dark edge there from the hair. So in this case I would go with a white reflector on the side or bring in a hair light from behind (more on that in the next section)

In the photo below, you can see a lot of detail in her hair on the shadow side. That’s because I brought my big white reflector in close.

headshots lighting

  1. Subject has deep set eyes. We want to fire more light into those sockets or our poor subject will end up looking like a serial killer or a cave man! In this case, I might lower the main/soft light so it is right at eye level.

Two Lights

You could run a whole business just using the one light system, but if you’re anything like me you get bored and like to try new things. So let’s bring in a second light.

The second light for me is usually a “kicker” (also called a rim or accent light) coming from behind and opposite the main light. I use this to accentuate the jaw, especially in men, or hair in women. It’s especially nice to create a little highlight on darker hair.

In the photo below, I needed a way to separate this young man from the dark background. My kicker light did the trick!

Headshots lighting

In my studio, I use a strip softbox for this purpose, but you could also use a bare head with a grid or even an old speedlight with a paper towel roll taped to it to make a simple snoot. The important thing is that you want to control the light so it doesn’t spray into your lens and create flare or lack of contrast.

You can see my kicker light in this setup shot with Karen.


Three and Four Lights

I use lights three and four to create a clean white background. You can either use one light fired at the background from just behind the subject, or two lights off to either side.

The white background is my favorite look these days for a lot of reasons. I think it looks super bright, modern and happy, and really pops on LinkedIn and other online profiles. It is also a great way to go for companies because it is easy to replicate and get a consistent look from shoot to shoot (for example, when photographing a new employee months after the initial shoot, or replicating the same look with shoots done across the country by different photographers).

headshots lighting setups

headshots lighting setups

headshots lighting setups

headshots lighting setups

Whether you use one or two lights for the background depends on your budget and the space where you are working. Two lights can give you a larger more even spread of light, whereas with one light you might have some fall off around the edges that you need to clean up in post-production. So I usually stick to two lights unless I’m on location somewhere and space is tight.


So I hope you all found this article helpful and you can use the lighting setups for your headshot. I look forward to your comments and questions!

The post 3 Lighting Setups for Photographing Headshots by Dennis Drenner appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on 3 Lighting Setups for Photographing Headshots

Posted in Photography


How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings

21 Apr

A wedding photographer has to be prepared for pretty much anything. Big belly laughs, impromptu outbursts of song and bear hugs can happen at any moment. Not to mention that the light is constantly changing and you’ve got yourself a schedule to keep. Let’s just say weddings keep you on your toes.

That’s why it’s always worth planning ahead and being prepared. Weddings rarely take place in just one location and moving from indoors to outside, or from sunshine to shade can cause a huge change in exposure. When not competing with the sun, indoor lighting poses new problems. Tungsten bulbs mixed with daylight causes all sorts of white balance issues. But this is why we love weddings, they keep us sharp.

Being prepared and practice is key to achieving consistent results. Here are three top tips on how to make the most of difficult lighting situations.

Couple portraits – How to find good light on a dull day

Believe it or not, it is raining at the point of capture in the image below. This photograph was taken in July in Surrey, UK. The British weather was doing all it could to play up to the stereotype it would seem.

Couple portrait weddings

Not every wedding takes place on a gorgeous sunny day and it’s not always feasible to shoot at sunset to capture the golden hour of light. What can you do to create images that your clients will love and to which you’re proud to put your name? Especially when the heavens decide to play against you. Here is the process I use when assessing lighting conditions and how this photograph was taken.

Understanding the principles of lighting is fundamental in any photographer’s quest to a beautifully lit photograph. Fortunately, these principles are consistent regardless of where you are located in the world or how expensive your equipment is. Whether you’re using the latest Canon or a generation old Smartphone, light can be manipulated to your advantage.

Approaching every scenario with the same set of questions can radically change how you see light and ultimately how you take pictures. Where is the light coming from, where is the even light and where are the greatest differences in the light?

Place the subjects in shade

Shade weddings

Here you can see the scene exposed to what the human eye sees. The background is correctly exposed which throws the foreground into darkness. What we want is to do is correctly expose the foreground to create a clean canvas with an overexposed background. In this scenario, there is about three stops difference in exposure, which is perfect.

Shade overexposed weddings

By placing the couple under the branches of the tree they are instantly evenly lit. There are no stray light rays coming through branches or dappled light on faces, and the pebbles on the driveway aid in reflecting light back onto the subjects. By exposing for the skin tones the background will be overexposed, providing a clean canvas.

A few tweaks in Lightroom to warm the skin and recover some of the highlights and voila! An evenly lit portrait on a rainy day. The added benefit of the tree branches is that they, of course, provide shelter from the wind and rain. This technique of using trees as shelter can also be employed on dry days that are windy. Even if the sun is shining, a venue on a hill can increase the risk of a veil blowing away!


Why is this difficult? Depending on the location of the venue or church, you may be competing with changing light that the couple will walk through as they process down the confetti line. This is problematic as you are going to be walking backward, trying to capture the action, as well as tracking the changing light.

It is quite common in the UK for churches to have tree lined pathways, this creates a lighting issue as a break in the trees will cause the couple to walk from light to shade to light, etc. This can mean a dramatic jump in exposure.

Confetti lighting weddings

Take pictures of your hand

This is probably the easiest method to test the exposure of skin tones which can and should be used to test all of the techniques in this article. Take a photograph of your hand, inspect the screen and adjust accordingly. The wedding guests may look at you in an odd way, but when you’re working at a fast pace this can be a life saver.

Take images of your hand in both the light and the shade and note the difference in exposure before the bride and groom appear. Depending on how you shoot, it makes sense to only change one setting as you will be multi-tasking. The control for shutter speed on Canon cameras is located where the index finger naturally rests, and logically is the easiest of the settings to change.

Pay attention as the couple moves from light to shade, remembering the readings of your hand. The camera settings are displayed in the viewfinder and alternate between the two as the light changes. Where possible, pre-plan your shots, performing a mental run through of where people are likely to be and what lighting difficulties you may encounter.

Confetti lighting 2 weddings

First dance

Who knows what kind of lighting setup the DJ will have. Will they make a beautiful white spotlight for the first dance, or will they bust out some crazy laser snowflakes? Anything could happen. One method to overcome this is to shoot into the DJ’s lights and use them as compositional features rather than compete with them.

This isn’t the only option, sometimes shooting with the lights are beneficial as it gives you scope to capture the guest’s reactions. To create this shot, one flashgun at both corners of the stage (pointing at the center of the dance floor), elevated on tripods, and attached to Yongnuo wireless triggers were used.

First dance weddings

This setup offers two things. Firstly, by backlighting the subject even exposure on the skin can be achieved with no unwanted shadows. Secondly, you don’t have to worry about what the DJ is doing with their lighting setup.

It pays to ask the DJ before any dancing commences, what they plan to do and work with them. You would certainly be unlucky should you encounter anyone who wasn’t amiable in having a discussion. However, the point remains that they have a job to do. If they feel the song warrants a change in lighting then they will adapt it for the benefit of the wedding, not for your advantage. This is completely understandable, however, lighting surprises aren’t often welcome. This is why it makes sense to pre-plan and take control of the lighting.

Lens chimping technique

A caveat to shooting in this way is that it is possible to end up with equipment or the DJ themselves in the background. For this reason, an interesting tactic to employ is Sam Hurd’s lens chimping technique. By placing a convex lens element in front of your lens it creates cool flares and throws the background out of focus.

First dance 2 lens chimping technique

Practice is certainly recommended as an incorrect application of this technique can result in the lens element focussing all lights onto your sensor and completely blowing out the shot. The first dance is often a tricky one to shoot, it would be interesting to hear about your ideas and innovations below. Happy shooting!


Hopefully, these quick tips will help you deal with challenging lighting situations at weddings or any other photography opportunities. Do you have any others you want to share? Please do so in the comments below.

The post How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings by Liam Smith appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Digital Photography School

Comments Off on How to Overcome Difficult Lighting Scenarios at Weddings

Posted in Photography


Lighting 103: Using Gels to Shift the Ambient

21 Apr

Abstract: By combining a white balance shift in your camera with a complimentary gelling of your flash, you can easily and efficiently alter the ambient color temperature of an entire environment.

In addition to controlling the color of light from your flash, gels can also allow you to control the color of the ambient areas of your frame. This can allow you to tweak, enhance or drastically an ambient color environment. Read more »

Comments Off on Lighting 103: Using Gels to Shift the Ambient

Posted in Photography


Lighting 103: Using Gelled Flash to Correct Ambient Light

07 Apr

Abstract: You can alter your camera's white balance and gel your flash to "correct" nearly any ambient light color shift. But should you?Read more »

Comments Off on Lighting 103: Using Gelled Flash to Correct Ambient Light

Posted in Photography


Lighting 103: When Not to Gel Your Flash

16 Mar

Abstract: Don't bother gelling a scene that is completely lit by a single flash. But if a second light is involved—even ambient light—it's always better to control color at the source.

PIctured above is Midwest Camera President Moishe Appelbaum. He wandered into a lighting class I was teaching at Midwest last fall, so we pulled him aside and shot him. He's lit by a single LP180 speedlight, fired through a white bed sheet.

(Pro tip: A speedlight fired through a bed sheet will rival the light of the most expensive octabanks in the world—in quality if not in quantity. It all comes down to square inches in the light source. And a bed sheet has a crap ton of square inches.)

After our previous lesson, you might think that this photo is an ideal candidate for a warming gel: caucasian skin, warm background, warm-colored clothing. Why not unify this with a little added warmth?Read more »

Comments Off on Lighting 103: When Not to Gel Your Flash

Posted in Photography


NanGuang introduces flexible LED lighting mats

16 Mar

Chinese lighting manufacturer NanGuang has launched a new kit that consists of a pair of flexible LED light panels designed for studio or on-location still and video work. The two panels are effectively 30x60cm rubber mats with 288 embedded bi-color LEDs each, which can be adjusted to produce color temperatures anywhere between daylight and tungsten – 5600 to 3200K.

The mats can be bent to surround a still life subject or for a head shot to produce a wrap-around lighting effect, but they can also be mounted into supplied frames to behave like standard rigid panels. Diffuser sheets are supplied to soften the light and the panel brightness can be varied via a dimmer switch up to 3424lm when they are measured together. Panels can be powered by the supplied AC adapter or by an optional Sony V-mount or NP-F type battery. The company says the lights have a life of 50,000 hours and a CRI of 95.

The kit, including two stands, two panels a case and accessories, costs £679.98/$ 650. For more information about NanGuang you can visit the company website, but for information about the Flexible LED Light Panel Kit CNST288CX2 visit UK distributor Kenro.

Press Release


Kenro Ltd, the specialist photo & video distributor for the UK and Ireland, has introduced an amazing new flexible lighting kit quite unlike any photo / video lighting system you’ve seen before.

NanGuang’s new Flexible LED Light Panel Kit (CNST288CX2) includes a set of two 30 x 60cm LED light panels that can be bent and shaped around the subject to offer unique lighting effects.

Also, should conventional flat panel lighting be required, they easily attach to a choice of two frames – a square one measuring 60 x 60cm, and a rectangular one measuring 30 x 120cm. This makes for a very adaptable, lightweight and portable lighting system that can be operated via 240V AC mains or Sony V-mount and NP-F batteries. Each frame has a matching fabric diffusor for extra soft lighting.

Each of the panels is 2mm thick, water and frost resistant, and contains 288 bi-colour LEDs (CRI 95) with stepless colour adjustment from 3200-5600K.

When used off the frames, the lightweight panels can be bent and shaped as desired, making them ideal for location photography, either indoors or out in a variety of environmental conditions.

Per panel, power is 28.2 Watts, with stepless dimmer adjustment, illumination 3424 LM. Average LED life: 50,000 hours. CRI 95.

The kit consists of two LED light panels, controllers and frames, as well as a lighting stand, square and rectangular diffusers, and a sturdy carry case. SRP is £679.98 including VAT.

Says Paul Kench, Kenro’s managing director: “Occasionally a new product comes along that stops you in your tracks and starts to make you think about uses you’ve never thought of before. These new flexible LED light panels are incredibly versatile – it’s very exciting to see the creative uses that photographers are coming up with for this new type of lighting.”

All quoted prices are SRP guide, including VAT.

For further details and to find your nearest stockist, please visit

For full specifications, visit the NanGuang Flexible Lighting section of the Kenro website:

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

Comments Off on NanGuang introduces flexible LED lighting mats

Posted in Uncategorized