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Friday, November 09, 2012

Jade Hannah: Tips for Fashion Lighting

Swedish fashion photographer Jade Hannah likes to shoot with a very small aperture (often around f/22) to ensure that everything is in focus. "That's one of the main differences between portraiture and fashion for me. Selective focus works great for portrait work, but I'm more interested in having everything being tack sharp. It's just aligns better with my aestthetic."

Of course, shooting this way requires you to always be factoring in the background first; letting it go soft and undicernible is not an option. And if you're shooting with strobes, it also requires that the strobe have enough power to properly illuminate the subject matter.

Photoflex was fortunate enough to have Hannah travel to Germany to shoot in their booth at Photokina this year. Throughout the week, Hannah shot primarily with the new TritonFlashes - her go-to lighting for location work - and demonstrated her approaches to shooting and lighting with the attendees of the show.  

Recently, she gathered some images from one of her demos and sent us some additional notes on her strategy for this shoot.

I shoot with a Nikon D3 and had it configured the following way for these shots:

  • Lens: 24-70mm, f/2.8
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • Exposure mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f/13
  • Shutter/sync Speed: 1/125th of a second
  • ISO: 200

With White Balance, I always set my color temperature manually. On commercia shoots, I always play it safe by using a gray card. This allows me to dial in the exact color later in post, which for fashion work is crucial.

For this shoot, I used three TritonFlash kits. The main light was mounted to a Photoflex Boom and Boom Stand and had the Extra Small OctoDome attached. The other two lights just had the 7" hard reflectors attached and were positioned toward the back of the set aimed at Franziska to serve as rim lights.

Canadian photographer Trevor Sherwin also shot in the booth, and here was assisting me by using a 22" MultiDisc to bounce light from the OctoDome into the shadows of the model's face. [Figures 1 and 2]

Figure 1


igure 2

The background we had set up was a white muslin that we lightly steamed. When you're shooting indoors, it's important to be mindful the ceilings, other walls and floors, all of which can affect the color and tone of your shot, especially if they're not white or neutral in color. In this situation, the carpet was red, giving the model a red underglow in the test shots. We ended up laying down a gray muslin sweep to elimnate the color cast.

The TritonFlash has an incredibly short flash duration and I wanted to show the advantage of this feature by adding some motion to the shot. What better way than with flying hair! Once we had a wind machine set up and blowing (generously loaned by Bowens), I knew I wanted to make the model's hair pop off the background. I first dialed in the exposure from the rim light on the hair. It's usually best to turn off all other lights, including the main light, to see what these lights are providing.

For rim lights, the angle is important because you don't want the lgiht to bleed on the side of the face. You just want the light to illuminate the hair. If your model has short hair, this angle has to be even more precise.

Here's a setup and result with just the rim lights firing, set to 1/8th power. Notice how the hair is perfectly frozen with no motion blur at all. [Figures 3 & 4]

FIgure 3

igure 4

For the front main light, I had it positioned at a 90 degree angle, pointed down on her face to render minimal shadows. This is pretty much how my main light is always positioned when I shoot fashion. This light was set to 1/4 power, which gave me the 2:1 ratio I was looking for. [FIgures 5 & 6]

FIgure 5

igure 6

In the result shot below, you can see how the rim light has caught the side of the model's nose, something I try to avoid. [Figure 7]

Igure 7

I wanted to give Franziska a little more room to move, so rather than direct her to not move her head from side to side, I simply moved the rim lights a little further in, but still out of frame.

Toward the end of this demo, I wanted to show that you could have more tthan one model with this simple lighting setup and still have it look great. I asked one of the attendees (below in the light blue sweater) if he would stand in with the model, and he happily obliged. [Figures 8 & 9]

FIgure 8

Figure 9

As you can see, it's not all that hard to get beautiful results if you know what you're doing with your lighting. And the TritonFlash system, with its high power, short flash duration and portability, makes it all that much easier, no matter where you're shooting!

To learn more about the equipment used in this photo-shoot, click on the following links:
Photoflex TritonFlash Kit
Photoflex Boom
Photoflex Bom Stand
Photoflex 32" MultiDisc
Photoflex ProDuty BackDrop Support Kit
Photoflex 10x20' White Muslin BackDrop

To see more of Jade Hannah's work, check out her Pro Showcase page:


On December 20, 2012 at 10:57 AM, Hamid said:

HELLO.How do I set white balance my camera in the studio?
then How do you white balance with grey card your camera in the studio.
Thank you

On January 04, 2013 at 02:58 PM, Hamid said:

Hello. I have the some question about photography .
I will take a photo from subject in the studio so I must for white balance my camera what can I have the must working .I must adjustment my camera with custom white balance or on the flash?
you have used the gray card or Exporo DIsck18% or on th K and with kelvin tempecher adjustment my camera in the studio?
thank you .

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