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Photoflex Lighting School

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Full Length Portrait with the OctoDome®: medium

Lighting Equipment

Full-length studio portraits can be complex and daunting for even the most experienced photographer. It's not unusual for a photographer to get caught up trying to implement various lighting styles, only to over-complicate the situation.

This lesson demonstrates how to effectively light a full-length portrait using only two lights and a limited amount of time. We'll take you step-by-step through two different full-length portrait light set-ups using the Photoflex StarFlash strobes, a 5 foot OctoDome soft box, and a medium HalfDome soft box.

(Click on any thumbnail image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  •     First Setup of StarFlash 650watt and OctoDome
  •     First Setup of StarFlash 300watt and HalfDome
  •     First Setup Image Comparison
  •     Second Setup of StarFlash 650watt and OctoDome
  •     Using a LitePanel to Control Light
  •     Second Setup of StarFlash 300watt and HalfDome
  •     Second Setup Image Comparison

First Setup of StarFlash 650watt strobe and OctoDome: Medium

The first image we wanted to capture was a full-length portrait of our model in a reclined position. To start, we set up our medium OctoDome and attached it to a StarFlash 650watt strobe and LiteStand and positioned it about 30 degrees camera right. We then raised it up about six feet and angled it down towards our model at around 45 degrees. [Figures 1 and 2]

Figure 1

Figure 2

Once the strobe was wirelessly synced to the camera, we adjusted the power and exposure settings and took our first shot. [Figure 3]

Figure 3

Here you can see that by using just this one light, we obtained broad, soft light throughout the image. Note how this diffused light is very flattering to the model's facial features. By having the light up high and pointed, we were able to create shadows under her cheekbones and chin to accentuate her features.

Next, we decided to lighten up the background and add a rim light to the model to create separation between the two.

Setup of StarFlash 300watt and HalfDome

We decided to use a HalfDome on the next light because its slim profile grants us the ability to control the light easier and move it into hard to reach places. We set up a StarFlash 300watt with a medium HalfDome. We placed this setup onto a PhotoFlex Boom and BoomStand and weighed it down with our Photoflex RockSteady Bag. We then placed the light at nearly 180 degrees camera left. We raised it up to about six feet high and angled it in behind our model. We then made adjustments based on our modeling light until we felt we had it in the proper position. [Figures 4 & 5]

Figure 4

Figure 5

With the HalfDome added in to create our rim light on the shoulders of our model we have successfully created some separation between our model and our background. We also brightened up our background a bit by allowing the rim light to spill onto the background slightly. You can also see that the HalfDome lightened up our shadow areas on the model's legs and on her black dress. With just two lights we were able to create this nice full-length portrait in less then an hour. Lets see what else we can do with these two lights. [Figure 6]

Figure 6

First Setup Image Comparison

Below is a comparison of our one and two light images. Notice the brightness of the shadows and the background when we add in the second light as well as the nice rim light on the model's shoulders separating her from the background. [Figure 7]

Figure 7

Second Setup of StarFlash 650watt and OctoDome

For our next setup we had our model do a quick clothing change and then positioned her sitting on a stool with a muslin draped over it. We took our StarFlash 650watt strobe with medium OctoDome attached and placed it at 135 degrees camera left, placed it at about three feet high, and pointed it straight across our set. Not pointing the light directly at your model is known as "feathering the light" this style of lighting creates more dynamic three-dimensional light. [Figures 8 & 9]

Figure 8

Figure 9

Here in our resulting image you can see that we have a nice rim light going from head to toe on our model. The only thing we want to do to improve this is to block the light from the OctoDome from hitting the backdrop. To do this we will bring in a LitePanel with a black fabric attached. [Figure 10]

Figure 10

Using a LitePanel to Control Light

We setup a 39x72 inch LitePanel frame with a black fabric and attached it to a LiteStand. We then placed that directly next to our medium OctoDome. We positioned it in a way that it would be directly in between the light and the backdrop. [Figures 11 and 12]

Figure 11

Figure 12

Here in our resulting image you can see we have successfully blocked the light from the background by using the LitePanel. We have maintained our rim light on our model by making sure we did not have the LitePanel in between our subject and light. [Figure 13]

Figure 13

Here is a side-by-side comparison of our image with and without the 39x72 inch LitePanel frame with black fabric. [Figure 14]

Figure 14

Second Setup of StarFlash 300watt and HalfDome

Now that we have our OctoDome setup giving our model a rim light from head to toe and we have our 39x72 inch LitePanel blocking light from hitting the backdrop we will turn off the OctoDome and position our main light.

For our main light we used the StarFlash 300watt with a medium HalfDome attached to it again. We positioned the HalfDome at about 90 degrees camera right, raised it up to five and a half feet, and then tilted it down at around a 45 degree angle. [Figures 15 and 16]

Figure 15

Figure 16

By raising the light up high, our model's face was closest to our light source and therefore made it the brightest part of the photograph. This is always good when photographing portraits because the model's face is the most important aspect of this type of photography. [Figure 17]

The way in which we have positioned our lights tends to create what is known as a "loop lighting pattern" on the model's face. This is created when the lighting creates a downward diagonal shadow from the nose, angling toward the corner of the mouth. Ideally, the shadow will fall halfway between the nose and the corner of the mouth of the model.

It was also at this time that we realized in many of our photographs up to this point the LitePanel was just barely visible on the left hand side of the image. Luckily, we only needed to move the model over a couple inches and therefore it did not affect our lighting setup.

Figure 17

Now that we have our lights dialed in and our set clear of equipment we can start photographing and posing our model in the complete light setup.

We got the loop lighting pattern on our model's face that we wanted and our rim light is looking nice, smooth, and soft from head to toe on our model. The wide shape of the OctoDome has allowed some light to spill over into shadow areas on the front side of our model making the ratio between highlights and shadow about a two-stop difference or a 1:4 ratio.

This is borderline dramatic lighting, but for this portrait we enjoyed it. Whether or not you believe this is too dramatic it is just another thing in the world of photography that depends on your personal tastes. [Figure 18]


Figure 18

Second Setup Image Comparison

Below is a step-by-step comparison of the process of creating this lighting setup. [Figure 19]

Figure 19

The combination of the Photoflex StarFlash MonoBloc strobes and the Photoflex OctoDome and HalfDome soft boxes gives you the power to create interesting, well-lit portraits in no time. The wide face of the OctoDome allows the soft box to give off beautifully soft light that has that ability to wrap around your subject in the most flattering of ways.

Photographed by Gene Kester

Lighting Equipment


On September 04, 2012 at 01:31 PM, Hamid said:

Do you have the studio which country?

On March 07, 2014 at 03:34 PM, chaz said:

Great lighting tutorial.  Fantastic model, what is her name?


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