Where to Place Lights for Portraits

Ansel Adams once famously said that the difference between a good picture and a bad one was “knowing where to stand.” For studio photography you can add that the difference is also in knowing where to place the lights.  Let me show you what I mean:


The above illustration shows the placement of all three lights that are included in Smith Victor’s FL700K kit. The main light with SV lightbank mounted is at camera left, the 110i FlashLite monolight with no modifier at left was used to separate the subject from the background and the FLC300 monolight with 45-inch umbrella attached at camera right and in front of the back light. The monolight/umbrella combination was lowered slightly (from samber.greenhooting a standing portrait) while the FLC300 monolight with 24×24-inch Soft Box was placed much lower and located out just out of the frame.

A seen in the set-up shot, I used all three monolights in the FL700K kit. Instead of my home studio’s carpet, the subject is sitting on one of Silverlake Photo’s 4×8-feet faux floors. Tip: When hung vertically, Silverlake’s Shutters 5×7-foot Colorsmack background wouldn’t cover a horizontal shot, so I flipped it sideways to give it a barn siding look. Camera was a Canon EOS 5D with 85mm f/1.8 lens with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/8 and ISO 250 to make this shot. Nik Software’s Glamour Glow filter, that’s part of Color Efex Pro, was applied to soften the image.

Author: Joe Farace

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