Full body lighting setup. Part 3

By Oleg Ti,   January 16, 2013,   Views: 5980,   Comments:

Original article by photographer Oleg Ti Studio photography lighting setup with softbox and reflectors

ADDING FILL LIGHT

Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3 Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3

Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3 Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3

The second important lighting source in my setup is the fill light. The aim of using a fill light is (not being seen in lighting scene) to add some light that will illuminate the dark side of model, to pull out the details and to get the information in the shadow areas of photos.

Requirements for this kind of light are very clear and easily articulated. The light should be as soft as possible, make  no shadows on the background and surrounding objects, have no colour or tint and be as far away from the model as possible so that it covers all areas of the photograph. The best solution is a reflector directed at the opposite wall from the background. If the reflector is set directly behind the photographer and turned towards the back wall, this solution will give us a soft light coming from the camera, and will evenly light the whole scene.

I often use the terms “slightly” and “little”, not because I don't know the exact values of the power of the light, but because for every type of photography, for every colour, type of background, the colour and brightness of the clothes on the model, the hardness of the key light, and for the style of picture, these values will vary considerably. So I attempt to use different values of power, looking at the image on the screen (I always use the computer screen connected to the camera) and adjusting the fill light appropriately to see what will work best for each specific photograph.

In this case, I reduced the power to minimum, then gradually increased the power of the fill light, one stop at a time, in order to choose the most appropriate value.

 

CONTROLLING THE FILL LIGHT

Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3 Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3

Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3 Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3

In the pictures presented above, you can see only the fill light. I turned off the key light in order to see how the fill light works. The reflector is directed to the back wall behind the photographer and I, as well as in the previous series of pictures, increased the power by one stop to see how the intensity of the fill light changed.

It should be noted that such a light scheme using the reflected light from the walls of the studio, is quite common in my practice. That’s why I like to work in studios with white walls. After all, you can put black flags around the model. Eliminating the unnecessary reflections in a white studio is much easier than adding suitable reflections from dark or black walls, meaning you have to dramatically increase the power of lighting units and therefore receive various tints from usually not neutral walls. Using the reflected light gives us so many advantages, one of them being that you can change its direction and softness very quickly.

In this case, I was limited by the dimensions of the studio (it was just 9 meters of length, a small studio for me) and there wasn't much distance between the lighting unit and the wall, so I was unable to get very soft light, but you can't see the shadows on the background behind the model. The lighting on the model is not soft and flat enough, so I moved the fill light slightly to the right so it worked more on “the shadow side” of the model - opposite to the left side, which is getting the key light.

If it isn't possible to shoot in a white studio, the photographer can put a big oktabox or softbox behind their back, directed towards the model, which can also be quite effective for getting appropriate fill light.

 

CHOOSING THE CORRECT POWER FOR THE FILL LIGHT

Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3

The choice is made - the value that we see between the first and second images. Compare it with the lighting that was made without the fill light.

The shadow side of the model is now not just darkness, but shady areas with existing, visible information on them. At the same time, the pattern of the key light is saved, it is no less visible than the photo taken without the fill light. The background is a little grey and is evenly lit.

We don't often need an absolutely black background, and in this photo I have a background that is slightly lit, which we could imagine not as a clear white sheet but as a tinted page of the album we will fill with our beautiful lighting.

The photo has become more similar to the picture we see with our eyes. The dynamic range of the camera is narrower than what human eyes have. We often see a nice picture in the studio with our eyes, with a very wide range of tones, but when we shoot, we get a picture with completely overexposed areas or vice versa, parts of it falling in to darkness. Thus applying the fill light, we push our picture dynamic range into the dynamic range of the camera, making it the same as what we see with our eyes.

In general, it is clear that the picture broadly consists of what we set out to achieve, however, I do not have a good and well-lit background. That is what we are going to get.

 

PUTTING A BACKGROUND LIGHT IN

Oleg Ti. Full body lighting scheme. Part 3

Lighting the background is no less important than lighting the model. That’s right, a beautifully lit background gives volume to photos, creates compositional perfection, highlights and emphasises certain parts of the model, adds dynamic style to the picture and generates interesting colour solutions.

Here I would like to use a light that will give a distinct, but soft and feathered spot on the background, so using a reflector with a honeycomb grid would be great to use for this.

In that case, the lighting source should be as far from the background as you can get it, but it is not always possible because of the dimensions of the studio and the width of the stage. The further away we move the lighting source from the axis perpendicular to the background, the more we change the shape of the circle spot formed by the honeycomb – one edge of the light spot would be softer than the other, which isn't good for harmony and composition with the vertical frame.

For me, the ideal solution is to use the background light on a rail system or a boom, just above the model’s head. The difference of the shape and hardness of the upper and lower edge of the spot will not be so noticeable, but here as in the case of key light I have used a stand, which is possible in any studio.

I placed the reflector such a way that it was as close as possible to the axis of the lens, but knowing that I’d use the extra frost frame I moved it slightly to the right so that they would operate comfortably together. I chose a very narrow honeycomb grid to get a very small and sharp spot behind the model. This was suitable for me because I knew that I would be using a diffusion gel with the frost frame, which would made this spot wider and softer. But that is the next story…

 

Others parts of this tutorial:

The first part of this tutorial is here: Full Body Lighting Scheme. Part 1

The second part of this tutorial is here: Full Body Lighting Scheme. Part 2

The fourth part of this tutorial is here: Full Body Lighting Scheme. Part 4

 

Yours,

Oleg Tityaev,
www.oleg-ti.com

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