Lighting In and Out of the Studio

Recently we have been working with lighting, inside a studio and outside on location. I really enjoyed these workshops as they allowed me to look at and learn about something new that I had never done before in photography. I found it interesting how different light angles and types of lighting have different effects on models and the surrounding location.

When in the studio, we were set a range of different tasks to look at different lighting and the effect this has on a model.

Studio Notes:

  • Reading on light meter is mid grey, meaning you should put up by half a stop when inputting on the camera.

  • Face the white bit of the light meter to the camera, placing it in front of the model.

  • The f number on the lights says how bright they are, they don’t relate to the camera f number. Use a light meter.

  • Shutter speed is best at 1/125 up, not too fast anything quicker beats the flash

  • Light meter – lightning bolt with a C displayed, ISO needs to be same on both (camera and light meter), white bulb needs to face the camera

  • With a softbox, the light spreads out more and so there is more to reflect back when using a reflector, whereas a snoot is a more direct light with a smaller hole/angle of light so there is less to reflect back

  • When reducing the power, flash it off to get rid of the power and then reduce/increase the f number on the lights

Studio Lighting tasks:

1 softbox above camera –


With the front on lighting from the softbox above the camera, I found that the model looks very flat, with not much contrast. However it does show the persons features in a realistic and true way, with no distortion created by lighting. We tried with a model with a darker skin tone to see the difference; we found that with darker skin you need to often reduce the light to give a realistic and true skin tone._MG_3708.JPG


Soft box 45 degrees away from the camera (to the left) – _MG_3704.JPG

With this lighting setup we found that by having the light at a 45 degree angle on the left side, it created a more contrasting photograph to the previous one. In this photograph, both the models have a lighter (left) and darker (right) side; it is not so bold that it creates lots of distortion of the facial feature, however it does mean that come features are cast in or create shadows. This photograph is more visually exciting and not as flat as the previous photograph, due to the creation of shadows from the lighting setup.


90 degrees from the camera (to the left) – _MG_3709.JPG

This lighting setup worked similar to the previous set up, however by having a 90 degree angle, it meant that the shadows created were more dramatic and more of the models’ features were in shadow. The light hits one side of the face, lighting that side, however, due to the angle of the light, barely any of the light hits the other side of the face, and so it is covered in shadow. I feel this creates a more dramatic photograph, but almost half of the models features are lost in shadow and so photographers should be aware of this, you do not want to lose too much detail.


Softbox 90 degrees away from camera and black reflector/white reflector

_MG_3714.JPGBlack Reflector (close up)

_MG_3716.JPGBlack Reflector

_MG_3717.JPGWhite Reflector

We found that with a black reflector, most of the light is absorbed, especially when you use it up close; there is less light on the right side of the model, meaning that part of the face is cast in shadow. Whereas with a white reflector, the light bounces back and reflects off the white, and so hits the face on the right side, meaning that the whole of the model’s face is lit.


Snoot at 90 degrees


This shows the use of a snoot with a black reflector, not much of the face is lit as the light is more direct and so there is less light to reflect back. This gives a very dramatic and bold effect, however much detail is lost in the blackness.


When using a softbox and a fill light –

Main softbox at 45 degrees. Main softbox should be at an aperture of f/8, second softbox (the fill light) should be at aperture of f/4. Check each one separately and raise or lower the power on the light to make the aperture f8 and f4, then switch the cell setting on and take the photograph. The shadows should be filled in now. If it seems flat you could raise the power of the main softbox and it should add more dimension to the photograph._MG_3727.JPG

This shows the use of a softbox and fill light, by having them on two different apertures, one side of the face is darker than the other, creating subtle shadows. This gives a very realistic and true photograph, showing the models features in detail, as well as having slight shadow to make the image less flat and more interesting.


Outdoor on location photographs:


By using studio lighting in this photograph, it allowed the person to be highlighted; if the lighting hadn’t be used, because of the bright back light behind the model, the person would have been silhouetted. This photograph is slightly too bright, so a softer flash should be used if this were to be done again.



Because of the location of this photograph, in a low light and dim archway, the flash is useful as it brings out the detail of both the location and the model. The lighting is at about a 45 degree angle to the wall, meaning there is not direct light straight onto the wall, this creates shadows and add contrast to the background and the model.


Due to the angle of this photograph, looking up at the bright sky, the camera by itself would have struggled and the models could have been silhouetted; however by using a flash lighting kit the two models are highlighted. The lighting creates natural shadows on the faces and bodies of the models, but they are not too much that they distort the features of the models.


For this photograph, the use of lighting was good and aided this photograph. There was direct bright sun on the left side of the models face, meaning that the other half was cast into shadow, with the use of a lighting kit onto the right of the model, the whole face of the model was illuminated, with natural shadows cast showing the shape and features of the models face. However there is almost a line of shadow down the centre of the face where neither light source is strong on that part of the face.


Finally this photograph is my favourite from the outdoor shoot, even though it is probably not the best technically, with strong over exposure on part of the wall, but I feel this creates a bold and striking photograph with great contrast. The lighting comes from the left of the model and hits the wall; due to the tiles on the wall, the light is reflected and causes the over exposure. If this photograph was to be redone, I would aim the light more at the models face and move it away from the wall, still keeping it to the left; this would still create the dramatic lighting affect with the light bright on one side and more shadows on the right side of the photograph.



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