Forums > Photography Talk > Lighting, Intricate or Simplistic?

Photographer

PhotoVRG

Posts: 33

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

This is one with zero lights, only sunlight

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/30468276

I like to keep it simple. If I can manage it with sun and one light, I am a happy camper.

Nov 02 12 03:27 am Link

Photographer

David Kirk

Posts: 4502

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Illuminate wrote:

I hear what you are saying but disagree. Consider this: People tend to expand their lifestyle based on how much money they have at their disposal. Photographers are pretty similar. When funds are limited and you have a camera and 1 maybe 2 lenses and a flash...you figure out ways to create images that match your vision using the tools you have at hand.

Add some cash and all of a sudden people start posting on here asking which camera to get and how many lights...as if what they were using prior didn't get the job done.

The number of lights is kinda secondary to the vision, no?

Sure, for those that have the means to use unlimited resources.  In reality most of us are not in that position and even if we had 25 different lights and various modifiers the physical constraints of the location and time scales may not permit their use anyway.

I agree that many people will relax constraints when they can - this makes sense.  However, I know some folks who have the means to expand their constraints, but choose not to because they believe there is still much room for creativity within their current constraints and enjoy the challenge of working that way.  Yet others who also have the means to bring all manner of equipment to a job just don't envision an image (almost regardless of the task) which requires more than a minimal approach.

Nov 02 12 05:09 am Link

Photographer

MC Film

Posts: 1761

New York, New York, US

A M U L wrote:
...What do you prefer or works best for you lighting wise, intricate set up every time, or simplistic set up every time ?, or do you prefer to dabble/ juggle both just because you like to.

Back ground: I become more interested in photography as time goes by, even though it's not my career. I haven't got access to a studio. My photo's are based on natural light (an experimentation with it) as you'll see if you happen to look at my photo's.

I guess people give varying degrees of thought, to the message they want their photography to give, I do kinda. But I wondered what message the light your using is giving if any.

I think that unless you have more than 1 key light, there's only simplistic. Shoot with 10/20/30 lights are usually 1 key, and the rest to fix details - get rid of this shadow, add a light, get rid of that shadow, add another light. In other words each additional light is a simple fix to a simple problem that the key light isn't addressing.

Nov 02 12 09:59 am Link

Photographer

Drew Smith Photography

Posts: 5210

Nottingham, England, United Kingdom

If I try to incorporate more than a Key light, a Fill light and maybe a Backlight my head starts to hurt. smile

Nov 02 12 10:01 am Link

Photographer

MKPhoto

Posts: 5665

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Illuminate wrote:
I hear what you are saying but disagree. Consider this: People tend to expand their lifestyle based on how much money they have at their disposal. Photographers are pretty similar. When funds are limited and you have a camera and 1 maybe 2 lenses and a flash...you figure out ways to create images that match your vision using the tools you have at hand.

Add some cash and all of a sudden people start posting on here asking which camera to get and how many lights...as if what they were using prior didn't get the job done.

The number of lights is kinda secondary to the vision, no?

Sometimes I am having fun trying to create intricate lighting pattern with simplistic method; painting with light, or maybe even "sculpting" with light: a 5-10 second exposure with one LED flashlight, walking around the model,  to generate all the highlights, shadows, moods etc. Fun to shoot, and excellent practice in lighting. because "I am the light" and not observer from camera's perspective, trying to visualize the highlights and shadows e.g.

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/29247510 18+

Here is a "three light" setup: "head light", "bum light" and "heels light". http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pi … 5#30467275 18+

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pi … 7#30106695 18+ - something equivalent to: Key on the face, hair from the right, spot on a thigh, calf, and pillow, a bit of spill on the sofa. If move fast enough, I can go across camera line without ghosting.

More similar stuff in my portfolio.

Nov 02 12 10:09 am Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

Drew Smith Photography wrote:
If I try to incorporate more than a Key light, a Fill light and maybe a Backlight my head starts to hurt. smile

I can imagine have the same issue once I step into the studio for some reason... smile

Nov 03 12 02:15 am Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

MC Film wrote:

I think that unless you have more than 1 key light, there's only simplistic. Shoot with 10/20/30 lights are usually 1 key, and the rest to fix details - get rid of this shadow, add a light, get rid of that shadow, add another light. In other words each additional light is a simple fix to a simple problem that the key light isn't addressing.

I see thank you smile

Nov 03 12 02:29 am Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

MKPhoto wrote:

Sometimes I am having fun trying to create intricate lighting pattern with simplistic method; painting with light, or maybe even "sculpting" with light: a 5-10 second exposure with one LED flashlight, walking around the model,  to generate all the highlights, shadows, moods etc. Fun to shoot, and excellent practice in lighting. because "I am the light" and not observer from camera's perspective, trying to visualize the highlights and shadows e.g.

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/29247510 18+

Here is a "three light" setup: "head light", "bum light" and "heels light". http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pi … 5#30467275 18+

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pi … 7#30106695 18+ - something equivalent to: Key on the face, hair from the right, spot on a thigh, calf, and pillow, a bit of spill on the sofa. If move fast enough, I can go across camera line without ghosting.

More similar stuff in my portfolio.

thank you smile

Nov 03 12 02:30 am Link

Photographer

Camerosity

Posts: 5316

Saint Louis, Missouri, US

It depends on what you want. Use the fewest lights necessary to get the look you want.

Or as the late Dean Collins used to say, "If it takes four lights, try to figure out how to do it with three."

With daylight, I'll do just about anything to avoid direct midday sunlight. With natural light, I'll use reflectors instead of fill flash when possible.

In studio, I shoot a lot with one or two lights, not including the background light(s) - if I light the background. The most I've used when shooting a model is six - a terrific lighting setup I learned from Gary Bernstein that works magic with models who have slender faces.

Nov 03 12 02:43 am Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

camerosity  thank you for you're input smile

Nov 03 12 06:18 am Link

Photographer

Rupert Yen

Posts: 626

Memphis, Tennessee, US

A M U L wrote:
thank you everyone for you're personal input.


Most of all thank you Yen for you're massive contribution, so appreciated seeing what different lighting can do, but I agree my favorite is still natural light, available light can be awesome also. Like the girl you lit with a street light at night, amazing smile

you are welcome, my favorite lighting is also natural lighting too.  It is just a quality that is hard to duplicate.  I was looking at your port and I enjoyed it vey much.

Nov 03 12 06:33 am Link

Photographer

groupw

Posts: 512

Grand Island, Nebraska, US

My studio is small so more than 3 light sources and light is just bouncing all over. I prefer 1 light source when possible and use fill and reflectors as needed for the image in mind.

I use starter level monolights, but I STILL use my Home Depot hot light setup for some..especially when emulating Hurrell-like images. A flourescent shop light is my best light source for certain nudes.

Natural light is great, but getting the elements and daylight to cooperate can be a challenge. Have images in mind and figure out how to make them happen. Lighting diagrams should be food for thought, not the final answer...

Nov 03 12 09:17 am Link

Photographer

RobertGaliano

Posts: 1094

Gulfport, Mississippi, US

" Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication" -- leonardo davinci

Nov 03 12 09:23 am Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

RobertGaliano wrote:
" Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication" -- leonardo davinci

^

I Adhere to this.

Nov 04 12 03:55 am Link

Photographer

Joe Peffer

Posts: 297

Miami, Florida, US

Mine is all natural light, but in studio, I keep it simple. You can use 10 lights and get a crappy result, Just need to know your lighting. I use at most, 2 lights in studio. On location, nothing.

Just depends on what your shooting. But I argue with guys all the time when they have elaborate set ups and lighting and convince themselves thats all they need to get a great image. Wrong. Learn lighting, start simple, and if you cant do great things with one light source, than theres something amiss.

Nov 04 12 05:12 pm Link

Photographer

SB Glamour Photos

Posts: 712

Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia

You can ask me questions about any of my images if you see something you like or are intrigued by. I will be happy to describe why i chose to do each lighting setup if you ask.

Nov 04 12 05:58 pm Link

Photographer

SB Glamour Photos

Posts: 712

Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia

dp

Nov 04 12 05:59 pm Link

Photographer

Camerosity

Posts: 5316

Saint Louis, Missouri, US

fullmetalphotographer wrote:
It all depends on what I am shooting. I feel comfortable with any light source, especially environmental because of years of photojournalism.
My personal approach to lighting is fairly simple I start with one light and build out from that.

I've read most of the responses to this thread. May have missed one or two, but I haven't seen one that goes into building a lighting setup.

The best approach is to start with the main light, then build on that. Assuming a “standard” four-light portrait setup (there are several, and many of us use them or variations of them with models), start with the main light. Then the hairlight or rim light(s) (aka kickers, and some of the old photography books i bought when I was a kid called them garlic lights, supposedly because they added a little spice). Finally the background light.

I still use a flash meter (Sekonic L-398) to meter the lights separately to get the ratios I want, then together to determine the exposure. You can see the effect of the lighting setup on your LCD - but you can't tell the ratios. You don't want to start retouching an image and find that something is off.

Generally I want the fill light approximately one stop weaker than the main light (less weak for high-key, more weak for low-key). And generally I want the hairlight or rim lights about 2/3 stop brighter than the main. It all varies depending on the mood.

Hairlights aren’t used a lot in model photography, at least not in textbook fashion, mainly because they were set up to light a specific area of the hair in a static pose. That doesn’t work so well with a model who’s changing poses rapidly.

The strength of the background lights depends on whether I want the background to appear as-is, lighter or darker. If you want a white or light-colored background to be background to be white, overexpose by two stops or so. Too little and you get gray; too much and you get flare around the edges of the model.

When I was 13, I bought four used Smith-Victor flood lights and set out to duplicate some lighting setups I found in the books. I found that was too far to go in one step. Take it one light at a time. Shoot with one light until you become proficient with one. Use it with reflectors and various modifiers. Then add another, etc.

Another note about terminology. Paramount lighting (referred to with one of the diagrams that accompanied fullmetalphotographer's response) is more often called butterfly lighting today (because of the shape of the shadow below the nose). Some people refer to that specific setup as glamour lighting - which of course can also be used as a more generic term.

Nov 04 12 06:35 pm Link

Photographer

Natalia Nyx Photography

Posts: 59

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I think I'll actually be going back to natural or 1-2 light set-ups. I did some with 3 and some with 4 lights...but I found that I was worrying about the lights so much that the poses came out more stiff and I kept having to adjust lights  more frequently than I would have liked to, whenever the llama moved.

Nov 04 12 07:32 pm Link

Photographer

Camerosity

Posts: 5316

Saint Louis, Missouri, US

Natalia Nyx Photography wrote:
I think I'll actually be going back to natural or 1-2 light set-ups. I did some with 3 and some with 4 lights...but I found that I was worrying about the lights so much that the poses came out more stiff and I kept having to adjust lights  more frequently than I would have liked to, whenever the llama moved.

There are a number of lighting setups (most involving two lights, not including any background lighting) that give the llama a lot of freedom of movement. I've gotten in the habit of using these in just about every studio shoot.

More recently, to add a bit of variety, I've started trying to shoot at least one set in each shoot where the lighting is less generic and specific to the pose. (These are still mostly one- or two-light setups. They just give the llama a more sculpted look and/or add a bit of drama.)

Obviously in those cases, the llama has less freedom to move. You're basically working with 1-3 poses and several variations of them. But to me the results are worth it.

I'm working on my first portfolio update since January. Hopefully soon people will be able to see some of the results.

Nov 04 12 07:47 pm Link

Photographer

WR Photographics

Posts: 1394

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

A M U L wrote:
...What do you prefer or works best for you lighting wise, intricate set up every time, or simplistic set up every time ?, or do you prefer to dabble/ juggle both just because you like to.

Back ground: I become more interested in photography as time goes by, even though it's not my career. I haven't got access to a studio. My photo's are based on natural light (an experimentation with it) as you'll see if you happen to look at my photo's.

I guess people give varying degrees of thought, to the message they want their photography to give, I do kinda. But I wondered what message the light your using is giving if any.

For myself, simple is good. Whether this is sending a message or not, I don't know. What I think is that if I have to puff up the message with a complicated lighting scheme, I may be diluting the message with the medium.
YMMV, and that's just fine.

Nov 04 12 07:58 pm Link

Photographer

Ayden Grace

Posts: 119

Accokeek, Maryland, US

Like many of the other photographers, what you want to shoot will give you the amount of lights you use. In addition, Using more lights when you are uncomfortable with it, makes for poor photographs. When I got to school and had tons of Profoto equipment to use, I went crazy. I abandoned my previous lighting setups and tried everything (often with up to four or five lights). This is what I learned from the experience:

A) Having more lights does not necessarily make a better picture and may hinder the process in developing the right lighting

B) Light one light at a time, then add 1 or 2.

C) Having a vision in mind (or reverse engineering) helps when determining.

There's no RIGHT way of lighting something. There are always going to be other ways to do it and other people's opinions. Heck, even Dan Winters has admitted to throwing out lighting advice and working anywhere from 1 light up to 8.

Nov 04 12 08:19 pm Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

Thank you guys and girls insane tips love smile

Nov 05 12 09:28 am Link

Photographer

Matt Knowles

Posts: 3563

Ferndale, California, US

For me, doing the same thing over and over would be boring. I've used natural light, speedlights outdoors, and in the studio up to 6 lights plus reflectors, gobos, etc.

One of my college professors was a working portrait photographer. He had a standard setting his lights were on, his camera was always at f8, and he had strings attached to his light stands so he could guarantee the subject distance. Total formula that saved him time and guaranteed good lighting. I found it terribly boring, not in the results, but in the process.

Nov 05 12 09:47 am Link

Photographer

Connor Photography

Posts: 6591

Elkton, Maryland, US

This is no set rule, but I like to keep it simple.  smile

Nov 05 12 10:14 am Link

Photographer

SB Glamour Photos

Posts: 712

Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia

http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/120708/20/4ffa518b0e5c2_m.jpg
OP you asked about this image. Id say you could get the same clarity with a tripod or a fast lens. I used a Pentax K5. It was lit with available light coming from the windows and the warm glow is from the down lights in the house. No flash needed. I think i used the Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens for this shot.



http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/121002/14/506b5fcfe1ca6_m.jpg
This was lit with a bare strobe into a snoot as a back light to the models back right, i had a gold reflector for fill to the model's front left. Lens used was also the Sigma 85mm f1.4 (personal favourite)

Nov 05 12 11:05 pm Link

Photographer

SB Glamour Photos

Posts: 712

Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia

http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/110108/15/4d28f24424ff3_m.jpg

I can't say for sure cause i think it was almost 4 years ago, but this one may have been lit with one bare strobe with a snoot almost right above the models just to the right of camera.

Nov 05 12 11:13 pm Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

SB Glamour Photos wrote:
http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/110108/15/4d28f24424ff3_m.jpg

I can't say for sure cause i think it was almost 4 years ago, but this one may have been lit with one bare strobe with a snoot almost right above the models just to the right of camera.

wink thank you SB

Nov 07 12 10:40 am Link

Photographer

Digital Photo PLUS

Posts: 5503

Lorton, Virginia, US

I almost always use one light on the subject. One sun is good enough for Jesus, one light source is good enough for me.

Nov 07 12 10:50 am Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

Digital Photo PLUS wrote:
I almost always use one light on the subject. One sun is good enough for Jesus, one light source is good enough for me.

Your photographic shapes and angles in conjunction with light are crazy, so good the way you do that.

Nov 08 12 02:44 am Link

Photographer

K I S S P H O T O

Posts: 594

Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom

If i don't use natural light, I usually use 1 light .. rarely 2...the only time i use 2 lights
is when i need full lengh and aren't going for a dark look
This is 2 lights, the most i've used lol
http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/120612/03/4fd71dca16c3f_m.jpg

Nov 08 12 02:58 am Link

Photographer

Martin Schiff Photo

Posts: 3599

Maitland, Florida, US

-B-R-U-N-E-S-C-I- wrote:
Whatever works for the image I have in mind.

I will use anything from natural light without even a reflector up to 5 or 6 strobes in the studio if that's the effect I want.

I generally go with 1-3 strobes in the studio but the number is irrelevant really. I just use whatever lights I need to get the image I have in my head, and if I find I need an extra light when I had initially thought I would be able to do it with two, then - as long as the result is satisfactory - I don't beat myself up about it.

Just my $0.02

Ciao
Stefano

www.stefanobrunesci.com

+1

Nov 08 12 08:57 am Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

K I S S P H O T O wrote:
If i don't use natural light, I usually use 1 light .. rarely 2...the only time i use 2 lights
is when i need full lengh and aren't going for a dark look
This is 2 lights, the most i've used lol
http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/120612/03/4fd71dca16c3f_m.jpg

thank you miss/




smile

Nov 08 12 11:51 am Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

Neil Snape wrote:
I tell myself before starting every time, less is more.

Find the light, find the shadows, put both together and watch the lines.

My fav pix are daylight. Simple, elegant. When the light is complex they can be impressive, yet they hit you hard where as simple let's you breath with the picture.

Thank you Neil

Nov 11 12 02:21 pm Link

Photographer

Trevor Martin

Posts: 518

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Start with 1 light and work from there.

I like to start with a simple set up and mostly stick with that.
Outdoor is usually a speed light or two either with a Gary Fong dish or with adding the beauty dish and softbox I have for speedlight set up. No heavy batteries, but I sure do chew through the AA's

Nov 14 12 04:10 am Link

Photographer

Amul La La

Posts: 828

Plymouth, England, United Kingdom

thank you smile

Nov 16 12 11:54 am Link