≡ Menu

Clamshell portrait of blonde in black

This is to show how different a photo can come out by just having a different model standing in front of the camera. For this portrait I used the exact same lighting setup as for this portrait of a Swedish writer of children’s books.

Same light – different look

For both portraits I used a clamshell setup with one large light source from above and a silver reflector from below. The man and the woman were sitting on a chair in each session, and were about one meter away from the light stand’s base.

The light from above came from a Profoto softbox 5′ Octa on a boom stand as high up as I could place it in my small studio (2.6 meters).

Underneath it, on another light stand with a reflector holder I placed the round silver reflector for fill from below. The Profoto Compact 600R flash was on it’s lowest setting and I used a ND-filter on the lens so I could shoot at a small aperture, and thereby getting the depth of field as short as I wanted it.

Studio Lighting Setup Diagram

The crop, hair, skin, clothing, angle

Everything is different in these two portraits but the light. And it creates very different photos. Which is fun, and maybe more, useful.

Depending on how you use the exact same setup, you can modify it just by shooting from a different angle or cropping it differently.

Same aperture – different DOF

When using a small f-number to create a shallow DOF (depth of field) moving closer to the subject will make that effect much stronger and more visible. By not using “safe” apertures that guarantees portrait that are sharp all over, the lighting gets more interesting as well, I think.

Ok, with a f/3.2 or lower, when you shoot really close, it is very easy to have your focus a little off, and you have to throw away that photo. In the last session, the more zoomed-in one, I had to delete a lot of photos just because the focus was a couple of millimeters off, and I don’t want that.

A final comparison

I would love to have many more portraits taken with the same setup just to see how much you can do with just one setup. For my next session, I think I will try to reduce the DOF even more by adding a layer or two of ND-filter gel on my main light. Just to reduce the amount of light a little bit more.

The slight difference in background colour or lightness I think is because of the angle I shot from. The background was not evenly lit and in one of the portraits I think I got more of the light portion than in the other. But, that would be easily fixed in Photoshop if I had to.

If you have any questions or comment, please let me know.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Tim March 14, 2010, 07:26

    Love your work. Great portraits. I visit this site weekly and love the diagrams. Any thoughts on the D1 Air? Thinking about entry level profoto equipment.


  • Amir Kaljikovic March 19, 2014, 18:06

    Great portraits! Love the light.
    Thanks for sharing. Will try the setup next time I work in the studio.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: