Just before Christmas I gathered some friends and their families for a photo shoot in a rental photo studio. It was a full day with shooting parents and their kids (with different success, some liked it a lot and were great models, others had a bad day and ran around trying to avoid getting caught on film). But, child photography is really hard, and including parents can sometimes making it even harder. So, except for a day or so every year, I try my best to avoid it.
A four light setup
For this shot I did not use my ordinary Profoto flashes but instead the four Elinchrom flashes (2 x RX600 & 2 x FX400) that were included in the rent. I never intended to create a fashion photo, but this one looks a bit like one. A little bit maybe.
Having never used Elinchrom equipment before, it took some testing to get the light ratios right. I did not use a light meter, but the histogram on the Nikon D700 worked just fine.
Please click on diagram for more studio lighting setups
Elinchrom Octa as soft main light
To light the whole body as well as getting even lighting on the white background (a seamless vinyl-like type) I put one of the Elinchrom RX600 in the biggest Octa they had, a 140 cm diameter. This light was placed camera left with the center at about 1.8 meter.
Adding some contrast
But I wanted some more contrast to it, so I placed the other in front of the Octa on a boom with a beautydish attached to it. I don’t have any photos with just the Octa, but I think that without it, the light on the faces would have been softer and with less contrast. See image below for relative placement of the two flashes.
Medium sized softboxes as rim lights
The two FX400 were placed at approx. 45 degrees angle on either side of the background, with medium sized softboxes (60 x 60 cm), pointed at the model’s back. Again, maybe not so visible in this shot, except for the light on the model’s left side of his face.
Seamless cyc background
The cyc was not lit separately, only the light from the main light made the white background light grey. I tried lighting it with the rim lights first, but the distance was a bit too short to get it right. That kind of lighting is (in my opinion) hard to do without a light meter or checking the photos on the computer, the camera display is not really much help in showing if it going to look good or not.
You can see what effect I used on the different flashes in the setup diagram, but I don’t know what it translates to in Wattseconds (Ws) or any other measure. Sorry.
Key light (RX 600 + Octa): Setting 2.4
Fill light (RX600 + beautydish): Setting 3.0
Rim lights (2 x RX400 + softboxes): Setting 2.0
Developed in Nikon Capture NX2 and some minor adjustments made in Photoshop, nothing more. Mostly to even out the light on the background, but I left a little shadow at the top left corner just to make it look a bit less sterile.
As always I used my Nikon D700 but not with the trusty old 85mm/1.4 this time (it wouldn’t give me full length portraits in the relatively short distance between me and my models). Instead I used a 24-70/2.8 zoom that allowed me to be a bit more flexible, even though I like the 85mm better for studio portraits.
Lighting setup diagram based on Kevin Kertz design.
An incredible wealth of information. One of my new favourite blogs and photographers, dynamic and exciting. Look forward to reading more. Thank you Strefan.
Thank you for your informative posts Stefan. You have a way of clearly explaining your lighting setups that makes it very easy to digest. I appreciate how you break up your descriptions to reinforce the effects of each light group in your setup. The diagrams are wonderfully educational as well.
Definitely one of my new favorite blogs. Please keep up the good work.
Thanks for you comments, I will try to keep it a little shorter next time, and maybe use more photos as illustrations. Glad you liked it, and don’t hesitate to contact me here if you have any questions.
Thanks for the tips and all the info.