While giving my online portfolio a well deserved make-over I found some old studio portraits that I almost had forgotten. This is a portrait of a very talented Swedish illustrator and artist that I shot for a book publisher some years ago with a Nikon D2x and a Nikkor 17-55/2.8 using the only lights I had at the time.
Two Profoto Compact 300 + black background
This was what I had to work with, and the same small room I always use, with a relatively low ceiling that always annoys me (but makes me work hard to make the most of it). The client wanted a really dark black background for their catalog layout, so I used a black paper background behind the model for this.
Click here for more studio lighting setup diagrams
One main light + one hair light
That’s the setup in so many words. I used what I had, and I only owned two Profoto Compacts, one black background, one umbrella and one medium softbox. The softbox were in front and above me, camera right, creating a soft but distinct light in her face with a small shadow under her nose.
To make her stand out a little from the black background, and to give a little light to the blackness of it, I placed the other light on a stand behind the background. To get the light to reach her hair, I lowered the background stands a bit so the light could be positioned above it, pointing down on her shoulders and hair.
Black on black needs separation
Taking a shot like this with a model all dressed in black and so close to the background might not sound like a good idea. But her curly hair and nice face saved it. I think. And the belt.
The publisher wanted really dark photos for their layout, so it worked out just fine. If I had done this today, I would probably have used more than two lights, just to separate her better from the background. Maybe a gridded strip light from the side, or slightly from behind. And probably used more fill light to give a little structure to the body.
It would be a good exercise to try to make more of less, it is easy to always use the same setup and a lot of equipment, just because you can.
Shot with a Nikon D2x and a Nikkor 17-55/2.8 @f/10.