Tips + Techniques

Watch: Portrait Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

January 19, 2018

By Greg Scoblete

Alexander Dummer | Pexels CC

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to executing a well-lit studio portrait.

Photographer and digital artist Antti Karppinen has helpfully compiled a list of seven common lighting mistakes photographers often make when shooting in the studio.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Don’t position your main light too low, as the shadows it throws off will obscure the face. Ideally your lights should be positioned at 45-degree angles up away from the nose.
  2. Alternatively, avoid pushing your main light too high, which produces harsh shadows under the eyes.
  3. Don’t crank your fill light. Too much fill will produce a pair of catchlights in the eye and wash out skin tones. Instead, center your fill light behind yourself or slightly off to the left and keep the power low enough just to eliminate shadows.
  4. Avoid “nose lights.” Separation lighting (i.e. the light that separates your subject from his/her background) should only graze the side of the head and hair. If your back or separation light is positioned too far forward, you’ll cast light on the nose and create some funky shadows.
  5. Avoid over-exposed separations. If the back or separation light is cranked too high, it’s going to over-expose portions of the face, even when positioned correctly.
  6. Avoid lens flare from your separation light. Because of how they’re positioned, separation lighting can introduce flare into your image. You can put a lens hood on to avoid this or flag the light to dampen it.
  7. Don’t over-light the background. To much light applied to your background will make your subject appear as if he/she is right on top of the camera.

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Via: PetaPixel