Category Archives: Portrait

I tried some different lighting today. Used a style known as clamshell lighting. Consists of one large soft box (main light) directly above the camera and facing down at about 45 degrees. A 2nd smaller soft box acted as the fill light also directly in front of camera but lower and facing up at about 45 degrees. The catch light in her eyes comes from this light.

This produces a flat light with only soft shadows on the sides of the face and under the chin. Perfect for us older folks.

I did put another light on the background to make it white. It’s all about the light (and the expression).

This style of a head shot is strongly influenced by Peter Hurley. The lighting is general lighting principles.





I set up my home studio for some lighting exercises using Alien Bees B800 studio lights and Canon 600EX speed lights. This first exercise was to produce low key and high key lighting with the mannequin head in the same position.

In this low key set up I used one B800 flash unit at its minimum power setting with a 2’x3′ soft box about 1 foot in front of the model. No other lights. Backdrop was a black cloth. Lens is the Canon 135mm, F/2


2×3 soft box

I then switched the soft box to a 1 foot square (small) photoflex unit. I can see a sharper transition from light to shade with the smaller box. “The bigger the light source the softer the shadows”.


small soft box

For the high key set up I switched the background to a white cloth and directed a B800 flash unit at it without a diffuser from below and behind the model to ensure a pure white background. The main lite is a B800 flash with the 2’x3′ soft box placed 1 foot in front of model. I further added a 600EX speed lite with a shoot through umbrella on it at the back of the head to keep it from having dark shadows.


3 lights used

This is a double exposure done in my camera which then produced a combined image. I used 2 flash units, a main in front and a fill on the left side. No exposure adjustments were made between shots but I did change focus on 2nd one to the background.

To make the image work I removed the head for the 2nd exposure. Each exposure was a stop under exposed so when combined the proper exposure was given. Processing on color version done in Nik Color Efex and B/W version processed in Nik Silver Efex.

1/125 sec, F/11, at ISO 100. Canon 135mm, F/2.0 prime lens.