As part of my ongoing portrait series titled #BeardsByRay, I've had the chance to meet and interact with some amazing people and personalities. Through the course of shooting portraits of these amazing individuals, I've come to realise how friendly & gentle they are and that each one of them has an amazing story to share.
In this post, I share with you the process of how I light my portraits. I will describe step by step the process of how I setup my lighting for these pictures and the gear I use.
Exposing for the ambient & balancing with flash...
The first step of setting up the lights is to expose for the ambient. I take an exposure for the ambient without the flash powered on and get it to a level where the background looks to my taste. I generally under-expose by a stop from what my camera meter reading shows. In this particular case, I settled for my background exposure at 1/6400th of a second at ISO100 and f/1.4.
Once I am happy with my background exposure, I start modifying the power settings on my lights to fill in the shadows on my subject's face. There is no measured way in which I do this, but it really depends on the vision that I have in mind for these shots and subsequently what looks good on my camera screen or tethered on my laptop.
Once I zero in on the resultant balance of ambient and flash and the position of my subject with respect to the lights, I forget about the lights and concentrate on shooting the portraits.
Move the slider in the picture below to see the before and after of this shot. The before shot is where I expose for the background only and the after shot is the resultant balance of ambient and flash. Note how in the before and after shots, the background exposure remains constant.
For these portrait sessions I'm going for a 2 or 3 light setup depending on where I am shooting and the amount of ambient light. For this session I used a 3 light setup. I had a Godox AD600 firing into a 90cm deep parabolic octabox camera left at 1/4th power (Key light), a Godox AD360 with a standard reflector camera right (rim light) at 1/4th power and the sun as the third light (back + rim light).
This behind the scenes picture below shows this setup.
Here's the resultant shot from this setup:
A few more from this shoot with the same lighting setup.
My lighting gear...
Thats really it. I like to keep my lighting setup really simple. The list of lighting equipment I use is as follows:
- 1 X Godox AD600
- 1 X Godox AD360
- 1 X 90 cm deep parabolic Octabox
- 1 X standard reflector for the Godox AD360
- 2 X light stands (1 each from Victory and Walimex)
- 1 X Godox X1T-C trigger on camera
- 1 X Godox XTR-16 receiver on the Godox AD360 (note the AD600 has an inbuilt receiver)
- Both lights firing on HSS (you need to enable HSS on the AD360, with the AD600, it automatically switches to HSS).
My lights and batteries fit nicely into my Lowepro Pro Runner 350 AW bag (more than 7 years old and still going strong). For the stands and modifiers I use a longish light stand carrying case made of cloth with two handles. This keeps my gear extremely portable to carry around.
I like to keep my lighting gear light and portable, so that I can move around quickly from location to location. This also helps me focus more on the subject and on getting my portraits in the cinematic style I'm going for. The combination of ambient and flash is not so difficult to figure out. The fundamentals of flash photography really appliers and once you understand those, then it is really up to ones creative freedom to use it in the manner that suits the vision.
I really hoped that you enjoyed reading about my lighting setup and lighting gear. If you did, then please like and share this post with your friends. Don't forget to leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.