The planning step is crucial and the easiest way to avoid bad portraits. Our team has done this a thousand times. Editing Still a little skeptical?
The process The process consists of a pretty straight forward lighting setup involving the use of different light levels for your key and background light and a fairly long lens.
Essentially, you emphasize your subject by allowing light and focus to fall off as it moves toward the background. Here are the details: I recommend a long and fairly fast lens zoomed all the way into the longest focal length.
A long telephoto lens will compress the scene and keep your subject from appearing distorted and bent, the way a wide lens would. It will also give you a nice, shallow, depth of field. I set mine up in the studio, but backgrounds like this can be found almost anywhere. Keep in mind that the background will be soft in the final photo as a result of using the long end of the mm lens and a large aperture, so plan accordingly.
To find your background you may find it helpful to focus on something close, reframe, and get some shots of your background out of focus just for test purposes.
Make sure you have room to do this while also having the appropriate distance in front of your subject to frame a good headshot at mm. To be safe, give yourself 15 feet in front of the subject.
The main light is above the subject and centered. I most often use an AlienBees B light with a beauty dish modifiersoftened with a diffusion sock or two. However, I think the beauty dish works well for this particular look. Typically I have the dish about two feet back from the subject toward camera and about a foot overhead, focused down at an angle.
Boom the light and beauty dish over the subject with a c-stand or whatever boom arm you may have handy. Use a strip softbox with a grid for the rim or kicker light. Set this light to an exposure equal to your key light as low as it goes with an AlienBees B Lastly, set up a background light.
You can use any method of diffusion you have at your disposal for your background light. I try to keep mine fairly soft and even.
The trick is to underexpose your background a few stops. By this, I mean a couple of stops under the exposure of your subject. How many stops is a matter of personal preference.
Turning the light away from the background works too. Underexposing the background a couple of stops is a critical part of the process. Or shall I say, ready to glow? Please post any questions or comments you have in the area below, and remember to share your headshots as well.In association with.
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