How was that photo lit?

January 27, 2018 by GordonM in lighting portrait Workshops 0 comments
How was that photo lit?
Rather than tell you how a photo was lit I’m going to give you some tips that I give photographers on my workshops so you can work it out for yourself, I’m a believer in the old philosophy

Give a man a fish …. feed him for a day
Teach a man how to fish … feed him for a lifetime

1. Look for highlights in the eyes …
a. that will show you the direction and how high or low the light was in comparison to the model’s face.
b. the number of highlights will tell you how many lights/reflectors were used from the front
c. the shape of the highlight will usually tell you what type of light was used eg. square/rectangular – softbox, round – umbrella, octabox, bare reflector bowl or beauty dish

2. Which is the brighter side of the model … the light (or at least the brightest light) was coming from that direction

3. Where are the shadows …. eg. shadows on the left of the nose then light is coming from the right. eg. shadows under the nose, chin, boobs etc, then the light was coming from above. Shadows on the background or floor also tell you the direction the light was coming from, and if there is more than one shadow then two or more lights were being used.

4. Is there a band of brightness on the outside edges of the hair and body … then rim lighting is being used with a light behind the model. If the brightness is on one side of the hair or body, then the light is positioned more to come from the side. If the band of brightness is just on the hair then a snoot was probably used to direct the light.

5. Is there a doughnut shape highlight in the eyes and a shadow on the background all the way round the body of the model. Then a camera-mounted ringflash was being used.

6. Does the lighting look flat and shadowless .. most likely a softbox was used

Just a few tips I can think of at the moment, there will be more I’m sure.

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