AD4803 Studio – Studio portraits

On Monday 27th February I used the black studio to try and get used to studio lighting. I shot on both the Canon 70D (DSLR) and the Mamyia 643 (film). I am yet to develop the film but I will write a separate post about the film shots when they have been developed.

I first shot using a black backdrop as I wanted low key lighting for my portrait of somebody I know:


When I went into the studio, I wasn’t sure what kind of lighting I wanted for my portrait of someone I know. I knew that I wanted to light my backdrop and that I wanted low key lighting. Upon reflection, I would ask my subject to not wear black for low key lighting as It doesn’t stand out as well as I had hoped. Equally, I would decide which kind of lighting to use beforehand as if I was shooting someone I didn’t know they wouldn’t have been as patient. Below are some of the most successful shots:

For all of the above images I used a small soft box on the floor behind the subject to light the backdrop. The top left image has used a larger soft box positioned close to the subjects’ right side of the face. This has left the left side of her face completely in shadow. I thought that this lighting was too harsh for what I wanted, so I tried using a long soft box (bottom image). Again this was positioned to the right side of my subjects’ face. The colour was warmer and as I positioned it closer to and slightly in front of my subject, the shadow is slightly less harsh and covers less of her face. The image on the top right has used a large soft box on a boom positioned above the subject. This has highlighted her forehead and created a shadow on the subjects’ neck. If I was to re shoot that, I would use a reflector underneath the chin to reflect the light back up and eliminate the unflattering shadow.

This is the portrait I have decided to use for my ‘person you know’:


II have decided to use this for a few reasons. Firstly, I think that the framing of it is less intimate than the others which wouldn’t necessarily indicate that this is my friend as opposed to a stranger (as we aren’t supposed to be able to tell between the two). I like the way that the large boom soft box has lit my subjects’ face as it’s relatively even light coverage with no particularly harsh shadows. I think that the use of a soft box on the floor lighting the background helps to make the subjects’ jumper stand out even though it’s black. I think had  I not done this, it may have blended in more. The only thing I would change about this is the shadow on the neck which, as previously mentioned, could be prevented with the use of a reflector just underneath the subject’s chin.

After successfully getting the portrait of a friend, I tried to get one of a stranger but I wanted to experiment more with studio lighting. As well as that, I didn’t want both images to look the same. Because of this, I tried more high key lighting. I started by changing the backdrop to white which would reflect more of the light making the image brighter on a whole.


Similarly to the low key lighting, I used a small soft box on the floor behind the subject to light the background. I liked the gradual fade this gave the backdrop from light to dark. I used a large long soft box on a vertical angle on the left side of the subject for this shot. This made the left side of their face well lit while making the right side almost completely in shadow.

As I knew I wouldn’t have much time with the subject I didn’t know, I decided to try this lighting and figure out camera settings before asking. This ensured that I was prepared. As seen in the contact sheet above, I used a light metre to double check my settings before taking a picture of the subject. Below is the final image I chose:


I chose this image because of the framing primarily. As the lighting for the subject I don’t know didn’t change, framing was the most important factor when choosing the final image. Similarly to the portrait of the person I do know, I think this framing works well because it isn’t too intimate which should make it more difficult for people to know which of the subjects I know and don’t know. editThese are the final two images

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