Studio Portraiture – Cross Lights

Objective
Use a combination of ambient light and multi-flash cross lights to create a crisp, well-lit image which retains the integrity of the scene, and in which a model is lit with key, rim, and fill flash lights.

Lighting values
(a) Key light: above model, boom with beauty dish (dark hair). f stop 8.0
(b) Rim light: on tall stand with honeycomb grid. f stop (a) + 1.5 = 11.5
(c) Fill flash: just to right of camera, with softbox. f stop (a) – 2.0 = 4.0

Lighting kit
floor stand for fill flash
light meter & sync cable
hot shoe mount
honeycomb grid for rim light
beauty dish on key light
softbox for fill light

Camera kit
Canon 80D (cropped sensor)
10-18 mm lens

Step 1 Composition
Frame the shot, arrange the camera on tripod, and decide where the model will be positioned.

Step 2 Lighting
Position the three lights (key, rim, and boom)

Cross-lighting plan for studio shoot 11/09/2019

Step 3 Exposure
Expose for ambient light.

Step 4 Light Metering
Each light was metered independently, using the key light (a) as a baseline.

Step 5 Shooting
All three flashes were used, producing the image below.
Shutter speed 1/8
ISO 100
Aperture 8.0

Flashes fired, unedited
Model positioned under key light, flashes fired, unedited

Disappointingly, the flash became the dominant light source rather than its intended function as a fill/enhancement, which was apparent from the shadows cast by the equipment on scene. This was my own misunderstanding, thinking that shadows were a good thing (oops).

Post-shooting editing in ACR/PS enabled lifting of the shadows, although this could have been avoided by using the ambient light to inform the flash values, and adjusting shutter speed and aperture from there.

Edited. (+1.5 exposure, except for model who was masked in +1.0 to prevent her being washed out)

Final thoughts
I like the crispness and the composition of the final image, although I am not entirely happy with the lighting. It could have been better shot to preserve the integrity of the scene, without the need for exposure editing. I’ll repeat this shot next week, and practise letting the ambient light do the brunt of the work, with the cross-lighting adding detail only to my model.

Thank you to Isabel Martinez for being my model (and assistant)!

3 thoughts on “Studio Portraiture – Cross Lights

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