In this Photo
Camera: 5D Mark IV Focal length:100m Shutter:1/160 Aperture: f/3.5 ISO:200
First, here’s the gear that was used:
- Canon 5D Mark IV
- Canon 70-200 f/2.8
- Profoto B1 500 TTL Flash (x2)
- Profoto B2 250 Air TTL To-Go Kit
- Profoto B2 Flash Head
- 24″ x 32″ Softbox (x2)
- 12″ x 36″ Strip bank softbox
- 36″ Bounce reflector
- Profoto zoom reflector
- 20 degree grid
- Manfrotto light stand (x3)
- Kupo light stand (x2)
- Pocket Wizard Plus III (x4)
STEP 1: PLACE YOUR KEY LIGHT ON THE RIGHT
For our key light, we are using a Profoto B1 with a 24×36 softbox on it. This light is going to be on camera right and will be the main light on our model. It is placed about 3 feet away and level with models eye line or up to 6 inches above. What the catch light in the eye when moving it up or down to determine the best height.
This Profoto B1 will light a majority of the models face and body and give us a really strong base to start with.
Light Power: 7.5
STEP 2: ADD A FILL LIGHT ON THE LEFT
Using another Profoto B1 with a 24×36 softbox, place the fill light on camera left. The placement of this light is a mirror image of the key light in Step 1: 3 feet away and 0-6 inches above the models eye line, only now on the left side.
This light will remove a lot of the shadow from the models face on her right side. It is going to lighten up the whole image and, at the same time, flatten it.
Light Power: 1 stop under key light
STEP 3: ADD A RIM LIGHT TO THE SIDE
In the last step, we made the image flat by adding in the second, big, light source. In this step, we’ll add definition back into the models face.
Using a Profoto B2 with a 12×36 strip bank that is positioned vertically, place the rim light about 2 feet behind the model and to the left. It should be level with their eye line. The light should illuminate all of the models right side (left side looking through the camera). This light is out of frame, coming in at a diagonal (see image at end of post for more placement photos).
The rim light is being added to this image to give it a more 3-dimensional feel. It will pull the model off of the background. To do so, the light actually needs to over power the fill light to make where it is hitting brighter.
Light Power: 1/2 stop under key light.
STEP 4: ADD A RIM LIGHT TO THE SIDE
If you have a white circle bounce, grab it! If you don’t, another good, easy to get your hands on, solution is white foam core board from Walmart. You will need this to reflect light back into the models face from below. We used a white Westcott 36″ reflector.
Looking at the image, the key light and fill light have created some shadows under the models chin, nose, and a little under the eyes. To reduce them, place our reflector between our two front lights, about 3 feet off the ground. You can move it closer or further away to increase or decrease the amount of shadows you want to keep. The change will be subtle, mostly softening the harshness of the shadows under the chin.
STEP 5: LIGHT THE BACKGROUND
Take the last Profoto B2 and place it behind the model 2 feet from the wall and about 3 feet off the ground. Add a reflector and a 20° grid to the light to keep the light from spreading too far. The height of the light will be determined by the height of your model (if you have them sitting/standing, etc.). The light is aimed to hit right behind the models head, giving the background a gradient/glowing, look.
Light Power: We set ours equal to the key light, but you can adjust the power to your liking.
As you can see, using four lights in this setup can create a beautiful studio portrait that doesn’t just define the models face, but also makes for a fun image that pops! Below are more 3D renders of how the lights were set up, as well as what the evolution of each light looks like. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below!
Rob Hare has been a photographer for 25+ years and specializes in Studio, Portrait and Beauty photography. Also, for the past few years, he has been photographing the New England Patriots Cheerleaders. You can see more of his work here.