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Getting consistent portraits can be a challenge when you have to set up and break down each time you shoot. Remembering how you set up the shot and matching a look can frustrate the best of us. When you apply a few simple steps and “tag” each of your lights with strings as you set up the first of your shots, repeating them becomes painless.

In the following lesson we will take a principle we have introduced in the past and make it even easier. We will use one of our new products that is arguably the best portrait light on the market today.



(Click on any image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  • Setting up the main light
  • Setting up a bounce fill
  • Setting up a hair light
  • Setting up the fill light

Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex LitePanel 39x39" Aluminum Frame
  • Photoflex LitePanel 39x39" Fabric White/Soft Gold
  • Photoflex LitePanel Accessories
  • Photoflex LitePanel Accessory / Main & T Clamp
  • Photoflex Litestand 2218
  • Photoflex Starlite OctoDome nxt Kit

 

The “String Method” has been a tried and true method familiar to most in the world of photography for many years.
Surprisingly, many of our students had not heard of this technique before we first posted it last year. This new version of the string method will go a little more in depth and apply the new OctoDome nxt lighting kit, one of the latest in the long line of great products from Photoflex.

 

 

Getting started, we set up the first of two OctoDome nxt Kits we will use in this lesson. Once we had the kit assembled, we set it to the right side of our set and about 3 feet from our model. We posed our model and adjusted the light to get the lighting pattern we wanted. When we were happy with the look, we measured the distance of the light to the subject and cut a section of string about 6 inches longer than our measurement (figures 1 and 2).

 



Figure 3

We the attached the string to the light stand on the OctoDome nxt kit using the extra six inches for the knot. Then we attached a marker to the other end of the string denoting the distance from the subject and the function of the light (Main, Fill and/or Hair Light).

Now from this point forward when we need to set up a “main” light for a similar portrait, all we need to do is ask our subject to hold the tagged end of the string and move the light out to the proper distance (figure 3).

 

Now that we have our main light set up we can set our camera's program. Since we are using the tungsten balanced Starlite QL, we set the EVOLT E-300 to its Tungsten White Balance preset.

 

Once we attached the camera to the tripod we set the Focus and Exposure Modes to Manual, the ISO to 100 (the lowest setting), the Resolution to TIFF (figure 4).



Figure 4

 

We chose the Manual exposure mode so that we could manually adjust your aperture and shutter speeds.

The most important thing to remember is that your aperture setting controls your depth of field. The smaller your aperture number, or "f/stop", the shorter your depth of field will be.

To display your current aperture setting, press the INFO button (located on the back, lower left). The second group of numbers along the top of the LCD screen displays your current aperture setting (figure 5).

Turn the Main dial at the top, right of the camera until the desired aperture is shown (figure 6).

 

 

To select the shutter speed, press the INFO button. The aperture value is highlighted. Then press the +/- button to highlight the shutter speed setting (figure 7).

Turn the Main dial to select the desired shutter speed (figure 8).

 

 

We set our aperture to f/5.6 and the shutter speed to 1/30 second. We took an exposure and found this setting was good.

 

In this result image we see the why we feel this is such a great light for portraiture. In fact if we stopped here, we would have a shot that would make any mom happy (figure 9).



Figure 9

 

To really thrill mom we’ll take a few more steps along the road to the perfect shot.

Now that we have a main light looking great, we need to add some fill. For this we will employ the Photoflex 39x39" LitePanel Frame with a White/Soft Gold LitePanel Fabric set up on a 2218 LiteStand with a Main and T clamp and a 39' Crossbar (figure 10).

Once we had assembled the LitePanel we set it to the left side of our set, posed our model and made adjustments to the LitePanel reflector until we liked the look. Then, as with the main light, we made a measurement from the fill to the subject and cut a string about six inches longer (figure 11).

 



Figure 12

For this action, we attached the string to the center of the LitePanel with tape and then attached the tag on the string at the length we measured. On the tag, we noted the length and the function of the string (figure 12).

In our results image we can see how the bounce fill has opened up the shadows, controlling the contrast and lighting ratio across the model (figure 13).



Figure 13

 

Here we see the results so far, notice how the bounce fill improves the look of our lighting solution by reducing the overall contrast (figure 14).

 



Figure 14

 

To complete our basic lighting solution we will add a hair light, also called a separation light.

We set up the Photoflex Small HalfDome Kit, then rolled this boom light in over the model. To position this light for the best results, we placed it directly over the subject and just behind her. We then turned the HalfDome so that the light falls onto her head and shoulders (figures 15 and 16).

 



Figure 17

Once we have the light in the basic position, we had our assistant make fine adjustments to the light while I held the string in the proper position (figure 17).

In this result shot, we can see the how the hair/separation light, adds depth to the shot giving us a more complete lighting solution (figure 18).



Figure 18

 

We now have a final shot; in figure 19, we see a side-by-side comparison of our lesson so far.

 



Figure 19

 

Now that we have our shot, we can make a few changes to show some options you may want to explore. Our first change will be to add a second OctoDome nxt Kit as a fill light to replace the 39X39 inch LitePanel set up.

Once we had the second OctoDome nxt set up on the left side of the set, we need to consider the effect of the fill we want. Remember when we used the LitePanel for “fill” its performance is dependant on its position relative to main light, with the OctoDome nxt we need to set it twice as far away from the subject as the main light to get the same ratio of lighting (figures 20 and 21).

 



Figure 22

In this result image, we see the effect of the OctoDome as our fill. The changes are subtle but there is more detail in the shadows and more spark in our model's eyes (figure 22).

 

Here we show the two versions using all three lighting components: main, fill, and hair (figure 23).

 



Figure 23

 

Now that we have finished you can see why this new light is taking the portrait world by storm.

 


Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Lighting Equipment

  • Photoflex LitePanel 39x39" Aluminum Frame
  • Photoflex LitePanel 39x39" Fabric White/Soft Gold
  • Photoflex LitePanel Accessories
  • Photoflex LitePanel Accessory / Main & T Clamp
  • Photoflex Litestand 2218
  • Photoflex Starlite OctoDome nxt Kit

Recommended Links

  • To learn more about Photoflex equipment, go to www.photoflex.com
  • For more tips and techniques on lighting and cameras, visit www.webphotoschool.com and sign
    up for access to the Member Lessons.

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