DOCMA Article

Lighting setups and visual ideas for beautiful portraits

Interview with a book

  • The main light, position slightly above head height so that a neck shadow appears and nose shadow is sloping downward.
  • Now position the smaller Octabox overhead in height on the right, also at a distance of about 1.5 meters at an angle of about 45 degrees.
  • The Strip Light with Honeycomb set back right so that it is slightly downward toward model. The distance should be about 2 meters. When adjusting the height of the generated sidelight.
  • In order to have sufficient positioning margin for the raking light, set the model to about 2.5 meters in front of the black background paper.
  • For the Hollywood light satisfy a flash and a reflector.

    How is the Hollywood-light?

    A classic portrait of setup is the Hollywood lights, also known as "Butterfly Light" because of the "butterfly shadow" under the nose. In the standard variant either no brightener is used or a reflector is directly below the face of the model. This setup is ideal for close-ups and medium close-portraits [3]. It puts the accent on the eyes, the cheekbones and the face shape. The contrast of the shadow under the eyelids and the lightening of the lower part of the eye, these rays in particular. The neck shadow is relatively wide and framed with the hair the face. The cost is low; You only need a 80-centimeter Octabox [4a] and a silver reflector the size of 110 × 70 centimeters [4 b]. By the reflector, the shadows are not too dark and produce a more tender picture. When lighting setup, proceed as follows:

    • Position the Octabox frontally from above at an angle of about 45 degrees on either a ceiling rail system or to a boom stand. The distance to the model should be about 1 meter. Focus on the main light so that right under the nose a shadow arises that ends just above the upper lip.
    • Built on a low tripod head in front of the model at chest height, mount a reflector and position it so that the neck and the nose lightening shadows. By changing the angle of the reflector you can vary the lightening of shadows.
    • The distance from the model to the white cardboard background should be at 1.5 to 2 meters.


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    Michael J. Hußmann

    Michael J. Hussmann is a leading expert in the technology of cameras and lenses in Germany. He studied computer science and linguistics and worked for some years as a scientist in the field of artificial intelligence.

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