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Lighting is Easy Blog

Free resource for learning how to use off-camera flash and studio lighting.

Controlling contour in portraits

Chuck Vosburgh - Friday, June 29, 2012

Photographer, Chuck Vosburgh. Model: JoAnn Jensen

In studio lighting, it's often a temptation to use the largest soft-box you can to get maximum softness in a portrait. The down side to that is that the portrait can look flat, lacking contour and dimension. There are two ways to control contour and dimension in a photograph; angle and size of the light. The more you move the light to the side of the subject the more contour shows, and the smaller the light source is, the more contour shows. Like everything else in photography, it's a trade-off. Too much contour shows every flaw in the subject's skin and too little makes them look too flat. Taking your time and experiencing will help you decide what's best for your subject and your preferences. Take the time to adjust the angle of the light for each subject. The same angle won't be the best on everybody. Even though it looks good, careful evaluation and experimentation will make it the best it can be.

The good news is that it's very simple and easy

For this example, a large parabolic (bowl) reflector was used on the light as a main (key) light and the shadows are being controlled by a large soft-gold reflector. Start with the main light at 45° up and 45° to the side and about six feet away with no reflector to fill the shadows. Adjust the angle of the light to get a nice Rembrandt or Loop style lighting pattern on the face, along with a nice catch-light in the eyes. Shoot and adjust to suit you. Add a reflector to fill the shadows, moving it in closer to lighten the shadows, farther away to darken the shadows. Add a hair light to separate the subject from the background and a light on the background and you have a very nice portrait setup.

Here's the setup:

You can use any lights to make this setup: Strobes like in the example or flashes with an umbrella for the main light and a flash for the hair and background. You can also use clamp-on lights from the hardware store. Give it a try, it's easy. Let me know how you make out.


Chuck Vosburgh - Thursday, May 10, 2012
Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us show up and get the job done :) Posters are available.

Highlights of the Chiaroscuro Workshop in St. Petersburg

Chuck Vosburgh - Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Adding a weathered, grunge texture to your images.

Chuck Vosburgh - Wednesday, June 15, 2011
It's easy to use a photograph of a texture to add texture to another photograph in photoshop. Here's how:

Go to the Lighting Is Easy FaceBook Page and if you "Like" the page (or have already), you can download my 12 favorite textures for free by clicking the Document tab in the left column of the page. Click Here

Adding a realistic frame and matt with Adobe Photoshop

Chuck Vosburgh - Monday, March 14, 2011

Photo: Chuck Vosburgh
Adding a frame and matt to your images is a good way to make your images look nicely finished and also help communicate that they are art. Adding your own frame and matt using Adobe Photoshop is easy. Here's how:

And now, here's how to make it even better and use it on other photographs:

Got any cool methods? Tell us in the comments below!

You can do this shot

Chuck Vosburgh - Thursday, January 27, 2011

This image is a plastic grocery bag. Don’t believe me? Here’s how to do it:

I started out with a plastic bag, crumpled it up and hung it from the chandelier in the dining room. I determined an exposure that would make the room go black. Next I added a flash behind the bag and tried an exposure at 1/4 power. From there I adjusted the power of the flash to get a nice exposure. You can also use the aperture settings to adjust the exposure. I tried a bunch of different positions for the flash, different crumpling of the bag, and different angles to get some interesting images. If you’re not comfortable with a flash yet, tape it to a window.

Here’s the setup:

This setup produced a few interesting images.

I chose one and went to work on it in photoshop. Here’s a short video on the Photoshop part of the project:

There are hundreds of household items that can make interesting images. Now it’s your turn. Let us know about yours in the comments.

Dealing with rejection

Chuck Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Model: Gamze Photographer: Chuck Vosburgh

One of the toughest things about being a professional creative person is the rejection that is part of the business. After all, your work is very personal, and in our culture we're conditioned to connect who we are with what we do. So here are a few things to consider next time you are faced with criticism:

1: Leadership attracts criticism, therefore the price of leadership is criticism.
2: In the case of fine art (as opposed to commercial art), you didn't make it for them. You made it for you.
3: In the case of commercial art, you're just providing a service, so do your job the best you can and collect your money. It's not personal, it's work. Use that money to do something great.
4: Some people believe that they could easily do the same thing, but they have better things to do with their time.
5: Other people could do it, but you did, and you should be congratulated for it.
6: 90% of success is showing up.
7: People's pride often gets in the way. Your success reminds them of their personal failures, and they may be jealous of you.
8: Most people really aren't qualified to judge your work.
9: Comparing yourself to others is not wise.

So there you go. Don't let anyone discourage you. Stay the course and keep growing :)

How do you deal with rejection? Share in the comments please...