Creative Lighting Ideas for Portrait Photography

Small working space doesn’t mean that you have to be limited creatively. As a matter of fact, a lack of space or tools means you need to be more creative. Mark Wallace demonstrates how you can use even the tightest of working spaces to produce creative portrait lighting:

The aim in this shoot was to capture motion and freeze motion at the same time. To make things even more interesting Wallace added a blue light cast using a fluorescent light in the studio.

The tools in this shoot were incredibly important. Wallace used a studio strobe to freeze the movement of the model.

how to combine strobes with continuous lights

The second light was a continuous tungsten light. This type of light is used for video work mainly, because it’s always on.

how to combine two different types of light

This is the light that tends to show motion as the subject is moving about. A combination of these two lights ensured that the final image showed motion but also froze motion at the same time.

One problem, though, in this setup was that the two lights didn’t have the same color temperature. The continuous tungsten light was different from the studio strobe. To make the two lights similar in color, Wallace used a CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gel. This converted the 5200˚ K strobe light into a 3200˚ K light.

studio portrait session

Orange CTO Gel

Wallace took two test shots to demonstrate the nature of the two lights in action here. This was taken with the strobe with very little motion recorded:

crazy lighting ideas for portraits

Strobe Only Test Shot

And this was with the continuous light. A lot more blur is visible:

freezing as well as showing motion

Test Shot with Continuous Light

Wallace then switched on the fluorescent light. This is a test shot that encompassed motion, elements frozen in action, and an uncanny blue color cast:

lighting ideas for studio portraits

Test Shot with Strobe, Continuous, Fluorescent Light

Wallace used a shutter speed of 1/8 of a second and rear-curtain sync. The slow shutter speed allowed for movement to show. And the rear-curtain sync froze the motion with the studio strobe. The studio strobe was metered at f/3.2.

combining strobes and continuous lights crazy studio lighting motion freeze and motion blur

Don’t let a small studio or a lack of equipment keep you from making creative shots.

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One response to “Creative Lighting Ideas for Portrait Photography”

  1. Al says:

    Interesting treatment. While you gelled the strobe, I don’t recall you stating you had to adjust WB in your camera to account for the tungsten light. Did you?

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