In this tutorial I will show you how to setup your studio strobes for full length portraits as we shoot an editorial style lighting setup. First we will look at the entire gear list we used and you can use for a similar setup, from the backdrop to the studio heads. I will breakdown our lighting. with lighting diagrams and explanation of WHY we are placing our lights where we are. Also, in this video tutorial we share some Behind The Scenes from our shoot day.
We had a great day in studio shooting and recording lighting setups; I want to thank BronColor USA for sending out gear for us to record the lighting tutorials. In the video tutorial we will discuss the how and well as the why, as mentioned above. It is important when going through this tutorial to not only consider where lights are placed, but why we are placing them there in order for you to be able to take these tools and use them for yourself. If we only learn the how, then when variables change, or things aren't quite working right, it will be difficult to make adjustments. Knowing the appearance we or you are going for will allow you to build your lighting setup and shape the light around the subject to fit the exact look you are going for. So before we get into the setup, lets look at the gear list.
1 x Broncolor Siros 400 S Monolight - 400 w/s monolight with built in WiFi - These strobes run approximately $1,400 although the non-WiFi model is $1,000 and with EDU pricing from B&H the 400 w/s strobe is $859
1 x Broncolor Siros 800 S Monolight - 800 w/s monolight with built in WiFi - the 800 w/s strobe runs between $1,100 (Non WiFi EDU Pricing) and $1,700
On the camera side of things I was shooting with my trusty Nikon D800, I'll link to the D810 on B&H if you would like to take a look, its dynamic range is something I haven't found a replacement for in the DSLR world. For my lens I went with the Nikon 85mm 1.4 - this is a great portrait lens and allows you to also get tighter crops without distortion. My trigger that you will see in the video tutorial above is the Phottix Stratos 2. One of the great features of these triggers, besides their lower price point, is the ability to very quickly turn strobes on or off with the A, B, C, and D channels on the back of the trigger.
The Lighting Setup
In the tutorial video we will walk you through the complete setup for this shoot. The challenge is lighting for a full-length portrait without it appearing that we are using two different light sources and without having any fall off. In the examples, in the video, you will see what our subject looks like with only the Octabox. In that instance, the bottom half of our subject is darker in exposure from the rest of our subject.
The main light in this setup is the 800 w/s Siros strobe with the Octabox as the modifier. The 2nd strobe, the 400 w/s strobe is fitted with the strip box and is lighting the lower half of the subject. When you see this setup or when you test the setup yourself, you may be surprised at how low the strip box is in its positioning. Also keep in mind that you want the light to move on the same direction and on the same angle as your main light. The main light is higher than the subject and pointed down towards her, so the strip box should be pointed at the same downwards angle. If your strip box is pointed straight or at a different angle it will lose the effect of appearing to be one large source and will possibly create an un-natural effect.
Having the strobes at about a 45 degree angle from the subject allows for the light to reach the far side of the subject while still creating a dynamic and directional light, with a clear "shadow side". When shooting clothing its important to light for the clothing. Straight light usually doesn't flatter clothing, because it flattens everything out, minimizing the shadows that show the shape of the clothing. For a catalog type look you also don't want your lighting to be too dramatic, that is too say you want to be able clearly see from left to right, this is determined by the angle of the light and the fill on the opposite side. Having the light too far to the side will create an even more dramatic or even split light look, which is something that you would want to stay away from for this style of look.
You may also notice in the image above that we have two potential sources of fill, the window and the reflector. In order to take advantage of the window light, we would need to slow down the shutter. Remember that Aperture will control your strobe light and shutter will control your continuous light. The window light, in this setup, had little effect on our image in reality.
The reflector also had only a slight effect on the image, providing just a bit of reflected fill on the shadow side of our subject. In the video tutorial I discuss the difference in power output between the Octabox and the Stripbox. When considering fill we need to look at the far side our subject but we also need to consider the stripbox as a fill light as well. The Octa is our main light, but the strip box is filling in where the Octabox light source is dropping off.
The next two tutorials that we have slated for release include shooting window light in studio and how to create one very large source using monolight strobes and a fabric material.
Finally, remember to Subscribe to the YouTube Channel to get updates on the other lighting setups we recorded. If there is information or details that you would also like to see and hear in the tutorial videos, let us know so we can make sure our lighting and retouching tutorials are as informative as you guys want!