Advanced Lighting Techniques for Stunning Dance Portraits

Solid lighting technique can transform your photos from mundane to stunning, giving your images a professional edge and helping you stand out in the competitive field.

Coming to you from Pye Jirsa with MagMod, this informative video breaks down an advanced lighting setup step by step. Jirsa begins with a basic natural light shot, emphasizing the importance of composition and focusing on the ambient light. The goal here is to dial in the composition before any lighting modifications. 

Jirsa then moves on to eliminating ambient light, setting his camera to f/4, ISO 200, and 1/200 second shutter speed. This process blackens the image, providing a blank canvas for adding light. Starting with a background light, he uses a MagGel to create a reddish hue that matches the subject's outfit. This step illustrates the importance of working one light at a time to control the outcome effectively.

Next, Jirsa sets up a starburst pattern on the background and explains the significance of compressing the beam to achieve sharp, defined patterns. He adjusts the light's zoom to control the pattern's sharpness, showing how different settings can alter the effect. This segment highlights the creative possibilities available with advanced lighting tools and techniques.

To refine the setup further, Jirsa adds a grid to his key light. The grid prevents the light from spilling onto the background, preserving the color created by the red MagGel. Positioning the light slightly behind the subject and angling it forward, he achieves a dramatic and focused illumination. Jirsa points out the importance of using reflectors or V-flats to fill in shadows and add depth to the image, making it more refined and dimensional.

Finally, Jirsa emphasizes the importance of posing and photographing the subject. He demonstrates how to pose the model and adjust lighting to enhance the overall composition. The before and after shots clearly show the dramatic transformation achieved through careful lighting and posing techniques. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Jirsa.

If you would like to continue learning about how to light a portrait, be sure to check out "Illuminating The Face: Lighting for Headshots and Portraits With Peter Hurley!"

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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1 Comment

Excellent video presentation and explanation. I like your step-by-step method.