Dramatic Lighting Setups for Photographing Athletes

When it comes to athlete portraits, dramatic lighting is the world standard. There are many ways to achieve the dramatic look, but in this video, you will see how to get it with continuous lights.

To achieve the dramatic effect, usually a single light is enough. You simply set it high above while light is tilted down roughly 45 degrees. But, with different modifiers, such as barn doors, soft boxes and umbrellas, the overall mood can change while keeping the dramatic look.

Strobes or LED Lights?

Before LED lights were introduced to consumers, the answer would have been strobes for shooting any type of portraits. Back in the days, the continuous lights sources such as Fresnel lanterns (or other light sources with halogen bulbs) were commonly used, and due to high heat generation, it was so hard to work with them. While they are still being used in video industry, strobes have always been a better option for photographers. But with the LED revolution, the heat problem is gone, and LED lights became a good option for those who shoots both photos and videos. Besides, LEDs allow a live-preview of the light setup.

In this five-minute video, LA based photographer Hernan Rodriguez shares his tricks by using Westcott Solix LED lights and reflectors. He demonstrates three different light setups by using single, two and three light sources respectively. He explains the reasons behind his setups, and how he uses his setups to emphasize different parts of the image.

What do you think about the use of LED lights in portrait photography? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Log in or register to post comments

1 Comment

2 lights look best but don't like the placement of his hands, 1 light has a great expression is what I leaning towards initially. 3 lights didn't really help IMO, probably his pose.