Enhancing Your Portraits With Shadow Boards

Mastering lighting techniques is a cornerstone of creating compelling compositions, allowing for the manipulation of mood, texture, and depth in an image. The helpful video tutorial will show you how to use shadows to create more pleasing images.

Coming to you from V-Flat World, this educational video dives into the nuanced world of lighting manipulation using shadow boards. The tutorial begins with a comparison between continuous lighting and flash, highlighting the immediate feedback continuous lighting provides, enabling real-time adjustments without the guesswork. This is a crucial consideration for you if quick visual feedback aids in your creative process, offering a tangible way to see the effects of lighting adjustments on the fly. Moreover, the discussion on the angles and sizes of shadows, as well as the distinction between hard and soft light, imparts valuable insights into how these variables can drastically alter the visual impact of a photograph. Understanding these concepts allows you to more precisely engineer the atmosphere and emotional tone of your images.

The video progresses to demonstrate the application of these concepts in a practical setting, using a breakfast scene to showcase how shadow boards can be manipulated to achieve desired shadow effects. The emphasis on hard lighting to accentuate the definition of shadows, and the options for modifying light hardness, provide a toolkit for you to experiment with varying degrees of shadow definition. Additionally, the innovative concept of shadow stacking, where multiple shadow boards are combined to create complex and layered shadow designs, is well worth exploring. Check out the video above for the full rundown.

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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While these are pretty cool, if you like working with lights in a studio environment, there is another way to create whatever kind of shadow you want. No $150.00+ for a limited supply of shadows, and that is by creating in post. If you like post-work, you can create whatever shadow you want pretty easily in Photoshop. In fact, I purchased a program called Optics from Boris Effects that I learned about here on FStoppers. It's fantastic, and I use it a lot for studio still life. What I like about Post vs this setup method is you have a lot more parameters to manipulate the shadows with the simple tools in PShop.

No need to spend money on software or “Shadow Boards”. The cucoloris has been around for ages. All you really need is a straight edge, an X-ACTO knife, some corrugated cardboard or foam core and you are in business.

To much time and labor for me! Better and more options with Software

That's what assitants are for....

More??? Sure. I will allow it, although we do have this thing called, “infinite creativity,” so….

Better??? Ehhh…. Define, “better.”