How to Achieve Perfect Soft Lighting in Your Studio

Creating soft, flattering light is an essential skill for any portrait photographer. This helpful video tutorial explores the benefits and techniques of using a silk for lighting, offering a practical approach to achieving beautiful, even light. 

Coming to you from Daniel Norton Photographer, this insightful video introduces the concept of using a silk to create soft light. Norton emphasizes that while many might reach for a softbox, a silk can offer more versatility. It's easier to move around and often cheaper, making it an excellent tool for shaping and controlling light. By adjusting the position of the light source in relation to the silk, you can manipulate how soft or punchy the light appears.

Norton positions the silk low to create flatter light, mimicking the feel of morning or evening light. He points out that the white walls of his studio add additional bounce, enhancing the overall softness of the light. By using a modeling light, he demonstrates how to position the main light source to achieve the desired effect. Turning off other lights to avoid unwanted interference, Norton sets his camera to ensure a dark exposure to start with.

He explains that this type of soft, scattered light is ideal for reflective subjects like sequins or groups of people where even lighting is crucial. The flexibility of the silk setup allows for adjustments to create more contrast if needed. Tilting the silk and repositioning the light can add a bit more punch to the shadows.

Norton also highlights practical considerations, such as using a sandbag to secure the silk and prevent accidents. This attention to detail ensures a safe and efficient working environment, especially when dealing with larger light modifiers. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Norton.

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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