Getting to grips with how you can shape light and how your camera can control light, is one of the stepping stones to unlocking more of your skill as a photographer. X-Photographer Dave Kai-Piper provides 10 tips on how to up your portrait game using lighting.
It has been said many times that photography is about light, which is true but it is also about shape, shadow and creating story, drama and emotion. Getting to grips with how you can shape light and how your camera can control light, is one of the stepping stones to unlocking more of your skill as a photographer. Here are 10 tips on how to up your portrait game using lighting. Continue reading “10 Lighting Tips To Up Your Portrait Game”
Buy an X-Pro2 and register the warranty on our website before the 8th April 2016 and you could win a place on one of our fantastic workshops.
Pretty simple right?
If you buy an X-Pro2 and register the warranty on our website before the 8th April 2016, you could win a place on one of our fantastic workshops.
1st May – Portrait workshop with Dave Kai Piper – (4 delegates)
Location: Amersham Studios
Being a photography lecturer, Adobe Community Pro and Fujifilm X-Photographer, Dave Kai-Piper will take you on an exciting journey into portrait photography.
His workshop starts off with a conversation with each participant discussing individual goals for the day alongside a group objective. As part of the morning set-up you will have a look at some iconic images from influential photographers. Then he will break down what makes those images work & talk about how different lighting types can create moods and styles. You will learn how to build on simple lighting styles like Butterfly lighting, Split lighting and Rembrandt lighting and then put them into practice using live demonstrations with a stunning model.
Once your objectives are set, you will jump into the studio full of the newest WiFi controllable Broncolor lighting to put your new Fujifilm X-Pro 2 through its paces. You will look at ways to shape, control and create that perfect image. Within this workshop you will also learn the best way to communicate and pose your subject to get the best from your model.
Whether you have spent a lot of time in the studio using lighting or have never used additive / flash lighting in your photography before, each attendee will leave the workshop with a broader knowledge of various techniques from lighting your subject, creating a scene and directing your model.
4th May – Street workshop with Matt Hart – (4 delegates)
Spend the day with Street, Event and X-Photographer Matt Hart in this candid street photography workshop. It is here that Matt will give you an insight into the way he works and how to shoot his style of street photography.
He will show you how to anticipate and capture decisive moments, how to be invisible in public spaces to get the best images and how to to develop confidence shooting street photography. He will show you the best places in Liverpool to capture great street images – so in the future you can come back and have another go!
Matt’s workshops are always fun, informative and relaxed whilst at the same time challenging and have been designed to stretch your imagination.
7th May – Landscape workshop with Paul Sanders – (4 delegates)
Location: Dungeoness and surrounding areas
Your day will be spent with Fujifilm X photographer and landscape artist Paul Sanders, he will help you develop your own way of seeing the landscape to create images that resonate with how you feel about the location.
Paul’s specialty is long exposure photography, he will take through a natural and easy to follow workflow that enables you to get to grips with the technical side of this style of photography. He will have some Neutral Density filters and graduated filters for you to use on the day. Filtration is one of the key aspects of landscape photography, it allows you to control contrast, mood and exposure time. Paul will explain all of the pros and cons of using filters and the different types of filters available.
The day will be split into two sessions – one at Dungeness and the other at Winchelsea beach.
Dungeness is the only classified desert area in the UK, its flat bleak landscape has inspired photographers, artist, writers and filmmakers for many years. The beach is a detritus of fishing boats and fleet. The decaying hulls of boats are left on the shingle, nets, huts and machinery make this a photographers dream location. Paul will explain that landscape photography isn’t always about the big vista but also lies within the details and the abstract he will guide you around the area so that you don’t miss anything.
Winchelsea Beach is a long exposure dream, lines of decaying groynes stretch along the beach. These make the perfect subjects for getting to grips with the minimalist style that long exposure work generates. Paul will also pay special attention to composition and exposure time to create beautifully minimal images.
Portrait photography is one of the most amazing genres in my eyes. Simple on the surface, yet complex and diverse underneath. At first glance, photographing people is pretty simple, but when it’s broken down into the 4 main elements: Location, Lighting, Subject & Camera we start to understand the subtle nuances of what it takes to build up a wide and diverse portrait portfolio.
To get started with artificially-lit portraiture, there are 3 main lighting types: Rembrandt, Split and Butterfly. Each of these lighting types has characteristics which allow us to be creative. And it’s by experimenting with each of these lighting types you will learn how to control the shadow placement on your subject, and how by combining these techniques you’ll discover the art of the portrait.
Here is a quick way to identify each lighting type:
Rembrandt lighting: Light will come across the face from a 45 degree angle in an elevated position from the eye-line of the subject. The bridge of the nose should create a triangular area of light under the eye the other side.
Split Lighting: the light will hit one side of the face or part of the head creating a deep shadow on the other side. Normally the light source would be behind the eyeline of the subject.
Butterfly lighting: Commonly used in beauty set ups, the light should present evenly across the face in line with the nose and high above the subjects eye-line. Even shadows under the nose are a sign of this lighting set up.
In the example I am using here, I have mixed two of these lighting types to give me the effect I am looking for. I have also used two types of light known as Hard light and Soft Light.
Hard light creates shadows with sharp edges; it is made by using undiffused light sources such as a Speedlight aimed directly at the subject.
Soft light creates shadows with a smooth transition between light & dark; it is made by using indirect light sources or by using diffusers to scatter and soften the light before it reaches the subject.
In our example we have set up the split light to have a hard light and the Rembrandt light to be soft.
How to create ‘The shot’
Firstly I set up the ‘Key Light‘ (most important light in the shot) to the Rembrandt Lighting position using a Cactus RF60 Speedlight & a Roundflash modifier. I found the exposure setting I wanted by selecting the f-stop I wanted on the camera after setting the ISO at 200. I left the shutter speed at 1/125th of a second.
Our ‘Hair light‘ is in the Split Lighting position and is set up to be used as a hard light. In the sample for this blog we used another Cactus Speedlight but this time modified with a piece of black wrap. This is the same as cooking foil or aluminum foil that you would find in a kitchen, but is matte black. It is very common in the film industry as a quick and effective way to shape light or to block light ‘spilling’ over to an area that was not intended. Here I have rolled it up and created a homemade snoot to give me very close control of the placement of light.
I then used a V6 Cactus Trigger mounted on to the camera hotshoe to control the power output of the flashes; which were mounted on a set of tripods remotely. This allowed me to work faster and in a more controlled way. Once ready, I took three images: one of each light firing independently and then one shot with both firing together to create the final look.
Image 1: Split light
Image 2: Rembrandt light
Image 3: Split & Rembrandt lighting combined
The angle of the camera for this shot was placed just below the subjects eyeline to give her a powerful look, and in this example I used the XF90mm lens to get rid of any unwelcome distortion that wide angles can give.
Focal lengths from around 50mm to 200mm are good for a head shot or portrait.
My 10 top tips:
Portraits are about timing, emotion & people, not cameras, lights or anything that is technical.
The technical guidelines are always starting points and flexible at that.
The bigger & broader the light, the softer the shadows will be. If you want contrast – move your light source away from your model.
Soft defused light is better if you are trying to create a ‘beauty’ light
Hard lights are great for creating hard edged shadows and character
The story is in the shadows.
When setting up your lights, use a lightmeter if you can.
My lights are very rarely on full power, soft and subtle is the key
Be creative, but don’t over complicate the shot.
Avoid lighting people from below the eyeline of your subject
Here is the final resulting image which has been converted to black & white.
When Fuji released this lens (75-210mm DSLR Equivalent), my intrigue questioned whether this would be an equal to the 70-200mm F2.8L series I had used on my DSLR; would the optics be as good? After trying it I could only describe the results in 2 words ‘Blown away’; the image quality was absolutely outstanding. I use this lens a lot in the studio for its narrower angle of view and the compression it applies to the depth of my images. The focusing & sharpness of this lens, even when hand held is amazing!… I had no need to question this lens, it more than equaled my DSLR equivalent and it’s much lighter too.
It’s obviously a little bigger than the other Fujinon lenses, but who cares when it delivers truly incredible results like it does.
I’ve shot on Fuji for almost two years now, but it was the release of the 50-140mm lens that really sealed the deal for me. Shooting fast equestrian sports needs a fast, longer lens – whether you are looking to capture pin sharp action pictures, or deliberately looking to include creative movement with interesting bokeh.
Even in low light the wide aperture, teamed with the brilliant OIS means I can still hand hold at slower shutter speeds. Also, shooting horses, whether on the polo field or out in the wild, means one thing – rain and mud! The X-T1 body with the 50-140mm gives me a robust weather sealed system I can take anywhere.
I shoot prime lenses most of the time, but as my primes top out at 56mm (85mm in old money), I often need the reach and speed of the 50-140mm f2.8 for music photography (especially for stage work). With a full frame equivalent of 75-210mm, this is the the classic workhorse zoom that has the beautiful look of a full frame 70-200mm f2.8. Put it together with the 16-55mm f2.8 and you have the ultimate fast twin lens zoom setup that can cover just about any type of event. The OIS is essential on a lens of this size and it does an amazing job, even allowing me to shoot handheld at 1/15th sec while zoomed all the way in.
This is strapped to the front of one of my X-T1s at all times. Sharp, fast and built to withstand some strong abuse, the XF50-140mm is designed for those who need a lens to rely on and not to let them down. With beautiful bokeh and tack sharp wide open, this F2.8 zoom has such a useful focal range that it is in the kit bag of nearly all working X-Photographers. The autofocus is able to track moving animals and it has turned out to be the game changer for many of my recent wildlife encounters.
I love to shoot prime lenses but at events and festivals you just cant get close enough to your subjects due to the crowed density, so the next best lens to a fast prime is a fast Zoom and the 50-140mm lens is just stunning. I have used top of the range glass from all the other big names when I used to use DSLR’s but nothing compares to the sharpness of this 75-210mm equivalent. What makes it even better is I can shoot with this lens all day and still not have shoulder and neck ache. It gives me beautiful out of focus areas, pin sharp subjects and the image stabilisation comes in to its own when the light drops.
The XF50-140 is a real workhorse of a lens and without doubt, a lens I am loathed to leave behind.
The incredible optics deliver superb definition and contrast throughout the entire aperture range. But for me it is not the technical specifications that make this lens worthy of the plaudits it receives across the web and throughout the photographic world.
It is the fact that in a cluttered world, I can isolate my subjects, drawing attention to them by shooting with the aperture wide open, deliver exceptional details, stunning candid portraits and most of all dramatic landscapes that have impact & power over the grace of a wide-angled image.
Shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens is a different discipline but it is one worth persevering with & utilising every mm of focal length this stunning lens offers you.
It’s ideal for shooting panoramas and the tripod mount gives it an incredibly stable base for shooting long exposures without a hint of camera shake – but for those who only shoot hand held the image stabilisation is second to none.
In short, if you want to add one zoom lens to your bag, this is the one – it is worth every penny and will never let you down.
When this lens was created there was nothing else much like it in the range. And to date, it is still the finest long lens in the line up. Tack sharp from 50mm to 140mm – this constant f2.8 lens is fast enough & stabilised enough for you to think less and shoot more. Combined with the most recent updates leaves this lens as one of the most reliable lenses – regardless of genre or type of photography.
It’s packed full of all the latest and greatest Fujifilm tech, such as nano Gi coating, LMO (corrects for diffraction), HTEBC Coating (ensuring ghosting and flare are controlled), five ED lens elements, one Super ED lens, 23 glass elements in 16 groups and then seven rounded aperture blades to create a smooth, circular bokeh. It has a massive 5.0 stop stabilisation too. Internal barrel movements combined with large rubber grips give this lens a wonderful sense of balance whilst also feeling very natural to hold.
In short, this lens is one of the most vital items in my kit bag alongside the 56mm APD & 16-55mm lens. The real world interpretation of the technology being used in this lens is simply that it does what you would expect it to as a working professional photographer. Combine this with the focus tracking in the X-T1 and you can confidentially take on any genre of photography. Whether it be a fashion catwalk, motorsports or even wildlife photography knowing you can get the shots you are looking for, every time.
Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?
It was one of those kind of things where Photography almost found me. I have been taking photographs for a long time for many reasons, as we all have I guess. Over time I started to make that move from taking photographs of the world around me to creating photographs in the way I see the world, from there it was the slight shift into making images for commercial usage. It does still amaze me today that I get paid for creating images.
The style I am shooting today is quite new; the Fashion Noir theme that my website carries combined with undertones from a deep love for cinema and photographers like Helmut Newton and Ellen Von Unworth. To me, provocative imagery is quite interesting and challenging to shoot. Getting that fine balance of mental stimulation and nudity that, for me, creates amazing eroticism. Nudity and explicit nudity are not linked with the power of an image in this way, or not for me anyway. Photographers like Guy Bourdin have been amazing at blending these lines over the years. Guido Argentini is another photographer that, looking back, I seemed to have been influenced by.
The question of how did I develop my style is an interesting one. I am not sure that until very recently I had one, or if I did it was something that I was working on. Today I do though, and this is more out of a commercial need to work into a specific area. I have a great fondness for all type of photography still; from landscape to beauty to bright comic filled images. I would love to shoot street stuff like Matt Hart, or weddings like Kevin. I adore the images that the Yerburys create and would love to have a play creating the soft and sensual styles that they create. Currently I am actively trying to work on a style I am not seeing people creating at the moment. The big push started after a conversation with Mirko De Nicolo of Train to Create. We were talking on Skype; Mirko knows his stuff and was able to convince me it is time to really start to define my style. It is early days, but, I have never had so much fun or felt so much creative freedom. I feel like I am working in the right direction more than before. So, I guess the short answer is Mirko told me to do it!
Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?
It does still amaze me today that I get paid for creating images. The reason I like to use Fuji cameras is quite a complex one. Last year I was asked to provide an image for the 80th anniversary book Fuji had made. This is what I wrote :
“Some photographers spend their days waiting, some spend their lives waiting. Some spend their hours crafting and creating, some document from distance and there are those who record, who impose and intrude. For some it is a release, an adventure of sorts. There are those who practice in private and some who flaunt exuberance and flair in such lavish styles. There are those to whom photography is a commercially driven need. Photography can create celebrity or convey the downfalls of empires. They say the art of genius is to make the complex simple. So, it might not be so easy to explain why I simply love the X-Pro. For me, in a camera, I look for a companion along a journey. If my X-Pro could talk, I only wonder of the stories it would tell…”
The Fuji X-System makes so much sense to me on so many levels. The size, weight and nature of the camera are all amazing, and the images the system makes are incredible too. Whenever I get asked this question I always think, why would I not use this system? The only time I need to use the D800 is when clients dictate a final size output, and I know they will want to crop heavily, but this is rare with the on-set of digital usage over print. It really is hard to say why someone would not be happy working with this system.
Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?
Maybe, I like to test things; I like to think I am not worried about making a mistake. Trust me … I have made many of them along the way for sure. I am not sure if learning in public with the internet is a good thing though. I mean, you can Google me and see work from 2009 and work I have just made today and it is super hard to control that. At the moment the main philosophy I have is that people are going to judge me on the worst image they see, or the worst thing they can find. People judge me just as much as they judge my work. This is nothing new though, but juggling this with having to be a perfect human being is kind of new. Getting the balance between photographer and social media guru has never been more interesting. Social media is the root of all evil, but at the same time the closest thing we have to a magic bullet to getting along in this line of work.
In a photographic and technical sense, I have no over riding thing, aside from: only set out to make the best thing you can, and slow down and think for a moment. Engage your mind and think about what you are doing, what you are saying, and why. Cameras don’t make images, people make images.
Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?
Guido Argentini, Helmut Newton and Ellen Von Unworth in a photographic sense. People like Thomas Woland and Robert Voltare in other ways, including photographic. Photographers like Lara Jade, Rebecca Litchfield, Ben Von Wong, Joey L, Kirsty Mitchell and all the amazing talent we have coming though at the moment. I feel very blessed to have such amazing people around me. It seems every day that someone new pops up that pushes the bar one more level.
As I mentioned before, I am a big fan of film and cinema. I would say people like Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino have had just as much of a stylistic influence over the years. Maybe it shows in the smallest ways or in more obtrusive ways at different times.
Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?
I am big, big fan of filters, especially the Lee Filter system. There was a blog post I wrote a while ago about the way I use ND Grad Filters for portraits:
The image below was created using the X-T1, 16-55mm with a single speed light. Most of the shaping of the light was done using the Lee Filter system. For me, it gives me a quick way to create the light I want when I don’t have the time to set up the lighting I need or I use it to speed up my retouching process by using the hard filters instead of the digital grad filters in Photoshop or Lightroom.
Shooting in Classic Chrome with my new quad filter system and Matte Box gets me pretty close to what I want, leaving me with only a few tweaks to be made in Photoshop.
What’s next for you?
This month? We are doing some fun things up in North Wales with the Fujiholics. I am doing a set of fun workshops looking at creating my style of erotica and fashion.
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