Tuesday, January 17, 2012

clamshell lighting for beauty

Just a quickie here to talk about clamshell lighting for beauty shots.  I made the lovely Dawn take five minutes out of her day and stand under the strobes to demonstrate the basic technique that is often used for beauty shots (usually a headshot designed to show-off the features of a model and/or the fine handywork of the MUA).

It is called Clamshell lighting because, much like a clamshell, the approach is from the top and the bottom.  And this can be accomplished several ways.  One way involves a beauty dish above and in front of your model (you can have an assistant hold the light there, the stand could be behind you, or, in my situation, I used a boom stand that reached in and over from the right).  In this case I used a shoot-through umbrella, simply because I didn't have access to the beauty dish at the moment.  I used a Canon 580EX speedlite manually set to 1/4 power triggered by a Cowboy Studio wireless receiver.

So that takes of the top of the clamshell.  For the bottom, I could have set up another light, on a stand, or a kicker coming in from the floor.  However, since this was an impromptu experiment, I didn't have anymore lights with me!  So Dawn held a reflector in her arms, parallel to the floor and ceiling (maybe tilted slightly toward her face).  This reflects light back in under the chin and nose.  It reduced dimensionality (that I would normally want) while emphasizing an angelic quality to any face.

I must disclose, that, for purposes of continued marital bliss, I did some minor editing on this image, basically using Lightroom 3's skin softening brush to even out the skin a little bit.  You can see in this image how the shadows are dramatically softened.  Not a technique I would pull out of the bag everyday, but good to know for those times when the real subject matter is the face or makeup job itself,  and not the clothes or the whole set scene.

Hope that helps you out.  Enjoy.

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