It would be very pretentious of me to declare that looking at the photographs and diagrams below will teach you how to light. That said, looking at the photographs and setups and trying to understand the motivation behind the lighting will give you a good start when dealing with similar lighting dilemmas.
You can always come back to this post to see how a particular image was lit to make a similar setup or to use it as a stepping stone for your own.
You can click on the photos or on their setups to go to their Flickr links and learn about their creators.
Glowing / Steve Bennett
This is one of my favorite photographs in terms on frugality. Steve Bennett uses 2 strip lights made from CFL bulbs and Pringles cans.
Vases / Ragoem
Shooting metal is one of the hardest things to do. Shooting Vases with elaborate curves is on the verge on insanity. In this photograph Ragoem uses specular highlights in the form of translucent shoot through surfaces and reflectors to cover in white every possible angle that may be reflected by the vases.
Know Your Job / Zeke Kamm
The Lighting for this self portrait by Zeke Kamm is a pretty standard setup for these kind of shots. Umbrella as a key light and a bare strobe for some separation. The interesting bit, though is the way Zeke slows the shutter down to let some motion blur into the feast. (I tried to locate the assistant, for more details, but he would not talk).
Martini from Hell / Vlad Solomon
This Martini glass is a single light shot (no pan intended). It uses the fact that translucent objects can be lit by a back-light, keep form, and take the color of the light. Hence a single light with red gel is used. The fire is real and achieved by “floating” a bit of lighter fluid on the surface of the martini.
Manon / Benoit Linard
Photographer Benoit Linard lit Manon in a classical way – a softbox from camera left, and a bare strobe from far right. sounds familiar? This setup is very similar to the one used by Zeke for his gangster image above. The list is soft since the small softbox is positioned very close to the model.
Autumn Red / Steve Bennett
This detailed and sharp image of a leaf was made with a very simple setup. A strobe shot into a box with paper top. While similar box are usually used as light tents or makeshift softboxes, Steve uses it as a light table.
restricted light snoots / fiberstrobe
I don’t even know how to start describing this setup. This sophisticated piece of DIY includes locline with threaded fibers to direct light and an assortment of yogurt cups and snoot accessories to have your strobe mimic several separate light sources.
Tiny tulips and cotton clouds / Antonietta Kies
This clever image was taken mostly using available light. The Trick lies with the tulips. Those are not tulips at all, nor are they crafted in the usual way. Those are actually light which were passed through a bokeh filter to change their looks. The hard part, it seems was to have dad to align the lights with their imprinted location.
Eelke as a VAL (Voice Activated Lightstand) / Ragoem
This one is a GOTCHA, the image is the setup :) how clever. Two strobes for rich balanced light.
Absolut Glimmer / Jimmy X
This tribute to Pink Floyd’s Dark side of the moon was done via light painting in the dark. Each color was painted separately, including the heart-bit on the left. IT only leaves one thinking if you need to consume the subject to come up with the idea for the final image.
Autoretrato / Hector Rodriguez
Fred / Regina Pagles
Fred’s portrait is beautifully lit with continuous light. I have never seen three reflectors used in a sun-tan position before but the result is stunning. (Check out the catch lights)
Nevada en Caracas / Hector Rodriguez
Taking a good shot in limited space is always a challenge. Hector solves it beautiful by sticking a strobe behind the blinds for dramatic lighting.
Playing With Food Color / Udi Tirosh
If you read this blog, you should be familiar with this photo. While the floor may be seemed as a reflection it is actually a projection from a strobe pushing light through the colored glasses. You can read a complete description of this setup.
Chasing Shadows / Steve Bennett
Gotta love Steve Bennett’s use of creating specular highlights. Using two screens, Steve can cover the entire family of angels reflected by the bottle.
Cliche? where? / Paul Silver
Paul Silver’s light strips are very very clever. Having a hard light on one axis and then a soft light on the perpendicular axis allow you to do some pretty wild stuff. The configuration below is actually not that trivial. The strip on the front provides semi soft light and the one on the back give a great accent.
Stacked Gears / Mike Cialowicz
While the photograph above may seem simple it is hardly so. The piece is the size of a cufflinks. (well it is a cufflink). And is pretty small. It took 7 images focus-stacked together to make it all sharp. Lighting is pretty clever too. One flashlight for creating a specular reflection on the front and another flashlight to provide back illumination.
Alex / Mac V
This would have been a classic key/backdrop light. Only Mac added 2 small lights on left and right for rims. I just love the added depth those provide.
Packshot Farine / Benoit Linard
This clever image of a whisk includes two strobes and lots of dark cards to block any hint of reflected light. The snooted light coming from direct left and right, provides great definition. Any spill is controlled by the black cards.
packshot Affligem / Benoit Linard
Nothing says beer light under light. The good exposure is achieved via an overhead softbox. The very cool glow effect is done by under lighting the beer from below via a transparent box.
Corporate Downturn / Andrew Kufahl
I love a strong image. This one by Andrew Kufakl shows that it only takes two lights to make one. A hard light source top left for the drama and a soft light source overhead for fill.
I hope that the photographs and setups above inspire you and fill your head with ideas. Now it is time to go and make your own. When you do, please drop your image and setup at the DIYP pool.
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