Before I started working with speedlights the first ever off-camera lighting equipment I used was a desk lamp, this was 7 years ago. So, after 7 years into photography I wanted to challenge myself to shooting portraits using nothing but desk lamps again. Here is a DIY dramatic lighting tutorial using lamps.
I didn’t want to buy anything for this project so I just used the lamps that I could find all around the house. I used a desk lamp with a tungsten bulb, a battery powered led/electric fan desk lamp, and a desk lamp with a clamp that had an energy saver bulb in it. One would say that using all those light sources woulid be a nightmare of color matching, but I say that It’s much more interesting to use lamps that have different kinds of bulbs in them. This way you have different lighting temperatures to play with which will give a much more dramatic look.
How to control the light:
I was lucky because the bulbs of each of the lamps had the perfect wattage (or light value) for my exposure. But if you have problems with the exposure you can do two things: Firstly, You can move your light closer to or further away from your subject (changing the amount of light hitting them). The second thing you can do is use a bit of Tissue or tracing paper to diffuse and stop down the light.
I started off with my main light. I clamped the desk lamp with the energy saver bulb in front of the subject. I wanted to control my light so I used cinefoil (illustration board or any black paper will do) as a snoot to direct my light to my subject.
I was shooting with two cameras:
- The Fuji Xe-2 with kit lens was at ISO 3200 – 1/80th – f4.
- The Nikon D3 with 85mm 1.8, was at ISO 800 – 1/60th – f2.
For my kicker light, I used the tungsten bulb lamp at the back right of the subject. I was getting some lens flare from the kicker light so I added some cinefoil to the sides of the lamp to flag the flare.
For my last light, I taped the the lamp to a boom stand and placed it at the back right of the subject. For some of the shots I also placed an illustration board below the subject to fill in the shadows a little bit.
Thanks to my beautiful girlfriend, my Dad and my brother-in-law for modeling.