This is a portrait lighting setup by Swedish photographer Frida Lenholm using only a window as a single light source. Since there is no expensive equipment needed, this is a lighting setup that anyone can test.
Frida: – I am very weak for portraits that are illuminated with window lights. For this portrait lighting with Börje Salming there was only one window in a dark room which created a nice contrast between light and dark.
The closer to the window you put the model, the faster the light will fall off, and give a stronger contrast. For more details regarding this, you can study the inverse-square law.
By placing Börje at an optimal distance from the window, I found a balance of contrast and even exposure that captures Börjes personality.
This is a portrait photography lighting setup from the Swedish photographer Frida Lenholm.
The photo of Alice Bah Kuhnke was for the cover of a local magazine in Sweden.
Frida: – Since I love backlight very much and had a short time, it was a good solution to us natural light and take the picture of Alice in the window.
The window in the back had the strongest light and was facing the sun. The transparent curtains reduced and softened the spill light around Alice. The window and the curtains also created a frame around Alice that accentuated the composition.
There was also a window from the side with less intense light, that worked as a kicker light that and lit up Alice from the side/front and made the exposure more even.
The photo is slightly overexposed and shot with a Canon 24-70mm /F2.8 lens.
This was one of my first product shots ever from waaay back in time, but I want to put it here because it can inspire new photographers to experiment with very simple equipment and get started on a tight budget. I had just bought my first digital DSLR – Canon EOS 300D aka Canon Digital Rebel with the kit lens.
I was pretty new to photography at the time. I had a some experience of shooting with analog film, and also shooting a lot with digital compact cameras, but not with a DSLR. So I didn’t shoot RAW at the time, which is absolutely necessary for professional digital photography. I did many misstakes and lots of learning by doing. This was not an assignment for a client, I was just experimenting at home in a very small apartment with DIY equipment and a tight budget.
The most experimental aspect of this product lighting setup is that I lit up the bottle with a flashlight from underneath. I put a sheet of acrylic glass (plexi glass) on a card board box. I made a small hole in the box, right under the bottle, so the flashlight could shine right through the stage of acrylic glass, and luminate the bottle. This specific product was frosty matte in its finish, which give a more even glowing effect.
You can use this technique for all kinds of bottles and product photography of other transparent objects. I have later on used it even for beer bottles made of colored glass and it gives a very warm glow.
The background was lit up with a Canon Speedlight 550EX. I might have used a home made snoot for speed lights that I made of black straws and some black card board.
The speed light was placed next to the card board box, facing the backdrop (which was just a wrinkly sheet of paper). I don’t remember if I used a home made DIY snoot on my speed light or if i just had it as is.
The blue color tint is made from the different color temperatures of the flashlight and the speedlight flash. So no gel filter or equivalent is used.
I did also use the cameras built in flash from the front, mainly to trigger the speedlight, and not so much for exposure, because then the bottle would be overexposed and I would lose that glowing effect that I wanted to achieve.
I used a long shutter time to get a balance between the flashlight under the bottle and the speed light on the background.
I didn’t own a proper tripod at the time, so I put the camera on a bunch of books so it got the right height in relation to the height of the cardboard box with the pixie glass. As you can see on the unedited product photo the horizon is severely tilted, and the reflection of the bottle too.
There are so many things that could be improved in this product photography.
I didn’t put the bottle facing straight to the camera so the text is not symmetrically centered. The focus is on the high contrast circular logo, so the text on the front of the bottle got slightly out of focus. Since the whole product is basically back lit, the cap got a bit underexposed.
I have made some major post processing in Photoshop. I did mask in a more even backdrop, made with the gradient tool. I also sharpened the text on the bottle. I made the cap lighter. And finally rotated the photo a bit. Probably I did some more minor editing that I don’t remember, but these are the most obvious and prominent digital enhancements.
This is a lighting setup by swedish photographer Carl Magnus Swahn with swedish model Denice Andrée. It is actually a classic butterfly lighting setup. I think it gives a very feminin character and I find suitable for classic beauty photos. This specific setup has the soft box with angle closer to the camera lens and less from above, so the characteristic butterfly shadow under the nose is not so prominent.
The equipment for this lighting setup
The photo was shot with a Lastolite Hilite 2,5 x 2,15 m giant soft box as a background. It was lit up by two Elinchrom strobes with a red/pink-ish gel filter to get that pink background. The gradient in the background was later enhanced in Photoshop. It’s difficult to see in the lighting diagram, but the Lastolite Hilite soft box is really huge. It’s like a huge lit up backdrop that easily can cover a full figure modell.
An Elinchrome Ranger (even though it was indoors) with a large soft box above the camera pointing at Denice. There was also a table with a silver metallic rescue blanket on it, used as a giant reflector. That gives a rectangular shape of the reflector and a much nicer catch light in the eyes.
If you zoom in on the photos and take a close look at the catch light in the eyes, you can clearly see the large soft box from above as well as the reflector from underneath.
The camera had a WB in Flash, Canon 5D MK II, 24-70mm, Aperture F 5.6, shutter 1/125, ISO 400. Main light Canon 580EXII with a grid. My assistant was up high and pointing down the speedlight on to my subject.
Cecilie Harris tells us how she took this photo using only a window and a reflector: – “Shot indoor at the Ragged School Museum that provides a lot of natural light coming in through windows and even holes in the ceiling. This image was shot for my “Boys by Girls” project (www.boysbygirls.co.uk) for the first coffee table book for this project.
When I have enough daylight to play with that comes in even if I’m shooting on an indoor location, I really prefer using the natural light I have. So I tend to adapt my outdoor techniques indoor. If I don’t have enough light, then I will bring with me my lighting kit. But for those who follow my work, they’ll know I’m addicted to what you can do with natural light and bouncing that around, be it using reflectors or reflective surfaces.”
– Shot indoor at the Ragged School Museum that provides a lot of natural light coming in through windows and even holes in the ceiling. This image was shot for my “Boys by Girls” project (www.boysbygirls.co.uk) for the first coffee table book for this project.