Glamour Photography TipsSubmitted by Michael on Thu, 2012-01-12 11:27

Warm up your model with backlight photography

Before Roger Federer is going to play one of his glorious tennis matches he is... warming up his body. Before Michael Schumacher is  winning a Formula one race he is... warming up his car. Before you, fellow photographer, will shoot the next award winning nude photo of your super model you are going to... yes, you are going to warm up your model.


Sounds like extra work? Not really. To pitch this idea, I am going to deliver it together with a super easy and fast one light setup. You and your model are going to love it and it’s and awesome start into a great photos shoot with less clothes and weird poses.


Here’s your plan:



Here’s the one-light setup:

Lighting diagram for high key lighting in small rooms
One-Light Backlight Setup


I wish you good light!
-- Michael

Hard to get my thick German accent? Here's the transcript!

Hey fellow photographer! How's it going?
I'm Michael Zelbel.

In this video I will show you a very quick and easy
one-light lighting setup.
I'm using the setup in order to warm up my models before the shoot.
That's very useful especially if you are shooting nude photos,
and you need to get the model comfortable in front of your lens.

The model we are warming up today is Cousin Emily.
You might go like: "Hey come on, Cousin Emily is so
used to photographs. She is a real pro. You don't need to warm her up!"
But, that's wrong actually! I think it's a very good practice
to warm up your model.

If the model is not yet comfortable in front of your lens
and in front of your lights you will read that
in her body language and in her facial expressions.
That gives you results which you usually don't want to have.
So better warm her up and make a sort of artistic shooting
with a few little photos upfront.

Usually you don't have so much time and resources
ahead of your actual shoot that is why I think you should
go for a super simple one-light lighting setup.
Something which is bullet proof, which definitely
produces good results which the model will like,
which is very easy to light and which gives you the
ability to shoot her nude but which does not show anything.
This is what we are going to do.
We achieve that by covering the model with
a big piece of silk so she is hidden underneath the silk.
Let's have a look at the actual lighting setup.

We have a simple black backdrop which is made up
out of two black curtains.
Those curtains have a gap in the middle, right in the middle.
The model is placed in the middle and she is
pretty close to that black curtain, 1.50 meter away.
That's not so much distance.
She is covered with a big piece of white silk,
which is thin enough to let some light go through,
but thick enough to - under normal lighting conditions -
not show anything.

The one speedlight that we use is placed right in
the gap of this two backdrops.
It's in this case a speedlight with guide number 58.
It's dialed down to 1/16th of its power,
zoomed back to 24mm so it got a broad cone of light,
which makes sure the light goes everywhere in the silk,
no matter how the model is posing.
The camera is a little bit further away,
4 meters or 13 feet and it's on standard settings,
1/200s, f/11, ISO400 and daylight white balance.
That's already it. Not so much to setup.

But it's ideal for warming up your model, not only a shy model.
The model may or may not wear underwear,
that really makes no difference.

What makes a bit of difference is the hairdo.
If she is tying up her hair that really makes for some nice,
fancy shapes underneath the silk.

Some mistake that I made in this little shoot was
I had Cousin Emily wearing high heels and jewelry.
It's not such a big difference but on this silhuetted photos
it does not really match the emotion of the photos.
Wearing nothing would be much better.

Especially if you use a little trick:
You can, for instance, turn around the photos 180 degrees
and then it looks like a sort of cocoon.
If she is then inside this cocoon she looks like a
sort of embryo, actually an embryo with boobs,
but still something like an alien embryo.
And then high heels and jewelry, you know,
doesn't really match. But whatever. It's just for warming up. I don't care.

You can give your model permission to do all sorts of
wired poses underneath the silk, wired expressions.
That makes her free to later on also do wired poses.
That really warms her up.
It's ideal for that because she is so covered.

If you still say: "Michael, bullshit, you don't really
need to warm up your model so much!"
I would ask you to do ONE thing, because then
for sure you haven't done one thing:
Have somebody taking nude photos of yourself!
And I really mean that. Do it! Do it at least one time!
I don't blame you if you never did it, but now go
and ask a photography buddy to shoot some nude
photos of yourself.
Because this way you experience how exposed a nude
model feels in front of a lens.
Then you will know that even a seasoned pro of a model
feels quite exposed and it's a good idea to make her
comfortable and warm her up.

Alrighty! Enough for this week, now please click on the like button,
click on the plus one button, drop a comment,
and come back next Thursday!
I wish you good light!

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