Glamour Lighting SetupsSubmitted by Michael on Thu, 2010-09-09 08:49

Hard lighting with off camera flash

After seeing the Pretty Flash Kit post here on SmokingStrobes, some of our cousins have asked me various questions regarding the use of hard light. Well, let me give myself a little caveat: hard light is most of the time NOT what you want to have in beauty photography.

Even if you want it, then usually you want to limit the use of hard light to something like a kicker beam of light which is shining over your models shoulder from behind. Hard light is so much harder to master compared to soft light. When you use hard light, then the exact position of your lightsource relative to your model is super important for the result. Zero tollerance. Softlight will usually give the model plenty of freedom to move around the scene.

Did I convince you to stay away from hard light? No? You are a die hard? Ok, ok, if you really really want to then of course you always can go crazy on hard light. You can even light your complete beauty scene with bare speedlights if you want to. Let me give you one example of how I am doing such crazy stuff. Watch today’s video.

The reasons I stayed away from using my beloved umbrellas for this particular scene were:

  1. I wanted to underline the subtle “action” character of the scene. I felt like hard light transports that better.
  2. The room was extremely small for such a scene with multiple models and umbrellas would have eaten up valuable space
  3. I wanted the light to hit the models hard but then fall off extremely fast so that furniture and walls are pretty dark

One cool thing that the zoom head of my speedlights enable me to do: I can really control where the light is going and what is sinking into shade. In this scene I feature 3 models in a small hotel room. And I want the models to pop out by lighting them while I want the furniture, which is just centimeters away from them, to sink into darkness. It should feel a little bit mysteriously. Speedlights allow me to do that.

The heads of the speedlights are gel’d with CTO gels because in the I am shooting mixed light since I have the tungsten lamp on the wall in the background.


Did I mention that I really love the zoom heads of speedlights?

I wish you good light!


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