Big lights make nice portraits.

I've been using large lights for portraits for a while now and I love the way they look. My favorite tool in doing this kind of lighting is the black card I use on the shadow side to make the deeper tones more dramatic. This is a scan from a print and as such it's probably hard to see much detail in the shadow areas but on the negative and in the original fiber based print there's sill detail all the way down until the tones turn black. Difficult to represent on the web with only 255 shades to work with....

My current favorite lighting tool (yes, they change from week to week and sometimes from day to day...) is a 72 inch white umbrella with a black backing that's made by Fotodiox. The image above was done with on of my largest soft boxes used close in.

One of the things  I like about portraiture is the ability to constantly experiment with different light sources and modifiers.

When I re-visit portraits like the one above it reminds me how much I like the longer focal length lenses for the style of portraiture I like to do.


  1. It is interesting, I share your appreciation for longer focal lengths and deeper shadows. I have found the compliment each other, as the longer FL flattens out the face, with the greater contrast and deeper shadows returning some of the dimension to the shape of the models face.

    I wish I could find more time to experiment with light sources and modifiers.

    All the best

  2. Gorgeous, and what you truly excel at. Keep them coming, I can never get enough.

  3. I am certainly not taking issue with your photograph, but I do think the same thing could easily be achieved by window-light.

    1. Try it after the sun goes down...

    2. You are absolutely right - if there are business/professional constraints that is another matter. I just wanted to note that purely photographically speaking it is quite possible to do without the lights, while for example, covering a baseball game from the stands with a 50mm lens might not be. As you frequently mention in your posts, as I read them, it behooves us not to become overly impressed with fancy gear that might not be needed.

  4. Small lights make nice portraits, too. I say the smaller the better.


Comments. If you disagree do so civilly. Be nice or see your comments fly into the void. Anonymous posters are not given special privileges or dispensation. If technology alone requires you to be anonymous your comments will likely pass through moderation if you "sign" them. A new note: Don't tell me how to write or how to blog!