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Studio lighting tools

From: Douglas Kirkland on Photography: Studio Portraiture

Video: Studio lighting tools

Okay, we're in our studio here in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, where we work, and today we're going to be working with strobe, electronic flash, and this is very critical to a lot of the work we do. Some of the advantages of strobe-- People sometimes say to me, why do you shoot in strobe instead of natural light? Some of those advantages are the light is consistent. Sometimes we work at 11 o'clock in the morning whereas we also may have the other subjects who say they'll be here at 11 in the morning but they actually end up here at 11 o'clock at night and we have to still shoot.

Studio lighting tools

Okay, we're in our studio here in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, where we work, and today we're going to be working with strobe, electronic flash, and this is very critical to a lot of the work we do. Some of the advantages of strobe-- People sometimes say to me, why do you shoot in strobe instead of natural light? Some of those advantages are the light is consistent. Sometimes we work at 11 o'clock in the morning whereas we also may have the other subjects who say they'll be here at 11 in the morning but they actually end up here at 11 o'clock at night and we have to still shoot.

And if you're relying upon daylight only, that's very limiting. I've done a lot of work working with cosmetic clients, people who make the beautiful perfect faces that you see in the big magazine covers and ads. And there are certain rules of what of they'd like and their perfection. One of those is that it must be flawless. That's what you have to see and imagine. And it's usually aided sometimes by a little retouching at the end.

But what we're going to do today, we will make as perfect an image as we can that does not need retouching. We would be working with Courtney here first and we're going to see this wonderful face that she has at her best. And what I'm going to be doing is showing you different types of lighting we use and how and why we use them. We work predominantly with soft boxes. A lot of soft boxes, but we also use spotlights, and they all go through the strobe light. Now in addition to having the advantage of being able work at any hour with the strobe lights, they go, we'll say, to more than a 500th of a second, higher than a 500th of a second speed, a 500th, 1000th, 2000th of a second.

So if somebody does that, you don't get a blurry picture. That's one of the advantages of electronic flash. Plus we have enormous control and we can repeat it week after week, year after year, if we have to, with the same, clean, wonderful daylight look, and you get enormous clarity in the images. Okay, here are some of our lights and our devices, how we make it all happen. This is where the beauty comes from. This is called a boom and what we can do with this boom is we can turn it around to make it do all sorts of different things here on the end.

It gives us a great deal of control over the light and we watch very carefully how it happens. If you'll come up here with me, I want you to see this device. This is so cool. This is one of our secrets frankly. We have this, we can make it a circle. So you get a nice clean circle on the eyes. Or at other times, we don't want that. We want an open shape, for example like that, and you get a different type of light here. It's that simple. Now over here, let's take this off. Miranda is helping me here and Jeremy will also be helping.

This is another small light which is very useful for giving a nice shine in the eyes. We would be doing this in a moment and you'll see us as we shoot with Courtney. So we have this. We call this our key light, and this is our fill light. Again, I'm going to repeat that. This light here we call our key light or our principal light, and this is the fill light, and both are necessary and we can do so much with them.

I'm going to demonstrate something here if I may. We may, with this boom, take it here and put it almost overhead to get an overhead light. See all that control we have? And we might give it quite close and then if you only have this, you might have too much shadow in the bottom. So to fill that shadow, we come up with this. This is our secondary light, our fill light. These are our simple devices and I'll show you a few more. So there're lots to talk about.

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