I posted a photo on Instagram last week where I asked if anyone wants me to explain the studio lights setup for the image:
I got quite a few positive responses and people asking to explain the behind the scenes of the photo, so I’m going to go a bit in depth about the specifics to recreate the photo in your own home. Assuming you have some of the equipment listed, of course.
A lot of bloggers talk about having their own photographers. Many assume that a husband or boyfriend is taking the photos. I like to do my own photography for a variety of reasons:
- The tripod is EXTREMELY patient. Meaning, I can try out countless poses and angles to see what works best behind the lens until I get the perfect shot. I don’t have to worry about if someone’s tired or bored. Everything depends on me.
- I have consistency and flexibility of schedule. My number one complaint about working with an outside photographer is having to arrange my schedule with theirs. At the risk of sounding too important to give AF: I’m extremely busy. It’s the truth. I recently decided to break my rule to work with a photographer who reached out to me. It turned out to be a DISASTER.She rescheduled on me literally 5 times. Canceled 3 times. The last bout was when she canceled last minute one hour before the shoot for which I woke up at 6AM. This isn’t my idea of an ideal workday. This case is fairly extreme, but it’s not out of the ordinary to keep rescheduling in order to fit for shifting schedules.Since I was ready for the shoot, I busted out my cam and took my own photos without her. At the end of the day, I don’t NEED her to take photos of me. I thought it would be nice to work with someone else for a change, especially someone whose photography I enjoyed.
- I have full creative control. This is the main thing. I can do whatever the hell I want with my pictures. I don’t need to get permissions to edit or to post. This also allows me to crop as I please and have access to all the RAW image data for editing. It doesn’t get better than this.
For this photo, I was looking to capture a cute “Nicolette” top by Julianna Bass in the best light possible (pun intended). Since it’s solid black, I needed to make sure my lighting still accentuated the lines of the sleeves and showed the texture. That’s when I decided to incorporate a colored gel!
If you’re unfamiliar with gels, they’re a variety of colored sheets of plastic that change the light hue. You place the gel in front of a studio light to change its color and add atmosphere or drama. Alternatively, you can place different diffusing filters in front of the lights to manipulate how the light lands on the subject. Gels are often used in cinematography and theater to create an atmosphere.
I went into what I use in the studio last time, but this time around I’m adding some gels and a new beauty dish.
Camera used: Sony A7RII
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4 with Metabones adapter
The Setup & Settings
The photo looks like I’m in a studio, when I’m actually squeezed tight against a narrow wall in my bedroom. My apartment is fairly small, so I had to maneuver a way to fit the two lights with an enormous softbox and my camera on top of the tripod. It quickly got tighter when my dog and cat decided it was a good time to hang out right next to all the precariously arranged equipment.
This is essentially what it looked like:
The octabox (octagonal softbox) was right above the camera tripod, which was essentially eye-level height (it was slightly lower and tipped up just a bit). The strobe light on my right was fitted with the gel “CalColor 90 Lavender” and angled at the wall behind me, creating a soft shadow in the back. I had the filter “Middle Rose #44” on the softbox. And of course, I’m holding up a gel – a blue hue that I now forget the name of. This is the part you can experiment with.
I set my ISO to 50, the shutter speed at 1/200, and the F-stop at 11. The focal length of the lens was at 35mm.
The picture was originally a more blue tone, so I amped up the warmth in lightroom. I also deepened the red lipstick by pumping up the red saturation a bit and removed some blemishes from my face. Voila.