Lesson 1. Full body lighting scheme. Part 2

by Oleg Ti


Let’s turn the softbox to our direction. We can see that the background becomes darker – the light from the softbox is now directed to the different side from the background. The model stays at the edge of the light spot and light on her becomes slightly darker than in the original photo. However, it is clear that the style of light has not changed much on the model: with its hardness it corresponds to the initial image. It can be seen that distribution of the light becomes better on the model, the coverage of the light on the feet is not so very different from the top part of the model as you could see in the original picture.

It is easy to explain: the softbox has a gradient from top to bottom, but when we turn the key light away from model’s face, “her” legs are still in the light beam that is more wide than the narrow part on “her” face level.

You will understand all the geometry of light if you try to move light sources noticing all the nuances of the light style, the light distribution, the beam, the shadows etc., bringing all this knowledge in your working. And then in the real work, you will be able to operate virtuosity with light, trying to get such an efficiency that you need.


Let’s return to the initial position of the softbox, but tilt it slightly down.

I  use very often this kind of the position of softbox where it is directed downward.This is done for many reasons.

The first reason. My wish to illuminate the model with the most soft light I can get. We remember: the closer position of light source we have the more soft light we get. So I try to move the softbox as close as possible to the model, selecting such a position of softbox where it distributes the light along the entire length of the body. So I tilt the softbox down, and the model is no longer working in the field of the light spot but rather in the gradients that surround the spot of light. If we did it differently setting the softbox perpendicular to the model in order to illuminate whole model, the softbox would have to be attributed to the great distance and light would become a much harder and wider.

The second reason. My wish to keep light source above eye level. So many photographers, seeing that the lower part of the model is not covered with light, begin to lower the soft box below, but when the light falls below the eye level they get ugly picture of light on the face. It is so unusual situation that light coming from below would be nice for a model. As I said, I try always to put a light source above eye level and I prefer to tilt softbox down than to lower the level of it.

The third. The style of light on the model. In such a setting, I get a softer light on the face of the model, and more dramatic on its middle and lower parts.

The fourth. The shadow in this style of lighting usually falls to the feet and does not go far to the background, spoiling the light pattern on it.


I tilt the softbox down and lower it a little bit. You can see that the light falling on the model covers legs and it has the same intensity both on the chest and on the face.

I must say that I am much more comfortable with rail system, because it allows me to work with light with wide possibilities: to change its position, to tilt to any angle, to put over the head of a model.

However, here I did not use rail system in order to demonstrate possibilities of lighting setup with the equipment that is available in every studio. Despite my desire to tilt the softbox as down as I needed, I was limited with the stand – the softbox rested with a board to the stand and did not give the possibility to tilt it further down. So I stopped at the most possible position, resting one of the edges of the softbox to the stand.


But I am still continuing to work with the position of the softbox. The height of position of the softbox is now very low. If I lowered the softbox below this point, I would get a situation where the light on the model’s face would fall from below, while in the most number of cases, as I said, we must ensure that the light source stays above the eye level of the model. Otherwise we get a very unsightly picture on her face.

Without changing the height of the soft box, I’m trying to achieve such its provision when light was as much as possible evenly distributed on the model, and secondly, as little as possible illuminate background. I usually use such a kind of light that doesn’t achieve the background. I will work with the background later putting additional light source on it but now we have to ensure that the background is out of our light.

So in this position of the softbox as presented in the picture I got enough soft light on the model and almost black background that is suitable now for any lighting.


However, the background on the previous photo was still a little bit lit by the soft box and I have to introduce new equipment in the lighting setup – the black flag.

I must say that skillful of handling such accessories like flags, scrims, frames distinguishes advanced photographers from amateurs just beginning their careers. The presence of wide range of flags etc allow every advanced photographer to get full control over lighting equipment. To darken some parts of the lighting scene, to form the beam shape, to lower the power of light, to close the camera lens from lighting sources – all these things I do with flags. So if you want to make big step in photography you should learn to work with all equipment that are presented in the studio getting new possibilities of working with light.

But let’s look at the picture. I put this black flag near the back side of the softbox. It removes only the light from the softbox which goes to the background, but it is not influencing on the light going to the model. The flag is set up in such a way to be behind the scene, and placed very close to the softbox not to have hard shadows in the picture. When we move the flag from the softbox the light and the shadows of it become harder and more noticeable. So the best solution is to approach it as close to lighting source as you can.

So I found such a position of the flag where it reduced only the light coming to the background. And I got the light strip at the level of model’s feet stretching from left to right side of the picture. Although if I wanted to remove this line I could do it without touching the light on the model.

To be continued…