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Sunlight in Studio

I’m attracted to simplistic images. Perhaps this reflects the capabilities of my cerebellum. Although I shoot a lot of location work, in studio I like my backgrounds simple, too. As well as my composition.

I also like my lighting simple, but sometimes that means 4-5 lights, which doesn’t necessarily fall into everyone’s definition of “simple.” But my lighting, like my composition, tends to follow patterns. Rather than confining, I find it liberating. It allows me to focus on my subject. And when tweaking the light, knowing your starting place always makes those adjustments that much easier.

One method I use to simplify (more than usual) my lighting setup is to position my subject against one of the studio walls. No background lights! But in doing this, I don’t like to light flat-on. I prefer direction to my light. And I want it to look natural – like a sunbeam. Sunlight in studio.

For this image of Faith, I placed the key against the wall, in parallel with her, and had my fill from the same direction, at about a 30 degree angle. The key was up high, you know, like the sun.

© Donald J. Fadel, Jr. |

I prefer my models to not exaggerate their pose (usually). I tell them if you are going for drama, then you really have to go for it. Otherwise, less is more.

Like her nice smooth blouse? Well, if you are a photographer or a retoucher, it didn’t travel that way. I put together a short video explaining how I did this in post using a rather unusual – but effective and quick – method.

If you like it, I have a 2.5 hour long tutorial on the basics of my retouching workflow. You can access it here.


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