University of Sheffield Photo Soc

Headshot Tutorial Review

Hi guys, thanks for everybody that came along yesterday for the introduction to headshot studio lighting. We powered through a huge amount of material so have been asked to post a few reminders as to what we did.

Equipment used: 1 Camera, Canon flashgun (aka a speedlight or strobe), Light stand, Radio triggers (attached to the flashguns and the camera to fire the flashes), Umbrella adapters (to connect the Flashgun with radio trigger to the light stand), 1 Umbrella.

Camera settings: 1/200th second shutter speed (normally the highest shutter speed we can use to cut down on ambient light)
ISO 100 (lowest possible, for the best quality)
Aperture f/8 (technically the ‘sharpest’, but dont be afraid of trying wider apertures if you really want shallow depth of field)
We used a ‘focal length‘ (zoom) of around 85mm. We saw that using wider focal lengths distorts the model’s face, whilst this can be ok sometimes, for this kind of shot, it’s pretty unflattering.
The flashguns were set to manual power, which we adjusted with trial and error.

What we did:

  • We took the flash away from the camera and off to the side to create more depth, reduce shiny reflections on the face and to get rid of the shadow which fell on the wall.
  • Because the light is so small in relation to our subject, the transition between light and shadow is very ‘hard’. To soften this transition, we used an umbrella, to diffuse the light, increasing the size of light in relation to the subject.
  • As the background was fairly bright, we moved the model away from the wall. As the lights were now further away from the wall, much less of the light was hitting the wall.
  • Although the transition between light and shadow was softened with the umbrella, the shadows still remained very dark so we used a reflector to bounce some of the back into the shadows.
  • To create more depth to the image, we added another flashgun behind the model on the lefthand side. This created a highlight on her hair.
  • To guide the viewers eye into the pictures, we added a third flash at the back. To control this light, we wrapped a piece of black foam around the flashgun, which created a beam of light.


The final image isn’t going to win any prizes any time soon but hopefully this will have given you a taste for what can be done.

If you are interested in learning more about off-camera lighting, the website has a number of articles to guide you through the basics. I’m also anticipating starting a ‘strobist group’ in Sheffield, where those interested can meet up every month or so to practice taking photographs with off-camera flash. If you are interested, leave a comment on this post on the photosoc website

On a final note, if you are taking pictures, make sure you get a Flickr account, upload your shots and add your photos to our Flickr group so we can all share what we’re doing!



Category: Meetings, Training

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