Home Photography Ideas: Killer Portraits in Your Living Room

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In portrait photography, it is not always a question of overly complicated lighting installations and having several flashes fired at the same time; Sometimes keeping it simple is just as effective in capturing vivid images.

In this tutorial, we are going to use a modest homemade light modifier combined with a single light source to effectively draw attention to our subject. The result is a dramatic portrait that one would swear it was shot in the studio!

In terms of setup, all you’ll need is a nice open space to shoot and a single light source. We will use a Godox V860 flash, but this technique could very easily be adapted for use with studio strobes or even a bright desk lamp.

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This is because the key to achieving this lighting effect is not necessarily the light source itself, but rather how we modify it in order to generate a perfect letterbox of light to spot a specific part of the face of the person. model.

Shooting steps

01 Staging

Find a nice open space to work, ideally with a large white or neutral wall to take photos against, without shelves or photo frames. Alternatively, you can use a white studio background or even a plain sheet attached to the wall to give you the same effect.

02 Camera setup

When capturing portraits, it’s important that you use the right type of lens for the job. A lens with a focal length of 50mm or more is ideal so that your model’s facial features are not distorted. Wide angle lenses will distort the face and create an unrealistic appearance, so don’t shoot below 50mm unless you intentionally want to achieve this effect. We use the Sigma 50mm f / 1.4 DG HSM Art lens.

03 Lighting levels

Whether you’re using a studio strobe, flash, or desk lamp, your light source should be bright enough to overpower the ambient light in the room. If your light is not bright enough, you may need to turn off all the lights in the room and turn off the exterior windows.

04 Modify the light

In order to get a thin sliver of light, we will need to use a light modifier to reduce the scattering of the light. If you have a snoot tie it now – if you don’t have one you can make a simple modifier using cardboard!

05 Be smart

All you need is an appropriately sized cardboard box, a thick black card, a craft knife, and masking tape. Start by drilling a hole in one end of the box so that your flash head can fit comfortably. Then carefully cut a small slit in the black card – this will create the letterbox style lighting effect. Finally, cut a hole at the opposite end of the box and place the black card on it, securing it in place with duct tape. Place your light modifier on the end of your flash and voila!

06 Position your lighting

With your light modifier attached and your subject in place, move your light around until she projects the way you want on her face. If the flash has a modeling light, use it to guide you. If not, take a few test photos and refine the position accordingly.

07 Take the picture

Before you start taking photos, make sure you’re shooting in raw format, as this will give you more flexibility for later retouching. Feel free to change the angle and height of the light for different effects, and experiment more by highlighting different features of the face.

Changing the shot

01 Convert to mono

Start by opening your Raw image in Photoshop – this will bring up the Adobe Camera Raw interface. Set the Saturation slider to -100 to remove all colors and turn the image into black and white.

02 Flatten tones

Increase the Blacks slider to +100, Shadows to +100, then decrease the Highlights slightly to around -25. This will expand the dynamic range of the image before starting to increase the contrast.

03 Increase the contrast

Set the Clarity to +100 and the Contrast to +60 to add bags of depth to your mono conversion. If the whites in your photo appear a bit dull, increase the Exposure slider until they become lighter.

04 Sharpen to finish

Finally, go to the Details tab (below the histogram), then set the Quantity to 50, Radius to 3, and Detail to 50. Make sure to save the image as a JPEG, and voila. !

Read more:

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