Home Photography Ideas: Practice Portrait Lighting Without a Model!

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Watch the video: Home photography ideas – practice portraits without a model

With social distancing, self-isolation, and the restricted general movement that we are currently experiencing, it is a difficult time to be a portrait photographer. There’s a lot you can still shoot if you’re stuck inside, but you can only really practice portraiture with someone to sit down for you – and right now, hire and be in. proximity to a model is not the best idea in the world.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have a partner, family member, or roommate ready to let you take pictures. But what if you don’t have someone under the same roof – or, as you probably do, you don’t have someone willing to sit there for a few hours while do you practice a bunch of lighting setups?

Yes, you can try the selfies. However, to really learn how to use your lights and see how their placement affects your subject, you need to be on the other side of the camera.

• Find out more: 11 photo projects to try indoors during the COVID-19 crisis
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(Image credit: Digital Camera World / James Artaius)

The solution? Buy a mannequin head! There are a large number of different heads available online, with eBay and Amazon being the best place to start. For just a few dollars, you can buy a Styrofoam or Styrofoam head, which will be enough to show you how the placement of your lights creates different lighting patterns.

However, for best results, we recommend purchasing a professional mannequin head – sometimes referred to as a dressmaker’s mannequin or haberdashery head. Rather than being entirely white, these heads are available in different skin tones so you can see how variations in light temperature affect different skin colors.

Some heads can be posed like real heads, and some may even have appropriate eye detail that can pick up catchlights. Whichever type you choose, they’re the perfect way to practice lighting patterns with your gear lights, LEDs, and modifiers, and keep your skills up to date! This obviously works with any light kit you have – from naked flash to umbrellas and softboxes – but here are some simple setups you can try out with a minimal kit.

• Find out more: The best portrait lenses

01 Single position light…

(Image credit: Digital Camera World / James Artaius)

This project is ideal if you only have one light, as you can try placing it in different positions with different modifiers to see how it affects your subject. Here we have only one Yongnuo flash with a honeycomb accessory to direct the light.

… for fractional lighting

(Image credit: Digital Camera World / James Artaius)

By placing your light at 90 degrees, you get dramatic split lighting (split lighting being when the subject’s face is “split” by the light). Using a mannequin shows how the iris is illuminated by light from this angle.

02 Simple flash with bounce card…

(Image credit: Digital Camera World / James Artaius)

We have now installed the single flash in the raised position. We tilted our heads up and attached a rebound card – in this case a Rogue 2 Flash Bender – to ricochet a softer light off the subject, rather than explode it with a harsh directional light like in the first setup.

… For Rembrandt lighting

(Image credit: Digital Camera World / James Artaius)

This configuration produces a Rembrandt lighting pattern, with the characteristic triangle of light on the cheek opposite the light source. The beauty of this project is that it allows you to practice fine-tuning the position of your light without a template.

03 Sandwich lighting with gels / colors…

(Image credit: Digital Camera World / James Artaius)

Not having a subject on guard can discourage many amateur photographers from investing in additional lighting units and learning how to use them. Here you can start to introduce more light sources – and even experiment with adding gels and colors.

… for colorful split lighting

(Image credit: Digital Camera World / James Artaius)

Unlike the first setup, with only one side light, here we used a pair of LED light strips to create split lighting. It’s also a great way to see exactly how wattage differs between LED and flash lighting, and also to practice introducing complementary color palettes.

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