7 MOST COMMON STUDIO PORTRAIT LIGHT MISTAKES
Finland-based commercial photographer Antti Karppinen shares what he thinks are the "7 Most Common Studio Portrait Light Mistakes" and how to fix them, in an article for Fstoppers written by Kenn Tam. Regardless of your intentions for your photographic shoot, these basic rules are sure to benefit you.
1. LOW MAIN LIGHT
If your main studio light is angled too low, the shadow cast from the person’s nose can be broad and unflattering. This is especially true when dealing with basic studio portrait photography. To fix this bring your light up and try to maintain 45° angles between your lighting and subject.
2. HIGH MAIN LIGHT
If your studio light is angled too high you will get harsh shadows cast from your subject's brow. This puts the eyes in shadow and also creates a harsh shadow under the cheek. To fix this bring your light down and again try to observe angles of 45° between your lighting and subject.
3. MISPLACED FILL LIGHT
Placing your fill light in the wrong position or at the wrong power can create many issues like Double catchlights in the eyes and a lack of distinction between the main light and the fill light. Less fill light is often used for dark, "low key" style portraits with well-defined shadows. Similarly, more fill light might be necessary to render a brighter "high key" style, or just to provide a softer appearance. To fix this, place your fill light at center or just off center on the main light side and shift the power just enough to fill the shadows without overpowering your main light. The potency the fill light will always depend on the subject being photographed.
4. UNWANTED NOSE LIGHT
A separation light is used to emphasize the subject as an entity separate from the background in an image. Primarily, a separation light outlines a subject's shape and prevents edge details from being lost in highlights or shadows. When you're using a separation light, to separate your subject from the background, and you push it too far towards the front, the light will illuminate the nose, killing your desired shadows. To fix this make sure this light is only hitting the side of the cheek, and subject's edge by pulling it further back behind your subject.
5. OVEREXPOSED SEPARATION LIGHT
Some often make the mistake of using too much power in their separation light, this causes the texture and detail in the subject to disappear. To fix this simply lower the power in the separation light.
6. SEPARATION LIGHT FLARE
The best place to position your separation light is usually just behind your subject, the light is often pointed towards your lens. When this happens the light can hit your glass causing a flare, reducing your contrast. To fix this, try using a lens hood, flagging the light, or reposition the light just enough to redirect the light.
7. OVEREXPOSED BACKGROUND
When attempting to create a blown out background, many tend to overdo it causing light spills, and lens flares by using too much power. This destroys your contrast and really takes away from your main subject. To fix this pull your subject away from the background and/or reduce your light's power.