Studio lighting: 4 seriously simple lighting techniques to try at home

There should be a small triangle of light on the subject's face - this is referred to as Rembrandt lighting.

Gear needed
■ One flash head ■ One reflector ■ Two light stands

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Studio Lighting Setup 2 | Clamshell

This studio lighting technique is used to capture every detail with even light

Studio Lighting Techniques clamshell

This studio lighting setup is great for beauty images as the lighting is flat and even.

It's pretty easy to achieve this effect too - all you need to do is place two softboxes on either side of your subject at the same angle and at an equal distance.

Studio Lighting Techniques clamshell setup

Set the power so it's the same from each light. Try using a reflector under the face - your model should easily be able to hold this.

This will bounce light up and onto the face.

Gear needed
■ Two flash heads ■ Two 66cm softboxes ■ One reflector ■ Two light stands

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Studio Lighting Setup 3 | Backlight

This studio lighting technique is used to add depth and drama with rear lights

Studio Lighting Techniques using backlight

To add drama, use a honeycomb or snoot accessory on one of the lights. This will narrow the beam of light.

Studio Lighting Techniques backlight setup

We're going to position this behind the model, pointing back towards the camera so that it lights the back of her head.

This is a great way to add drama and depth to a photo, and it also creates a sense of separation from the background.

Of course, you need to make sure the backlight isn't visible in the shot.

Gear needed
■ Two flash heads ■ One 66cm softbox ■ One reflector ■ One honeycomb

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Studio Lighting Setup 4 | Rim lighting

This studio lighting technique is used to create an exciting style with good definition

Studio Lighting Techniques rim lighting

Place both lights slightly behind the subject, pointing back towards the camera. This setup requires some tweaking and can work really well with nudes as it helps define body shape.

Studio Lighting Techniques rim lighting setup

You'll need to watch out for lens flare, though, as the lights are pointing back towards the camera. A set of 'barn doors', a lens hood or a shield can help prevent this.

An assistant who can hold a carefully positioned reflector is useful - this will help fill in those areas of deep shadow.

Gear needed
■ Two flash heads ■ One reflector

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Final Tips on Studio Lighting

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Studio Lighting Tips avoid the wrong shutter speed

Avoid the wrong shutter speed![/caption]

Tip 1
The shutter speed you choose is less significant in a studio setup but obviously needs to be fast enough to avoid any camera shake. However, you also need to be careful not to set a shutter speed faster than the camera's specified sync speed - on most cameras this is usually either 1/200 sec or 1/250 sec. Go any faster and you'll have horrible black stripes across your images.

Learn more about common mistakes at every shutter speed, and the best settings to use.

Tip 2
The power of flash is measured in Watt-seconds. Each of the heads we're using is 400Ws, which approximates a guide number of 64. This is fine for regular portrait work.

Tip 3
Switch your camera to manual and use the histogram and LCD to assess the exposure and effect of the lights. Use the dials to change the power of the lights and the aperture to alter the exposure.

Tip 4
A sync cable or a wireless trigger is needed to connect your camera with the lights so that when you press the shutter, the lights fire at the same time. Some wireless triggers (which can be bought on eBay for £15, $25) are so cheap now that they're the best option, especially as many popular DSLRs don't have the PC socket you need in order to use a more traditional sync cable.

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