Lighting Setup: Pastel Coloured Gentle and Gobos

Ever since I began to make use of coloured lighting, I’ve at all times battled with the problems that many people face when combining a number of colours and for those who’ve shot with coloured gels previously, I’m positive you’re acquainted with what I imply. Photos involving a number of coloured lights can generally look messy or show muddy colours that look virtually blocky with clipped coloration information. However why does this occur? Why do our coloured lights usually look a large number?

The rationale for that is really pretty easy and on this lighting setup I’ll present you methods to combine even delicate pastel colours in the identical shot, while nonetheless sustaining a crisp look.

White Gentle Vs coloured Gentle

The overwhelming majority of us begin flash pictures with easy white gentle. We arrange a shot the place we now have our key gentle, fill gentle, perhaps even a hair gentle after which we shortly get to work capturing. For probably the most half, virtually anyone can get away with lighting like this and the outcomes will usually produce a satisfactory portrait with even the sloppiest of lighting placements.

A fundamental white gentle setup that creates a satisfactory portrait.

Add coloured gels to this and the entire thing immediately turns into a large number.

To be clear, I’m positively not recommending the white-light setup above and there are various causes for that, however for probably the most half, it nonetheless produces a usable portrait. However issues actually begin to collapse once we add coloured gels, as now the tone and form of the topic is totally misplaced in a large number of muddy and busy colours. However why?

The primary purpose for that is that white lighting is extraordinarily simple and forgiving to make use of. You may overlap and mix a number of white lights on the topic with little to no concern. You get away with lighting like this as a result of all of the lights are the identical coloration as you merely can’t inform the place one gentle ends and one other begins.

Add completely different colours to these lights and now the entire thing turns right into a Jackson Pollock. All of these lights now combine collectively on prime of each other and this finally leads to the clipping of colours and the ugly, muddy coloration mixes we’re all too acquainted with once we first begin capturing with coloured gels.

Handsome gelled lighting is about maintaining these colours and finally the lights separated. So long as you clearly gentle separate areas of a topic with particular person lights, the lights don’t combine and the colours don’t combine. This at all times leads to the best-looking colours as they’re left clear and extremely saturated.

This separation of sunshine is pretty simple to do with very controllable laborious lights, however what about if you wish to produce some softer, pastel washes of coloration?

Retaining the lights and particular person colours separated on the topic will at all times outcome within the best-looking colours.

The Lighting Setup

We’re all visible individuals right here, so let’s first have a look at the setup after which I’ll clarify all of it intimately under.


TL;DR/ADHD/Artist Setup Clarification

  • Arrange your synthetic trellis in entrance of your topic

  • Place your optical snoot to shine by means of it, casting shadows onto your mannequin

  • Add a really delicate gentle with assistance from a V-flat to camera-right to scrub delicate coloration throughout the topic

  • Accent that first coloration with one other pastel coloration positioned to camera-left and behind the mannequin

What You Will Want

3 lights – These may be any lights you want, however I’m utilizing all LEDs right here. I’ll cowl these in a second, however speedlights and strobes may even work simply as properly you probably have them.

Modifiers – This will rely on the kind of lights you’re utilizing, for instance, my delicate blue gentle to camera-left is a big Rotolight Titan X1 LED panel. It’s a delicate gentle by design of its dimension, however for those who’re utilizing a strobe or speedlight right here, I like to recommend utilizing a softbox to melt the sunshine. Different modifiers are my DIY V-flats, however you possibly can additionally use a white sheet as an alternative. Lastly, I’m utilizing a really laborious gentle within the type of an optical snoot.

Optical Snoot – You’ve doubtless heard me praising the optical snoot modifier for a lot of, a few years now, so I gained’t go over them but once more, however for those who nonetheless don’t have one (I extremely advocate you do), you possibly can attempt to substitute this for an additional laborious gentle supply. Should you’re utilizing strobes, attempt a grid/honeycomb, an open dish, and for those who’re utilizing a speedlight, I’d use a Gentle Blaster or a simply preserve the beam pretty targeted.

V-Flats – I lately made these foldable DIY V-flats myself very cheaply. I put out a full construct information on v-flats not too way back, so for those who missed it, make sure you test that out. I’ll present the hyperlinks under.

Synthetic Rose Trellis – Almost all of my lighting setup guides have a wild-card, and right here is that this weeks one. Should you’re undecided what that is, it’s merely a collapsable trellis that holds faux leaves and roses. It’s this that I shine my hard-light by means of to solid shadows onto my topic.

Digicam Settings

  • Digicam – Nikon D850
  • Lens – 105mm f2
  • Shutter Pace – 1/sixtieth
  • Aperture – f2.8
  • ISO – 160
  • Kelvin – 4500K
  • Focal Size – 105mm

The Outcomes…

Breaking it Down

Now that the right-side of our brains has been momentarily sated, it’s time to dig into the small print of the setup and perceive precisely what’s going to make this look work and the way we’re capable of combine and layer delicate pastel colours like this, with out the shot turning into the chroma-catastrophe we defined earlier.

The DIY Gobo – Synthetic Rose Trellis

For these undecided what I’m speaking about, a gobo (or go-between), is one thing that’s positioned between the sunshine and the topic that may in flip solid shadows. You are able to do this with virtually something and inserting crops, glassware and even knickers (it’s a protracted story) over or in entrance of the sunshine will solid shadows, however ordinarily, I’d use a purpose-built gobo that goes within the optical snoot. The aim-built gobos are little laser-cut steel discs that permit the sunshine to go by means of them and produce shadows, however this time round, I opted for one thing greater within the type of a giant faux trellis of roses.

I noticed this in a kind of low-cost superstores and I picked it up for under £20. Me recognizing this within the retailer was what gave me the entire concept for this setup and I really constructed the lighting across the faux trellis as I instantly knew it could be excellent to shine gentle by means of and I knew it could solid some fairly cool trying shadows.

These synthetic trellis’ are extra frequent than you assume and I simply had a glance on-line and you may get them in a bunch of these low-cost superstores in addition to in backyard centres, though they’re somewhat pricier there. We’re not frightened about high quality for this challenge as we’re solely utilizing it to solid shadows, so the cheaper the higher. Plus, these faux ones concertina all the way down to solely a couple of foot large too, that means they’re very simple to retailer between shoots.

The Key Gentle – Optical Snoot

As I discussed above, I like my optical snoot and I’d simply put it up there in my prime 5 must-have modifiers for positive. The rationale for that is because of it offering one thing very distinctive that different modifiers can’t and don’t do, and that’s focusing the sunshine into a really laborious beam. This tough-light just isn’t solely extremely simple to regulate, however it will possibly create sharp edges of sunshine to solid particular patterns by way of gobos on topics and backgrounds. Or on this case, we merely place a full-size gobo in entrance of our gentle and the optical snoot produces a tough sufficient gentle that it simply casts shadows onto our topic. Should you’re desirous about studying extra, take a look at the complete overview of my optical snoot right here.

The Key Gentle – The Godox SZ100R

As I discussed on the prime, these photographs had been all captured utilizing LED lights. The LED head that the optical snoot was connected to, was the brand new Godox SZ150R. As a lot of you realize, I’ve been impressed with the standard of sunshine from my new Rotolight panels, however as lovely as that gentle is, I can’t focus it into a tough beam and that is the place the wonderful SZ150R is available in. The brand new Godox LED head can settle for all S-fit (Bowens) modifiers which opens up tons of inventive potentialities when you think about what number of S-fit lighting modifiers there are.

The SZ150R additionally has the flexibility to supply any of its obtainable thousands and thousands of colours on the contact of a button and though I’m solely utilizing white gentle on this setup, having all these colours immediately obtainable is definitely a really useful function.

The Fill Lights – Rotolight Titan X1 & AEOS 2

I’ve been utilizing these new Rotolight panels for the final couple of months and I’ve to confess I’ve been very impressed with them. The rationale for that is their capacity to supply super-clean and even-looking lighting in tight areas like dwelling studios and areas. For me, I want clear and even trying colours on my topics and with a fast fall-off of sunshine to keep away from any undesirable gentle bouncing round a small area and these do that completely. Strobes and softboxes are likely to wrestle with this as a result of inherent hot-spots at all times current on softboxes, and that is particularly noticeable when used near the topic in tight capturing conditions.

A very powerful facet of me utilizing these lights on this setup, is how delicate the sunshine must be. The Titan X1 is a giant panel that inherently produces soft-light and though the AEOS 2 (the spherical one) is an honest dimension too, I needed to make its gentle even softer by bouncing it into that huge white V-flat. Should you don’t have giant LED panels, then simply make sure you substitute them for one thing equally delicate. Place a medium softbox as an alternative of the Titan after which merely fireplace your strobe or speedlight into the V-flat to closely soften that gentle.

DIY Foldable V-Flats

Making some DIY foldable V-flats just isn’t as tough as you would possibly assume. Take a look at my article on how I made mine DIY Foldable V-Flats

I lately made these foldable V-flats and shared the method. Should you’re , then I’ll share the hyperlink right here as I extremely advocate you make some your self or at the least get one thing related. The rationale for this is because of how delicate we have to make the sunshine on this setup and I’ll clarify why that’s so vital under. Firing your gentle into a big white V-flat like this leads to that gentle being extremely delicate and it’s precisely that softness that we generally want in our pictures. Have a look at these V-flats as a basic lighting modifier of your lighting equipment similar to a magnificence dish or softbox. Failing this, bouncing gentle towards a big white cotton sheet may also be an excellent substitute.

Bringing all of it collectively

I’ve spoken about all the person components, however now let me clarify the way it all comes collectively, methods to shoot this your self and what to search for when doing so.

I discussed in the beginning the way it’s simple for a number of coloured lights to show into a large number as overlapping colours develop into muddy and might even result in clipped tones and ugly color-banding points, particularly when the colours being produced by hard-lights end in saturated tones. On this setup, I needed to create a softer, pastel coloration wash and I did this with a delicate blue from behind and a fragile pink from the entrance. The trick right here is to position your topic between the 2 lights, that approach, the physique is at all times casting shadows for the opposite gentle to fill in.

For instance; the blue soft-light behind is powerful on the surface left fringe of the mannequin, nevertheless it’s casting delicate shadows on the fitting of the mannequin. The pink gentle to the fitting is now filling in these shadows and is concurrently casting a slight shadow on the left of the mannequin that the blue is filling in.

Check out what every of the lights is doing individually within the photographs under to see precisely what I imply.

Lastly after all, we see the white gentle from the laborious, optical snoot overpowering the softer colours under to carry all of it collectively and that leads to that further stage of visible curiosity we see within the remaining shot.

Factors to keep in mind…

Hopefully all the diagrams, BTS, breakdowns and explanations is sufficient to make sure you can recreate this your self, however earlier than you rush outdoors to attempt to discover a hen to poo on you for good luck (sure, it’s bizarre being British), right here’s a few pointers that may prevent from needing to depend on faecal-rain alone!

  • Attempt to place your faux-trellis in such a approach that there’s sufficient gentle on the mannequin’s face. I needed to push apart and pin again a number of faux roses in order that the spot of sunshine over the mannequin’s face was bigger than in all places else.

  • I didn’t communicate in regards to the background selection above, nevertheless it’s nonetheless an vital determination to make. I went for a pair of low-cost white curtains because the folds and texture not solely look higher behind than a flat white wall, however these curtain folds will catch the completely different colours from the lights on both aspect superbly too.

  • With that background in thoughts and having to shoot in a small area, I needed to verify the realm behind the mannequin was out of focus. An extended lens like a 105mm and even an 85mm at a shallow depth of area is an effective way to do that.

  • One remaining factor that wants consideration, is your coloration decisions. As you may inform from the pictures above, when utilizing very delicate gentle like this, it’s virtually unimaginable to maintain the lights utterly separated so thought must be given to the colours you employ as sure coloured lights actually don’t combine properly. I’ve already written intensive articles about this subject previously on my website, however I used the delicate pink and blue right here as I knew they’d combine to supply a muted, lavender purple which might subtly distinction the pink and blue within the foreground for further separation. Should you’re undecided, both dig into the archives of my -Approach Tuesdays- or just experiment with coloration combos on the day. Give a number of completely different colours a attempt to see what works.

Good luck guys and for those who give this one a attempt, please let me know the way you get on. Plus, if ever need some suggestions in your pictures, make sure you put up them in my -Share-a-Shoot- each Monday on my Fb Web page.

When you’ve got any questions on something then pop them within the feedback under. Get pleasure from and keep inventive!

  • Mannequin: Jordan Ebbitt

  • Crown: Carbickova Crowns

In regards to the Creator

Jake Hicks is an editorial and vogue photographer who makes a speciality of maintaining the talent within the digicam, not simply on the display screen. For extra of his work and tutorials, take a look at his web site. Don’t overlook to love his Fb web page and observe him on Instagram, too. On Jake’s Fb web page, you can even tune in for a reside stream each different Tuesday night time. It’s also possible to join the Jake Hicks Images e-newsletter to obtain Jake’s free High Ten Studio Lighting Ideas and Strategies PDF and make sure you obtain his free 50-page studio lighting e-book. This text was additionally printed right here and shared with permission.

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