Lighting Different Facial Shapes

Today's post comes from the book Sculpting with Light- Techniques for Portrait Photographers by Allison Earnest. This book is available from and other fine retailers.

Butterfly Lighting.
Rectangular faces can also be successfully lit using butterfly lighting. You may have noticed that traditional light ratios and light placement have not been used throughout the series on lighting different facial masks. The light techniques are more interpretive lighting, which means the light is placed to suit each individual subject.

In plate 77, M’shell was photographed with a Hensel Integra 500 monolight fitted with a beauty dish as the main source of illumination. This was positioned two feet above the camera and pointed down toward the model’s face, producing a soft butterfly shadow under her nose. With the camera set on manual, an incident-light exposure reading was made, indicating an aperture of f/11. The white background received no additional illumination, thus rendering it as gray.

PLATE 77—A beauty dish was used as the main light. It was placed two feet above the camera and directed down toward the model’s face. (Manual mode, ISO 200, 1/125 second, f/11)

Plate 78 was made without changing my main light position or exposure. The change we see was created by adding a strip light approximately 70-degrees to camera left. Used for fill light, this was set to record an exposure half as bright as the main light. Two additional lights were also added: a background light and a hair light. The background light was aimed toward the white background paper and adjusted to record an exposure of f/16—one stop brighter than the main light. This rendered the background its actual color, white. The hair light was fitted with a grid to ensure hard separation. This light was positioned behind the subject to camera right and set to f/16. To add sparkle to M’shell’s eyes, a California Sunbounce zebra reflector was also positioned just under the model’s face, and a gobo was placed close to the model’s left side to block any additional light and sculpt a pleasing shadow on her cheek. Finally, a household fan was used to create a sense of motion.

PLATE 78—Several lights were added to create this final portrait. For fill, a strip light was added to camera left. A hair light was added behind the subject to camera right.To light up the eyes, a reflector was placed below the model’s face. Finally, a gobo was placed close to the model’s left side to sculpt her cheek. (Manual mode, ISO 200, 1/125 second, f/11)

PLATE 79—Here you can see the exact setup that was used to produce the final image of M’Shell.The gobo consisted of a black presentation board purchased at a local craft store. Remember, the choice of equipment doesn’t have to be expensive, just effective. (Manual mode, ISO 200, 1/125 second, f/11)

* Excerpted from the book "Sculpting with Light" by Allison Earnest


1 comment:

  1. I purchased this book, and would like to enquire about the explanation of lighting ratios on page 52 that states adding 1 stop to the key light will equal 3:1? I am not sure that the theory of fill + 1 stop for the Key light is in fact a 3:1 ratio. My understanding is that 3:1 should represent a 1.5 stop increase rather than a 1 stop increase as indicated in the book.