Tuesday, 1 December 2009

TUTORIAL #1 - Black on black.

Well, as I promised earlier this is my first studio lighting tutorial. Really hope you would find it useful.

This picture seems to me a good start to talk about the lighting techniques. Well, shooting black on black is not an easy thing though.

Equipment and settings:
- Mamiya RZ 67 + Digital Back Leaf 17 mp, 90 mm, f/16, 1/60, iso 50
- 4 x 500 Joule heads
- boom
- 3 soft boxes
- snoot
- 3 black flags
- A4 white sheet

For my lighting setup I started from constructing a “Π”-shape black flags set (5) around the model so it prevents unwanted reflections from studio walls and keeps a high contrast on a face. It also allowed me to narrow down the width of my soft boxes, as you can see from the scheme. Basically, the less the width of the light source the less of light falls from the side on the face. Then I put 2 soft boxes from the back (1, 2) and one on the top (3) so it made a “Π”-shape lighting source to lit the whole perimeter of a head. Lens hood might help but still try not to put your lights too close to the model as you would get flare on your pictures or there would be less of contrast.
The most complicated lighting source was a combination of a snoot (4) from the bottom and an A4 white sheet (6) above it. Snoot lit the sweater and white sheet worked as a white reflector to reduce and soften the light to highlight model’s chin, lips and nose. You also might try foil or a small mirror to get similar effect.
Regarding the postproduction, it takes quite some time to make skin look good when you lit it from the back/top. Also with sunglasses you usually get a self portrait and the reflection of the whole studio and to avoid it you should use either a piece of black background or any black fabric and photograph through a hole in it (very useful for product shots). To be honest, with sunglasses I prefer to remove reflections in Photoshop.
That’s it! Hope all that above makes sense. Please let me know if anything isn’t clear enough.


  1. wow!!! thanks a lot Alexey the master!!! that is very clear...great ilustration

    Its so kind of you to share the knowledge. x x x x x

  2. Ты так часто начал писать... Прямо праздник какой-то! Спасибо за подробное описание!

  3. Great thing... Just waiting now for PS tips and a contact list of models, stylists and editors! And than we can work as good as u! :D

  4. well, I always put the credits within the shoot, all these people are on facebook, contact them, show your portfolio and who knows maybe you would be even better than me.
    photoshop thingy doesnt seem to me manageable at the time.

    have a great light!

  5. loving the knowledge sharing, great work and remember no mirrors Joking !