When using a two-light setup for portrait lighting, consider these best practices:
- Key Light Placement: Position the key light, the primary light source, to one side of the subject at about a 45-degree angle. This creates shadows, adding dimension to the face.
- Fill Light Placement: Place the fill light on the opposite side of the key light, reducing shadows created by the key light. It should be less intense than the key light to maintain some contrast.
- Light Intensity: Adjust the intensity of the key light to be stronger than the fill light. This helps create a more dramatic effect by emphasizing highlights and shadows.
- Light Modifiers: Use softboxes or umbrellas to diffuse the light, creating softer shadows and a more flattering look. This is especially important for the key light.
- Background Separation: Ensure the subject stands out from the background by adjusting the light on the background separately. This prevents distractions and adds visual depth.
- Light Ratios: Experiment with different light ratios, adjusting the output of the key and fill lights to control the contrast level in your portraits. A common ratio is 2:1, with the key light twice as bright as the fill light.
- Hair and Rim Light: Add a hair or rim light behind the subject to create separation from the background. This adds a subtle highlight to the edges of the subject.
- Eye Catchlights: Ensure that catchlights (light source reflections) are in the subject’s eyes. This adds life and dimension to the eyes.
- Color Temperature: Keep the color temperature consistent between the two lights to avoid unnatural color shifts in the final image.
- Test and Adjust: Regularly review test shots and make adjustments as needed. Each portrait session and subject may require slight modifications to achieve the desired look.
These are general guidelines; creativity often involves breaking or bending the rules. Experimentation is key to finding a lighting setup that suits your style and the unique characteristics of each portrait.