background, you must prevent the background from
reflecting colored light onto the sides of the subject's
face. This produces a sickly appearance. The
background tone can be changed by adjusting the
amount of light falling upon it. Dark backgrounds with
earthen colors, such as brown and dark orange, can be
used for low-key portraits. Intensely illuminated
backgrounds with light pastel colors can be used for
Your studio should have enough backgrounds to
meet the demands of customers. As a minimum, you
should have a gray or light blue background for roster
photographs and white for full-length photographs.
Always stock extra white seamless paper. White
seamless paper is used mostly for full-length photo-
graphs. This paper becomes dirty and is torn rapidly
since it is being continually walked on. You can extend
the life of the background paper for full-length portraits
by laying sheets of acetate (such as clean-up film) on
top of the area to be walked on. The acetate does not
show up on the film or print.
Lights and Accessories
Almost any type of light can be used for portrait
photography. This includes natural light, such as the sun,
as well as artificial light, such as electronic flash.
The sun, with its different forms of illumination-
daylight, skylight, and window light-is the major source
of natural illumination for portraits. The sun is used
primarily for location portraiture.
Most types of artificial light can be used for portrait
photography as long as the intensity is sufficient to
permit short exposures. Short exposures are desired
because it is difficult to keep a subject motionless during
a long exposure. For color portraits, the color quality of
the light source should be the same as that for which the
film is balanced. Of all the artificial light sources
available, electronic flash is the best light source for
portrait photography because of the following:
It provides a large output of light without the
annoying heat produced by incandescent lights.
The extremely short duration of the flash stops
The color temperature of the light is compatible
They are as versatile as other light sources.
Electronic flash units specifically designed for
portraiture usually have tungsten modeling lamps
located near the electronic flashtube. These modeling
lamps provide constant, low-intensity illumination on
the subject or background. This allows you to see the
lighting effect that will be produced when the electronic
flash units are fired.
BASIC LIGHTING UNITS.Studio electronic
flash units are divided into two broad classifications:
those that project a relatively narrow cone of
concentrated, crisp light and those that project a broad
area of softer, more diffuse light.
Spotlight.A spotlight projects a narrow, highly
concentrated, crisp beam of light, produced by an
undiffused clear flashtube. A Fresnel lens or a small
reflector with a mirror finish is used to direct and focus
the light. The light produced by a spotlight is very much
like direct sunlight on a clear day. The light rays are
nearly parallel and are not diffused. The shadows cast
by a spotlight are hard with sharply defined edges that
add crispness. A spotlight is usually used to highlight or
stress a feature of the subject or as a hair light or
Floodlight. A floodlight produces a broad area of
partially diffused, soft light, very much like sunlight on
an overcast day. A frosted globe is used over the
flashtube, so the light produced is initially diffused. The
light is further diffused by the reflector that causes the
light rays to cross and interfere with each other. The rays,
projected from the front of the flashtube, however, are
not as diffused and have a crisper quality. The light,
produced by an electronic flash floodlight, has a crisp
quality at the center and a softer quality toward the edge.
When you want to use just the softer part of the light,
allow only the outer part of the light beam to fall on the
subject. This technique is called feathering the light.
When you want the entire beam of light to be diffused
and very soft, use a diffusing screen over the light
source. There is also a type of light unit known as a
capped light. This type of unit has an opaque metal cap
placed in front of the flashtube to block specular light
from reaching the subject. All light projected by a
capped unit is diffused.
A floodlight is usually used as the main (modeling,
or key) light in portraits, especially where a soft effect
is desired. It is also used as a fill light because a fill light
is always diffused.
ACCESSORIES.Many accessories are available
for use with studio lighting units. Accessories are