As much as we love natural light, there are times when you have to rely on artificial light to create striking portrait images. Artificial lighting allows you to rework the look in your portraits in multiple ways. From a dramatic look that emphasizes strength and character to a softer look that highlights innocence and compassion, you can have full control over the final result.
A strobe light, commonly called a strobe, refers to a device that produces a flash of light. It can be specifically placed and angled towards your subject in different ways. The on-camera flash, another artificial light source at your disposal, though helpful, is not that versatile and can only go so far in letting you get creative with lighting. Strobes, on the other hand, give you innumerable ways in creating a mood in your portrait photographs through innovative lighting options. Here is a collection of links to some useful resources and tutorials on strobe lighting for portraits.
Street Portrait #281 by The Urban Scot, on Flickr
1. An Introduction to Using Strobes
This article on TutsPlus is a nice primer in learning the basics of strobe lighting. It explains the different equipment well and gives a quick rundown on camera settings to work with the lighting setup.
If you would like to learn in detail about the different kinds of studio lighting equipment, check out this article on BetterPhoto. There is also this video on YouTube that does well in explaining the difference between studio lighting strobes, continuous lighting, and flash gun. A great article on choosing studio lighting can be found on Photo.net.
Strobes by space_monkey, on Flickr
2. Portrait Lighting
This website is a great resource on portrait lighting, as the name suggests. From lighting examples that illustrate different lighting patterns, there is a lot one can learn here. An in-depth article on fill lighting and how different lighting ratios can create a different mood in your portraits is among the various topics covered on the site.
3. Lighting 101 – A Course on Strobe Lighting
This (free) course by Strobist will take you through all that you ever wanted to know or learn about strobe lighting. From thorough discussions on using umbrellas to balancing flash with ambient light, everything’s covered. If that wasn’t enough, there was a successor to this course in the form of Lighting 102, which had a more thoroughly planned course to teach you about strobe lighting. Check out the exhaustive list of topics covered and you are sure to master lighting.
4. Lighting for Photo
This blog contains tips and tutorials on lighting explained using examples. To help understand the readers better, examples are provided with setups and diagrams. The site uses photos from commercial photoshoots so explain the lighting so it is a great help to those who want to learn.
Strobox has a great collection of images that serve as examples to learn photographic lighting. It lets you search for photo examples by specifying two parameters, namely ‘category’ and ‘light’. Categories include action, commercial, and fashion among many others, and light includes natural, strobe, softbox and many more. This portrait example, for instance, shows how lighting pattern along with the camera settings clearly accompanies each image. You can also quickly create lighting diagrams using the online tool. Not only is this helpful in setting up your lighting efficiently, it also helps you easily explain your lighting pattern to the others.
Luc and Emma by kern.justin, on Flickr
6. Strobe Lighting Tutorials on YouTube
These videos by The Slanted Lens on YouTube are excellent tutorials on photographing using strobe lights under different situations. A great example is this video on balancing strobes with a setting Sun, which very clearly explains the process used to create the final image. Another great tutorial is this video on using continuous light and strobe together.
7. 21 Photographs and Lighting Setups
This is a wonderful collection of photographs and accompanying lighting setups that cover a wide variety of photography occasions. Be sure to check out the portrait examples.
Lady Jesus by gagilas, on Flickr
Links to Other Useful Resources
Strobist Flickr Group – An inspiring collection of photographs from people who have learned strobe lighting through Lighting 101/102.
Studio Lighting Essentials – An informative article, right here on Light Stalking, about studio lighting essentials.
Portrait Lighting Tips – An article explaining the basics of portrait lighting with some helpful tips.
I love to blend the natural light with the strobe light. Light is so much fun to play with.
It can also be a pain in the you know what. 3 or even 4 competing color temperature light sources can be hard to edit shoots where this is a problem.