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Tips & Tricks

Casting Colors: Getting Creative with Shadows

By Megan Kennedy on January 21st 2014

Anyone with the moniker, ‘The Light Shaper’ is bound to make studious photographers sit up and take notice, and with good cause. Andrea Belluso, aka ‘The Light Shaper,’ shared a unique and playful technique in his latest behind-the-scenes video of his photoshoot for Hederus, a Swedish fashion brand with an athletic attitude to their designs. Conspired to communicate messages of a fashionable, yet “active and colorful lifestyle,” Belluso utilized a simple three-light setup and a technique to cast vibrant shadows of green, yellow, fuschia, and blue.

Watch the Video:

Andrea Belluso, aka ‘The Light Shaper’

Belluso is a veteran in fashion and celebrity photography, with a versatile style that exemplifies precision in his lighting. Explaining his inspiration from a previous shoot while assisting Bardo Fabiani, you can tell he genuinely enjoyed reviving the idea: “I used to think it was such a simple, yet fun and creative thing to do, and I still do. It’s also really easy!”

Profoto-D1-Studio-Kit-3-Heads-Andrea-Belluso-1-600x225

Using a 3×2 softbox with the diffusion removed and at a significant distance from the subject, Belluso created a hard key light to cast a defined shadow upon the white backdrop. A second 2×3 softbox containing a colored gel and grid for focusing was set to spill only on the background. A third light was utilized to rim the model and apparel. (See full explanation of lighting setup on Belluso’s Profoto Blog.

Profoto-Diagram-2What I Learned:

In watching the video, I learned the secret to impacting the strength of the colored shadow effect lies with the harshness of the key light. The harder the front light, the more the white background will remain bleached apart from what the model is obstructing, creating a crisp saturated shadow. While Belluso chose to adapt this ‘colored shadow’ technique to include a spill of color on the background rather than keeping the white backdrop completely bleached with the hard front light, it goes to show there is a range of what can be achieved with this approach and inspires one to play and see what results!

[REWIND: How To Improve Your Chiaroscuro Portraits]

Lighting Equipment List

Between the conceptual pointers, behind-the-scenes insights, and clear direction in the video, Andrea Belluso proves he has earned the title of ‘The Light Shaper.’ What some may interpret on first glance as a Photoshop effect, was achieved with a bit of creativity by a professional who prides himself on “keeping photography real.”

Colored or no, how mindful are you of the shadows cast by your subject? Have you ever made a stylistic statement by including shadows in your compositions in a creative way? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

[via @Profoto Blog]

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Terms: #Color Cast

With roots in nonfiction and commercial video production, Megan found a passion for still photography in 2009 while traveling through Ghana. Today she shoots weddings and portraiture with an adventurous bent with her husband at Rogue Heart Media, as well as continuing her work in video production. Connect with her on Facebook or through their website.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kurk Rouse

    In terms of strobes, who do you like Alien bee or Profoto ? I think westcott has a led strobe unit also

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  2. Ninh Hoang Photo

    Thanks! Gotta give this a try.

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  3. Tanya Smith

    So cool! This would also save lot of money on different colored backdrops.

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