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Tips & Tricks

Using Continuous Lights For A Simple Glamour Portrait

By Chris Nachtwey on October 9th 2014

I have always been drawn to the old glamour portraits of the golden era of Hollywood. There is something about the simplicity of them that inspires me. What’s really cool about most of the old glamour portraits is that they were lit with continuous movie lights. What’s even cooler, is with just a few continuous lights, you too can create beautiful glamour portraits in any studio space.

REWIND: BUILD YOUR PORTRAIT LIGHTING ONE LIGHT AT A TIME WITH TONY CORBELL

In the video below sponsored by AdoramaTV, Daniel Norton walks us through a fairly simple three light set up using Arri continuous lights for a simple, yet elegant glamour portrait.

Gear

Nikon D4s
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4
Arri 300/150 Lighting Kit

Technique

The technique Daniel walks us through is pretty simple, and as I said above, this is a technique that can be done in any studio space. I really enjoyed how he uses the Arri continuous lights. Coming from a video background, I used Arri continuous lights all the time and love how continuous lights allow you to see exactly how the light will fall on your subject vs. strobes and speedlights. Studio strobes have modeling lights allowing you to see how the light will fall, but you still need to adjust your output accordingly. With continuous lighting, you can adjust the power and see how the light will fall all at once, which is just easier sometimes.

I also love how Daniel builds his lighting in steps. Starting with the main light on a boom, he then moves on to add a hair light to help separate his model from the background, and finally adds a fill light to light the shadows under the model’s chin. This is how I build lighting when using strobes or continuous lights, and I believe if you are just starting out, you should do the same. Building your lighting in steps will teach you how each light is affecting your portraits leading up to your final light setup.

glamour-lighting-continuous-lights-2

glamour-lighting-continuous-lights-1

Thoughts

This video tutorial is simple and easy to understand. When I first learned lighting, it was for video and I used continuous lights. I know for a fact being able to see my lighting when I was learning has help me a lot as I use more strobes and speedlights for my still photography. If you’re new to photography, I think picking up an inexpensive set of continuous lights, and using them to learn how the light will fall onto you subject will help you understand how to light any still portrait down the road.

Via: Adorama Youtube Page

Images captured via screen grab

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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Austin Swenson

    Not even fair. And I mean that in a ” I want a D4S and a Zeiss 85mm f1.4 setup to take beautiful shots like that” kind of way.

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    • David Hall

      The D4s and the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 wouldn’t be taking a beautiful shot, but rather, they would be your tool. Creating beautiful imagery is left to the photographer.

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    • David Hall

      Nice video.

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    • Austin Swenson

      Really, with the photo snobbery, David? Of course it’s the photographer and not the gear who makes beautiful imagery, but without appreciating how the gear helps you do that job, especially with how good that gear is rated for sharpness, color, and contrast, etc. compared to a small beginner’s kit, gear has to be at least some kind of consideration in making beautiful imagery.

      Besides, I said that I wanted the gear, not that I cannot otherwise take beautiful shots without it.

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  2. Greg Avant

    Have you checked out the cost of Arri lights? OUCH!!!

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  3. Daniel Thullen

    Daniel Norton does a great job of walking us through this cinematic style portrait. His explanations are solid and easy to understand. Chris, I can see why you’re drawn to the simplicity of this style.

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