Highlights from Texas School of Professional Photography

Hey everybody, right now we're at the Texas School of Professional Photography and have a great class. We thought it would be great to share with you some things that we're doing in the class - some really great material. 

Monday afternoon we had a great model to help Tony illustrate a variety of lighting patterns and we thought that you'd like to peek into the class and see some of the work that's been done. The topic on Monday was lighting patterns and included a discussion on specular highlights. 

First, a specular highlight is a direct reflection of the light source that is illuminating your subject. You've seen specular highlights any time you drive around on a sunny day. It's those blindingly bright reflections on the chrome or in the corner of the windshield.  But you also see specular highlights in many portraits. See the catchlights in your models eyes. They are specular highlights.

So, Tony decided to have fun with the catchlights. Using Profoto 1x6 foot RFi softboxes on D1 flash units he created some beautiful images of our model Julia Ferjo. Let's look at a few different configurations.

Below you'll find four images. In the first, the two strip lights were placed in an upside down "V" configuration. This created a distinctive and unique catchlight in the eyes in the shape of an upside down "V".

The second image simply flips the lighting configuration so that the point of the "V" is pointing down and as you'd expect, the catchlight in the eyes matches the configuration in the lights. Remember, the catchlight is a specular highlight that is simply a reflection of the light source. 

 Lights placed in an upside down "V" configuration, creating the distinctive catchlight. 

Lights placed in an upside down "V" configuration, creating the distinctive catchlight. 

 In this image, the 1x6 foot strip lights were placed in a "V" configuration. Note how the shadow on the sides of the nose chnage as the lights are moved into the new position...

In this image, the 1x6 foot strip lights were placed in a "V" configuration. Note how the shadow on the sides of the nose chnage as the lights are moved into the new position...

In the third photo the strip-lights were placed in a vertical position, equally spaced on each side of the model. This creates very symmetrical lighting pattern on the subject. And finally, the lights were placed horizontally, above and below the model. 

Two strip lights placed vertically. Highlights and shadows are under control and result in a great look to the face.

Two strip lights in a horizontal pattern. Almost a conventional "clam shell lighting" situation.  Often the bottom light is lowered to a lesser output value to help with directional control.

Now don't think we're trying to say that any of these lighting configurations are the best for this subject. This is a class and these are really for illustration. But don't get beat down thinking that there must be only one catchlight in the eyes and there is a perfect position for a catch light. 

Don't stifle your creativity based on someone else's rules. Practice with your lights and see what looks best to you. All these lighting tools are just that - tools. Use them as you wish. One of the main points with these examples is that they are direct from the camera. Clearly they have not been retouched for skin of any imperfections. But we will do a wrap up at the end of the school and feature some things we are teaching this week in our Light and Shadow course.  Stay tuned.. 

Now we've got to get back to class.