Self-portrait lighting set up.

I thought I should really start doing lighting diagrams as both a record for myself and for others who might find it helpful.

So for my self portrait, the lighting was pretty simple, although without an assistant, the constant posing then returning to camera was a right pain. I was pretty knackered after the shoot.

The key to making it less difficult than it could have been? A measuring tape and a good old depth of field calculator. If you have a smartphone, you can almost certainly get your hands on one.  Set up the background, set up the camera so that it’s filled by the background then work out where you fit in that image, throwing the background out of focus.

My DoF calculator told me that at f8, I could focus to about 5 ft and have 6 inches to the front and 6 inches to the back leeway and still be in focus. That also meant that the background 10 feet or more away would be totally out of focus. This is exactly what I needed, so I placed a marker on the floor at exactly 5 feet from the camera so that I didn’t have to faff with worrying about focus all the time. There’s a lot of getting up and down in self-portraiture and simply knowing that you will be in focus if you stand at the mark helps immensely.

I changed position 2 or 3 times relative to the camera, so when I did that, I just re-focussed and re-measured where the marker should be.

So, with focus spot on, it’s time for lighting. I wanted to blow out the background completely, so that was easy. Reflective brolly on my porty studio head at maximum, relatively close to the background. I got the main light spot on first time in terms of power ( just about half power about 3 feet away from me ) which was very handy. Initially it was through a white brolly, but I  wanted something harder so eventually just went for the unadorned strobe.

After a little bit of time over precise angle on the head, I settled down on that, and started to look around for light which was bouncing around. This was done in my ( small ) living room ) which has white walls. As you might imagine, light was bouncing everywhere,  so I had to place black backgrounds to the left and used a black relfector bag to the right to absorb the light. Anything I could find really.

Once that was done it was time to find the one image where I don’t look completely like a gorgon. 🙂


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