Lighting Options for Continuous Portrait Studio Photo Shoot from ALZO Digital

Continuous Portrait Studio Photo Shoot

We discuss three lighting options with our portrait studio continuous lighting kit. The kit consists of 3 lights including the key, fill and back or hair light. The key and fill lights use bounce umbrellas to soften the light and reduce shadows. The back light does not use an umbrella and can be used as either a hair highlight or background light. Using barndoors on the back light can help narrow the light for specific lighting control, like a hair light and other effects.​

Option A: Classic 3 Light Portrait Hair Light with Barndoors

With this option the background is dark relative to the subject so the background partially drops out of the image. Background shadows are controlled by having the key and fill lights aiming down and higher than the subject.
Two lights with umbrellas are placed facing the subject and one light with barndoors (mostly closed as shown) is hair lighting the subject from behind. The key light (to the left) is as close to directly facing the subject as possible. The key light is at the same height or slightly higher than the head of the subject.
The fill light is further from the subject then the key light and also facing down. Positioning the fill light will affect the facial shadows and shoulder highlights on the subject. You can also control the amount of shadow by adjusting the power of the fill light. Usually a 1/3 to 1/2 power setting of the fill light works well.
The hair light is used to create hair highlights as can be seen on our model. We used the barndoors to control a narrow width of light for the hair light. We did not want the hair light illuminating the background or the shinning into the camera lens. Even though it is out of the camera field, the light from the hair light can cause lens flair.
The hair light should be behind, above and pointing down on the subject. Height and position adjustments of the hair light should be made after the key and fill lights are fixed and trial shots have been approved.

Option B: Background Broadlight

With this option, the background is illuminated to be integral in the image. Illumination of the background could be broad and even, or concentrated to create a hot spot behind the subject.
The key and fill lights are set up as above. The back light is used at a good distance from the background to create a broad, even illumination of the background.

Option C: Background Hot Spot

With this option, the background is illuminated to create a hot spot behind the subject. This increases contrast of the subject to the background.

The key and fill lights are set up as above. The back light is low and behind the subject, facing the background directly behind the subject.


Power Considerations

The ALZO Portrait Continuous Flood lights require consideration for power availability. A 600 watt photo continuous light consumes about 5 amps of current at 115 volt AC. A typical wall outlet has a maximum 15 amp circuit capacity. Factory and studio outlets may be configured with 20 amp circuits. Therefore a typical wall outlet will supply a maximum of (3) 600 - 750 watt lights. A single 20 amp circuit can support a maximum of (4) 600 - 750 watt lights. Consult a licensed electrician if you have any concerns about circuit capacity in your facility. In order to operate more than (3) light sources on a typical wall outlet, you may need to plug one of your additional lights into a separate circuit. This may require an extension cord to connect to an outlet in another room.

Important - Caution
Assure that any extension cords are at lest 12 gauge wire or heavier. Most extension cords are 14 gauge wire which is not acceptable for continuous hot lighting. When using power junction boxes or power strips, use ONLY units rated for 15 amps and supplied with circuit breakers or fuses. Underrated extension cords and junction boxes are a fire hazard. If you want to avoid power issues and worries, we recommend that you consider the ALZO Cool Lites.