"LIGHT AS A FEATHER"- Newborn, baby studio lighting tutorial

November 13, 2013  •  41 Comments

Hi everyone!

This is Giselle Salazar from Giselle Salazar photography. I'm a photographer who specializes in family portrait photography (mostly newborn) and today I'm making a tutorial on how to light your subjects on a studio setting using the "feathering technique"

Feathering is placing your softbox on the side of your subject in a way that the light brushes (like a feather) over your subject giving your overall photo a more soft, diffused look when it comes to your lighting. This is the perfect way to create a natural lighting affect with artificial light

I use an Alien Bee 800 with a large octagonal softbox with large white reflector on every studio session, no matter if I'm photographing a baby, a family or a maternity session.

This technique is best explained with pictures, so let's get to the fun part!!

These images are SOOC (straight out of the camera), just sharpening just to show how your photos should look straight of the camera.

These first set of photos show my usual set up on bean bag poses in newborn sessions. 

My sofbox is on the left placed about 2 feet away from the beanbag, still a little closer to your subject to get that nice diffused light kissing your subject and nice catchlights for when your newborn refuses to sleep ;) IMG_7321 copyIMG_7321 copy

This is a side view, note how the softbox is placed in relation to the beanbag. Remember you want the light to just brush over your subject, not fall directly into it making it harsh with blown spots. 

Pull the softbox somewhat outside of your set, away from your subject about 3 inches. Place your large, white reflector on the opposite side to use as fill light. IMG_7320 copyIMG_7320 copy

Here is my happy subject :) 

Note how the head of your subject is towards your softbox and the feet are towards your reflector and how the light does not fall directly into the subject but it "feathers" your subject from the side.

I also love using this technique to give my backgrounds a darker, deeper and richer colour/feel. IMG_7329 copyIMG_7329 copy

See how the subject away from the softbox is well lit, nice and diffused and my daughter (that crazy haired toddler crying because she wants her monkey) has what we call "hot spots" on her shoulder on the left. IMG_7327 copyIMG_7327 copy

A little close-up nice soft diffused lighting but still maintaining a good amount of shadows. IMG_7332 copyIMG_7332 copy

Feathering is not only used while using your beanbag. I use it pretty much all the time. I can  also do side lighting which I love to do with older babies and adults and with "baby on a bucket" shots.

This is what I would normally do with this type of set ups. Using the same principle I used on the beanbag but in this case side lighting instead of lighting my subject the top of his head down.

Softbox on the left, reflector on the right. IMG_7333 copyIMG_7333 copy

Funny toddler who stepped inside the set and got too close to the softbox creating hot spots again ;) IMG_7338 copyIMG_7338 copy

Correct way of lighting your subject... IMG_7339 copyIMG_7339 copy

Cute huh? IMG_7340 copyIMG_7340 copy

When it comes to feathering sky is the limit.

Feather your squishy newborns from the top of their heads down.

Side.

Older babies.

North NJ Baby and Children Photographer New Jersey Baby and Children PhotographerNorth NJ Baby and Children Photographer New Jersey Baby and Children PhotographerNorth NJ Baby and Children Photographer New Jersey Baby and Children Photographer
Woodland Park Baby and Children Milestone Photographer
And families.

IMG_7856IMG_7856 I hope you found this quick tutorial helpful and useful on your future sessions.  

I would love to know how this tutorial helped you perfect your skills on lighting. Please feel free to comment telling me about your experience and if you have any questions on feathering your light feel free to ask me as well. I will do my best to answer them.

You can also go to to my Facebook fan page and submit your photos showing your before and afters. I look forward to our next time.

Happy feathering everyone!

 

Giselle.

 
 

Comments

Ashley(non-registered)
I have a similar set up but with a large PLM and the alienbee b800. I can't seem to get it bright enough to use as continuous light at full power and when I use the cybersync as a strobe I have to set the light to its lowest setting at 1/32. What are your settings? Are you using as continuous or strobe. I'm new to photography so I'm so confused why I can't get this to work.
Tiffany(non-registered)
is your Alien Bee 800 a flash or a continuous light?
Brianna Bowling(non-registered)
Hello!!!! I love your work, first of all!!! I do have some questions!!! I've always done outside natural light photos, but I was interested in doing studio lighting, and a friend of mine GAVE me a TON of equipment!!! But I'm just unsure on how to use it. I have an Integra 1600 light with umbrella. It also has the wireless transmitters. The light has a model light that stays on whole time, then the flash trigger that illuminates the outer ring. My camera is Canon 7D, and I also have a Speedlite 580 III. Would either the monolight or Speedlite flash be acceptable to use for newborns, but do I use an umbrella or soft box, or do they both do the same thing, the umbrella and soft box? And do you have the soft box set up above baby level feathering down, or is it set up on boy level feathering from the side?
Caroline(non-registered)
What size is your soft box? I'm looking at getting either a 48" or 60" octagon soft box, but not sure which to get. Beautiful images.
Jessica(non-registered)
Hello! Loved your tutorial, it was so helpful. What brand is the soft box used in this tutorial? Thank you!
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