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How to shoot low-light or low-key bodscapes

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Bodyscape Environment Setup

The setup for bodyscape photography is failry simple.  You want to work in a room that is at least 10 feet by 10 feet - bigger is always better to allow distance from the subject and the photographer.  You will want to have a solid black curtain or black seamless roll of paper as your backdrop and flooring.  And you will need three speedlights, a white basic shower curtain, or a strip light.  It is also helpful to have a stool or chair for your model.

You also do not have to worry about any additional lights, or room lighting since we will be controlling the level of light into the camera based on the ISO and flash strength.

Bodyscape Lighting, model, and photographer distance

When you set up your room with the black background and flooring, place your model roughly 6 feet away from the back wall.  Place your lightstrip or two speedlights 3-4 feet away from the model on the left or right side of their body - choose one side and put both speedlights on that side of the model.  The photographer would then want to stand at least 6-8 feet away from the model.

For this setup, both of our speedlights will be placed into strip lights, and will be organized one on top of the other (vertically) so that the strip light is as tall or taller than the model.  One light will cast lighting onto their feet, legs, and lower torso, and the other light will light the upper part of their torso, head, neck, and arms.  If you do not have two striplight, get a cabinet, or a ladder that is taller than the model and place your speedlights on the top and lower part of the ladder.  Cover the ladder with a shower curtain, and this will be your strip light!

You can also lay the strip light horizontal to your model if you want to shoot them laying on the floor.  This same setup uses two strip lights, or  a ladder across two chairs with the shower curtain laying over it.  Same principal, same light settings, just one is horizontal, one is vertical.

Set the Strength of your speedlights

For the bodyscapes, we will be using three speedlights.  Two will be in your strip lights or strip light setup, and one will be mounted on your camera.  Lets discuss what the strength of the lights should be.

1) Camera:  Set your camera to ISO 200 - F8, and use a 50-200 mm lens

2) Camera Mounted Speedlight (flash):  Set this flash to 1/32 at 50mm ISO 200.   Remember, you are shooting from 6-8 feet away, so this is just soft fill light. 

3) Speedlight one in the striplight:  Set one speedlight to 1/16 at 50mm ISO 200.  This is hitting your model from 4-5 feet away and is the primary fill light.

4) Speedlight two in the striplight: Set the second speedlight to 1/16 at 50 mm ISO 200.  This is hitting your model from 4-5 feet away and is the primary fill light.



Place your model and take test shots

Place your model on the chair or stool - 6-8 feet away from the wall, make sure the model is positioned at least 4-5 feet away from the light source, and start taking some test shots!  Start at f8 ISO 200, and have the model rotate her body to the light source to see if you are getting the shadows and fall-off you are looking for on their body.  If you want more light, bump the f stop to 7 or 6, if you want more shadows, have the model move a little farther from the light source, and rotate her boday away from the light.  Just play around with this setup, but  right out of the gate, you should see the results you are looking for and progress from there. 

Then play around with turning the photos into black and white and testing the contrast of your shots.


Happy Shooting!



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