Study - Quick and dirty Headshots



did some test headshots yesterday using your standard low power construction site spots in my living room.

Caution, use ones based on LEDs or other modern light sources. The old ones produce so much heat, that you wouldn’t want to put them so close to your model or to your wall.

Lighting 1
The spots are pointed towards the white painted wall, and are reflected diffusely. Sadly I could set them up symmetrically as there is a black oven on one side. So the light is kind of coming from one side.

Lighting 2
Deer in Headlight setting. The spots are left and right next to the camera and right in the face of the model. You can see it in the reflection in the eyes. Brightens the room overall and makes the face quite bright. Little problem. I could set the spots as high as the camera, so the light always comes from slightly below.

Lighting 3
Sandwiched Deer. Same as above only the lights are farther apart and closer to the model. Makes for a very moody athmosphere. The background is less bright. The face is super unforgivingly illuminated (makes counting pores easy).

All in all this was a very fun experiment for me and also interesting to see what you can achieve with no dedicated equipment at all. Admittedly these spots weren’t too bright so times for the diffuse lighting were very high. But if the model sits still it will work. :grin:

Gear used: Panasonic LX100, tripod, spots.
Processing: RT only

(Pat David) #2

Wonderful! It’s so easy to learn a bunch of new things just playing around like this, thanks for sharing!

Due to the vertical height of those last two, they almost look like horror movie scenes. :slight_smile: The butterfly shadow from either side of your nose in that last one shows what I mean. If there were any way to get the light centers vertically above your eyes it would make a huge improvement I think (I personally find that type of lighting very flattering generally, as it tends to fill in dark areas of the face nicely). I wish I had some of those lights handy to play with now!

The first one, though flat overall, is nicely diffuse. The last one is more interesting in my eyes from a lighting perspective, but could use some diffusion to avoid the hot-spots.


Do you happen to know how many Watts those lights are rated as (converted to old halogen bulb numbers, not the real power consumption from the LED)? I used 250W and 500W construction site lights in the past and found them to be too weak for some things.


@patdavid, I absolutely agree on getting the lights above the eyes. This was done quickly and I couldn’t get them higher fast. With more preparation that shouldn’t be the problem. And for the diffuse light it is always good to point the spots at anything big and white, with a diffusing surface. The only drawback is that you need much more light to compensate for the reflection losses.

@houz, these were roughly only 160-200 Watt. and

yes I absolutely agree! The diffuse stuff was at 1/8 of a second. So the model really has to be still. Could be much better with more lumen.

And PS: When dealing with harsh light in portraits, I found, that the highlight compression in RT works wonders! Used in the right amount it flattens the highlights such, that the impression of more diffuse light sources appears.