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Lighting in Shooting the $2million image

Martin Turner (Martin Turner)

Keywords: martin_turner, studiophotography, concept, planning, composition, lighting, shooting, postprocessing, pro, professional_photography, human_factor, working_with_people, studio

This is the sixth part of the series Studio Photography: Shooting the $2million image - Lighting.

Let’s recap where we started. To achieve the maximum effect, give yourself from 0-1 points for post-processing, 0-2 for shooting, 0-4 for lighting, 0-8 for composition, 0-16 for planning, 0-32 for working with people, and 0-64 for concept. Multiply these together. You will get a result between 0 and about 2 million. Think of each point as $1 worth. You can’t make a mediocre image great by extraordinary lighting, but you can lose almost all of its value by poor lighting.

Click for an enlargement


There are four things which lighting does for us in the studio shoot.

First, and this is the main difference between the studio look and almost every other kind of photography, it freezes everything. Studio shots look absolutely razor sharp because at 1/2000 second there is no movement blur which can be identified even at 36 MP or beyond. You can use differential focus to soften parts of the image, and you can blur out in post-processing if you want, but only with studio flash can you ensure that the principal interest is frozen in time, whether a picture of a child jumping in the air, or a drop of water exploding in a glass.

Second, good lighting renders the three dimensionality of the image.

Third, good lighting brings out the colour of the image.


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Jim Donelson (jcdonelson) on December 5, 2018

Ribbon awarded for his contribution to the Articles section

Wow. A lot of great info packed into a quick read. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Much appreciated.

Thomas Chmara (tpc) on November 30, 2018

What a whirlwind tour - years of experience distilled into 4 short pages - thanks for sharing! It used to be very easy when I was a "natural-light" photographer.. but replacing poor light - or adding (blending) light - opens up so many more expressive possibilities.

Paul Blais (PBlais) on November 29, 2018

Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the 2017-2018 fundraising campaign

Martin always gets to the important parts as why. He shares a lot! It's why he is a great jewel of Nikonians!