This is a perfect example of what is called “Hollywood Lighting.” It was made with a single 600watt hotlight source placed above the camera and just slightly left of the camera position. Notice the shadow under the nose in a “v-shape.” This is the sign of a good Hollywood Lighting. It is sometimes referred to as a “Buttefly Lighting” because the shadow resembles a butterly’s wings.
It is a great place to start any lighting application because this type of lighting quickly delineates the subject. It lights the face from the front and shows detail on the part of the face that’s facing the light. Believe it or not, this was actually shot against a white background with two shades, or “gobos” placed on either side of the subject to keep light off the background.
Once you have mastered this type of lighting, you can then add other lights to:
- Light the background
- Bring out other details about the subject
- Add special effects or “highlights” to give the subject more three-dimensional quality
This is basically where I start almost every portrait. I then modify light position and quality as needed, depending on what type of portrait I wish to make.
Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. By all means, you can get a simple 500watt photoflood bulb and a reflector and begin experimentation. It’s relatively cheap and easy to get started with your lighting lessons.