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PRACTICE IN PORTRAIT SHOOTING WITH TOYS

Portrait lighting is not easy to learn if there is no model at hand. After reading the articles and watching video tutorials on setting up the light, you will be excitedly looking for someone to practice with. But as soon as you finally have a person in front of the camera, everything flies out of your head, you forget all the information that was overloaded, and you feel stupid in front of your “model”. Is that familiar?

In no case should you be disappointed and give up. We offer you a budget option to study the rules of lighting when there is no real model.

Practice in portraiture with toys

You can train in the basic technique of portrait lighting with toys in order to gain confidence before further photographing people until you feel comfortable enough. When you understand the basic principles of portrait lighting, your confidence will increase, you will be able to continue to learn new methods and improve your skills.

Choosing the right toy

But the toy must be chosen correctly. Firstly, you will need a toy with a human figure so that the skills you gain can be easily used when photographing real people. Try to find a figure with pronounced facial features to get realistic shadows.

Secondly, your toy should have a texture. This is important because it helps you see how light affects the subject. When light hits a textured surface, it creates highlights and shadows that help the portrait to show. Everyone in front of your camera will have their own texture (hair, skin and clothes).

Practice in portraiture with toys
The Superman toy has texture and muscle-like details. The face has pronounced features that mimic the face of a real person

Using a flashlight (hard light source)

The quality of light is determined by parameters such as stiffness or softness. The general rule is that the smaller the light source, or the closer it is to the subject, the more hard the light will be. It follows that we get deep and clear shadows. And the larger the light source, the farther it is from the model, the softer the light will be. Here the difference between shadows and highlights will be much less intense.

Let’s start by using a flashlight as a hard light source, it will be easier to understand the basic lighting schemes. In each of the examples below, the direction of light and what happens when the photographer moves the light are discussed.

Front lighting
Rembrandt Lighting
Side lighting (Side / split)
Contour Lighting (Edge light)
Light from behind (silhouette)
Light from below
Superman’s figure stood in one place, and the light source was moved around her. The first image shows how the light source is located in relation to the figure, and the second is the portrait itself.

Front lighting

Practice in portraiture with toys
The light source is located directly in front of the object, slightly higher than the eye level of the model

Practice in portraiture with toys
You can see that the object is evenly lit with a clear shadow under the neck created by the jaw line

Rembrandt Lighting

This is a classic example of lighting, named after the artist Rembrandt. Position the light source so that it hits your subject at an angle of 45 degrees. It is still slightly above eye level.

Practice in portraiture with toys

Practice in portraiture with toys
The left side of the face of the figure becomes dark, but under his eyes there is a triangle of light

Side lighting (Side / split)

Practice in portraiture with toys
The light source is located on the side of the figure

Practice in portraiture with toys
Only one side of the subject is lit. His face is divided by shadow and illuminated part

Contour Lighting (Edge light)

Practice in portraiture with toys
Turn the light source so that it illuminates the figure over your shoulder

Practice in portraiture with toys
Light falls only on the edge of his face, shoulder and arm

Backlight

Practice in portraiture with toys
Place the light source right behind your subject

This is similar to a contour light effect, except that the light is directly behind the subject. If the light source were larger (for example, sunset sky), the effect of the highlighted silhouette would be more pronounced. But the dark background created a very mysterious image for this restrained portrait.

Practice in portraiture with toys

Practice in portraiture with toys
In this photo, the same lighting, except that the ISO was increased to get the correct exposure

Light from below

To get a dramatic portrait, a light source was placed at the feet of the figure and aimed at the face. Such lighting is sometimes called “monster lighting.”

Practice in portraiture with toys

Using a window (soft light source)

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