Student’s 1:3 Lighting Ratio results

© 2015 Stephanie Leilani

These are the results from the students assignment where they were to create a 1:3 lighting ratio on the subjects. They could add background color or just white. They could also have fun, but they had to demonstrate the 1:3 lighting setup.


Assignment Description:
1:3 lighting ratio.  This photo is classic lighting.

Items:

Softbox
This light is your main light. Get a light reading with just this first. The light should be 45 degrees off the axis of the camera and 45 degrees above the subjects eyes.

Subject
Your subject should have the main light lighting only part of the face and the shadows should be just a little to show the 1:3 ratio.

White backdrop
Keep the subject a few feet from the background and do not use more lights to light it.

(D)SLR
Choose the lowest ISO.  Use a portrait lens 50mm if you don’t have full frame camera can work.  No more than 100mm.

Octobox
This is your fill light and get just a reading of this 2nd.  Be sure it is 1/2 the power (1 f/stop less) than the main light. After this is done get a 3rd light reading of both lights which will be the setting for the camera. It can be level with the eyes, but you may have to move up with glasses to avoid glare.

© 2015 Benjamin Marsden

To see all the photos just look at this slide show.



http://www.stanleylearystoryteller.com/ratio/index.html

Student’s work from the YWAM School of Photography 1 2014

Photo by Clara Kwon

These are examples of the students work from this past week on lighting that I taught in the School of Photography 1 which is part of Youth With A Mission’s University of the Nations campus in Kona, Hawaii.

This was the first time for most everyone in the class to use studio strobes.

Without flash — Photo by Andrea Klaussner

With flash — Photo by Andrea Klaussner

They learned how to use off camera flash on location. The assignment required them to hand in one photo without a flash and one with it. Some of the students photos looked better without a flash and sometimes there are times you don’t need a flash they found out.

 Without flash — Photo by Lizz Busby

With flash — Photo by Lizz Busby

The bread and butter assignment for a photographer is the environmental portrait. Being able to take a poor lighting situation and improving it was the purpose of the assignment as well as to know how to make it.

The students took a baseline photo without a flash and below the sync speed for their camera. Then they made a flash reading setting the strobe to be one stop greater than the aperture reading without the flash. They then only changed the aperture to the one stop great aperture that the flash is set. They were also encouraged to see if more power from the flash was better for the photo.

1:3 Lighting Ratio Assignment

You can see the assignment the students were given here in an earlier blog post. Basically they needed to have the main light [key] at 45º from the camera, with the model looking straight into the camera. We did this to help them see the shadow across the nose. They then had a fill light one stop less than the main light.

They could use different backgrounds from White, Gray or color.

Photo by Debbie Smit

Photo by Erik Wuesthoff

Photo by Keziah Khoo

Photo by Lizz Busby

Photo by Oo Shinoda

Photo by Melissa Kelsey

I think the students all did a great job and in less than a week each person had a potential of a couple of photos to add to their portfolios.

Why Learn Ratio Lighting?

First of all there are times you need to be sure your photos can be reproduced properly. The most used photo I know of in publications is the head shot.

There are some pretty cool lighting setups you can use, but if you not aware of how this will affect the photo in print then your client will be sorely disappointed with your photos.

Take this first photo where I am lighting the person with one light on a grid. This is a classic Rembrandt Lighting that gives you a nice triangle on a the cheek.

All the photos here were taken during a class I taught in Hawaii on lighting.

You can do this assignment yourself to understand how to understand ratio lighting. You need to first start with one light and then add other lights. Use this lighting diagram and the instructions below to duplicate this with your camera and off camera flash.

Description:
Rembrandt portrait using one grid light

Items:

  • Monobloc with 10 or 20 degree grid
    • You may use any power setting you choose.  Be sure skin tone is properly exposed and correct white balance.
  • White backdrop
    • You may use a black background as well.  No other lights to be used in this assignment.
  • Woman
    • Please get the best possible expression.  You need to see a triangle on their cheek.  Be sure the triangle includes lighting their eye.
  • (D)SLR
    • Choose the lowest ISO setting for your camera.  Use a portrait lens 85mm – 100mm or if you don’t have full frame then 50mm will be OK.
The first place that the above photo becomes a problem is with your newspaper. Especially when it runs in black and white. You see for the most part everything without light on it in the subject will be black in newspaper print.

So as to still get the nice shape that takes place with an off camera flash you need to add a fill light to help soften those harsh shadows so you can still see detail.

To get the second photo here you need to use the lighting diagram below and follow the instructions. Go ahead and shoot your subject with your camera and two lights.

Description:
1:3 lighting ratio.  This photo is classic lighting.

Items:

  • Woman
    • Your subject should have the main light lighting only part of the face and the shadows should be just a little to show the 1:3 ratio.
  • (D)SLR
    • Choose the lowest ISO.  Use a portrait lens 50mm if you don’t have full frame camera can work.  No more than 100mm.
  • Octobox
    • This is your fill light and get just a reading of this 2nd.  Be sure it is 1/2 the power (1 f/stop less) than the main light. After this is done get a 3rd light reading of both lights which will be the setting for the camera. It can be level with the eyes, but you may have to move up with glasses to avoid glare.
  • Softbox
    • This light is your main light. Get a light reading with just this first. The light should be 45 degrees off the axis of the camera and 45 degrees above the subjects eyes.
  • White backdrop
    • Keep the subject a few feet from the background and do not use more lights to light it.
How to figure the Ratio

You need to change your f/stops into ratios.  What I do is first understand that your main light is putting out twice the light as your fill.  You would think that this means you have a 2:1 ratio, but this isn’t the case.

The reason is you must figure not by what each light is putting out, but how much light is hitting the subject. 

Everywhere the main light is hitting so to is your fill light from the camera’s angle. You then need to add the main light and the fill for all those places which is adding 2 + 1 = 3. The shadow is only being lighted by the fill so no need for addition or subtraction.

On the subject the brightest areas being lighted by the main and fill get 3 times the light as compared to the shadows getting lighted by just the fill which we say is 1 amount of light.

This is what we call the 3:1 lighting ratio and very printable in a newspaper.

Adding a hair light

Go ahead and then shoot this third shot and add a hair light. Use the diagram below and play with the exposure of the hair light till you get something you like.

Description:
1:3 lighting ratio.  This photo is classic lighting with hair light.

Items:

  • Woman
  • Your subject should have the main light lighting only part of the face and the shadows should be just a little to show the 1:3 ratio.
  • Monobloc with grid on boom
  • With dark hair start at same f/stop as main up to about 1 or 2 stops more.  With bald or light hair be careful using hair light. Sometimes better to not use one.
  • (D)SLR
  • Choose the lowest ISO.  Use a portrait lens 50mm if you don’t have full frame camera can work.  No more than 100mm.
  • Octobox
  • This is your fill light and get just a reading of this 2nd.  Be sure it is 1/2 the power (1 f/stop less) than the main light. After this is done get a 3rd light reading of both lights which will be the setting for the camera. It can be level with the eyes, but you may have to move up with glasses to avoid glare.
  • Softbox
  • This light is your main light. Get a light reading with just this first. The light should be 45 degrees off the axis of the camera and 45 degrees above the subjects eyes.
  • White backdrop
  • Keep the subject a few feet from the background and do not use more lights to light it.

Background Light

You can add color to your background by just putting a colored gel over a light and pointing it to the background. You need to be sure your other lights are not lighting the background. For these photos here below we used the first lighting setup with one light with a grid and then added the background light.

Using a white background be sure your value on the background from the background light is -2 stops as compared to the main light. This will give you the same color as your gel.  If you want a darker color then even less light. If you prefer a lighting color add more light.

    Here is a photo of some of the students having fun with their assignments in Kona, Hawaii.

    YWAM School of Photography: 1:3 Ratio Lighting

    This is the students second shooting assignment this week.

    Assignment Description:
    1:3 lighting ratio.  This photo is classic lighting.

    Items:

    Softbox
    This light is your main light. Get a light reading with just this first. The light should be 45 degrees off the axis of the camera and 45 degrees above the subjects eyes.

    Subject
    Your subject should have the main light lighting only part of the face and the shadows should be just a little to show the 1:3 ratio.

    White backdrop
    Keep the subject a few feet from the background and do not use more lights to light it.

    (D)SLR
    Choose the lowest ISO.  Use a portrait lens 50mm if you don’t have full frame camera can work.  No more than 100mm.

    Octobox
    This is your fill light and get just a reading of this 2nd.  Be sure it is 1/2 the power (1 f/stop less) than the main light. After this is done get a 3rd light reading of both lights which will be the setting for the camera. It can be level with the eyes, but you may have to move up with glasses to avoid glare.

    Here are the results:

    by: Lisa Mironuck
    by: Sasha Stark
    by Annett Rek
    by Ellis Peeters
    by Malcolm Adair
    by Sharon Reitsma
    by Lauren R. Tercero
    by Joshua Soon Yong Choi
    by Janie Wakefield
    by Francisco Leon V.
    by Deborah Mataia
    by Tom Yu
    by Elsa Mesot
    by Hastings Franks
    by Katie Suderman
    by Sarah L. Quinones