Lighting tutorial , dark beauty overhead light by Neil Snape

Liliya dark beauty lighting tutorial

final results after toning the edited raw

That is a while back. Looking at that I still see the image quality with the 5D superior than the 5DMKII. Since it was done, the improved process engine in LR would have made it better.

The settings in LR are Temp 4447 K
Tint +102
exposure +0.09
-64 red
+ 19 orange
+4 Green
0 aqua
0 blue
+2 Purple
-100 magenta

The sepia is done after retouching in LR on a virtual copy of the psd or tiff.

Set to H 30 6 saturation  highlight and H30 Saturation 14 shadow balance 0 , just use the saturation until it looks good.

This one is so simple. There is almost no retouching, other than a few bumps on the skin, and a quick mask painted selection and an adjustment layer curve. You can do this with a DB layer too, whatever you like and whatever works. In any case be careful to apply any curves or D&B with luminosity mode as if it were sepia toned you’d color cast the image.

At first I thought it was a P70 close to the ceiling, what I often use but upon further inspection I see it is the big octa with the diffusion peeled back half way. It is used in the “douche” position like a giant shower head. All you have to do when doing this is angle the light towards and away from the camera to see where the light on the eyes is correct. It is high, about 1 metres above, it has the edge closest to her with the diffuser still Velcro’d and a black cinefoil to prevent background spill. The close edge diffusion scrim ( camera side) is undone, and rolled towards the middle of the octa. This gives a silver specular highlight on the hair, skin much more lively than the flatness of the diffuser would have otherwise.

The light is about 1m in front of the centre of the models head.

There probably was a gobo /black cardboard parallel to the floor to stop light spilling onto the charcoal grey background ( seamless paper)

Second light. A large strip light on the right painted to give some graduation on the background from right to left, and to slightly edge light the subject especially the eye when in profile.

raw before

no settings raw CR file


after retouching

raw no settings, BW settings, after editing

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14 Responses to Lighting tutorial , dark beauty overhead light by Neil Snape

  1. joan Morgades says:

    Another great tutorial, Neal, thanks!!.
    I´m not an user of LR so I´m lost when you said “Set to H 30 6 saturation highlight and H30 Saturation 14 shadow balance 0 , just use the saturation until it looks good.”
    Would you mind explain me where can I find it?.

    • Neil Snape says:

      In the development module, basic panel first there is the expo info. Then after the Tone Curve, you’ll see the B&W settings panel. That is where you set the above. By default LR will have auto adjust BW so your sliders when you click on BW will be in various places. I always have auto turned off, so when I start in the BW panel, I have all zeros,
      The last bit of toning information is under Split Toning where you’ll see the above settings too.

  2. iRoshk says:

    Great tutorial Neil, keep ‘em coming! :)

    Just a thought, it would be excellent if you could release some lighting diagrams with such tools as found on or other similar ones.. Those are really helpful for explaining the lighting setup.

    Thank you again for sharing ,

    • Neil Snape says:

      Copied from a MM post:
      ‘ve been adding new tutorials on my blog every few days. There is a thread two lighting tutorials where if someone posts I will describe the light. The only thing I don’t want to do is include a lighting diagram. The way you learn light is seeing, trying, doing. Seeing a diagram gives you the impression if you plunk a light here and there you’ll be able to reproduce the same thing. Look in the eyes, read the light and shadow, and you’ll lock down the why and how to light . Photoshop makes it a bit or lot harder, as when I learned light there was less serious chopping going on.

  3. Ciaran Whyte says:

    Super blog… really glad I found it. A definite add to my rss feeds. Amazing work

  4. John says:

    Interesting read Neil and a great final result.

  5. Lovely and clear to follow tutorial, very mcuh aprpeciated, may be doing something similar soon!

  6. Kifk says:

    I am still having a hard time picturing the placement of the Octa based on your verbal description. I think a quick sketch or diagram or even a picture would clear that up and wouldn’t make us think of “this is the only place to put it.” I am unclear as to where the cinefoil is placed and the position of the diffuser.

    So even a sketch that is out of scale or doesn’t even include a model would help clear that up.

    • Neil Snape says:

      Then I will. I can’t do this just yet but will later. Many reasons why I don’t think diagrams help, most importantly is for this exact reason, it will make you think you understand , yet cannot see* the light in the given situation. The lights are angled tilted and have height and volume that only a picture would show, a diagram will not give you much of an idea.

      But if it will help, I’ll post a diagram, next time I update this blog.

  7. Kifk says:

    Thank you. I think it will give a better starting point to be ready to see the light. I would hate to be in the wrong room! lol

  8. Kifk says:

    To give an indication, I think of the “douche” position as the face of the Octa pointing up. I would also, if not seeing the image at all, would have thought this was low “monster lighting” .

    So it is more about how you described the position and use of the light modifier that confused me. I can see that it is up above and just to the right of center.

  9. Hhamayoon says:

    Neil! You’re giving new edge. innovative dimensions, n the unconventional methods, which is giving me a infinite scope for creativity, this is all great tutorial. lol..

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