Broad and Short Lighting in Portrait Photography: OnSet ep. 247
Broad and Short Lighting in Portrait Photography: OnSet ep. 247

Hey! This is Daniel Norton and I’m here in my studio in New York City with Marissa, and today I’m gonna talk about broad versus short lighting as they say. So people always ask me, like, what do you call the different lighting types, and I’m not a big person for naming stuff but, I thought this was an interesting topic because so many people, like, learn these things, like, this is broad lighting, this is short lighting, this is butterfly, this is Rembrandt whatever, and they just do it. They don’t really have a reason for doing it. So, in this one I’m gonna, kind of, talk about the difference between broad and short, but why I would use each one. So, define them first so I don’t forget. Is, short lighting is when you’re lighting the.. when somebody’s, kind of, 3/4 or more profile to you and you’re lighting the short side of the face, so, the face away from the camera. Broad lighting is when you light the side that’s towards the camera, so, that’s the broad side of the face and probably there’s some video in there that will tell you that one of them makes people look skinny or whatever but I don’t care about that, like, that’s not why I use it, I use it for the drama that comes about depending on what you’re doing. So, I’m gonna leave one light consistent here which is my Profoto B2. That’s just gonna be a hair/separation light because the background is gonna go kind of gray, because I’m just using the softbox here as my key. So, that’s just gonna stay there and, kind of, give her some separation so it doesn’t look too flat. So we’re starting, like I said, with the short light. This is a Profoto B1X in a two foot softbox. I’ve got it basically behind her and lighting the short side of her face. So I’ll give an icon here and I’m going to line this thing up. A little taller with my tripod. Okay here, good. That’s nice here we go. Okay so we can see here, oh yeah that hair light is really on point, I’ll just have to say, you know, we’re lighting the back side of her face. You’ve got this, like, beautiful light coming across you have the shadow area here this definitely adds a lot more drama to the shot, right, because basically what you’re getting is the, kind of, more shadow equals more mystery equals more drama. So if I wanted something more where the person is less connected, or that there’s something mysterious about them, this is the type of light that I would want to use. I don’t want to reveal all of them, right? So all that shadows coming, and because it is kind of coming from the back and coming towards us, it’ll show also detail in clothing if you had that, in this case we’re shooting just a simple dress, so we don’t have that, but you can see in the face how nice that is. Let me do a couple more because you get paid by the frame. Good, the shoulders back, good, turn slightly this way. now remember this.. it’s important that this works like this, and not like if she was staring right at me, because that would simply be bad, right, because that’s not gonna work there. You’d use a different lighting thing for that if you want to move there. This is just gonna create, kind of, oddball light here, so this really is for, like, more of a three-quarter type shot. So let’s go to, actually leave the bad picture up, we should leave the bad picture up. Let’s do one more good one, yeah. Marissa doesn’t like me to leave bad pictures. There we go, all right, we didn’t leave the bad picture, we’re good. Alright, so, let’s go to broad lighting. So, I’m gonna use the same box I’m gonna move it to the other side. She’s gonna look the same direction she was looking before, right, and what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna light this side of her face that’s towards the camera, a.k.a the broad side. So let’s see what we got there. Take a half a step this way, back a little bit okay. That’s it the hokey pokey, right? Is that not the hokey pokey? Alright, so, we can see here that now we’re revealing this whole side of her face, it’s clean it’s fresh, right? It’s all.. I mean there’s shadow but it’s away from us. So we’re not really you know hiding anything on her versus the short side where we are. So let’s take a quick couple like this. Now this one’s a little more forgiving if she starts to work towards the camera. Like here now you can go straight on, right, because now the lights more or less in front of her right, so if you are going to have some variations where she’s gonna look towards the camera, this may be a better lighting setup because it gives you that that option. If you’re working with that short lighting you’re really good to think about where you’re gonna have the model turn. So let’s do a few more where you’re turned off this way Last one so that’s basically your broad lighting and your short lighting Cool, cool, cool. So when you’re learning I guess it’s fine to have like things in your pocket, like this is this technique, this is that technique, but remember just having the technique doesn’t do anything, what it does is just tells you how to put the lights not why and what we really wanna do as photographers is think about why we’re doing what we’re doing. So whether you want to call it broad light or short light or whatever you want to do. Just think about why you’re lighting somebody and what effect is gonna give to you. I’ll put Marissa’s information in the description so you guys can follow her. Follow me @DanielNortonPhotographer. Make sure you subscribe to Adorama TV and ring the bell, and I’ll see you next time OnSet.

26 thoughts on “Broad and Short Lighting in Portrait Photography: OnSet ep. 247”

  1. Shane Scott says:

    Good video and info as always. Marisa didn't seem to be her normal cheery self. Missed her sparkle!

  2. Matti ausm Norden says:

    Raaawwrrr. The Darisa Animal back again. Great make up.

  3. Kamil says:

    1:40 looks like short lighting makes Marisa look a bit too manly 😀

  4. Jean-François La Forge says:

    Marisa seems sad ????????????????????????????????? And it makes me sad too……………………………….

  5. says:

    as always, helpful and thoughtful. marisa was great. the nikon z6 served you well. i am an appreciative subscriber. thumbs up.

  6. walo Thoenen says:

    in my opinion…short side is much better. thx 4 the vid 🙂

  7. Gregory Sargeant, says:

    Great video,I was taught that a true short or broad lighting pattern doesn't have any light on the shadow side of the face, if it does it's a different lighting pattern say loop or Rembrandt what say you?

  8. J Bello says:

    great video, thanks! i love the color on the dress too

  9. Gilbert Henri says:

    Super job. Great video. Thumb up. Thank you guys.

  10. Alfredo Hernandez says:

    Great set Daniel! and whats up Marissa !!!! I kept waiting for her to bust up laughing, not used to seeing her be so serious.

  11. Michael Cothran says:

    Two questions –
    1. Can I presume that the "fill light" (not the hair light) on the dark side of the Short Lighting segment was due to random light (both strobe & ambient) scattering around your studio? I saw no reflector in place.
    2. Is Marisa ok?? I have never seen her so melancholy. She never said a word, nor was she her usual perky self.

  12. Mr Dev says:

    I learn something every time I come here 👍👍

  13. Blackwing Visuals says:

    Good lord she's especially fabulous looking today 🙂 sorry Dan you are amazing in other ways 🙂

  14. hawg427 says:

    Daniel, why do you have the camera so low compared to her eye level?

  15. Tamayo.F.J.1976 says:

    Marissa 💛💛

  16. Aljo Antony says:

    Positioning matters so much in photography.

  17. Clif Lowry says:

    Echoing some other comments. Informative video but concerned about Marisa. Hope all is ok with her.

  18. Alan Johnstone says:

    Thanks Daniel and Marisa, no vibrance from our favourite model today, I hope she is okay!

  19. Mike James says:

    Thanks, Daniel and Marisa!

  20. Béla Szabó says:

    Hey, what happened to Marissa? She's so sad, so blue

  21. Tom Mino says:

    3:45 nice make-up, Marisa, I like it!

  22. Jorge says:

    Hi Daniel, would you mind telling us the settings used for the Z6 (any flash setting?, did you disable “what you see is what you get in the viewfinder? what kind of speed-light you had as master on the top hotshoe?, why not use live view?, etc). As you might guess, I am just learning flash photography and I am also new to the Z6. Thank you for your great tutorials Daniel.

  23. Alfredo DAndrea says:

    Good tips Daniel, Marisa I hope you are well and whatever your going through you get well soon. 🙂

  24. Larry Williams says:

    Marisa! 🙁

  25. Ron Yurek says:

    Hope Marisa is ok!!!

  26. Andrew says:

    Thank you Daniel and Marisa, another great video 👍

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