Light, Shine, and Zoom | Lighting Tips

Matt Kloskowski shares a few quick lighting tips for photographers in this post. This short tutorial has just a few tips to give you some pointers from turning off your light, adjusting the zoom setting, and how to get some shine.

When in Doubt, Turn off the Light

If you’re trying to work a multiple-light setup, try starting with the basics. Rather than turning on all of the lights at once, try turning them all off until there’s just one. Tweak the light so it’s the way you’d like, then turn on the next light, and so on. This way, you can see exactly what the lights are doing and decide which ones you need to adjust.

If you’re shooting athletes in a studio, here’s a great tip for capturing a more realistic and lifelike photo of them. Athletes sweat, right? But how do you get them to sweat during a photo shoot, short of having them run laps around your studio? Use baby oil. If you can, buy baby oil gel instead of regular baby oil. The gel gives a less-intense shine or highlight when the light hits the subject. Be careful not to use too much, because the highlights will become almost distracting. Do a quick search for “Johnson’s baby oil gel” and you’ll find it pretty fast.


Adding Better Shine

If you want to take the tip above one step further, then try a mixture of water and glycerin. Baby oil just gets you shine; it won’t get beads of sweat running down the athlete’s face. You’d have to dilute it with water and splash it on, but water and oil don’t mix, so you’re stuck. Instead, mixing a little regular drugstore glycerin with water in a spray bottle works great. Makeup artists have used it on photography and movie sets forever, so give it a try.


Zoom Your Flash

If your flash is illuminating your subject and your background, then try adjusting the zoom setting on it. Most small shoe-mount flash heads have a zoom setting that lets you focus a concentrated beam of light at a higher zoom level, or you can widen it so it covers more area at lower zoom level.


Need more lighting tips? Dave Black has this awesome class called Three Ways to Light up Sports Action. But if you would rather work with available light, then try this class on location in Central Park, it’s Conquering Midday Sun with fashion photographer Lindsey Adler.