Basic Beauty Lighting: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I’m going to show you my Basic Beauty Lighting setup. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey and you’re watching AdoramaTV brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers and in this video I’m going to show you my Basic Beauty Lighting setup. Now beauty lighting in a small home studio is a great technique because it doesn’t need much space you are just shooting a tight head-and-shoulders shot. There’s lots of variations you can do with it. Now the basic idea is going to extend to the lighting as well in this case it’s a single one light setup this one right here the Flashpoint Explorer 600 and I like using this one because it has a built-in LED modeling lamp which just makes the whole thing a little bit easier to set up but I could do exactly the same shots if I switch this for a Speedlight for example. I need a couple of other things as well I need a reflector and a background and that is it, really basic, really simple so let’s get the light set that’s going to model in let’s get shooting so to help me out today it’s great to have Beth back in the studio. Now we’re going to do a Beauty Lighting setup and the first thing we need to do is sort out the light. This is going to be a single light setup now I’ve got the light overhead which is kind of where you want it for a beauty setup but whether that’s the right overhead we’ll see in a minute but what’s really important is the light stand, now if you’ve got just a standard light stand it’s going to be right in front of your model and that’s going to cause you problems with framing so having a boom arm is a really good idea and if you’re going to use a boom arm make sure you carefully balance it. I’ve got the lightweight remote head for the Explorer 600 that’s not too heavy. The heavy bit is down the bottom counter balancing the whole thing, safety first you don’t want to drop this on your model. Next thing to do is to work out the exposure, now I’ve got my camera set to f/4 and I want this light to produce exactly the same amount of light, so I’ve got my light meter and I’m just going to pop this underneath Beth’s chin. I’ll press the test button and I’m getting a reading of f/5.6 so it’s actually going to be a little bit too bright. If I took this shot now it would be overexposed by a stop so I’m going to get my exposure and I’m going to drop it down which I can do using the remote control here. Let’s just check that again and now I’m getting f/4 so the light matches the camera but is the light the correct position? Well that’s where you find out by taking a test picture, okay Beth here we go you’re going to look towards the camera and well there we go, the picture is indeed correctly exposed but that is not the correct position. Beauty lighting although it is lighting from above, it is not directly overhead. It gives very, very hard contrasting shadows across the face, if you do that and it’s not the look we’re going for here, so what I’ve done it is I’ve moved the light back and angled a little bit as well so it’s still hitting Beth in the face but it’s still elevated and above and this is kind of where I like to put my Beauty lighting. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a beauty dish or a softbox, I like to have it elevated and a little bit further away than it was before. Now because we’ve moved it, we need to check the metering. So let’s get the Flash Meter, pop it underneath Beth’s chin press the test button and I’m getting f/2.8 so I’ve lost a stop of Lights by moving it back again, I can do and stop more by adjusting the power, here let’s do that and I’m back to f/4, so I’m keeping this light, producing the exact amount of light that I’m after to match my camera setting. Okay let’s take this shot and see how it compares to the last one. Here we go Beth, this time we have a much more light in Beth’s eyes we can see the catch lights which are up at 12 o’clock, which is the position I’m looking for, for Beauty lighting although there is still some shadow in it and there’s quite a bit of shadow underneath Beth’s chin, so to fill the shadows underneath Beth’s chin I’m going to use a reflector. Now reflectors come in different sizes and shapes and colors. Now this one has white on one side and on the reverse its silver now they give different looks and which one you use is up to you. I’m going to use the white one first and let’s pop that in underneath Beth, so we’re going to get that in nice and close and tuck it right underneath and have it ever so slightly angled up as well, so there’s a little bit of an angle going on there and we’ll take that shot. Here we go Beth the end result is very different. It’s a much flatter light in as much as there’s less shadows, the shadow underneath the chin, well it’s still there but as you can see it’s greatly reduced as a classic beauty lighting and when you look up close you’ll see there is a reflection of the reflector in the eyes as well as the light above, so the white side is great. If you’re going to get the reflector really close, now if we were to use the silver side would get a very different result. It would look much harsher with much more light bounce-back from our key light above, whether you like that look or not is entirely up to you, however there is a time when I will use the silver side of the reflector. So it makes sense that the white side of the reflector is going to bounce less light into the shadows then the silver side, so when do I use the silver side well I use this when I want the reflector a little bit further away but still want the fill light and this is a perfect example. So we got Beth’s at a little bit lower down and I’ve done that because I’ve got a board that I’m going to put the reflector on, so I’m going to put the silver side on this board like that. Now the reason I’ve done that is to help with the modelling a little bit because before Beth was fairly static, what we’ve done here is we’ve given her a solid surface that you can actually lean on. She can lean into it, she can lean on it and it just helps to give you a range of different poses. That’s a lot more difficult if you don’t have a solid surface, it’s a bit further away than it was before hence I’m using the silver reflector rather than the white reflector and because Beth’s lower down I’ve had to lower the light as well. Now I’ve already metered this out I know it’s ready for f/4 so let’s take a few pictures like this. See how it looks are you ready Beth? Those pictures look absolutely fantastic, even on the back of the camera but there’s always a bit of room for post-processing, so let’s get one of these pictures into Photoshop and we’re going to do that right now. So we’ve looked at my basic Beauty Lighting, now it’s time for my very basic beauty editing this is quick, it’s simple, it works best when you have a model with great skin and makeup let’s see what I’m going to do? So I’ve got the picture into Photoshop and I’m just going to have a close look, so let’s double click on the zoom tool and we have a move around with a hand tool and I’m just looking for any problem areas, any spots or anything that I want to remove, now as you can see Beth’s got really great skin and we have the help of a makeup artist which makes this even easier but there’s a few little areas here and there that I might just want to touch up. So okay, so once I’ve done that the next thing to do is to take this image out of Photoshop and into a third-party plugin. Now it’s called Nik software it’s made by Google, owned by Google. It’s free and at the moment it currently works but that won’t last forever, so get it whilst you can and use it, whilst it works. Once you’ve installed Nik software into your Photoshop or Lightroom, I’m going to go to filter and then down to Nik collection and the one I want is color effects Pro. For now Nik software is getting on a little bit now and it’s not the quickest piece of software to work but it gets there in the end, just a bit of patience required once I’m in color effects Pro 4, I’m going to go to the top left corner and choose the portrait option and from here I’m going to use just two of the standard filters. The first one I’m going to use is glamour glow so I’ll come down and click on glamour glow and on the right hand side I now have a panel of options for glamour glow, the only one I want to change really is the saturation which I’m going to put back to zero so that’s my first setting done. The next one is going to be add filter so click on the add filter button and then I can come back over to the left side and this time I’m going to choose dynamic skin softener, so I press the dynamic skin softener, go back to the right hand side and I can make a few changes here. The first one is to sample the skin color, so I need to click on the little eyedropper tool and then click on some Beth’s skin just sort of a middle-of-the-road skin color something like that. Now back onto the right hand side I’ll leave the color reach alone. That tends to work pretty well at 25 but I’m going to change the small details. I actually like to keep this nice and low I’m going to go for 10, the medium details I like to go for 20 and the large details I’m going to go for 30, nice easy numbers to remember. Now remember these are my starting numbers of course you can go and change your mind and do anything else. A good idea is to go in nice and close and then you can really see how these work as you change the numbers. Once I’ve done that I just need to click on the OK button which is just dropped off the bottom of the screen and that will apply this as a brand new layer on our image and there we go it’s finished. Now it is quite a strong effect. Now if that effect is too strong for you, not a problem just jump over to the opacity and what I normally do is to bring the opacity down to around about 70 percent. That gives a nice combination of the original skin and the NYX software softened skin and there you go there is my basic Beauty lighting shot completed. This may have been just a basic technique but the end result is really great and of course you can always take the basic idea and expand it in so many different ways and I’ll be looking at some of those in a later video. Now if you’ve enjoyed this video, don’t forget to leave me a comment below and of course if you want to see more from myself and the other amazing presenters right here on AdoramaTV, you know what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to click on that subscribe button. I’m Gavin Hoey, thanks for watching.

99 Replies to “Basic Beauty Lighting: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey”

  1. Great tutorial Gavin. A little off the subject but is it possible to change the Ft-16 trigger to go down to 256th power? I read online that it's possible with a firmware update but I can't see how it's even possible since there is no usb port. Also for your lighting setup is closer always better for soft beauty light as long as it doesn't get in the shot or is getting to close not worth the benefit if it's too close?

  2. Great informative video as usual :), but one thing, the layer that came from Nik's, didnt you use a layermask to remove effect on eyes, lips etc., and maybe sharpen eye's a touch ? that looks like it on the final image…

  3. hello Gavin and thank you for your tutorials then I know what is the mask of your tripod for your sofbox because you fix your AD 600 end as counterweight. thank you

  4. Think u need to pay Beth more, so she can afford a new pair of trousers :o)  – Great vid as always, looking forward to the next in the series. Thanks Gav.

  5. Hey Gavin – great video – I am curious do you edit on your surface pro/laptop or on a desktop machine? I can see the benefits in the stylus interface but given how demanding lightroom is it would seem to be a bit of a stretch for surface pro/laptop

  6. Great Video as always. I like your style and your explanations while you are doing it. The part with the post-production is the dot on the i. Here with NIK is very useful for me. Keep it up!

  7. Very good for beauty portraits. Something anyone can do with one light and a reflector with basic knowledge of lighting. You do great Gavin. Keep the tips coming.

  8. Another great video Gavin. I've just started shooting and your videos are an invaluable source of help and inspiration.

  9. Hi, Gavin Hoey….I watched your all videos, u r genius, your teaching is very simple & good to understand, waiting for your future videos.

  10. I knew they had stopped updating Nik, but I didn’t know it’s going to stop working. Gavin Hoey is the small studio maestro.

  11. Thank you, Gavin, yet again you make it all look so easy. I have tried a few of your ideas out, and I have had awesome results, I even won a local photo competition with one of your inspiring ideas. I look forward to your next video with anticipation

  12. Hi Gavin, will you do the same type of images but with a black background. In your studio, its useful as space for some of us is important and therefore distance for light drop off has to work.  I do use a black popup behind the subject but I tend to get a harder light.  This video was very helpful because you showed the light setting ( speedlites) as well as you camera setting.  While I know they change with each place you shoot but its the starting point.  Thanks so much

  13. Gavin, im an amateur photographer looking to push myself forward. Ill be honest and say the videos you have done have been really useful and very helpful. Do you prefer to shoot with a particular lens? Please keep up the good work. Very impressed!

  14. I just learned today that DxO has bought Nik Software and will continuing updating it.
    https://petapixel.com/2017/10/25/dxo-buys-nik-collection-google-will-resume-development/?mc_cid=54bcc5e002&mc_eid=7ab716688c

  15. Gav, apparently DxO has bought Nik off Google and will release a new version in mid 2018 – so good news going forward. https://nikcollection.dxo.com/

  16. Always great videos, learnt so much. Hopefully if I have some time next year Id love to book a workshop if any are on!

  17. Really nice, clearly presented tutorial. I like the way you took us from lighting and posing through post-production to give us the complete, streamlined process.

  18. There is beauty in simplicity. Your videos are truly enlightening. Your teaching style, method and approach is just like I remember in college. There was a time when photography only used natural light in windows and or candles and mirrors. Understanding the nature of light is our job and therefore, we paint with light!

  19. Why are you going that low with clarity. I have watched a lot of your videos, and this is first time that i am dissapointed with your edit.

  20. Thanks for great video
    I have a little point about the model skin tone. She’s a very white skin and you made a glowing effect it destroyed her skin texture and made her nose more broad
    I think wormer casting and lighting will make her looks more beautiful

  21. Great, as usual Gavin! I used to cover plenty beauty sections for the magazines I was working with, during my fashion career and I used exactly your last setting (with silver reflector). The only difference is that, at those times, we were working with Kodachrome and there wasn’t any Photoshop or Nik plugin. The picture had to get out, absolutely perfect, directly from the camera. The only trick I was using, was a thin, black stoking, stretched in front of the lens. Memories from the past.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *