OK, throwing out a handful of examples, using a variety of different equipment combinations. These are all with relatively inexpensive lighting gear. For most of these, if you study the catchlight in the eyes, and the direction/hardness of the shadows (or lack thereof), you'll get a pretty good clue as to where my lights were placed. [IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com .../nathancarter/6706331007/]artPOOL.20120114.3643.jpg
Note that although I'm now shooting with a 5D3, if you're in control of the lighting you can get great results with just about any body. I upgraded to the 5D3 because I do a lot of low-light shooting as well as video.
Example 1, this is from an art/fashion event a few years ago.
Goal: Get some nice portraits of a handful of the models; the makeup and hair were a big project by my friend Loryn.
Equipment: 60D, 50mm f/1.4, 430EXII in my homemade beauty dish.
I used the 60D's pop-up flash to trigger the 430EXII, with the power turned way down on the pop-up flash. I may have had it in ETTL mode, I honestly can't remember now. I was definitely still a rank amateur at lighting, and this was my first "success" with using off-camera flash and a modifier. I might have had a small reflector to camera-left to soften shadows.
You can see the ring-shaped reflection of the beauty dish on the side of her eyes, and the little tiny dot in the center that's the pop-up flash. Putting the main light on the other side of the model is called "short lighting" and can be used in a dramatic-light portrait to slim and lengthen a round face. It has the potential to exaggerate the nose, though.
, on Flickr
Example 2, at MegaCon this past year with my portable setup. I love shooting costumes and cosplay, and make it a point to go to many cons just to take fun photos.
Goal: Use directional lighting to bring out the texture and interest of the sculpted mask.
Equipment: 5D3, 24-70 f/2.8, two YN-560s, one brolly box, Cactus V5 triggers, two stands.
This is one of my favorite simple-and-effective setups for head and bust portraits: One speedlight in a brolly box acting as the main light, and one bare speedlight behind/beside the model to act as a rim light, kicker light, or hair light. By moving the exact placement of the two lights, you can get a variety of portraiture styles.
This is a "split light" portrait where half the face is lit by the main light, and half the face is in shadow. By putting the main light far to the side, the texture and detail of the mask is exaggerated. The rim light gives separation from the background. Split lighting is hard to pull off for a "beauty" portrait because every line and wrinkle and imperfection on the model's face will be raised and exaggerated.
This was in a moderately well-lit convention hall. I dialed the in-camera exposure way down to kill most ambient light, and turned the flash power way up to compensate. [IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com .../nathancarter/8610992141/]MegaCon_20130316_2951.jpg
, on Flickr
Example 3: Pinup. I'm far from an expert at pinup style, but I'm working on it.
Goal: Pinup-style calendar for my friend Kaila. Click through to the set for the rest, but this one's my favorite.
Equipment: 5D3, 70-200 f/4L, two YN560s, one 430EXII, one brolly box, one reflector, Cactus V5. Stands & white paper backdrop.
This is almost to-the-tee using Zack Arias' white seamless tutorial:http://www.zarias.com ...torial-part-1-gear-space/
I used the two YN560s to blow out the background, and the 430EXII in the brolly box with reflector to light the model. The 430EXII was triggered by the Cactus V5, the two YN560s were set to optical slave mode. This was in my "home studio" - the living room, with the furniture shoved out of the way. I've since upgraded from the 5-foot-wide paper to a 10-foot-wide paper which is a little harder to handle but a LOT easier to shoot. I've made a few more upgrades since this shoot as well, such as some tall gobos to block the background lights from spilling onto the model, and an additional piece of tileboard to get more distance between the model and background.
The background lights are just out of frame to the left and right of the paper.
Final: [IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com .../nathancarter/8016229838/]Kaila Calendar 06 June.jpg
, on Flickr
As shot: [IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com .../nathancarter/8016881279/]Kaila_Calendar_20120915_3863.jpg
, on Flickr
Example 4: Bioshock. Again, costumes, my favorite.
Goal: To recreate the look and feel of the undersea city of Rapture from the game Bioshock.
Equipment: 5D3, 24-70 f/2.8, two YN-560s, one 430EXII, one brolly box, one shoot-through umbrella, Cactus V5, stands.
This is at Dragon Con just a few weeks ago, at the late-night event at the Georgia Aquarium. So it's all on-site, and gear that I could just carry in by hand (five long hot blocks from our hotel).
The main light is one YN-560 in the brolly box, camera right. To camera left is the other YN-560 with a blue-green gel to give a bit of an underwater feel, and a shoot-through umbrella to diffuse it. The 430EXII is on a stand to camera left and behind the models - it's pretty low in this shot, you can see it just peeking over the drill hand. All three lights are triggered with Cactus receivers; I often use optical slave mode (less gear to set up) but if there are other flashes around then that's far from ideal.
Again, I've killed most ambient lighting with camera settings, and used extremely directional lighting to give a dramatic feel and bring out texture. [IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com .../nathancarter/9681924615/]DragonCon_20130831_9578.jpg
, on Flickr
Example 5: Barbarella
Goal: Something interesting and different from the rest of Jessica's set.
Equipment: 5D3, 24-70, two YN-560s, Cactus triggers, stands, white paper backdrop.
I was doing a huge set of different looks for my friend Jessica - click through the image to see the rest of the set. For this one, I used two bare YN560s to make an interesting shadows. One is on a stand to camera left (the shadow gives it away); the other is clamped to the top of the backdrop stand to the right side. The rest of the setup is the same as the white seamless tutorial that I linked above.
Looks like I never went in and cleaned up that seam at the edge of the tile board. Oh well. [IMAGE'S LINK: http://www.flickr.com .../nathancarter/8253128471/]Jessica_20121201_0327.jpg
, on Flickr