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Playing with Studio Lighting | Samples from Sony A7RII + Godox AD360II

Playing with Studio Lighting | Samples from Sony A7RII + Godox AD360II

Okay, “studio” is a very loose term. It’s more like my living room cleared out so I can take some portrait shots. And even then, “cleared out” is a loose term. But that’s not the point. The point is, I received my Godox AD360II not too long ago and wanted to take it for a test drive. I invited Paul to come over so we can experiment with some studio lighting techniques with this new equipment. This is not a review, but rather some sample images you can get with using this in a studio environment.

Equipment Used:
Sony A7RII
Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art
Canon 50mm L f1.2
Sigma 85mm f1.4
Metabones IV Adapter
Godox X1T-S Trigger
Godox AD360II
Beauty Dish Diffuser and Grid
Yongnuo 560III IV Speedlight

ISO 100 | 50mm | f2.0 | 1/60

Let’s discuss lighting technique. This was lit with the ad360ii pointed towards a reflector which is positioned camera left, just outside the frame. I wanted to play with this type of diffusion, which I see Joe McNally utilize constantly in his videos. I just HAD to see what softness it yielded and surprisingly it was pretty good. Also, if you’re working with a 1 light setup, be careful not to get complete shadows on the non-lit side of the face. I positioned Paul slightly so that there was a bit of light fall off onto his right eye, to retain some detail. It also helps immensely that the Sony a7rii dynamic range is fairly impressive, as it retained a decent amount of detail.

ISO 100 | 35mm | f2.0 | 1/60

The ad360ii was positioned on a high light stand right behind Paul, above his head pointed downwards towards his hair. You can see the rim light effect due to the initial positioning. For the main light on his face, I had him hold a reflector, which is why you can notice his shoulders being a bit in a wider stance. Angle his face downwards, otherwise if you have the subject looking up with a light source that’s coming from a lower position, it’ll look like a scary-movie Halloween non-flattering lighting. I’d say the softness is pretty impressive, considering the distance and simplicity of this setup. (Side note: I feel more than comfortable hand holding at 1/60 because of Sony’s IBIS, weight, and reduction of shutter shock. TBH, I haven’t really ran into any issues on shutter vibration of blurry images shooting even as 1/60).

ISO 100 | 85mm | f5.6 | 1/200

Okay, so this is when I started taking things a bit more formal. Copying Joe McNally’s 1 light technique with speedlights, I wanted to emulate this with my bare bulb strobe. Light is positioned just off camera left, at Paul’s 1 o’clock position. The ad360ii is fitted with the godox beauty dish and grid, as well as the plastic white diffuser cover. That light fall off and softness is just beautiful. Makes sense on why it’s called a beauty light.

ISO 100 | 85mm | f5.6 | 1/200

Let’s crank it up and add another dimension to the scene. I gelled and gridded my Yongnuo 560III IV with my MagMod system and a blue temp gel and positioned the flash camera right. I placed it a bit further back to get the light to be a bit harsher. The blue was added to add a bit of theatrical mood to it. This is straight out of camera.

ISO 100 | 85mm | f5.6 | 1/200

For studio portraits, I find f5.6 to be a nice sweet spot for me to render some great sharpness and texture, specifically with the 35mm and 85mm Sigma lenses. I see a lot of beginners approach studio photography using lenses wide-open, say f1.8 or so. This is fine, and it may be a stylized look, but the caveat is not retaining more of the texture from the photo and not having both eyes in focus. In addition, beginners tend to use consumer rated glass, say the Canon 50mm f1.8 (which is a great piece of kit, not arguing), but wide open it’s not tack sharp. I suggest approaching studio portraits with f4, f5.6 or even f8.

ISO 100 | 85mm | f5.6 | 1/200

The grid truly helps when shooting in a home studio environment. I have 8 ft high ceilings and controlling light in my home studio is a nightmare. Grid your stuff to control the direction of your light. Or get a bigger apartment or loft. I unfortunately can’t afford the latter.

ISO 100 | 85mm | f5.6 | 1/200

When you cinematically light stuff, I think it’s an appropriate time to whip out the “groans and fatigue” look of editorial/pop culture trends. Deep shadows and barely visible outlines is always a fun shot to get.

ISO 100 | 85mm | f5.6 | 1/200

Straight out of the camera part 2. The beauty of the Sony A7RII is its flexibility of its RAW files. I love blue/cool tones, especially for cinematic portraits. You can really tell how much I push the post-processing, although I try to keep it relatively light. Even with the post added, there’s barely any compromise in the final export.

ISO 100 | 35mm | f5.6 | 1/200

Who says you can’t do portraits with a 35mm? I LOVE the 35mm for studio stuff. Mainly to capture the environment a bit (aka the mess in my apartment). I think it adds a nice little candid touch that kind of puts the whole shoot into perspective.

ISO 100 | 35mm | f5.6 | 1/200

And finally, let’s bring out the groans and ahhs for closure.

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