Best lighting for simple portraits

Started Dec 13, 2007 | Discussions thread
mg73 New Member • Posts: 13
Re: Clamshell


You are exactly correct. It's an arrangement of lights in a "clamshell" configuration. The upper light is the main light and the bottom is the fill. You can use two lights or one light and a reflector.

Take the classic two light portrait configuration with a main light to one side and a less powerful fill light on the other side. Now imaging that those lights are on a giant, circular support and you could just rotate both lights until the main light was at 12 oclock and the less poweful fill light was at 6 oclock. The clamshell can be viewed as a variation of the classic two light configuration.

It's popularity is derrived from the fact that the fill light is generally nudged up enough to minimize or even eliminate most of the shadows on the face. The result is generally considered flattering and glamourous. Especially on women, but it also works with men.

If you're after dramatic, mysterious, moody, quirky or artsy, though, you'd probably want to go for another style of lighting.


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