With many people being off work at the moment it might seem the perfect time to practice our photography – except that in so much of the world we’re not allowed to go out of the house let alone meet up for a portrait shoot. Software company Elixxier claims to have a neat solution in its recently updated set.a.light 3D application that allows us to keep experimenting, perfecting and testing studio set-ups even when we have to stay at home.

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Users of the application can create a virtual studio filled with lights, modifiers, backgrounds as well as a host of models to choose from. Photographers can pose their models and add lights to the scene while previewing exactly how each move and position will change the way the picture looks.

The program allows us a 3D view of the set-up we are creating so we can view the relationship between models and lights from the side or even above, and users have a choice of manufacturer-specific studio lights, speedlights and continuous light sources. A range of softboxes, snoots, barndoors and grids are available to alter the way the light looks, and colored gels can be added for atmosphere.

Users are able to shift the position of the lights and alter their intensity while seeing the effect immediately in the camera preview window. There is also a choice of lenses, apertures, shutter speeds and, of course, camera positions that all have an impact on the way the picture looks. You can even select the size of the sensor to match that of your camera so the settings, lens effects and looks can be mirrored in your real-life set-ups with a live sitter.

Not only can you experiment with your lighting set-ups using set.a.light but the complex range of options allows users to have precise control over the model’s poses. Legs bend and props can be placed under feet to get more shape into a pose, and even individual fingers can be carefully arranged. Models can be dressed, or undressed, the way you want them and glasses can be added for an extra challenge – in a range of colors and styles.

Once you are happy with the way the model looks you can actually ‘take’ the picture and the result is rendered out as a normal picture file. You can also save the lighting diagram and 3D plan so you can refer to it at a later date when preparing to shoot a person for real. The program is great to allow us to practice during this lock-down, but in normal times it lets us test and experiment at leisure without the cost of studio and model hire, and it should make us more prepared when we arrive at a real shoot.

The latest version of the program adds a community discussion area where users can share their setups with others and chat about how images could be improved.

The Basic version of the application costs €79 (approx. $90) at the moment, while the Studio version is €154 (approx. $170), and company offers a free trial of the full version for 15 days. For more information see the Elixxier website.