The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

Written by Andrea Belluso on . Posted in The Light Shaper

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Andrea Belluso is an experienced photographer with more than three decades in the business. He has shot everything and everyone from supermodels and celebrities to fashion, beauty and stock photography. Once a month, Andrea takes us behind the scenes of one of his most recent shoot. This time he shows us how he created colored shadows on a background. Enjoy!

Hederus is what could be described as a Swedish sports fashion brand. By that I mean they design clothes with a sporty attitude rather than actual sportswear. I was recently approached by Hederus and asked to shoot a series of images that would reflect this mixture of fashion and an active, colorful lifestyle. It was important that this came through in all aspects of the images – the styling, the model, the lighting, etc.

So, I started thinking. Pretty soon I remembered this shoot I did in the early days while assisting Bardo Fabiani. For those of you who don’t remember, Bardo was a pretty big name back then. He himself had started out assisting the legendary David Bailey. Coming from that background, Bardo was obviously meticulous and creative with his lighting. I learned a lot from him.

The shoot I remembered involved Bardo and me playing with colored shadows on the background. I used to think it was such a simple yet fun and creative thing to do, and I still do. It’s also really easy! You put colored gels on your background light. You then bleach the colored background with some hard front lighting. Finally, you place the model so that he or she prevents the bleaching main light from hitting the background and, hey presto, you have a colored shadow!

I decided to do something similar for Hederus. But I tweaked the concept and kept the colored background in a tone similar to that of the shadows. This is also quite easy to do. Just make sure your main light isn’t strong enough to bleach out the background completely. But it has to be strong and hard enough to get a distinct shadow. So how did I do that?

 

Profoto D1 Studio Kit 3 Heads Andrea Belluso 1 600x225 The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

©Andrea Belluso

Profoto D1 Studio Kit 3 Heads Andrea Belluso BTS 1 600x397 The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

Lighting Diagram D1 3head kit 600x664 The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

 

The main light was a single D1 monolight equipped with a Softbox RFi 1,3×2 RFi with both diffusers removed. Removing both diffusers meant that I practically ended up with a large reflector, similar to a hard reflector. It’s also worth noting that I placed the softbox quite far away from the model to make the light even harder.

Now, some of you might ask why I didn’t just use a hard reflector, such as the Magnum Reflector, the Telezoom Reflector or the WideZoom Reflector? Well, for starters, you get a much wider light spread with a stripped down RFi softbox than you do with a Magnum or TeleZoom. Secondly, the output isn’t quite as high, which was good thing in this case where I didn’t want to bleach the background too much. Finally, using the WideZoom Reflector would’ve given me a too wide and even light for this kind of shoot. The final image would just look flat. The stripped down RFi softbox, on the other hand, created a light somewhere in between these alternatives, and it was just perfect!

That was the main light. For the background I used a second D1 equipped with a Softbox RFi 2×3 RFi with a color gel and a Softgrid. The Softgrid was equipped to focus the light a bit more. It also helped keep the color gel in place. The size was chosen simply because it gave me just the right light spread and the right softness on the background.

Finally, I wanted to have a rim light on the model’s side, to give me a nice and dynamic highlight on his face and on the clothes. This was achieved with a third D1 equipped with a Zoom Reflector. Using the Zoom Reflector’s zoom function allowed me to shape the light, so that I got just the right amount of highlight on each separate shot.

Well, that was that. Hope you like the results! If you feel like trying it yourself, I’d suggest using the D1 Studio Kit 3 Heads. It contains everything you need to do this, except for the Zoom Reflector!

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to reply as soon as I can.

 

Profoto Andrea Belluso small The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

Ciao,

Andrea Belluso

Andrea’s website

More setups by The Light Shaper

 

D1 3 head kit1621 600x900 The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

©Andrea Belluso

D1 3 head kit1416 600x900 The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

©Andrea Belluso

D1 3 head kit1597 600x900 The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

©Andrea Belluso

 The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

©Andrea Belluso

Profoto D1 Studio Kit 3 Heads Andrea Belluso BTS 2 600x397 The Light Shaper Shows How to Create Colored Shadows on the Background

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Comments (21)

  • dawn

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    Thank you a lot Andrea. I especially like the hard reflector argument.

    Reply

  • Piotr

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    Hi Andrea,
    thanks. Quite simple but very fine.
    Piotr

    Reply

  • Keith Payne

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    Which D1 kit?

    Reply

  • Debbi

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    I love that last picture shoeing how you organize your Profoto softboxes and modifiers! What do you attach to the wall to hold them?

    Reply

  • Billy Walker

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    Yes, please tell us how they are attached.

    Reply

  • Phil

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    Tell us more about the Gels – Where are the gels from and type?

    Reply

  • Andrea Belluso

    Andrea Belluso

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    Thank you all and really glad you enjoyed it!
    Debbi and Billy you are not the only one asking about that, but unfortunately I am not sure if the modules used to hang the softboxes on the wall are available for sale to the general public, but if I do find out where you can buy them I will let you know.

    Phil, the coloured gels are standarf coloured gels you find in any good photo or film retail store, I am not sure of the actual brand of the ones I used last time, but they are simply the colours that you see in the pictures.

    Reply

  • Andrea Belluso

    Andrea Belluso

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    Hi again Debbi and Billy, I now have some more information on the wall mounts for softboxes. They can be ordered by all Profoto resellers as they are not normally kept in stock. To make life easier for the sellers, tell them that they should order the wall mounts that have the article number 441014 at Profoto.
    I hope this helps you. And I totally agree with you, it’s a great way to keep the softboxes in place and looking great in the studio :-)

    Reply

    • Billy Walker

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      Thank you for getting that info!

      Reply

  • Casting Colors: Getting Creative with Shadows

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    [...] Using a 3×2 softbox with the diffusion removed and at a significant distance from the subject, Belluso created a hard key light to cast a defined shadow upon the white backdrop. A second 2×3 softbox containing a colored gel and grid for focusing was set to spill only on the background. A third light was utilized to rim the model and apparel. (See full explanation of lighting setup on Belluso’s Profoto Blog. [...]

    Reply

  • Debbi

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    Thx, I’ll try that!

    Reply

  • Rick-y

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    Great tips as usual Andrea! Going to try this soon!

    Thanks!

    Reply

  • Billy Walker

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    I have searched for 441014 at both Profoto and B&H and neither site recognizes the number :-(

    Reply

  • Danton Scholle

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    This is very sharp, I can see. I need to look at this great info for a while..This is a good post Andrea B…..Thank U

    Reply

  • Andrea Belluso

    Andrea Belluso

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    Billy, you should tell B&H to put an order at Profoto with that product number, even if B&H don’t recognise the number, Profoto US know what it is and you will get your wall mounts :-)
    If this does not help you should contact Profoto US directly and see what they can do.

    Debbi, good luck with that! I hope it turns out great for you!

    Rick-y, glad you liked it ;-) Cheers! Would be great to know how you get on with your test with it!

    Danton, Glad you liked it. :-)

    Have a great weekend everyone!

    Reply

  • Billy Walker

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    Andrea, thank you for the reply. I will follow your advice.

    Reply

  • Keith

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    What watt seconds are the lights?

    Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      Keith, sorry for the late reply but I am travelling a lot at the moment. The lights are of 1000 W/s for the main light, 1000 W/s for the background light and 500 W/s for the rim light.
      But to be honest with you I could have also done it with three D1 monologhts of 500 W/s since I was not using a lot of power and I did not have any critical issues with having to freeze the movement.

      Reply

  • KG

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    Thank you for the video AND for responding to questions here.

    It looks like the graphic for the lighting diagram has the main or key light on the wrong side for most of the sample images. It looks as though it should have been drawn on camera right.

    Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      KG, you are totally right, my apologies, the key light was on camera right for most of the images. My assistant got fired for that!
      Just kidding :-)

      Reply

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