Cool Portraits & Lightroom Processing

One of the greatest things that you can use for doing some cool portraits is really quite simple. It’s a roll of white seamless paper. You can cut off a big sheet of it and tape it to a wall, make a custom support for it, or you can buy a background stand for not much more than $100.00 typically. A 9 foot-wide roll of white seamless will cost you about $40.00 on average.

Without going into a big discussion about white seamless paper, what make it so great is that you can do so many things with it. It can be white, gray, black, or any color you want by throwing some gel on a flash and firing it at your back ground.

In the setup for the shot above and shots below, I used an SB800 with my homemade beauty dish at 1/8 power on a lightstand, camera right (my left). Then I used an SB80DX (also at 1/8 power) on a lightstand with my homemade gridspot to use as a kicker or separation light, camera left (my right) and behind Danny. Lastly, I put another SB80DX on a Justin Clamp with some blue gel and fired it at 1/8 power, way camera left, through a couple of tall drinking glasses sitting right next to each other. This is what gave my background the texture it has.

So as you can see, the possibilities are endless with this type of setup. Different colors, different textures (by using different things to refract your light), etc. You can’t go wrong! I shot all of these with my D90 in Manual mode with a 50mm f 1.8 Nikkor lens, at f8, 1/160, ISO 100. Remember though, the camera settings aren’t as important it’s more about where your lighting ratios are and then you adjust the camera from there to get the results you want. More on that later.

When I brought these images into Lightroom, I didn’t have to do a whole lot to finish them up. I had done most everything that I wanted in the camera. I had the white balance set to flash, which on the D90 is 6000 degrees Kelvin for color temperature. Exposure was fine, so most of what I did was punch up the color with Vibrance set to about 25, bumped up Sharpening to 85, and set my Camera Calibration to Adobe Standard. To add a little bit of edge to the photos, I also brought my Fill Light up. This kind of gives you the same look that you would get with the High Pass filter in Photoshop. I brought it up to the point that it started to be too much and then backed it off. Fill Light will also open up some of your shadows a bit too.

So there you have it… some cool portrait ideas and a little bit on how I work in Lightroom. I hope you can use this info to come up with some great shots of your own! And when you do, be sure to come back and hit me up in the comments so that I can share them with everyone!

Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow!


5 thoughts on “Cool Portraits & Lightroom Processing

  1. Just wondering,
    What do you think about the iso “lo” setting. Basically the fake iso 100 for the d90. The base iso is 200. I shot at Lo when i got my d90 and found that highlights were a little too exposed for my liking. Since then I use iso 200.

  2. Peronally, I use ISO “Lo” (ISO 100) when I can. You will get the least amount of noise in your images at this setting.

    By what you wrote, I’m guessing that you meant that your highlights were overexposed? If that’s the case, you can change your aperture and/or shutter speed or you can use the Exposure Compensation feature which will help tame those highlights.



  3. You should have dialed the flash in the beauty dish to 1/4 maybe, because all of your pictures are underexposed, well expect for the small parts lit by the kicker light.

  4. Ouh yah, forgot you Nikon fellow have 1/3 EV steps for your strobes. Still I would have went for a full stop “en plus” for the key, as to make the rim light be more subtle and “lost” within the key.

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