Below is the example of a photograph that I found that has the studio lighting effect or the quality of light that I'm talking about, and I wonder how it is achieved


As you can see in this shot, the skin seems reflective as if the man's face is sweaty, but at the same time it is not overblown, and it shows the actual texture of the man's skin. What kind of lighting equipment/modifiers/positioning was used to achieve this glossy/reflective, textury skin effect? Or is his face simply oiled to make it seem more sweaty and reflective? Or was it post processed in a certain way as to extract that effect?

Thanks in Advance.


  • 1
    I don't believe you have the right to embed that photo here. I would get rid of the actual embedded photo, and just keep the "EXAMPLE PHOTOGRAPH" link. – jrista Aug 9 '11 at 22:51

I really doubt it's oiled, though the model may not have washed his face right before the shoot, so he might have some natural skin oil. But I think it's mostly due to the lighting.

What I see is fairly hard & directional lighting. Note the shadows from his nose, cheeks, & glasses. The key light is positioned way off to camera right (perhaps between at the model's 9 and 10 o'clock position), and high (45 degrees above horizontal).

The light is not soft (note the crisp line dividing shadow from lit), so the source is "apparently small" relative to the model. If it's not a small source (like a bare flash), then it's a large source (like an umbrella or soft box) far away. Unless it's a tiny box/umbrella, it'd have to be pretty far away to get those angles on the shadows.

There's also some fill light coming in from camera left, again from above. (Note the highlight in his right temple and the shadows on the lower side of his headwrap.)

The key light looks a bit warmer (note the colour shift on either side of the headwrap), so one of the two lights is probably gelled.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    +1 - 'Relatively small' is a poor choice of words to me though. Its 'small relative to the subject', but it may not be small relative to other light sources. You go on to clarify, but the key is the size of the light source relative to the subject. – rfusca Aug 8 '11 at 23:24
  • @rfusca: Correct again, the term I want is "apparent size". Editing that now. – Craig Walker Aug 8 '11 at 23:30

The photographer explained his lighting in the caption for this image. I quote (from istockphoto.com):

The image was shot at 7:50 pm, Dec. 15, 2010, in studio Gawrav Photography, New Delhi, India. The scene is lit by studio spot lights. Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II Lens: EF 70-200mm f4L USM

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.