I'm trying to figure out how the lighting and camera settings were configured for these two portraits.

I'm also curious if / how this could be replicated with amateur equipment (eg. not tens of thousands of dollars worth of camera and lighting gear).

An ideal answer would include the technical details for these photos, as well as how they could be replicated on a shoe string budget.

Moody Reznor portrait Moody Reznor bust

Higher res version (heh, higher Rez version).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very similar to photo.stackexchange.com/questions/64480/… \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 17:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm The questions are very similar, but it looks like this photo is using 3 lights (two behind, and one in front). One of the questions I have remaining is camera settings, what aperture and shutter speed you'd be looking at to get that level of detail while leaving plenty of range to adjust levels and sharpening. \$\endgroup\$
    – redlamp
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


Photography is not about how much gear costs. Its about light.

The ilumination

That is a 4 light setup.

1 hard light on a "Rembrant" position to the right.

2 side lights (one on each side) Looks hard light to me.

1 Background light.

If you do that with 4 incandescent lightbulb, speed lights or studio flashes, dosen't matter.

There is this YongNuo brand that makes cheap flashes but dosen't feel like they are "cheap". They are well constructed. There are some with a slave mode and can be triged by remote control.

The look

We answered a similar question here: Very similar to How can I get a lot of detail in the face, skin as seen in this poster for The Martian?


You added to a coment...

camera settings

We don't know if we cant see the exif data. But we can gess.

what aperture and shutter speed you'd be looking at to get that level of detail

A good camera, the shutter speed is the sync speed I gess (1/125-1/250). If the room is pich black you can take it at 1 second if you are using a flash and it dosen't matter.

A normal aperture on a portrait photo where you need all in focus is f/8-f/11. This depends on the light intensity and Iso settings. If you want an a f/11 aperture... you most likely need flashes.

while leaving plenty of range to adjust levels and sharpening.

Shoot in raw.

  • \$\begingroup\$ zooming in on the eyes of the top portrait it seems to me that there are more than 4 lights. There is a lot of specular stuff going on there - although I don't know if they are lights or reflectors. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter M
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 17:35
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Rafael no need to be snide, I haven't done any studio photography. I had always perceived the lighting equipment to be expensive, you're saying I'm incorrect and I can appreciate that, but saying I have a misconception of photography seems a bit bold. \$\endgroup\$
    – redlamp
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 17:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ok I'll edit that part. But concentrate in the good part and explore that brand of flashes. One manual flash (with radio reception and slave mode) can be purchased under $100usd. You need some tripods too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 17:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ By the look of it the sidelights were slightly behind the subject and the image was tonemapped to hell and back in post as well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 18:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @JamesSnell, positing it's more high pass sharpening than tonemapping. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 5:11

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