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I don't have much experience in studio photography but I'm following a photographer named Brian Ingram and his work is amazing.

Could you guys give me some insight on how to reproduce this kind of shot. I'm looking for a technic to reproduce the focus on the eyes, black background, very delicate lighting of the face without much light on anything else. Lot of sharpness on the face, not on the rest.

enter image description here

I've already tried the technic to get a black background with a flash.

He seems to be using something called Elinchrom and I've found that it is a brand that produces lightning materials but, being on a budget, what would be the simplest setup needed to start ?

Would it be possible to get that same kind of results on smaller objects/subjects (such as toys) ?

For example, this figure : http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61o29jhMrNL.SL1000.jpg

Credits : Brian Ingram -> https://500px.com/photo/115271729/-by-brian-ingram?from=user_favorites&user_id=6698456

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  • The biggest source of information about a lighting setup are the highlights in the eyes.

    You see one big blob of white in the upper half of it. This is very likely a one light setup. And that light comes from the top.

  • Next thing to find out is what kind of light it is. For that, look at the shadows. The top hair provides a shadow line to examine. Even though the distance from the hair to the skin is very short, the shadow line is already blurry: that means the light is very soft.

In order to reproduce the image, use some large (therefore soft) source of light from above the camera. A softbox is preferable over an umbrella to prevent spilling the black background.

As always with these kinds of portraits, open the aperture as far as possible for DOF + apply sharpening and contrast in post processing for good measure. In this case, reduce saturation for moodiness.

To do this for smaller subjects, scale down the studio =) The problem with this is probably working distance. If you use a macro lens, don't open the aperture all the way or the DOF will be too shallow.


I'm not sure if this is from jpeg compression for the web, but the bottom 5th or so of the image looks strangely speckled compared to the rest.


When you talk about softbox, is it what they call elinchrom? Any soft box will do?

  • No, elinchrom is a company that makes strobes and light modifiers.
  • yes, elinchrom also makes softboxes, which is one kind of light modifier. Basically speaking, a softbox is a big box where the strobe (or flash) is put inside. Only one side of the box is translucent to let the light out. There's additional diffusion material the light has to go through to make it even softer.
  • @null thank you for your answer! When you talk about softbox, is it what they call elinchrom? Any soft box will do? – Andy M Aug 6 '15 at 19:27
  • @mattdm actually i showed the batman to illustrate the kind of figure (hence the size), not the kind of photo. – Andy M Aug 6 '15 at 19:28
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    @AndyM I added a bit on that to my answer. Elinchrome is a manufacturer of lights (or flashes or strobes as they are sometimes called) and light modifiers. A softbox is one of the most common light modifiers and pretty much every manufacturer makes them. I don't think anybody makes some that are small enough for toys as you posted, but making them yourself is cheaper anyway. – null Aug 6 '15 at 19:38
  • @mattdm sounds legit, I had in mind that there was some serious smoothing applied locally to the neck, maybe noise reduction – null Aug 6 '15 at 19:51
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I'm Brian Ingram (the one who took this image). I'll make it easy for everyone :)

  • Shot with medium format film camera (hence, the shallow depth of field and the imperfection(s) at the bottom of the image, which I always like).

  • A large Elinchrom shoot-thru umbrella was attached to a boom arm directly above my head.

  • Backdrop was a large piece of heavy (16 oz.) black duvetyne fabric, which totally absorbs light and makes the background go completely black. Any light spill from an umbrella is sucked up by the duvetyne.

  • Two black V-Flats (a.k.a. black cards) were placed extremely close to each side of her face, which served as "negative fill" and controlled the light from the umbrella even more.

You can see more in my Instagram, Facebook, or on my website (which hasn't been updated in several months).

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