I'm a novice photographer. I own a Canon EOS 100D and want to take a picture like this one of myself.

enter image description here

Apart from a tripod, remote controller, tether cable, and a laptop, what else do I need to set up a scene exactly like this one?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ background and light :) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 2, 2015 at 8:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I hate this portrait, by the way. The top-right quarter of his face is red, the rest is neutral/green.... The color difference isn't only split vertically, it's split horizontally too! (changes from red at about his lip level.) \$\endgroup\$
    – icor103
    Nov 2, 2015 at 9:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, you don't actually need the tether and laptop. Might be nice to use, but certainly not needed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Robin
    Nov 13, 2015 at 20:28

2 Answers 2


This is very easily achievable with just natural window light from the left and a big white reflector on the right. The window can be replaced with one softbox of a minimum size of 60cmx40cm. This will give you the larger catch light in the eyes to the left and the smaller to the right.

  1. Position the chair so that when you sit, you are looking at the far right corner of the window with the window to your left
  2. Ensure the chair is lower than the window or softbox, so that the light hits the top left side of your forehead first and travels downwards across your face. use cardboards or curtains to control the amount of light coming in from the window when falling behind the chair.
  3. Position a large white cardboard to the right of your face. enough so that it is not in the camera’s view low enough and tilted back slightly so that it reflects light back up and falls off just at the ear. this will keep the top right of the hair dark.
  4. An office flipboard will do nicely
  5. Position an office divider about 4 to 6 feet behind the chair. perpendicular to the window. (90 Degree Angle) creates a great backdrop. As the light falling from a window or softbox will be directionally controlled diagonally, the background will be somewhat darker on top and lighter towards the bottom. However, in the picture attached, it seems that the subject may have been cut and pasted on a grey background which has been created separately for the purpose of the overall effect. Alternatively, it may be a large grey backdrop with controlled lighting but still manipulated in software.
  6. Place the camera directly opposite side of the back screen, about 8 feet or so from the chair or further depending on the lens you are using.
  7. Place a dummy subject on the chair and manually focus ( you don't want the camera to autofocus and lose your the subject whilst taking the actual image.
  8. If you are unfamiliar with Manual exposure, use the AV mode and use an Aperture and focal length to ensure that the hair on the left side of your head to the crease on the your right arm are in focus and thats it. The aim has to be to make the background blur as much as possible whilst these 2 points are sharp.
  9. When you sit on the chair facing the far right corner of the window, cross your right leg over the left and place your right hand over the left
  10. Turn your head towards the camera with a very slight twist of your left shoulder
  11. Tilt your head slightly to the left
  12. Smile and click!
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Abdul, what about the darker effect at the top of the picture? \$\endgroup\$
    – abenci
    Nov 2, 2015 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure if we are talking about the same thing. I meant the darker background on top of the picture. In addition, is this a true backdrop? It does not seem so uniform (top to bottom) as it should. \$\endgroup\$
    – abenci
    Nov 2, 2015 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Alberto - I have added to Point 5 - Although your positions may need minor adjustments to get the effect you are after, study the key light as to where it is falling, and then adjust the above set as described and you will result in the same effect. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 2, 2015 at 15:54

I'd go with a three light setup. One for the background, however complex you want it to be, a bare bulb can be enough, but if you want a completely linear transition you need to try out a bit.

For the main light you'd need a softbox of similar lightformer, find direct lighting comparisons here:

You can use a third light to lift up the shadows or maybe a reflector can do the job.


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