I recently put a photo of a makeup shot for my regular Makeup Artist, Samantha Craughwell, on my photography blog: Geisha. While the lighting is straightforward, I thought I’d do a post on it.
For a lot of beauty shots, I favour Butterfly lighting. This is where the light is above the models head, and to the front. It casts a particular shadow under the nose, which is meant to look like a butterfly front on in flight. It’s more visible with harder light. My mate, Gary Hill, calls it ‘idiot lighting’ because anyone can get it right. In this instance I used the Elinchrom 70cm Deep Octa as key light, metered to f8, attached to a BX400. I choose f8 to allow the fabric background to blur. Had I want it in focus, I would’ve gone to at least f16. The light was mounted on an Elinchrom Polystand, a really versatile (albeit expensive) wheeled stand.
I added a silver reflector underneath to kick back light onto the fan, and for under the chin when the fan wasn’t being used. I choose it over white, as I needed more contrast in the shot. If you prefer a softer look, go with white.
Hair lights are a little out of vogue now, but for shots like these, I prefer to accent the hair, and the flowers. For this I used a 2nd BX400. This was on a Incline Arm stand, as reviewed here already, with a grid and barn door set to give me exact control over positioning. Metered to f8 also. For blonde hair, I wouldn’t have it so bright.
Both the stand and grid set are from Bessel.
The final element in the lighting is a background light. For ease more than anything else, I used a bare Portaflash 336VM. I’ve 2 of these from my first ever kit, and still keep them for accent lights. Set to lowest power. I tend to used BG lights to taste, rather than meter strictly, unless I’m going for a high key look.
While I’ve only completed a beginners course in makeup, I know from experience in other fields that buying cheap tools, means buying more. I have a large range of MAC brushes (129, 190, 187, 266, 239, yada yada), and a few NYX ones (the better, silver, range). I needed an angled brush, so I just bought an Avon model. I paid €7.50 for it, but I see that it’s only €4.25 in the current catalog (Brochure 7 2010, page 29, number 5, code 10926). Well, what can I say about such a cheap brush? I’ve used it for contouring and I have to say: Perfect. It’s exactly the right size and shape, and doesn’t shed. That last bit is what clinches it for me. Now with the price dropped that low, it’s an even better buy. I also got the foundation brush and the kabuki. The kabuki is much smaller than I expected. I may just use it for falloff, and the foundation brush is much smaller than the MAC 190 (like a 189 maybe)-good for fixing under the eyes, etc.
And now for the photographers. Would you believe that the shot about was done with one old battery flash at 6:30am? I used a modified 540ez (I’ve added a sync cable) in manual mode at 1/128 power into a Micro Apollo micro softbox from the rear right. This then bounced off a white sheet of paper on the left held up by a book (Makeup by Rae Morris to be exact). On the right I had another sheet of paper filling in, held by my makeup case (it’s okay, it’s a small flight case). Finally I had the cover of the softbox, turned inside out over the top, to fill in the top hairs. It’s silver on the inside BTW, hence being good for fill. The setup shot is below. I’ll also mention that there was no background. You can kinda see the mess in the room in the setup shot, but at the higher shutter speed I shoat at, combined with the distance to it, it’s gone black in the shot.
Next time, I’ll do a better job cleaning the brush, the static from it was attracting dust after I rubbed it clean!
I did mention that I finished my basic makeup course. I put the cert in my scanner to scan and forgot about it. Doh! Anyway, here’s my cert. Katie, the manager and my tutor, said I had a natural flair. I guess that means having no prior experience was a help. It was good fun and I got a lot on information out of it, both from practical experience and retouching concepts points of view. For those that are interested, it was with the School of Makeup Artistry here in Galway. They also have a Dublin branch.