This Tutorial shows the “feathering technique” for soft beautiful and flattering light.
I created this blog post back in 2013, now in 2022 a lot has changed but the technique is still a favorite for me. Also, this was my first post in my photography career and my most popular blog post to date. Enjoy!
This is Giselle Salazar from Giselle Salazar photography. I’m a photographer who specializes in family portrait photography (mostly newborn) and today I’m making a tutorial on how to light your subjects on a studio setting using the “feathering technique”.
Feathering is placing your softbox on the side of your subject in a way that the light brushes (like a feather) over your subject giving your overall photo a more soft, diffused look when it comes to your lighting. This is the perfect way to create a natural lighting affect with artificial light
I use an Alien Bee 800 with a large octagonal softbox with large white reflector on every studio session, no matter if I’m photographing a baby, a family or a maternity session.
This technique is best explained with pictures, so let’s get to the fun part!!
These images are SOOC (straight out of the camera), just sharpening just to show how your photos should look straight of the camera.
These first set of photos show my usual set up on bean bag poses in newborn sessions.
My sofbox is on the left placed about 2 feet away from the beanbag, still a little closer to your subject to get that nice diffused light kissing your subject and nice catchlights for when your newborn refuses to sleep 😉
This is a side view, note how the softbox is placed in relation to the beanbag. Remember you want the light to just brush over your subject, not fall directly into it making it harsh with blown spots.
Pull the softbox somewhat outside of your set, away from your subject about 3 inches. Place your large, white reflector on the opposite side to use as fill light.
Note how the head of your subject is towards your softbox and the feet are towards your reflector and how the light does not fall directly into the subject but it “feathers” your subject from the side (Third Photo).
I also love using this technique to give my backgrounds a darker, deeper and richer colour/feel.
See how the subject away from the softbox is well lit, nice and diffused and my daughter (that crazy haired toddler crying because she wants her monkey) has what we call “hot spots” on her shoulder on the left.
Feathering is not only used while using your beanbag. I use it pretty much all the time. I can also do side lighting which I love to do with older babies and adults and with “baby on a bucket” shots.
This is what I would normally do with this type of set ups. Using the same principle I used on the beanbag but in this case side lighting instead of lighting my subject the top of his head down.
Softbox on the left, reflector on the right.
When it comes to feathering sky is the limit. Feather your squishy newborns from the top of their heads down.
For babies, maternity and families.
I hope you found this quick tutorial helpful and useful on your future sessions.
I would love to know how this tutorial helped you perfect your skills on lighting. Please feel free to comment telling me about your experience and if you have any questions on feathering your light feel free to ask me as well. I will do my best to answer them.
You can also go to my Facebook fan page and submit your photos showing your before and afters. I look forward to our next time.
Happy feathering everyone!