Clamshell Lighting Tutorial | Logan Photographers

by - 12:40 PM

What is Clamshell Lighting? 

Clamshell lighting is a simple two-light setup involving one light above the subject acting as a key light, and one light below the subject creating fill light. It's a easy set up to master and one that will work well with a variety of subjects. Clamshell lighting is most commonly used in beauty and fashion photography, as it create a very soft, smooth light with a flattering glow on your subject. 



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Clamshell Set-Up:

To set up clamshell lighting you'll need two lights, and two modifiers. You can use umbrella's, softboxes, octoboxes, or beauty dishes. For the example shot today we'll have two beauty dishes, a 28in dish and a 20in dish. To set up the the lights, I would recommend putting your smaller of the two modifiers on the bottom light and the larger on the top light. We'll refer to the top light as our 'key' light and the bottom light as our 'fill' light. As the top light is our main source, or key, light source.

You'll want to make sure your fill light is subsantially lower power than your key light to keep the under glow to a minimum. This will help to open up the shadows and fill your subjects eye's with light. Also make sure your fill like 2-4 stops lower than your key light. In the example shot, our fill was 3 stops lower than our key light.

The actual power settings for your set up will vary depending on the conditions, but we were running two Einstein lights, with our key light at 1/2 power and our fill light at 1/16 power. Our camera settings were ISO 100, f/8.0 and 1/160th. Editing was performed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

You can see the diagram below to see our set up for this shot. 
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Here is a behind the scenes shot of the set up, take by Vibrance by Sheree who was on set assisting for the shoot.

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And another shot taken from my position between the two lights.

Portrait, Beauty, Glamour, Fashion, Model, Lighting, Set up, Ideas, Inspiration, Picture, Photography, Photographer


Final Image: 

And once again, a finished image from our shoot.

Portrait, Beauty, Glamour, Fashion, Model, Lighting, Set up, Ideas, Inspiration, Picture, Photography, Photographer

As you can see the finished image, we're getting a gorgeous glow on Christie's hair from our key light, as well as great definition on her cheek bones and very smooth flattering light. The fill light below the camera is creating a nice catch light in her eye's and opening up the shadows to ensure the light is soft and smooth across the entire image. 

TOP TIP: Bring your lights in as close as you can! The closer the light source, the softer the light will be and you'll also get much more rapid fall-off which will help to create nice soft shadows and definition on your subjects face!

If you have any questions, hit us up in comments below! 

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