If you’ve gotten a copy of my latest eBook, 15 Photo Projects That Will Boost Your Creativity, you’ll remember the illustration on the top left (two umbrellas) as one of the ways I describe how to create a high key ethereal portrait (Project #9 in the book).
Here’s another way you can do this; instead of using two shoot-through umbrellas, try a large translucent vinyl shower curtain (curtain liner). I purchased the one in the photo on the left at a local home goods store for about $14. I clamped it up on a background stand and placed two flash units behind it on either side pointed about 45 degrees in.
You can use a reflector or another flash in front to add some light to the front of the model, similar to the look in the “flash units & umbrellas” illustration above. Or do a cool silhouette look. Of course, flip things around and you’ve got a large light panel for front-lighting, too. A little experimentation goes a long way to making a basic shower curtain, or any large translucent fabric, work to produce a larger light source when all you’ve got is a small flash unit or two to work with.
Both of the images above were created using very similar backlighting as described. Getting different effects is a matter of experimentation. When trying different things out, I suggest you take notes and shoot wide shots of your setups. These will greatly help you develop your own techniques so you can put into use anytime you need them. As with everything you learn, it all starts with exploring new ways of doing things, and new techniques that you can learn from other photographers. When I get bored, I start looking for new ideas and projects that can get me out of my comfort zone just enough to grow and learn something. I wrote 15 Photo Projects with that in mind. Check it out if you’d like to learn something new and have some fun along the way.
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