Headshots at Home - Part 5


We hope that you've been enjoying this series on how to take professional quality headshots of your family and friends in the comfort of your own home. Even with the bare minimum of equipment it's possible to do some amazing things, and this week we'll show you how to achieve both of the looks we've discussed – white and grey background – at the flick of a switch. You'll soon be presenting your family with stunning canvases that they can display with pride.


Shooting the white background style


Okay, so you're ready to go: your lights are all in place, your subject is waiting patiently and you're ready to take your first picture. Your camera's in manual mode set to about f/8, with your shutter speed just below your max sync speed, say 1/160th, and ISO at the base level, which is usually 100.

Turn off your key light, which is the umbrella and stand combo, and have your background light set at around 1/2 power. You can now use your screen on the back of your camera and the highlight blinkies to tell you whether you've blown the background to white. Fire off a test shot and have a look at the screen. What you should see is a silhouette of your subject and a white background that's blinking. If the whole background isn't blinking turn the power on the flash up a notch until it is.


Having the key light off will help to show you how much light's wrapping around the side of your subject. If it looks like too much light's hitting their side, move them away from the wall slightly (assuming that you have the space). Now turn on your key light with the flash set at about 1/4 power and fire off a shot. Again, look at your screen to get an idea of the exposure. Look for light getting into the eyes and no huge hotspots on the skin. If it's too dark, turn up the power a little until it looks correct.


For now just focus on correct exposure and getting enough light in the eyes. We'll discuss posing later in the series.


Wait! What about the grey background?


Oh yes! Now, the grey background effect really isn’t that tricky from here. Turn off the back light and fire off another shot. Tada! Yes, it's really as simple as that. Turning the background light off allows the fall off of light from your key light to gently hit the background. If you want to change the tone of the background you simply move the subject closer to, or further from, the wall. As long as you have at least three feet of space between your subject and the wall you'll be fine.


Make sure you pop by next week when, we’ll discuss basic posing and light position.  In the meantime don't forget you can create your very own high quality canvas prints with us at YourImage2Canvas!