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Shallow Depth of Field With Studio Lighting

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Helpful Tricks

Today we had a huge shoot in the studio with four photographers and two helping out. Rio let me borrow his 85mm 1.2 lens to get some headshots, and here I’ll show you our lighting setup and go over a few tricks for opening up our aperture. You don’t want lights that put out a lot of Light, we lowered them down to minimum power to open up more.  Bringing the ISO down to 50 will give you another stop, and you can also use a ND Density filter. We’re using a 50inch softbox as our main light and a gridded softbox for fill.


Here’s my favorite shot!

Why we shot at f/2.5

Some comments make a great point asking why we shot at 2.5 if we are using a 1.2 lens. The Lights we used were set at their lowest power, the ISO on the camera was at 50, and with the Lights placed where they were, 2.5 was as low as we could meter. There are several things that could be done to let less light into the camera. We could have moved the Lights farther from the subject, but this would have changed the light on the subject, making it appear more harsh. We could have also used a ND Filter on the lens to let less Light in, however because this was a borrowed lens, we did not have a ND Filter in that size. Finally more diffusion could have been added to the Lights to make less light hit the subject.

In the end the shot was more about the Light quality and the mood, and the difference from 2.5 to 1.2 probably didn’t make or break the shot.

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