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Hollywood Glamour Lighting Video and Diagrams

How to Make Hollywood Portraits

Be sure to check out the Photography Lighting Diagrams for this shoot HERE

I have people wanting to know how I set my lights up and how I get some of the effects I do for Hollywood Glamour and Film Noir Lighting. Most times when I do Hollywood glamour photography I use Fresnel lights, the same type of lights they use in Hollywood on movie sets. In fact I use several very old lights that were probably used on a Hollywood lot somewhere. I have two lights that are from the 1950’s.

When I first started this type of photography I felt I should use the same exact lights to get the same type of effect. I still feel the same as when I started, however I have adapted several strobes to do a similar effect, but it’s still not quite the same. You can get strobe flashes fitted with Fresnel lenses to get the same focusing effect but to me it’s just not quite the same.

The main difference between a Fresnel Lens Hot Light and a strobe, IS the Lens. A Fresnel lens is the same lens used in lighthouses and that long focused beam. A Fresnel Lens has the ability to focus to a hot beam of spotlight or open up and spread out for a wide spray of illuminating fill light. You can also use the edge of the circle of light, called feathering as a fill light or an edge light.

The center of the circle of light is a hot spot, and the edge is a softer feather edge. The Fresnel gives a hard light but also has a creamy soft quality to it. It’s hard to describe but it is something you can see and experience when shooting. A strobe has a hard quality to it with no softness at all with the bare bulb, nor does it have any focusing ability or softness unless you use a modifier. Then even with a modifier it’s too soft, and can’t give a hard edge shadow as the Fresnel can give. The modifier, usually a softbox wraps the light around corners and spreads the light everywhere. You can’t get a good hard edge on the shadow needed for a good paramount lighting under the nose. I will give a couple comparison photos another time but below is a video of a shoot I did with the model Kristabelle. It shows the lighting diagrams and actual shoot we did with Fresnel lights and a shot with a strobe.



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10 Responses to “Hollywood Glamour Lighting Video and Diagrams”
  1. Hey Darkman,
    This is a really impressive blog! Really amazing.
    I shall come back — I am not a photographer, but your work is so good.
    I might just like to watch.

  2. Love to watch you work, Darkman. I am your biggest fan. I’m leaving a comment to make sure I am at the top of your Top Commentors list. I’ll be back to make sure I stay high up on the list. haha!

  3. Melanie Bradley says:

    I’m thrilled that you’ve posted this video. I’ve been digging around on the internet for months gathering imformation on how to recreate the old studio era Hollywood glamour shots; your video would have saved me several weeks of vague articles and posts had I found it sooner.

  4. josef says:

    First of all I wanted to tell you I love your work. Thanks for sharing your know how with everyone. I am totaly consumed with this type of lighting and I have been on the look out for anything I can find on it. Since I found your site I keep coming back to look at your pics. I do have two questions to ask, first what do you use to convert your images to black and white? Second, what type of post processing do you use to get such perfect skin texture?

    thanks Josef

    • Darkman says:

      Hi Josef, I either shoot in Black and White, my Canon 20D shoots B/W, or I use either NIK Silver Effects Pro, or Alien Skin Exposure for B/W. And for skin smoothing I use the healing brush and I also use Noise Ninja. But I try to start with a good maodel for skin too. 🙂

  5. Bob says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’ll be using these techniques during a session tonight with speedlights. Cheers, Bob


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