4 Lighting Effects to Try: A Professional Portrait Photographer Shares his Light Staging Tips

While a lot can be done in post-processing, many photographers use studio lighting tricks while shooting to create some fantastic effects. Knowing how to correctly stage lights, and how to use colorful gels effectively can help in achieving creative results. 

We enlisted the help of Felix Barjou, a professional portrait and advertising photographer based in France, to give us his tips on lighting and color. See how to get his results below and don't forget to check out his amazing light and color setup at the end.

1. Combine Amber and Blue Gels To Get This Mystique Effect

For this shot, Felix used 2 strobes. The first one was used to create this blue tone effect. With a cyan gel, place the strobe light to the right of your camera with a standard reflector (which is used for hard light and to better saturate the color of the gel). The second strobe was placed above the model's head to create the warm light on the models hair and chest. Use an amber gel and a standard reflector. 

Felix's camera settings:

Sony a7RII with 90mm f2.8



ISO 100

Check out the lighting setup guide below to try this effect:


2. Highlight Just the Eyes For a Dramatic Effect

Sometimes you just want a little more drama in a shot and this dramatic lighting tip will help you do just that. This effect is achieved by mixing a strobe with continuous light. The strobe light uses a gobo projector with a stripe gobo to create the dramatic light that's focused only on the eyes. The second light source is a video-projector with a galaxy image projected towards the model. Both light sources are placed directly behind the camera.

Camera settings:

SonyA7RII with 90mm f2.8



ISO 800


3. Get This Glow Effect That Appears to Originate From a Single Light Source

This next effect requires some staging and lighting setup, and some post-processing work to get a shot where the colored light appears to be originating from a single light source, in this case, the apple. 

First, you'll need 2 strobes for this effect. Place one of the strobes behind you, pointing away from the model, with a cyan gel to bounce into a white wall and diffuse light everywhere. With your other strobe, use a gobo adaptor and a round gobo to create a super small halo of light with a red gel pointing directly towards the model. Here is the setup: 

Here is the process:

And finally, here are Felix's camera settings:

Sony A7RII with 90mm f2.8





4. Sometimes You Have to Leave the Studio to Get a Shot, But Never Leave Your Strobe And Gels Behind

To capture this shot of a model submerged in water, Felix did something a little unconventional. Instead of shooting in his studio, he shot in his bathroom! It was a little difficult to setup in a tight space, but here is how you can get this look: 

This effect requires 2 strobes, one with a cyan gel and one with an amber gel. Both of the strobes are placed to bounce into white walls for better diffusion. The bath was filled with water and black paint (water-based paint of course). Felix even added fish in the picture for a funny little detail.

Camera settings:

Sony a7RII with 50mm f1.8





Editing for a light and color workflow 

For editing in Photoshop, Felix uses Palette Gear to speed up his workflow. The modular controller allows you to personalize the functions to fit your unique workflow. By creating multiple profiles, you can map the majority of functions you're using 80% of the time. Here is one of the profiles that Felix has setup:   

Unlike a keyboard, Palette Gear allows you to set sensitivity and range for added precision. Plus, with your most used functions at your fingertips, you'll see a significant increase in speed and efficiency with less strain on your wrist. 

Of course, the perfect workflow for light and color would not be complete without a workstation to match and inspire your creativity. Felix's setup is exactly what you'd expect from a portrait photographer who is also a light and color addict.

 Watch Felix's speed edit for retouching below:  


About Felix Barjou

Felix is a 29-year-old French photographer who grew up in the world of advertising with graphic designer parents. He started photography in 2008 with simple portraits and immediately discovered his style and process. He is passionate about light, image editing and staging, and he creates portraits and creations with a personal touch.  

Follow Felix on Instagram or visit his website to see more of his work.



Which lighting effect would you like to try?

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