Bare Bulb Lighting

I shot these images with one bare tungsten bulb.

Sounds scary, right?  I thought so.  “Bare bulb” just sounds so harsh, cold, strong, and BARE!  YIKES!

I learned pretty quickly that if done correctly (meaning, you watch the placement of your light very closely to avoid nasty shadows) bare bulb lighting can be very clean and soft.

Whenever I’m experimenting with new techniques, I call on two people who will do anything for me, anytime, anywhere, and will fulfill any request.

My husband and my twin brother.

So, as you can see in the images below, I got my twin brother, Brian, to model for me.

He came over just before Hannah’s bedtime, and with that he got to do the honors of brushing her teeth, putting her in her pajamas, and the ultimate highlight of his night: he got to listen to Hannah SING her night time prayer.  She ALWAYS sings her prayer at bedtime.  After she prayed, Brian smiled and told Hannah that was the most beautiful prayer he had ever heard.  🙂

This was the first first image I shot of Brian.  Literally.

This is how I got the shot:

I used a 500 Watt tungsten bulb (available at some hardware stores . . . I ordered all of my lights at B&H Photo) which is VERY, VERY bright.  I placed it about five feet in front of him and slightly to the right.  (Camera right)  500 watts is bright, and if I had a lower wattage bulb I would have popped it in, but I didn’t.  It made Brian squint, and it limited me from placing the light too close to his face.  But, I got some great shots, so I will stop complaining about the 500 watt bulb being too bright.  🙂

This is another diagram:

I set up my background stand with a black sheet and placed Brian five feet in front of it.  If you place your model too close to the background, you can get texture, and in my case, unwanted wrinkles since I used a black sheet instead of my black seamless backdrop.

This shot is also from the set-up you see above.  I just moved my camera back a bit to get more of him in the frame.

This image was also shot with the same set up, but I moved the light off to the right a bit more to pull in more shadow on his face.

Now this image had a different set up.

It was essentially the same set up as the first one, but I added a flag to shield my camera from light flare, and to direct the light right on Brian.

I also used a silver reflector (silver is the most reflective) to bounce the light from the bulb onto the shaded side of his face.

It looked like this.

I was pleasantly surprised at how fun and challenging it was to shoot with a bare bulb.

Also, keep in mind that you need to manually set your white balance for tungsten lighting.  Your camera probably won’t have a white balance pre-set for tungsten, so set it to Kelvin 3200.  It will be spot on.

Start experimenting with bare bulbs and show me your results!

2 thoughts on “Bare Bulb Lighting”

  1. what are you using to hold the bare bulb; where did you get it and how much? what light stand and adapter do you use?

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