Overview of the Book Lighting the nude model is distinct from lighting in other types of people photography.
This book is to help those who have tried some nude lighting, but are struggling to create interesting images. The serious photographer who is new to nudes will also benefit. This guide is about reaching that next level and making nude models look their best and most interesting.
This guide is about lighting the nude, so I’m not going to make you sift through a lot of lighting techniques for non-nude modeling. There is a lot you can learn about general lighting that is not covered in this guide.
This guide deals with lighting the whole figure in most cases, or at least three-quarters of the model’s body. Don’t look for information about lighting close ups of the face. Knowledge of portrait lighting is helpful, but not essential to begin shooting nudes.
You also won’t find more than a brief explanation of general lighting concepts. I’m assuming that you already know some general photography; this isn’t intended to be your first photography book, or encyclopedic. As much of the book as possible is devoted to lighting the nude. A list of suggested topics for further study, such as inverse square law, can be found at the end of the book.
With regard to models This guide demonstrates lighting for photographing a beautiful model to bring out her best and most fascinating features. There are plenty of books that tell you how to hide your subject’s flaws; this is not one of those books. You won’t find any tips for making regular people look slimmer, taller, or more beautiful.
What you will find are illustrated examples and step-by-step instructions for creating photographs of beautiful nude women.
With regard to retouching In this guide I have retouched minor flaws on the models (stray hairs for example). I have also corrected some minor defects in the backgrounds or defects from lens characteristics (chromatic aberration for example). However, because this is a collection of images to illustrate lighting, I’ve avoided any retouching that pertains to lighting effects (such as shine on a nose or forehead). Although such lighting defects can easily be removed with post processing, I let them remain in order to preserve as much information as possible about the lighting. Just as no model is perfect, no light arrangement is perfect and you will want to retouch most of your images—though post processing is a topic for a whole other book.
How to use the diagrams
Each lighting setup has one or more example photos and a diagram of how to place the studio equipment. Because the characteristic of each studio is different, and your equipment will vary, the diagrams are a starting point from which you will want to make minor adjustments.
Lights are numbered, and other set elements are identified by letters. Next to some lights is a height measurement signified by an up/down arrow (↕) indicating the number of feet above the level of the model’s lowest body part (usually the floor) to the middle of the light. Also you will find a distance measurement signified by a left/right arrow (↔) indicating the distance from the front of the light to the closest part of the model.
Model: Sarah H.
Photo 1: Concepts title image Lighting Concepts for Nude Photography
The Importance of Lighting Before you jump in and start taking a bunch of nude photographs, take some time to set up your studio lighting; to stack the odds in your favor. Lighting is my top consideration in nude photography once I’ve found the right model.
Studio lighting allows the ultimate control over illumination, and with most nude photography taking place in the studio, the majority of the examples are indoor lighting.
Location lighting is the most enjoyable for me, combining creative challenges of a non-studio setting with the control of being indoors.