This is another of the sets we shot with RE member turned photographer Paul McRope when he came for a two-day tutorial session with us. He was interested in the sort of lighting patterns and techniques he could put into practice for shoots of his own, and one of the most common shooting scenarios is a girl and a bed - either at home or in hotels. So how can we set up a "robust" lighting pattern which will work for most angles around the bed?
If you've followed the previous instalments it won't surprise you that we start with a large soft-box as a key, and place it off to one side of the bed, diagonally out from one of the corners of the bed into the corner of the room (see lighting diagram). This provides us with a flattering soft source in a glamour lighting position that works for most of the angles we might want to shoot.
Then we supplemented that with a second soft source, in this case a shoot-through umbrella, to provide some fill and to make sure we had catch-lights in Ariel's eyes from most of the angles we wanted to shoot. We chose to put that two stops down from the key light - enough to significantly reduce the shadows and soften the overall look without providing a distracting second shadow or letting the lighting get too flat.
There's some variation with angle- go around the sides of the bed towards the headboard and shoot back and it looks much more constrasty, but in a nice drama way rather than an unflattering way.
The one touch I'd have like to have added but which is the first to go if the shooting space is tricky is some back/hair/rim light behind the model. In our old house we had spigots in the ceiling to get some flash above and behind the model, but we're not allowed to add those in our new house, so it is a fairer comparison with what we'd do in a hotel room or a room in a normal house that doesn't double as a photo studio workplace! For blondes, you can usually get away with it. Ariel's hair isn't quite a lush looking as we'd have managed with a hair-light, and she's not quite as well separated from the background, but it works here. For a model with dark hair on a dark background especially, though, you might need to get a C-stand and a boom pole and put a battery powered speed-light back there to achieve that separation.
But this is my go-to bedroom lighting. Lights either side of the bed, the key a stop or two stronger than the fill, both with big soft light modifiers. Vertically, try to put the lights a little above the model's eye level (and you may want to drop them part way through the set if you go from kneeling or sitting up to hogtie or spreadeagled on the bed). For more drama, reduce the power on the fill. For more drama again, separate the two light sources more- rather than having them in the corners of the room, slide them up the walls towards the bed. This can produce very dramatic cross-lighting or head you more to cinematic lighting, and adding a hair/rim light behind completes that. In a very extreme situation with the lights at 180 degrees you'll probably need a small kicker light in the front as well to make sure you get catchlights (have this one on minimum power to avoid diluting the drama of the cross-lighting.
The problem is that such dramatic lighting patterns start to only look good from one shooting position. Which is why the arrangement we have here is a better place to start.
Bondage, blonde, stockings, corset, rope bondage, hogtie, elbows together, gag