• Jeff Carpenter

Behind The Scenes - Lady in Red


The other working title for this post was "V for Valentines Day" since I am after all posting this on Valentines day, but let's be honest... When I shot this image of Allee-Sutton earlier this week, neither of us had that theme in mind, and like many of our shoots together, we started with a rough idea and let it evolve during the session. For this shoot she said she had "a vintage red outfit" that she wanted to try and shoot, so that's where we started. If you want to see how I created this shot and effect, all in camera, keep on reading!


The lighting setup for this shot was really pretty simple. I used a 3 light setup with 2 red gelled, shoot through umbrellas on either side of Allee which created a universal red color across the entire image as you can see in the picture below.

Red Background Lights Only

My key light was a Paul C. Buff Digibee with barndoors that were closed down to narrow the spread of light and prevent it from hitting any unwanted surfaces. I also placed the key light pretty far away from Allee in order to create a harder light source.


A lot of people try to avoid shooting with hard light because it gets a reputation of being less flattering than soft light. This may be true in some cases, but if you know how to control your light, you can make hard light just as beautiful as soft light.


The main reason why I wanted to use a hard light source for this image was to create the "V" shape on the background. By using a small/hard light source combined with a couple V-Flats from V-Flat World, I was able to create a shape with nice refined edges. If I had used a large/soft light source, the edges of my shadow (Penumbra) would be too big and the edges wouldn't be defined like I wanted. See below for a shot of just the V-Flats and key light.

Note* The further away you place your key light from the background, the harder the shadow will become.

When you combine all 3 lights together you get a final image that has a saturated red color in the shadow areas, and a neutral color where the shadow doesn't hit. This is because the (neutral colored) key light is overpowering the red light that's hitting the white background and desaturating it completely, while the red still remains in the shadows.

The final thing I want to touch on with this post is camera placement. This can be tricky when dealing with shadows because it can be really easy to see the shadow of the camera or the photographers head if you're not careful. To remedy this, I used a wider lens than I typically would for a studio portrait, and place the camera on a tripod directly in front of the v-flats. To really make sure I didn't accidentally create a shadow with my head, I triggered my camera from my computer since I was tethered with the Air Direct from Tether Tools.


This allowed me to see the live view and capture the photos all while sitting in my comfy office chair as you can see in the behind the scenes video below.


If you want to really take your photography to the NEXT LEVEL, I would love to have you come out to one of my upcoming workshops! The next one is March 14th at my studio in Franklin, TN. Early bird tickets are still available, but space is very limited.


Download your FREE lighting guide here, and sign up for my WPPI class here. Use promo code CARPENTER to receive a 15% discount on a Conference Platform Pass or a FREE Show Floor Pass


Until next time,

-Jeff Carpenter

“Jeff’s approach is very client centered, he was super personable and a great host.  He tailored the workshop to fit my needs as a photographer and was very flexible to let the workshop unfold without a set agenda.  I was able to get tons of hands-on time with the model and was able to come home with many tremendous images to add to my portfolio.”

   -Jay Hamlin
Workshop Attendee

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