Thursday, August 28, 2008



I built a striplight using one of the many DIY guides on the internet, and wanted to try it out. It's best used when you want to light a cylindrical shape/object. The light comes out evenly from a long, thin softbox. Had I used an umbrella (round light source) in this same way, the "raking" of the light would not have been the same.

Here are the setup shots:

striplight_me-3 striplight_me-4

2 Vivitar 285hv
main flash at 1/4 power,
at telephoto zoom,
through a striplight (20x90cm),
Striplight was at 2.5 meters height,
directly overhead subject.
background flash was at 1/16 power,,
wide tele zoom setting with fresnel diffuser,
light stand was at 1 meters height,
directly behind subject,
aimed up at background.

The goal for this kind of setup, was to create rake lighting on a body. Rake lighting is where the light comes from an extreme, near-perpendicular angle to the details, so that they are revealed by light and shadow. This is one reason that on camera flash is so ineffective. It lights the details from a parallel angle, hiding shadows.

This goes back to my lighting video. The lightsource affects the object based on it's size and distance. You have to imagine a sphere, it's center on the subject, and it's radius the distance between the subject center, and the surface of the light. The size the light takes up on the surface of that sphere will dictate the light's look.

On this shot, I wanted to reveal muscles. With a less harsh light, I wouldn't look nearly this defined. An umbrella would have put a lot more light coming from further forward, filling in the shadows, and ruining the rake affect. This lighting setup would also be very affective for a reclining pose, since the light would run along the length of the body. It's best to think of striplights as better for lighting cylindrical shapes, when you want to reveal volume evenly.

This example image should show the difference in how a round light source behaves compared to a long thin light source.

And one more from the shoot:



  1. I wonder if you could put a full size softbox directly above so that most of it was behind him and only a strip in front, Then you would get the raking effect and also get some soft backlighting to wrap around the body and create seperation. I may have to try that at the weekend

  2. Yeah, that would probably work well also. The only time it would break down is if you are trying not to light your background. There is also the fact that softboxes of the same width of a stripbox tend to be ludicrously expensive, which is why I don't have one. :-D