Manfrotto ™
A Vitec Group brand

Studio Glamour

Studio GlamourShooting Glamour in the Studio with the 055CLB + 329RC4

Shooting glamour photography can be like shooting traditional portraits with traditional lighting setups. However, modifying a standard approach to lighting portraits can add more life and more interest to your shot when you know what you're doing.

When it comes to shooting glamour, rules are actually guidelines. The most interesting glamour shots out there in the real world are taken by photographers who have veered from the "rules" to come up with their own bag of tricks for shooting.

This lesson will show you a couple of simple modifications you can make to a standard portrait lighting setup to enhance the appeal of your images. After reading this, you will probably come up with some good ideas of your own.

Topics Covered:

  • Programming the Camera Settings
  • Setting Up the Background
  • Setting Up the Flash
  • Setting up the Manfrotto 055CLB tripod
  • Choosing the Manfrotto 329RC4 3-Way
  • Setting Up the Main Light
  • Setting Up the Fill Light
  • Setting Up the Separation Light


Manfrotto Equipment Used:

  • Manfrotto 055CLB tripod
  • Manfrotto 329RC4 3-Way head


Other Equipment Used:

  • Olympus 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 Digital Zuiko Zoom Lens
  • Olympus EVOLT E-300
  • Lexar 1 GB CompactFlash memory card
  • Lexar Multi Card reader
  • Photoflex HalfDome2
  • Photoflex LiteDome
  • Boom and boom stand
  • Photoflex Heavy Duty Swivel
  • Quantum QFlash T4D
  • Quantum Turbo 2x2 Battery
  • Quantum FreeXWire radio slave
  • Dedo light for background
  • 10 foot Light Stand
  • Floor Stand
Setting up the Background

We set up two 12 foot light stands, about 10 feet apart, at the back of our set. Each stand was initially set about four feet tall so we could attach our background pole easily. When setting up any light stand, it is best to ensure the horizontal leg braces are parallel to the floor; this offers the broadest footprint and therefore the most stable footing (figure 1).

The background pole was assembled and fixed on top of the two light stands. The hole on each end of the pole slides over the threaded post of the light stand, and the wing nuts were hand-tightened to secure the assembly (figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 2
The background can now be attached to the background pole. A-clamps can be used to hold the background on the pole however, our background has a sewn-in channel at the top allowing the cloth to feed over the pole.

For this, we fed this end of the pole into the sewn-in channel of our background cloth until the cloth was all the way on the pole. (figures 3 and 4).

Figure 5 shows the background assembly.

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5
To raise the background, the light stands are extended until the desired height is found (figure 5).

This is done by loosening the locking knob on one section of the light stand's center column, raising that section, then re-securing the locking knob by hand-tightening. If doing this alone, it's best to raise each stand about 2 feet at a time until finished.
Setting up the Manfrotto 055CLB Tripod

In the world of glamour and fashion photography one of the keys is stability. As your model poses to give you the best look, you need precise placement of the camera to get those perfect shots. Because of this need for stability and precise movement, we chose a solid tripod and head combo: The Manfrotto 055CLB and the 329RC4 3-Way head.
To set up the 055CLB open the quick-action levers on the legs. Pull the leg out to the desired length and re-close the lever to secure the leg at the required length (figure 6).

Figure 6


Of course, it’s always best to use the tripod to raise and lower the camera, but if you need some extra height you can use the rapid center column for quick positioning. To fine-tune the height of the tripod using the column, loosen the locking knob and slide the column up to the desired height then re-tighten the locking knob (figures 7 & 8).
Figure 7 Figure 8
Choosing the perfect head

The head is just as important as the tripod in glamour photography. For this lesson we chose the precise and strong Manfrotto 329RC4 3-Way head (figure 9).

Figure 9
The Manfrotto 329RC4 3-Way head offers very precise movements on each of the three axes of rotation. With one hand you can make major or minor adjustments to each of the movements on the head and lock the camera down solid, or keep movement on one axis (often the landscape-portrait side tilt axis) free so you can move the camera with one hand and fire off photos with the other.
The Manfrotto 329RC4 head comes with a Quick Release camera plate, so you can quickly remove the camera from the tripod. To remove the camera plate push the silver safety lock button under the plate and pull the release lever at the same time and the mounting plate will release from the head.
Secure the camera plate to the camera with the proper mounting screw (the 329RC4 comes with a 1/4-20 and 3/8" mounting screw). You don't need to over-tighten the mounting screw, but the camera should be firmly fixed to the plate. Then place the camera and mounting plate assembly onto the head and gently press it until it clicks into place... we’re ready to start taking pictures.
Setting up the Key/Main Light

For this photo session, we will use the Quantum Q-Flash strobe light head in a Photoflex medium LiteDome soft box as the key light, or main light.

Out of the box the Q-Flash needs some minor assembly before we set it on the boom and boom stand. First you must install the flash tube. It has four pins that insert into the strobe head. Make sure the red dot near the pins lines up with the red dot in the receiving end of the strobe head.

NOTE: Make sure the power cord is not plugged into a power source when inserting the flash tube.

For more information on the Qflash check out the lessons on Web Photo School.
Once we had the Main/Key light set up and attached to a Photoflex Medium LiteDome, we attached the entire assembly to a boom and boom stand. We set the light over and in front of our subject (figures 10 and 11).

Figure 10

Figure 11
Programming the Camera Settings: Now that we have our key light set up, we are about ready to begin shooting. Before we do, the Olympus EVOLT E-300 camera we're using needs to be programmed to the desired settings. We want to shoot in the Manual mode to have greater control over aperture and shutter speed settings. The exposure dial at the top, right of the camera can be rotated for mode selection. Rotate the dial until the M (Manual) setting is next to the indicator mark.

We also set the camera to Manual Focus mode and, because we're shooting with strobe lights, which are daylight balanced, we need to set the camera white balance to 5500º K.

We want high quality image resolution for our shot, so we set to the TIFF mode and we set the ISO to 100 for our session.

Figure 12
The EVOLT E-300 uses a CompactFlash media card for recording the images. We are using a Lexar 1 gigabyte CompactFlash card for our session (figure 12).
And Now We Shoot. . .

We asked our model out to the set, sat her down and posed her in the position we wanted. We then made our final camera height adjustments using the 055CLB's rapid center column as shown in figures 7 and 8.

We set the camera height to just above eye level of our subject, and then tipped the camera down slightly to frame our shot. Our first photo was taken using only the main light positioned as shown earlier in the lesson, in front of and above our model. Figure 13 shows the result.

Figure 13
Our results show a good-looking shot, we have very nice skin tones and over-all contrast, but we need some more spark in the subject's eyes. We locked off the tripod head so we could walk away from the camera.

To get the spark we need, we add a second light. Following the same procedures as for the first light, we assembled a portable flash unit and attached a Small HalfDome to the light. Then we put the light and soft box on a light stand and placed it in front of the model, tipping the light up into her eyes so it would also fill in the shadows under her chin and under the rim of the hat (figures 14 and 15).

Figure 14

Figure 15
With the fill light in place we again framed up our model and made a second test exposure (figure 16).

Figure 16

Figure 17
Now we see that spark in the eyes and the skin looks even better with the addition of the second light (figure 17).
Our next step was to add some separation between subject and background. To accomplish this we set up a Dedo light unit.

The Dedo DLHM4-300U is a 150 watt tungsten focusable light unit that comes in a kit with four lights and all the accessories you will need to create great effects in many of your shots.

For this lesson we set one of the DLHM4-300U heads on a 10 foot light stand with casters attached. The casters allow the light setup to be easily moved so our assistant could make minor corrections quickly. Then we set the light just behind the model and pointed it towards her back (figures 18-20).

Figure 18

Figure 19

We looked through the lens and had our assistant make adjustments to the lights' positions to get the effect we wanted. Once we were happy with the light positions, we posed the model and made the next exposure (figure 21).

Figure 21
Now our shot is really coming alive. The result shows a glow around the subject which adds a sense of depth and separation of our model from the background, which helps to make the image more more vibrant and interesting.

The following figures show the progression of the shot to this point, one key light, the key light and fill light, and the key, fill and the separation light (figures 22-24).

Figures 22-24


At this point we asked the model if she could put her hair up so we could see the separation light better. While she was in make-up, we added a magenta gel to the Dedo light to add some more color to the final shot (figure 25).
Figure 25
The following results show the model's hair up and the effects of the light first without and then with the colored gel (figures 26 and 27).

The key to shooting glamour lies in trying new things to add interest. Adding a backlight and changing its color using gels is just one idea for getting different looks from the same session, but you can also try anything from changing pose, clothing and hairstyle, to introducing props into the shots.

Figure 26

Figure 27
We sped things up a bit and took some more playful shots of our model. We unlocked the head leaving just enough friction that we could move the camera freely to follow the model’s movements, but still steady the camera. Some of these are shown below (figures 27-29).

We cropped in on these shots to put more attention on the model's face and less on the hat.

Figures 27-29


For more texture and variety, we added the wrap and got this shot – a nice, crisp image with lots of fine detail as a result of using all the right tools (figure 30).

Figure 30


Manfrotto Equipment Used:

  • Manfrotto 055CLB tripod
  • Manfrotto 329RC4 3-Way head


Other Equipment Used:

  • Olympus 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 Digital Zuiko Zoom Lens
  • Olympus EVOLT E-300
  • Lexar 1 GB CompactFlash memory card
  • Lexar Multi Card reader
  • Photoflex HalfDome2
  • Photoflex LiteDome
  • Boom and boom stand
  • Photoflex Heavy Duty Swivel
  • Quantum QFlash T4D
  • Quantum Turbo 2x2 Battery
  • Quantum FreeXWire radio slave
  • Dedo light for background
  • 10 foot Light stand
  • Floor stand