Butterfly Lighting Pattern

By Mike Luter

Hi guys,

Hope everyone is having a good day. I just finished editing this image for a new training video I am working on about Mastering Studio Lighting. This shot was taken during a set-up where I was demonstrating a butterfly lighting pattern.

Butterfly lighting is frequently used in creating fashion and glamour head shots. This style of lighting is very glamourous and has the effect of eliminating any shadows or wrinkles or lines in the face.

The light source comes from directly above the camera and is in front of the subject. Butterfly lighting is so named due to the butterfly shaped shadow under the nose.

Steps for achieving the perfect Butterfly Lighting pattern

1. Position light approx 5 ft. in from of the subject and directly above the face so the shadow is under the nose. The shadow should not touch the lip.

2. Adjust the light to proper height by moving it up or down watching the catchlights in the eyes. When the light is in the proper position, your catchlight should be at 12 o’clock.

3. Position reflector about waist level below the subject to help fill in the shadows under her chin caused from the overhead light..

Technical Stuff:

Main light: f9.0
Background light: f8
Edge lights: f5.6
Fill: Silver reflector
Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 85mm
1/100 sec @ f9
ISO 100

Tip: The main light metered at f11.3, by exposing at f9 she was technically slightly overexposed.

Let me know if you have any questions.

The set up.

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