important tools that make your portrait lighting units
either more dependable or more versatile. They aid in
creating the exact lighting affect you want. Common
accessories are as follows: diffusers, barn doors, snoots,
and umbrellas. If accessories are not available,
compromises in the lighting can alter the effect and
quality you desire.
­You use diffusers when you want to
change specular light to a softer, more diffused light.
Diffusers are made of translucent or mesh materials
that, when placed in the light beam, break up or
diffuse and soften the light. The finer the mesh, the
more diffused the light. When only a small amount of
diffusion is needed, a wide mesh material, such as
gray window screen, works well. For more diffusion,
two pieces of screen can be placed together slightly
out of alignment, or a finer mesh material, such as
white cheesecloth, can be used. Floodlights initially
produce a fairly diffused light, but diffusers may also
be used with them. Diffusers can be mounted on the
light unit or placed somewhere between the light unit
and your subject.
There are many reasons for using a diffuser instead
of a light that already produces diffused light. A diffuser
may be needed when you do not have a soft light
available. A softness that is between two different light
sources may be needed, or you may want to produce a
small area of diffused light that can only come from a
spotlight with an installed diffuser.
Barn Doors.
­Barn doors are made from opaque
material. They are usually made of metal, painted black,
and attached and hinged to the front of a light unit. They
can be positioned to block or feather a portion of the
light produced by the unit. Barn doors are made for both
spotlights and floodlights. They are good accessories for
controlling spill light.
­Snoots are cylinders, open at both ends,
usually made of metal and painted black. They are used
at the front of a spotlight to limit the size of the circular
area projected by the unit. Short, wide snoots give a large
circle of light. Long, narrow snoots give a narrow circle
of light. A cardboard tube or black-rolled paper can be
used for a snoot when you need to improvise.
­Umbrellas work much like the
reflectors used on floodlights and provide an excellent
means of converting specular light into soft, diffused
light. They are used with any light source. The light unit
is pointed away from the subject; the umbrella is
attached in front of the light and reflects or bounces the
light back and onto the subject. The reflected light
falling on the subject is softer and more diffused than
the light originally emitted by the source.
The reflecting surface of the umbrella determines
the quality of the light. Umbrellas are usually made with
a matte, white surface that provides a very soft,
completely diffused light. Some umbrellas are
constructed with a shiny, metalized surface. Metalized
umbrellas throw a somewhat specular light, but the light
is softer and spread over a larger area than the light
emitted by the original light source.
For black-and-white portraits, black-and-white
panchromatic film is generally used. With a pan film,
the appearance of any red spots, veins, or redness in the
subject's skin is apparently reduced in the final print,
because of the sensitivity of the film to red. Conversely,
an orthochromatic film can be used when the texture of
a man's skin, especially an older man, is to be
When you select a color film for portrait
photography, there are two important considerations:
What type of product is to be produced and what is the
color of the light source?
Another factor to consider in selecting a film for
portraiture is the ISO film speed in relation to the
intensity of the light source. A slow film can be used
successfully with a light source that has relatively
high intensity, such as an electronic flash unit. When
the same slow film is used with a light source that has
relatively low intensity, an extremely wide aperture
must be used. When a fast film is used with a
high-intensity light source, a smaller aperture is
required, increasing the depth of field which may not
be desirable for portraiture.
When you are shooting portraits, do not be stingy
with film. With a medium-format camera, you have 9 to
15 frames to work with. When you have the
commanding officer or the admiral in the studio for a
portrait, shoot at least the entire roll. Never shoot just
three or four frames. Film is cheap and you want to
provide the customer with a variety of poses and
expressions to choose from.
When possible, portrait times should be made by
appointment. Using an appointment system gives you a

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