From lady to landscape
Learn how to position your lights and set up your camera for artistic nude photography
01 Plan the poses
Posing plays a huge part here, perhaps more so than for any other type of portrait. It helps to go into any portrait shoot with a plan, and a few poses in mind, especially when you have a nude subject. Go through your ideas with the model beforehand. They will usually have some useful ideas too.
02 Position your lights
Positioning the lights above, to either side, and just behind the model will light the edges of the figure and plunge the front into darkness. Distance has an affect on the hardness of a light, as further away its size is smaller in relation to the subject, so the light becomes harder.
03 Set the flash power
We used Profoto power packs for our lights. To hit on the correct flash power, you could either use a light meter or just take test shots and adjust the output until things look right. For even illumination, set both of your lights to the same power, and have them the same distance away.
04 Set the exposure
A good starting point for exposure is to set Manual mode with a shutter speed of 1/200 sec and an aperture of f/11 at ISO100, then take a test shot. If it’s too bright, close down the aperture or change the output of the flash. If it’s too dark, do the opposite – open up the aperture or increase the power.
05 Work the pose
Spend time working the poses, making fine adjustments to the limbs. The perfect combination of pose and light rarely happens by accident. More often than not it involves a good deal of experimentation and plenty of test shots. Once you settle on a pose, work at it to perfect the lighting.
06 Convert to mono
Skin colours are often little more than a distraction with a fine art nude, so finish off with a punchy black-and-white conversion using Lightroom or your preferred postprocessing software. Stripping out the colour helps to emphasise the play of light across the form of the body.