Butterfly Lighting



Butterfly lighting done for a studio portrait photography is also known as glamour lighting. This lighting is used with the model, who has fairly symmetrical and beautiful face.

The main light, which is known as a key light is the one, which cast shadow. This shadow can be hard or soft, depending on the quality of the light source. Hard light will produce hard shadow and soft light will produce soft shadow, which is rendered as shading.

For setting butterfly light, place the key light close to the camera. Remove any light attachments so that we can study the shadow formation. Now move the light up till a small sharp shadow is formed under the model's nose. The shape of the shadow is like a butter fly, and that is why this lighting set up is termed as butterfly light.

If the key light is moved further up, then the size of the shadow will increase. Shadow under eyes also will become prominent. So adjust the height of the key light, till a pleasant shadow formation is achieved.



Now we can use one frontal filler light, placed close to the camera. This light will open up face details. We can also use reflectors for this purpose. However, one reflector from below, which is in line with the key light is a must. This reflector will reduce the density of the shadow, produced by the key light.

We may convert key light to medium light or soft light, as per our personal choice. We can use other lights to lit up the back ground. Or, should we need to keep the back ground dark, then we can use a kicker light to produce a separation line between the model's head and the back ground.

Kicker light is a light, which is placed behind the model. It falls on the back of the head. As it is facing the lens, it may produce a lens flare.

If any light is falling on the lens, then we should use a "cutter" to block the flare produced by the kicker light. This cutter can be just a plain opaque cardboard, which can be placed in between the path of the kicker light and the lens. We can also use barn doors, which are specially made to block the light. Read more about barn door and other light attachments here

This is how, butterfly lighting is set, which is used in glamour photography.

Read more about:

Narrow lighting Lighting for a model with round and chubby face

Broad lighting: Lighting technique for a model with long and narrow face

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