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This post was most recently updated on January 8th, 2023

Are you looking to use loop lighting in your photography but aren’t sure how? Maybe you are new to the photography world and aren’t sure what loop lighting in a studio means? Or maybe you are curious about different studio lighting and want to know more? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!

We know how confusing photography lighting can be, especially for beginners. With so many different phrases and techniques, it can be challenging to find the lighting that works right for you or even understand what lighting is out there!

Before you know it, you are overwhelmed, stressed, and in need of a good lie down. You resign yourself to a life not knowing what loop lighting in the studio is.

Well, no more! Today we are here to get you the answers you need! Keep reading to find out all you need to know about loop lighting and the best ways to use it in your photography. Get ready to take your lighting to the next level!

What Is Loop Lighting In A Studio?

Let’s get straight into it! Loop lighting is a lighting pattern that creates a shadow on your subject’s face when taking a portrait. It’s one of the basic lighting patterns you can use with off-camera flash and is a firm favorite in photography studios across the country!

It’s also super easy to do, so even beginner photographers should be able to achieve success with this technique!

Loop lighting works to create a loop-shaped shadow by the subject’s nose. If done properly, you should see a circle-shaped shadow under and on the opposite side of your light. You can adjust the size and intensity too, and loop lighting varies from small to well-defined loops that can be larger and extend towards the mouth.

Your loop nose shadow should not touch the shadow on your cheek; that is another technique known as Rembrandt lighting. Loop lighting is so easy to do, and the chances are, you have created it without even knowing! Beginners often do it just with their off-camera flash!

Setting your flash at a 45-degree angle to your subject with one as a main and the other as a fill will give you the basics to loop lighting! How many times have you done that without even knowing?

Now that we have covered what loop lighting is, let’s move on and take a closer look at loop lighting and anything else you need to know!

When Should I Use Loop Lighting?

Loop lighting is often used in portrait work and can flatter virtually any subject. Loop lighting can be less dramatic than other patterns you might have heard of, like spilt or Rembrandt, but it will offer an edge that flat lighting doesn’t.

Loop lighting should be used to give your portrait some depth and interest and offer the well lit and bright look we all want. After all, what’s the use in a dark and dingy portrait where you can’t see any features?

It’s worth using loop lighting on subjects with oval faces. The lighting will work to define and slightly heighten their cheekbones, creating a slimming effect. It will also work to elongate an oval face which can look beautiful in your photographs.

Creating these effects through lighting can save you time on editing your photographs at a later date. Step away from Photoshop and use your lighting to create wonderful images today!

How To Create Loop Lighting

Now let’s look at how we can create and use loop lighting! To start, pose your model as you usually would for the shot. Once you have your model or subject in the right position, you can work on your light. Ideally, you want to set your light just above the eye level of your model. Angle it so that it’s 45 degrees to your subject.

You can move the light from side to side slightly if you wish, or raise it up and down. This will alter the shadow’s shape and create the lighting you want for your subject. It will also allow you to alter the shadow’s shape with ease.

You can treat the 45-degree angle as more of a guideline than a set-in-stone rule. You might find that your lighting works better at 30 degrees instead of 45; that’s fine; work with what suits you and your subject best! You can also move the light closer to your subject or further away to vary its intensity if you like.

For those that want to add shadows to their photographs, place a reflector on the opposite side of your model. This will help to fill the light. Moving the reflector closer will soften the shadows too. If you want to create a softer look, place the reflector closer to your subject.

Earlier, we mentioned a second light that is used as a fill. You place this on the opposite side of your main light and set it to ½ the power as the main light. It’s worth using this guideline and making adjustments as you see fit. Remember, you want the photograph to be how you like it, so don’t be afraid to play around with the lighting!

Avoid filling the shadows in completely, as this will create a flat portrait that no one wants to see! You want some shadows to create definition and add interest to your work.

Remember, loop lighting is a versatile tool and can be adjusted to suit your photography style and the subject in front of you! Don’t be afraid to experiment with it and see what images you can create.

What Equipment Do I Need For Loop Lighting?

Loop lighting can be created with any light making it super easy for you to do! You just need a single light, whether it’s natural light, a flash, continuous light, or even a flashlight if you are in a pinch! They are easier to create with a flash or continuous light, though, as they can be positioned exactly to create the lighting we want.

You can also use speed lights or strobes when using flash to create loop lighting, making it easy for everyone to achieve! Why not experiment with the lighting in your kit and see what you can come up with?

Strobe lighting does allow you to model light and see how the pattern will look before you even hit flash! This is super helpful for beginners and helps you get to grips with basic lighting patterns.

You also don’t need any special modifiers to create loop lighting. You can use umbrellas, beauty dishes, or softboxes to create a loop lighting effect. It might take some time to experiment with, but you can be sure to create a fantastic light with these products.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, loop lighting is a technique created easily and creates a loop style on your subject’s face. Typically used for portraits, loop lighting is super easy to do and will change how you light your photography. With no need to buy any new equipment, why not give it a go today and see if there is a difference in the photography you shoot?