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Clamshell Lighting: A Guide to How To Do It

There are many various lighting techniques to master, some of which are easy, some of which are complicated, and all of which provide something a little different. Clamshell lighting is one of my personal favorites, and in this video, you’ll learn how to accomplish it as well as when it will perform exceptionally well.


I’ve always thought the term “clamshell lighting” was a little deceptive. While the lights are set up so that one is above the topic pointing down and one is below the subject looking up, this does not match the form of a clamshell at all; it should be the other way around instead. Nonetheless, the effects are stunning, and this is one of my personal favorite setups to use.

If you use butterfly lighting, which is frequently referred to as “nose lighting,” a light is placed exactly above the subject and slanted down 45 degrees, creating a butterfly-shaped shadow beneath the nose. The fact that this is possible is fantastic, but it might present minor complications on specific subjects. It is possible that there will be more shadows on the face than you like due to the lack of uplighting.

Isn’t it interesting how people’s faces appear to be healthy and fresh when they are skiing or out in the snow in broad daylight when they are out in the snow? This is frequently caused by the snow acting as a reflection, brightening the entire scene. With the addition of a light source or a reflector beneath the butterfly lighting method, you may get clamshell lighting, which has the same beautiful appearance as snow.

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