Using the Para 133 for Portraiture

In this portrait photography class Karl uses a Para 133 to create a bright, fresh image of model Markie Pearl. Paras are great modifiers to use for portrait photography because they provide beautiful contoured lighting, which you’ll be able to see throughout this class.

Here Karl explains each step of his four light setup, the purpose and effect and why it’s important to test each individual light. In this class you’ll learn how to balance multiple studio lights, control shadows and adjust your background tone through lighting ratios and position.

In this portrait photography class we cover the following:

  • Portrait photography — Tips for portrait photography
  • Lighting modifiers for portrait photography — How to use a Para 133
  • Four light setup for portraiture
  • How to control shadows using fill lighting

To learn more about parabolic lighting watch “Using the Para 222 for Portraiture” and read our blog post “The Magic of Parabolic Lighting”.

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. Hi Karl, wondering if you could have spared yourself a few iterations by starting with the P70, as it seems to be sharing the key light duty with the Para here, even though you talk of it as just “adding sparkle” (but then struggle to make it go low enough in power). Perhaps meter the P70 at 1-2 stops below optimal exposure and then add the Para, as fill / extra key for the face? And leave the kicker off till you’ve figured out the face? The kicker seemed to spill too much light into the face initially, leading to confusion as to where the light on the face was coming from. Best regards, Martin

  2. Hello Karl,

    thumbs up for all the courses i’ve been following you since your youtube days and this is a perfect upgrade on that. I usually don’t like to ask equipment type of question but i have a dilemma. I am buying a para reflector in near future, i know Bron paras are the best, i usually work with them when i’m renting a studio, but i don’t have enough money to purchase them so my choice is Parabolix para. My photography interest are basically portraiture, beauty, American shot and my studio is approx 20 sqm, size 5×4 m, height 3,5 meter. What is your opinion, what would be the best size o Para for this type of shoots and this studio size?

    Best regards from Croatia

  3. I am wondering… in another video you had talked about getting the light close to improve skin and reduce hot spots. I have played with this and it has made a really huge difference for me… but then I noticed the light in this setup is quite far away… but of course the result is lovely… so just wondering about about that? Thoughts? Comments?

    1. Hi Don, the Para 133 is a completely different beast to softboxes in the way that it distributes and focuses light. It needs better make up work but the same physics would still apply and you can use it very close if you like but with good skin and make up this isn’t always necessary and allows higher contrast and drama.

  4. First, most these products are out of my league for the time being…
    With Broncolor, do you have to have an assistant (or yourself) punching in the power on the blocks or can they be controlled by a trigger?

    1. Hi Steve, they can be controlled from the trigger and also the software on the computer on the latest packs.

  5. Great video, thanks. Absolutely stunning pics. Any chance of getting a rough idea of the geometry of para 133 distance from model, height of para etc. ? This would help in trying to replicate this scenario. Thanks.

    1. Hi Timo. I have the bottom of the Para 133 at about 2m off the ground. The Para aimed at about 45 degree angle down at the model and slightly off centre. Make sure the centre of the light aligns with the centre of the para from the models point of view, the para would be in the soft position and the I sometimes add the P70 as you saw here. The distance from the model depends but I’d estimate she was 2-3 m from me.

      1. Hello Karl and thanks for the answer. Just got the para 133 and was able to test this setup. Indeed the geometry you mention is critical for this type of shot. Bottom of para 2m above ground seems good for model of 173 cm. If the front of the para is 2m to 150 cm from the face of the model the shot does not look too good, somehow flooded with light too brightly no matter the power settings. Just does not look right. 2m+ from face is much better. Also, 40-45 degree downward angle is crucial it seems. Para off-axis say 5-10 degree camera left is a good position, better than full frontal. Tried para on camera left up to 45 degrees as I would a normal softbox but did not look too good, wonder why, perhaps because these reflectors do not do feathering at all. And finally, pointing the center focusing rod exactly in the middle of model’s face is important. Tried also to point the focusing rod on middle of the throat of the model to see any difference (I would position a full frontal deep octa rotalux 100 cm softbox like this), but it is no contest. The visual attention in the image is exactly where the center of the focusing rod is pointing and throat is not a good target then, middle of the face way better. Well, that’s the report on my experiments today. Thanks a lot for guidance!

        1. Thank you Timo and well done on your thorough testing, this is always the best way to discover the tools.

  6. Hi Karl

    I have subscribe again just because of the Para courses. I happen to have the 133 and I loved the way it looks. It’s nice with the P70 I’ll have to try this…
    I have a question though, I just bought a second hand Broncolor Flooter and the light is incredible, but since I’m not a photographer, could you please make a video on how to use the Flooter for portraiture, what are his strengths etc… I cannot find anything on Youtube or on the web dealing with this in a serious way…
    Thank you so much

    1. Hi Michel, the flooter can be used for portraiture and in many ways the light it throws will be similar to a Para but harder. I don’t often use it for portraits but I have used it on Fashion so I will keep your idea in mind. I do use it a lot though to simulate sunlight or as a beautiful gradient spot light on my backgrounds behind my models. Remember you must use a frosted dome on the lamp head.

  7. A beautiful look Karl. I love the look of the Para combined with the P70. Similar to the live session you did on Parabolic modifiers. That was an excellent session and really helped me understand the differences of a true para over claimed ones. Your explanation in the session also helps me appreciate the two modifiers together in this one. So beautiful I shall be attempting this style of look for sure.

  8. Hi Karl,

    you used the 133 in the flooded position. Why did you ad the P70 instead of getting more punch out of the 133 with a more focused position? With the softbox for fill light distribution
    shouldn’t be an issue.
    Have a good evening in St. Peter Port,

    Heina

    1. Hello Heina, the 133 in the focused position is too aggressive for most work but perfect in the defocused, however for attractive models then a bit of extra punch but with only a subtle amount of light added gives me a little more sparkle without being too aggressive.

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