How to photograph a nude model using a digital camera and candlelight
Very few photographers have attempted to use candles as lighting in their nude photography; however, it is a very interesting light source that produces a beautiful and unique effect. Naturally you’ll find that candles don’t produce much light so you’ll need a good number to bring the overall light luminance up to a usable level and be prepared to work with long exposure times so a tripod is almost essential and a cable release would also be helpful. You can also use the mirror lockup feature if you have that option on your camera. Make sure those candles are placed in safe positions where nothing will catch fire!
Since your exposure time will likely be several seconds, it is important that you find a position for your model that is comfortable and allows them to remain fairly still or you risk unwanted blurring from the movement of the model’s body. However, it is that slow exposure time with the soft flicker of candlelight that gives us the final special effect.
As you prepare your image, take some time to observe the different lighting effects as you move the candles into various positions and study the transitions between light and shadow. After finding the right balance, try a couple of test shots to see how the image looks and see if you need to make any changes. Since candles have a very warm color temperature, you’ll probably want to do a custom white balance with your digital camera using a white card.
A portable light meter can also be useful to measure the luminance in different parts of the image. Accurate lighting metering is essential to avoid blown highlights or shadows without detail, and if you have a computer available, you can download some test images to check within Photoshop before proceeding with the main shoot. Always shoot in RAW mode if you have this option available because it will produce better quality images and allow you to make more changes later in post production.
After you’ve taken your photos and saved them to a computer, you now have the option to work on the final effect where you can decide if you want to have the image in color or black and white, along with other changes you can make to the noise. levels, contrast and other areas. One of the great benefits of using candles is that the lighting is extremely flattering on women’s skin, so you should minimize the amount of skin touch-ups you need to do. Give it a try and see how amazing candlelight can be for creating professional nude images.