How to Light Fabric - WOOL
Wool is the last fabric in our Opaque Category! And wool is one of my favorite fabrics! I love the luxurious feeling of a really beautiful wool Burberry coat or a soft, angora wool Ralph Lauren sweater! Wool is traditionally a cold-weather fabric because it really keeps us warm but there are light-weight wools that we see in summer sweaters and jackets. But generally, wool is a heavy fabric so you have to make sure you have enough light when you’re shooting wool because wool is in our Opaque category meaning that it absorbs a lot of light so you have to use a lot of light to pick up its detail! Remember, wool is so absorbent it can absorb almost 1/3 of its own weight in water! So lighting wool is so important in order to make it stand out!
To make wool stand out, beauty dishes are a good go-to to work with. On this shoot I worked with a white Profoto Beauty Dish with no diffusion or grid, I wanted to have the light really pick up the fabric’s detail, or tooth. I’m sorry but in the video, it shows the light with a grid on it, this wasn’t the case with this shot. I didn’t use anything but the beauty dish, angled down on the model and the fabric. I also used a snoot on a Profoto head to light the model’s hair and the upper part of her shoulder to add a little dimension to the clothing. And we incorporated a third light, we put a Profoto head with a reflector on a stand and angled it at the model’s feet.
A key to remember when shooting wool is that you can use more light than you normally would so you can really capture the detail and texture!
I used 3 heads on this shoot and if you know me and the way I like to work, I don’t typically use that much light. However, with this particular dress, it had a lot of interesting detail but the fabric could tend to look too “flat” if I used softer light like a softbox. So I opted to use more contrasty light like a beauty dish, a snoot and just a reflector on a bare head. All lighting was with Profoto heads! You know how I don’t like to make my work look too commercial or e-commerce? Well, you can achieve this by angling the light heads directly on the places of interest or where you want them to light the subject and clothing. And you can place your lights closer than usual to the model to get a more spotlight effect that way light isn’t spilling all over the place.
I had Damian, who did hair, and Maria, who did makeup, create a more sophisticated look on our model because the dress has a retro-40’s type feel. I thought an up-do for the hair and contemporary colors mixed with a 40’s eyeliner for makeup would lend well to creating the entire look for this series.