Venetian blinds Lighting Effect Tests

Recently I was watching a movie and there was a scene where a person was lit by stripes of light as if there was a window with venetian blinds. I was curious how was the effect achieved and decided to research it:

Two or three days later one of make-up artists that I worked with before asked me if I know how  to create shadow line effect and we agreed for a test, I asked her to bring blinds to the studio. Here’s an example of the effect:

Test 1: wide beige fabric blinds

I didn’t mention that we need venetian blinds, so she brought what she had – wide beige fabric blinds, I definitely need to be more specific. The blinds didn’t really work – beige fabric didn’t cast deep shadows and lines of the fabric were too wide to create more than 1 shadow on the face.


Test 2: black grid, each line about 2.5 inches wide

Next time the artist made a big frame with wide lines of black duck tape.

a) using softbox

I did understand it won’t work, because the light will be diffused in different dirrections, but there was a softbox on the light, so I decided to give it a try before I change it. Just in case I was wrong.


b) using hard light (bowl reflector)

worked well, but the lines are still too wide


Test 3: speedlight through venetian blinds

Got venetian blinds from a friend, decided to test at home first. Works better, but I want to do more tests in the studio to see if the shadows can be any sharper and if additional light sources can be used.


So next time I’m going to test venetian blinds + honeycomb light modifier to make light more direct + I’ll try out additional light from behind and maybe from other front side.

I’m usually arranging a scene for my narrative portraits, playing around with a person’s environment to make a photograph readable. I consider this lightning technique one of the tools to approach it, to alter the environment and to tell a story.


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