Quote Originally Posted by Ottrdaemmerung View Post
It looks to me that your problem is that you're over-lighting your subject, and the choice of clothing (all light colors) doesn't help.

Your key light - the light that illuminates your subject's face - should be the brightest light and thus the higher f-number. Yours, as you said, is around f/8 to f/11.
Your fill light - the light that fills in shadows and gives dimensionality to your subject - should be weaker, by usually a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio to the main light. You said yours was set to f/5.6.

Thus, your fill lights are both brighter than your main, which is why the white quilted hood on your subject is starting to blow out. Notice how the inside of the hood around her face is nearly glowing from the fill lights? That shouldn't be happening. Try switching the power levels so that your main is at f/5.6 and your fills are f/8 to f/11, and you might see a little more contrast. If some of the girl's clothing was darker, it would "eat" (absorb) some of the excess light and would help bring up contrast. You haven't posted your film pictures, just the digitals, so that's what I'm basing my judgements on. :-)
There is no fill light in the OP's shot – only a main light. And the main light is not always the brightest light; case in point. Take the same situation outside, in natural light. You are shooting the front of your subject, but the sun is pointing at your subject's back. Is the sun the brightest light? Absolutely. Is it the main light? No, it is not; the main light is whatever is illuminating the main part of the subject that will be visible in the shot – probably light bouncing off of the surrounding environment and from the sky. If you wanted to expose for the front of your subject, would you meter the sun with an incident meter? No, you would meter the main light, which is reflected from the surroundings.

As for what "should" be happening, that will vary; it is up to the shooter. And lights from behind are very often used like the OP tried to use them, even if in this case it may not have been the most effective implementation of this technique.

Doling out rules to follow in all situations is not going to help people learn about the fundamentals of light so that they can make their own decisions. It is going to get them stuck into pre-made boxes without the ability to think independently.