lighting techniques with one light

lighting techniques with one light

Back in the Sept. 2013 issue, I explained how to create high key studio lighting that produces magazine-cover results. The setup involved three individual lighting zones, four umbrellas, four reflective panels, two subtractive panels, a beauty dish, a softbox and about a gazillion studio strobes (actually eight). This all probably left more than a few heads spinning. I did, however, promise to revisit the topic at a later date and provide a stripped-down version. One that anyone could easily replicate with a very short equipment list that most photographers already have on hand. A promise made is a promise kept, so this month I’m making good and sharing a super-simple one-light setup. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. The big question: Can one light really give you high-end lighting results that come even remotely close to what’s possible with eight lights? I’ll let you be the judge of that, but I’m betting the big results from this little setup will surprise you.

I’m all about shadowy dramatic light, but in the world of fashion/glamour magazine cover lighting, which is essentially beauty lighting, flat lighting seals the deal every time. The technique I’ll share with you this month produces beautiful, broad wraparound light with evenly distributed fall-off from a single light source that originates with anything but those characteristics. In fact, because it is one speedlight or bare-bulb strobe (either will work), by nature the light starts off as a small, hard source.

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