photography lighting how-to

photography lighting how-to


Recently I had the pleasure of being the first photographer in the United States to field test Profoto’s B1 Air 500 TTL Off-Camera Flash. One of the images from that shoot, taken on location in the historic Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, has garnered a lot of questions about how I lit such a wide shot without any lights appearing in the image. I achieved it with a simple technique that, when properly planned and executed, opens up a “wide” vista of creative possibilities for lighting on location.

Let’s deconstruct the shoot.


Location plays a major role in carrying off this technique with maximum wow factor. I look for strong architectural elements with leading lines and sweeping landscapes, and place subjects accordingly. Think about your locations like movie sets. Wider is better for added drama and a sense of grandeur. The low vantage point used here helps create a larger-than- life feeling that fits the cinematic feel.


For this technique, you first shoot what’s called a “plate,” a term I first heard used by commercial and celebrity photographer Art Streiber. Shoot a frame of the background alone with no subjects and no lights, just the final background or stage you want in the image. This image is married later in post with the subsequent images containing your subjects, lights, stands, assistants, etc. The trick is keeping all the images framed at exactly the same position, height, angle, focal length, etc. This makes properly aligning or registering the images to one another in post much easier.

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