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.

Get the full story

To read the full article, launch the digital version of the December 2013 magazine.

Leave a Reply

Want more content like this?

Check out our recent posts

yt thumbnail how to mix flash and ambient light

How to Mix Flash and Ambient Light

Attention all you “natural light” photographers, now is the time to expand your photographic skill set by adding flash photography to your tool kit.

It’s not difficult. With a few rounds of experimentation your photography will elevate itself to new levels and your work will stand out. These photography lighting tips will work for all genres of photography – wedding photography, portrait photography, senior photography, fashion photography, boudoir photography and more.

In this step-by-step flash lighting tutorial I will explain techniques like dragging the shutter and how you can use that technique to allow more ambient light into your portraits and add more depth to any shot.

Read More »