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Lighting is Easy Blog

Free resource for learning how to use off-camera flash and studio lighting.

An easy, quick 2-light setup that works

Chuck Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Getting good predictable results is key to doing professional portraits. Usually, professional people don't have a lot of time to wait for us to get everything perfect, so here's a good, simple plan to get great results every time:

The setup is simple; two soft boxes, one large and one small. You'll also need a reflector to open up the shadows. That's it. If your subject has dark hair, you can either add a hair light with a snoot or grid, or just move the small soft box in the back up to get some light on the hair. Here's the setup:

All the lights are set to the same power and the light to the rear with a small soft box is twice the distance from the subject as the large soft box in the front to produce a nice ratio of light.

Here is the camera and lens info:

Classic portrait lighting technique

Chuck Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Model: Chainsaw Chuck Majewski Photographer: Chuck Vosburgh

My buddy Chainsaw Chuck stopped by my Studio Lighting Class at The Arts Center for a few portraits. Chuck is a very talented illustrator and photographer and was more than happy to try anything we could think of.

For this image, I wanted to have a 30's kind of look and give him the look of great stature. So, in the spirit of old school lighting, I used a single bare bulb with a snoot on it. That's it.

You don't need a lot of equipment to get good results. I've noticed that most of the old pros don't use a lot of equipment on their shoots, and I've found as I've grown as a photographer, I'm using less and less equipment. I guess it's just human nature to want to complicate things, and I think there's a lesson there.

Here are the technical specs:

Window Light Style Portraits

Chuck Vosburgh - Tuesday, November 02, 2010

An examle of a Window Light style of lighting for a portrait. Model: Gamze, Photographer: Chuck Vosburgh

The window light style of portrait lighting is a classic style that works well with both males and females. The hallmarks of this style is the shape of the shadow on the near side of the nose and the highlight on the side of the face away from the camera. For this piece, a snoot was used as a hair light at about 45º and to the rear. Two large soft boxes were positioned as shown in the drawing and a reflector was used to open up the shadows a bit more and to block the rear soft box from casting a glare on the lens. here's how it was done: