Skip to main content

Lighting 301

Lesson 4 of 26

Two-Light Front and Back Classic

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

Lighting 301

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

4. Two-Light Front and Back Classic
Pye shares a classic, go-to two-light setup that is quick & easy to use and consistently produces great results. Pye also stresses the importance of choosing dark vs bright backgrounds when backlighting subjects. Post-production instruction is included in this lesson.


  Class Trailer
Now Playing

Lesson Info

Two-Light Front and Back Classic

This is another two lights set up. This is the front and back classic. This is one of our bread and butter lighting setups that's always gonna come out great. It's kind of one of your go twos. Okay, So all we're doing here is in addition to the main light that we're using to illuminate our subjects and darken down the frame and brighten them up to create that dramatic shot, we're going to place a back light behind them. And that backlight is going to create a nice little rim, light and edge light around their bodies and their hair, which is going to lift them out of the scene. A couple quick notes. When you see me, place my subjects. Notice how I'm not placing them against objects that are bright if you place their heads or the subjects themselves against objects that are bright. Well, you have to pull down the ambient exposure enough to darken the background so you actually see the backlight. So if the back on is bright, you're not gonna see the backlight, and that rhymed. So put that...

in your pocket and smoke it. Meanwhile, let's go and watch the video I say, Put that in your pocket and smoke it. I mean, put that in your pipe and smoke it. Don't put in your pocket that will catch fire. Let's go to the video. I'm gonna be using the pro photo ring on the so the mag box ring for Pro photo on the B 10. I would say around this kind of sunset time we're shooting and we probably need about watt seconds of power. That's a guesstimate. I'll tell you guys in just a moment, but if you're using something other than profile will be 10. You guys can double up on flashes or use the standard kind of bracket and get enough power out of it for our backlight. One single flash should do the trick. Okay, so we brought out Heath and Gina because for this little reminiscent tutorial, why not have a couple that we photographed before? We have been in this exact spot way back in lighting one oh, one where we actually showed you how to use a reflector to bounce light and create an image. Now we're going to do something a lot better. It's gonna turn out much better than simply bouncing on a reflector with this to light set up. So let's get into it. Okay, so for that main, what I'd love to do is place this behind and let's get this. Let's get Keith and Gina, actually. Well, actually, you guys are good. You do your thing. Let me get my composition real quick. If you want to come around to this side for one sec, I'll show you guys what we're doing here for composition. So I've got the camera kind of angled down. We're doing a lot of these symmetrical compositions in downtown because there's so much architecture and there's so much kind of that symmetry already in a lot of the scenes that we're working with in, so I'm not going to fight it, I'm going to go with it. And what we're gonna do here, though, is I'm going to set them up in a pose. Let's see here we can actually angle this down just a little bit and shoot up on them so we get a little bit more of that skyline. So let's go ahead and do that. We have the articulating, lens articulating screen. Wouldn't that be cool if you had an articulating lens, what would that even look like? Mhm. I mean, till shit articulates a little bit. What about, like, a full on like, Yes. How did you guys know? Look at that. They knew exactly what I wanted for the pose. I Seriously, this is why you guys get paid the big bucks, right? So I'm getting down lower because I don't want the heads their heads to compete against this street behind them. I'd rather place them up and against this background. Okay, Now we're gonna frame it up. This is one of those times where I wish this lens was just a little bit wider. Okay, Now, let's go ahead and get a standard shot here, so let's go ahead and go down to F two. Sorry. We're gonna go 102nd. We're gonna drop our S o down. Let's go up. So here's our standard setup. So, guys, for the pose, I'm gonna have You're not shooting my gray on gray shoes, are you? A few hug around his arm, you know, There you go. And then open up the shoulder. So I kind of get some of the hips. They're perfect. And this one is going to show your feet a little bit. So do you want to put the heels on? Let's do that. And then we're gonna get a quick test shot. Okay? Perfect. There you go. He get on them. Straighten that back, baby. All right, so here we go. So, Gina, I want you to open up to the camera. Little more there, and that's really cute. Why don't you let that toe drag behind a little bit, so we kind of see the dress open up a little bit. Oh, I love that. Actually. Go like open stance there. Yes. Yes, yes. Creates a really nice shape in the dress. Okay, so here is our natural light shot with our composition spot on. All right, guys, looking at the camera. Okay, so now with that ambient shot, what I'm gonna do, basically is I'm gonna go ahead and bring my shutter speed to 1 200 I'm gonna put my aperture right around, like, say, let's go for, like, F eight. Maybe you have 71 The reason is I want the background to kind of darken out. I'm not going to go with a crazy fast or slow shutter speed at this point because I would need a lot of light power if I'm closing down the amateur that much. So let's go ahead with this. I'm gonna take a shot real quick so you guys can see what this is gonna look like. Guys, look into the camera again with that same pose there. Fantastic. Now let's start with our backlight. So let's go ahead and put the backlight in and for the backlight, I think it's gonna be easiest if we hide it behind and lower the stand down a little bit. Mhm, mhm. And then see if we can't get this up a little bit and aiming right towards the center of them. Okay, let's do that. I have a quick note when it comes to setting up that back light. Now, here are our subjects right here. Here's Heath and Gina. Now, when we're lighting from the back side and you're using only one light, I mean, ideally, you would use one light for each subject, right? We wouldn't use one light for both people, so you get a perfectly even light. Both lights are set to the exact same power. So let's say, for example, it's 1/8 power on that one and 1/ power on this one doesn't really matter what it is, but this is the ideal setup. But oftentimes we don't have to lights to use or were using one light. Like in this case, we want to cover both people evenly, so the other issue you might run into is depending on your subjects. Sometimes their hair isn't necessarily the same colour and brightness naturally. So, for example, if you have someone that's dark haired versus someone that is light haired, then the light haired person their hair is going to light up far beyond the dark haired person. So that backlight is gonna look much stronger on one person than the other. So in this situation, well, if you find that you're getting too much light onto one person and not enough on the other, here's the simple trick. Let's say, for example, we're only using one light the light on the left side. Instead of aiming this towards like this one person right here, or instead of aiming it towards the center like we are, you can actually angle it and zoom it towards this person. So if this person's hair ends up being darker, then simply turn the flash and point them to that person. Now, remember, when it comes to light like this, you're gonna get a beam of light that comes off right. So you're gonna get a light spill. That kind of ends up covering this entire area. And this person is naturally going to get some of that back light. So depending on where it's positioned, if it's not bright enough on the far person's side, you're going to feather it off to that side. We'll talk more about this feathering even later in the video when we actually add in the second light. Now what? Power and let's go ahead and power that on five b. Okay, 10. Perfect. So test pop. Alright, guys, go ahead and look into the camera with that first shot. There you go. Perfect. Let's get a test. Okay. Quick note. Notice that we haven't necessarily openly talked about camp. That doesn't mean that I want you guys to forget, because we are innately following the process and you guys will as well as you practice. We started by setting up the composition, getting the tripod into the right place, getting our camera onto the right spot, shooting in the background where we want our subjects to be. The angle, the competition, everything. We then moved on to the ambient light adjustment. So we dialed in the amulet to where we wanted it to be for the final shot. We then went on to modify or add existing light. We chose to start with one light. We're starting with the backlight we're gonna build from there. Where do all these steps before we begin to pose, direct and shoot. So just a quick note. Don't forget about camp. There's gonna be no way you're gonna forget about it. Because by the end of this, I'll have said it 50 times back to the so with Heath standing over the skyline like what you see in the image, it's a little bit difficult to see. Uh, that hair like kind of popping on him. So what I might have to do is just get a little bit over this way. There you go. And then, Gina, you're gonna stay a little bit towards this side, and I want you guys just to hold hands in the middle and then let the hand drop a little bit more. This way. So, Gina, you're a little bit too far. So go scoot this way A little bit right there. Right there. Right there. Perfect. Okay, perfect. Now we're gonna go ahead and add that second flash. So this go around, we have the mag mod with the B 10, and let's go ahead and we'll have to pull this up back just a little bit. And we're gonna add that light, actually, from this side so it goes into genocide. There you go. So we kind of keep teeth in the shadow a little bit, so boom, that guy up, we're gonna start this at full power. So that's 200 watt seconds of power. Just because I'm at full power on that back light. Right? So the back lights at 75 watt seconds. I wish it were a little bit more juice, but 75 will work for this scene, but we know that we're gonna need a little more juice on that pro photo on the mag box. Okay, so that's great. Now what I want you to do is to tip this back a little bit, so it feathers up and over a little bit. So we're gonna do a technique where she's just gonna lean it back a little bit, so it kind of feathers up and off the ground. So the ground is not going to get as much of that light. I'm gonna get just a bit of light on them. Let's go ahead. Hop into that pose, guys. Mhm. Okay, let's get this image. And now can you fling the dress out a little bit and then let the Yes, just like that. So on three, here we go. I love love. Love that. Do it one more time. Here we go. 12 and three. One more time. 12 and three. I love that. That looks fantastic. Now, I actually want to do a couple things just to make it a little bit more unique. And we're gonna start by basically just jelling and switching the white balance. This is honestly one of my favorite looks. Uh, and before we get into kind of our three favorite jelling temperatures, uh, this is just a classic that I want to throw in here. So now that we got that shot, what I'm gonna do is let's go ahead and put a c t o on both of these guys. So I love that the mag box. GTOs are just right inside of that, uh, that lid on the case. It makes it very simple. We just open this up, we're gonna pop this in. Mm. Okay. And that is good to go. Now all I'm gonna do in camera is go ahead and cool off the image quite a bit. So we're gonna drop this down. Let's go to 30. 200. Kelvin. We got a nice blue. Now, guys, hop into those same positions. Yep. Uh huh. I want you to that same fling fling with the dress. Okay, so here we go. Your heads are perfect. Teeth go one inch. This way. Right there. Right there. Perfect. Open up the feet a little bit. Get a little wider stance. Solid. Okay. On 312 and three. There. I'm just raising the I s so just a little bit. So we get a little bit brighter than image. Here we go. 12 and three. Yes, that is it. now I love that second shot compared to the first one where we went from the natural light over to lit over to jelled that final images Fantastic. Now I'm gonna go ahead and shoot like a bottom of shot and get a couple other angles and we're good to go. Okay, let's pause for a second and dive in the light room because I want you to see the difference between those two final images. We're still going to get to the post production of these images, but here are those two shots on the right side. You see the image with just standard daylight flash on the left side, you're seeing the final image with the CTO gel. Both these images were processed identically, so there's no difference is there in the processing. What you're seeing is the difference in white balance and the color of the light source. Now, for this specific scene, I just find that you get such a beautiful image with that CTO and I'm gonna explain exactly why now you can't really argue with either of these. To be honest, I actually like the motion in the dress a little bit more on the shot on the right side. But I like the background, the tonality in the left side. Here's why. It works very well. Now, on the right side, you can kind of see that the Reds kind of tend to blend in with the background color a little bit more, right? So if we kind of zoom into this one, the Reds kind of blend. And overall we have this sort of warmth in the background. It's a nice kind of look overall, but on the left side we kind of have a few things playing for us. We have the blue and against blue. We have that stark contrast of the red, and it really makes it pop along with the yellows and the skin tone. We have very complementary colors that really end up popping and making the subjects jump out at you in this shot. It also looks a little bit more like a nighttime evening shot downtown, which I like with that kind of the overall look. So for me, I would opt in this scene for that C t. O. But honestly, I don't think you can go wrong either way. I just wanted to show you guys the difference between these two shots. So you guys can make the creative decision when you all are out in the field. Let me get that same shot with that dress playing from right at this angle, I can see which one I kind of like better. Okay. 12 and three. Let's see it. I love that low angle. Do one more time. That is rad as I see it. Yeah, that's super cool. Super cool. That one's red too, Boss. I love the motion on it. Yeah, go on the left there. I thought you were talking about way. Yeah. No, yourself. It's good. You're emotionally. You're okay. That's really cute. Alright. So while Heath is feeling himself, let's go ahead and dive into the actual post production. So you all have seen the final images that we're gonna be aiming at. And again, there's not a whole lot of crazy stuff that's gonna be happening here. Let me show you the quick way that we're going to get to this. So let's select one of these images. I'm gonna go ahead and select the raw file for the non color throw shot. Okay? Alright. this is fully reset out again. So if you're using the visual flow system, we're using the modern pack. We're going with HDR in the shot with just an exposure lift. So all you're gonna do is just lift the exposure. And really, this is going to tile almost everything into the shot the way that you want to. It's going to go for a high dynamic range. Look with our scene. So that's honestly it. But let's dial in these settings and I want to show you what that color profile is doing under the kind of surface in this shot. So let's work from the top. What we're gonna do first is with this image. I want to go ahead and lift the shadows and the blacks quite a bit. So we're gonna go ahead and pull up and let's just shrink down the left side. Okay, there we go. So we're gonna get our high dynamic range. Look by pulling up the blacks, pulling up the shadows, and we're also going to save and preserve just a little bit of our whites and also a bit of the highlights. And then we're gonna go ahead and add in a little bit of clarity and get a little more brightness into the shot as well. So let's just go ahead and raise exposure a little bit, too. Okay, so already this is looking pretty nice. Now we have that same kind of split toning that's adding a little bit of warmth in the shot as well. Um, and we could do that if we wanted to. Let's just go ahead and add that in. I want to go to probably about right. Let's see about here. highlight side and on this side. Let's go ahead and bring around 2 and just kind of give it more of a highlight balance. Now the next I'm gonna do is just add a little bit of contrast to the shot, so we kind of just increase the contours. Usually, contrast is honestly one of the last things that I touch because I think of it more of like a finishing item. I want to add in the contrast and get things to the way I want it through other means first and then if I need to, I'll add in a little bit of contrast. Let's go ahead and from here, we're gonna add a little more exposure. And all I'm gonna do now is grab a radio filter and again do that same thing. Now, this works so well in the way that we're shooting and lighting because our vignettes already naturally built into the photographs that were capturing, right, Our brightest point is around. The subjects were dropping in an additional kind of vignette that pulls into the frame. So that way, it doesn't look as if we are doing something unnatural to the shot. So I'm gonna go ahead and pull in a vignette right here, just a burn, and we're gonna pull that burned down quite a bit. And I might even add in just a little bit of vibrance on this shot to give it a little bit extra kick. Okay, so for this shot, I'm just going to add a little bit more and we're going to go ahead and warm it up. And were there were two that final image. Now, if I wanted to, I could just copy this and go to my other file, and I can just drop this right over the blue one, so let's go ahead to the other cr three. I'm gonna go ahead and reset everything and then paste those exact same settings over this one, and the skin tones look beautiful. I love it when they're orange like that. Now we need to actually dial in the white balance because it copied over the white balance setting as well. So just grab that white balance selector. What? You can do it because we already shot this like, pretty well, so just double click on each of these to reset it out to where it was when we started, uh, with the so or just go as shot is totally fine, too. So this is as shot and it looks great. I'm gonna pull the exposure down just a little bit and then probably warm it just a little bit more for the skin tones. Now, on this, the split Tony is adding a little bit too much teal into the shot. So what I might do instead is shift this more to the blue side and then give this just a little bit more warmth up in the highlights, okay? And pull down the shadows a little bit. And then what? I might do is just cool down the temperature to compensate for skin tone. So everything else is the exact same. I'm gonna brighten this up a little bit more right about there. If you want to add a tiny bit more clarity, I'm gonna let you guys make the call. Remember that Clarity is one of those things that's beautiful on these images that are wider and we're not getting in tight on the faces, but it can be a little bit too much as you punch and clarity. Usually we're dialing back clarity when we're shooting up a close portraits. Uh, and all I'm gonna do now is just select that radio filter again. So if you press shift em or let's see here the radio filter button on my loop deck. Where is my radio filter? Did not copy that over. Let's see if it's so sometimes if you press h, you can see the pin is hidden right now. It looks like it actually didn't copy over. So the loop deck copy function probably didn't take the adjustment there, Which is why we don't see that burn effect around the edges. So I'm just gonna do that manually We're going to pull the exposure and again right about there. I'm gonna go ahead and add in a little bit more exposure to the image. Sorry, not from here. Let's deselect that. And now. Okay, so that's it. Let's take a look at our two final images. Let's look at the before and afters. So let's go ahead and look at this one. We press back slash let's go to develop module. Okay, there's our before There's are after some simple tweaks and adjustments to really lift out the tones and for this shot. Okay, there's before there's the after, so we're just lifting a little bit of detail. Most the magic is happening in that shadow. Blacks lift with a little bit of extra clarity and contrast and a little bit of color toning over it to kind of get things to pull together. That's it. Let's go on to the next video

Class Description


  • Master multiple off-camera flash setups for dramatic portraits.
  • Control light with flash modifiers such as softboxes, grids, and gels.
  • Master creative techniques like creating silhouettes anywhere, pin lighting. your subjects, backlighting rain, creating starbursts with diffraction, and much more.
  • Use various tools in Adobe Lightroom Classic to enhance the images created using the lighting techniques taught in this course.


This workshop is all about using multi-point lighting setups to consistently make any location look great and help you capture dramatic, creative portraits that will wow your clients every time.

Building on the skills learned in Flash Photography Crash Course, Lighting 101 and Lighting 201, we’re going to explore a variety of multi-point lighting techniques and look at different ways to further refine the way we light a scene. We’ll start with light stacking to create depth in our portraits before introducing rim lighting, backlighting, and other creative effects and applications. Then, we’ll incorporate motion into our environmental portraits via shutter drag and show you how to create composite images that would otherwise be impossible to capture. 

We’re going to demonstrate these techniques using a variety of highly portable lighting gear and modifiers. You’ll also find “power translations” with each lesson so that you can know the exact power settings used and recreate the same light using any flash or modifier that you already own. Follow along and see how we crafted all of the images featured in this course, from shoot to post, and learn how to fully realize your vision and bring it to life with your camera. 

The next class in this series is Lighting 401, where Pye teaches photographers how to create every natural light effect with flash, including golden hour, soft window light, and direct sun.


  • Photographers with a basic understanding of flash photography who want to elevate their lighting skills
  • Those looking to boost their creativity when shooting on-location
  • Any photographer who wants to stand out from the competition


Adobe Lightroom Classic 2019


Jackie Stewart

Lighting 301 is excellent! I learned so many new techniques throughout the class. Pye Jirsa is brilliant at explaining new lighting techniques in such an easy to understand way and his mastery of Lightroom is amazing!!! Loved the class and can't wait til implement the things I learned!!!!


I love the Lighting (101-201-301) courses; I have finally understood the concept of lighting and how it works. I have been referring to my notes and go back to all the courses with ease. One of the best courses I have done for myself and my biz; I am so impressed with my work and the lighting I can create.


Pye is a great presenter and is able to make understanding light easy. Now to practice and master the concepts taught. Thank you.