Skip to main content

Lighting 301

Lesson 3 of 26

Two-Light Stacks for Portraits with Depth, Pt. 2

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

3. Two-Light Stacks for Portraits with Depth, Pt. 2
Pye builds on the techniques from the previous lesson and shows how to incorporate natural light into the shot. Pye also compares an image captured using a single light source to one captured using two light sources to clearly show the impact of adding an additional light source to chisel the subject out of the background. Post-production instruction is also included in this lesson.


  Class Trailer
Now Playing

Lesson Info

Two-Light Stacks for Portraits with Depth, Pt. 2

This is part two of that same painterly portrait that to light stacking effect to create depth in your image. This go around, I want you to pay attention to a couple of things. One. We have our subject position in a way where our light source, the natural light, is coming off. Two camera left, and we're actually going to light from that same side to keep the image, well, a little bit more natural looking. And to play into the existing light source to we're going to demonstrate the difference between using one single light source. Say, for example, just the mag box as well as that secondary flash that's going to be used to chisel out the subject's face so you can see the difference between a single light versus that to light stack setup, which is going to create more depth in our shot. Let's go ahead and dive into the video. I'm making a little bit of adjustment on this. I'm changing my angle and I'm bringing the bike forward a little bit and putting Seth right at the edge of the bike b...

ecause I do want the light from the sun and I want to chisel out the features with the pull in. That way, it's just a little bit difficult to do. So So I'm pulling him forward just a little bit, and we're gonna do the same thing, starting with composition. I've got these nice kind of like lines that are going up and down behind him. He's framed right in between, and now we're gonna dial in our ambient light exposure and we're gonna pull it down just a bit. So right now we're at 1 200 f seven and let's see where that amulet takes us. It's still pretty bright, so let's go down to It's got a low. So here's what we're gonna essentially do is I'm pulling us down to right around F 11, which gets us this shot. It's very dark, and what we're gonna do now is I need to fill in some light into the scene, and then I need to chisel him out of that scene. So again, it's following that same painterly look of getting light into the scene enough to fill in the shadows and then really chiseling out with light detail. And now that we have some separation, everything we can do that here. So I'm gonna follow with my natural light. All of our natural light direction is coming from this side. So when I fill the scene, I'm also gonna fill from that side. So I'm placing my a light. We're gonna go, right? Let's go from this side here. So we don't get too crazy of shadows on anything, and let's just see. Okay, So what I want to show is that from this angle of of lighting, right, the shot kind of looks a little bit off, and it looks off because we're filling in all of our shadows. And that's one of the biggest mistakes that I see made in lighting is that we end up filling in all the shadows. We end up with a shot. That's just not that interesting looking. And our baseline shot actually looks better than that. So all we're gonna do right now is we could fill in light into this other side. But we already have that, Phil. So if we look at the exposure, our our images underexposed, but we still have light coming to the side, and it looks fantastic. All I really need to do mhm is get a little bit more light on Seth from right about here. Okay, That's looking nice. The only issue is that I have a little bit too much light coming off of it, so we're gonna dial it back to one quarter power. Mhm. Perfect. Now, one quarter power on that guy, remember, is 400 200 watt seconds, 100 watt seconds. That means it's about two flashes of light coming through that modifier. And if we compare these two, then what I see is just kind of a nice kick of light onto sex body. And that's really all I want because this is going to chisel out his face. Yeah, we're gonna go in tight on this guy. This guy is at full power. We are not shooting high speed sync right now. Let's go ahead and dial him up and let's take that shot and there I'm going to bring that even in tighter. So I feel like the lighting angle is not quite natural right now, so I'm just bringing in a little bit and angling it down a little bit more so that that line I should be able to kind of draw a line from that light directly to Seth has mhm throughout. Dude. Before we move on to post production, I want to do a little summary and show you the sequence of images arriving in that final shot. Specifically, I want you to see the difference between having that to light stack setup versus just one light and the additional depth that we get in the image. So starting here from the left side, we have our raw file, which is just shot. Natural light for the exposure of skin tone sunlight is coming from the left, actually is a nice image in and of itself. Now we dialed in our composition, and the next step is ambient light exposure. So in this next shot, we've pulled down the ambulance exposure to get to that darker and more dramatic scene. And look, the third shot demonstrates that same problem where the flash is not off camera far enough. We see the same issue with the shadow, dropping the background with our overall flat and almost direct flash look to the image. It's just not a good look and all the lights spilling into the background and so forth So this fourth image, though, is interesting because this is with that single off camera light source with the mag box used. Okay, it's not bad. It looks actually quite nice in and of itself. But with that extra flash added over it, what we have is this additional depth, an additional half stop of light or so on the face that pulls us into the face. It almost creates a natural vignette. So if I just select those two images right there, I want to show you just those two side by side so you can see the difference here between these two shots. So the left shot is good, but what you have on the right is this natural vignette that kind of pulls you right into his facial features because that is the brightest part of the frame. And you can see his body and everything else has lifted up a little bit. But the face is chiseled out a little bit further. So again, these are just the raw files. So you can see how far we're going with simply shooting raw. And if we wanted to deliver this, they would probably appreciate it just exactly where it's at. But now let's go in. And we're gonna do something very similar and post to this image. Uh, we're going to finalize it right here. So again, we're gonna go ahead and just reset everything out so you can see exactly where it's starting. And it's not gonna be that much different from the prior shot. Okay, so all we're gonna do here really is just add a little bit of blacks. So we're gonna start with a little bit of blacks. I'm gonna go ahead and add a little bit of shadows. There we go. I'm still getting used to using the loop deck. Okay, I'm gonna go ahead. And also add some clarity of the image. And honestly, not a lot more needs to be done to this. Other than maybe I might warm this up just a little bit to have a little bit more of a warmth to it. I like it right there. I'm going to go ahead and pull in a radial filter. That same burn so a half stop burn. And here's a little trick. When you pull that in, you can also hold down, alter option and just click and drag to the right or left to increase or decrease the strength of the burn. So it works in this shot to kind of make it a little bit more dramatic and kind of pull that burn in just a little bit more. What I might also do is just burn the ceiling a little bit, so we can just kind of pull the attention right into the face. And, honestly, that's it. If you want to carry it forward and do the split toning technique, you totally can. I don't feel as much of a need in this image because the tones already fit and everything looks really cohesive already. All right, let's go ahead and move 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.