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Lighting with Constant Light

Lesson 11 of 18

Lighting Setup: Clamshell Light

Mark Wallace

Lighting with Constant Light

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

11. Lighting Setup: Clamshell Light
This simple two-light setup is excellent for portraits. By adjusting the size of the lights and the types of light used, Mark is able to get similar results with different gear.

Lesson Info

Lighting Setup: Clamshell Light

let's begin our lighting setups with clamshell light. It's a very simple lighting setup. You can use one or two lights and you just put one on top of the other and it goes in a clamshell format. Sometimes I get confused and think butterfly light because in my mind there sideways but this is not butterfly. Like if I accidentally say butterfly light, I mean clamshell light, this is clamshell light, you can see clamshell light because this top light right here, we're using a big soft box here. Parabolic, it's a 1 20 this reflector, it looks like a clamshell. So we're gonna shoot through this and we will get really beautiful light. So the first thing I need to do is just to note we are going to turn off the front lights that are illuminating me and you'll see me go into darkness. And so Teresa you'll notice is in complete darkness. We still have this little light over here with a grid on it, we're gonna do this for all of our lighting setups. This light that's shining on me does not shine ...

on Theresa, it's not gonna affect her exposure at all. And so we just want to do that so you can see me walk around. Okay, so when I go over here I'm metering this light So I'm going to meet her right to the camera, I'm metering my camera set to s. 0. 640 And my shutter speeds at 200. And so right now I'm seeing that I need an aperture value of F 10 And so I'm going to do that, I'm gonna set my aperture to F 10 and I need to plug this in so you can see it on my computer. And so okay so we're at 10 right now. Teresa look right at me is gorgeous. We're gonna take a photo and you can see when this shot comes up here. It is. It's just coming up now bam. We have really nice soft light under Theresa's chin. You can see that her eyes, we have this nice reflection of the main light. We're just getting a subtle bounce of light underneath. But this clamshell light, you see what it does to her cheekbones. We have this really beautiful light sculpting her cheeks, it looks really wonderful in this shot because we have such a large light modifier notice we have lots of light on the background. What would happen if we change that light modifier? Well that's the wonderful thing with clamshell light. You can so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna turn this light off, I'm gonna lower this light stand so that I can take off this really large wraparound soft light. So forgiving you really can't go wrong with a big soft box like this because it just wraps around your subject. So what we're gonna do instead we're still going to use a soft box but I'll show this over here, we have a grid on that so you can see that grid a little bit. Yeah there we go. So it's gonna restrict the light. So it's only gonna go straight at Teresa. So I'm gonna throw that on my light so I'll move that back over here. I'll throw that on. It's always fun doing this in the dark. So on video it looks very bright. But here where I am uh it's sort of in the dark so I can't really see. That's okay. Okay, I'm gonna turn this on, we're gonna raise this up a little bit. Not very much, I'm gonna go much much closer to Theresa with this light. And the reason for that is I want to try to get as close to her as possible so that the light falls off. That little rule of the inverse square law that we learned earlier, this is going to come into effect. And so this is going to let the light fall off behind her. We also have this light on a grid, it's going to restrict the light. So now let me meet her this And it meters at seven. I'm gonna increase my power. So I had turned this down to 30% of full power to try to match that. Just by guessing. Now we're F nine. F nine is pretty good. We get nice depth of field with F nine. So I'm gonna adjust my aperture to F nine. There we go. And now I'm loving this shot. Take that photo and now what we have is a much darker background and a little bit more pronounced shadows on Theresa. So we can go and look at these two pictures side by side. So the one on the left is the one with the large soft box. The one on the right is the one with the small soft box with the grid. Notice a couple of different things we look at this one. This is a large soft box, really nice soft light under her chin. The next one notice the light has become harder under her chin. That's because our light is smaller and so a smaller light gives us harder light. But I really love how that looks. Okay. So what we're going to do is we're gonna keep going along on our journey. I'm gonna light up really fast. And what we're going to do is we're going to add some more lights. We're gonna start adding kickers and experimenting and playing with more light setup. So stay tuned. More of that's coming to you right now.

Class Description


  • Shape light using specific light fixtures and modifiers
  • Understand the different types of LED lights and the benefits of each
  • Freeze motion to create stunning action photos
  • Mix RGB light to create interesting color effects
  • Work with different light modifiers to get the exact look you want
  • Create lighting setups that fit your style


For years constant lights have been reserved for video and film production only. But things have changed dramatically in a short amount of time. Using state-of-the-art LED lights, you can create stunning portraits, freeze motion, and create video content. You no longer need two lighting systems.

In this class, Mark Wallace explains the different types of constant light, uses hands-on demonstrations to show you how to control light, and creates many of his favorite lighting styles.

Mark explains the different types of light fixtures and light modifiers to help you make an informed decision when purchasing your lights. This class is perfect for anyone who wants to create interesting portraits and videos using LED lights.


  • Beginner to Intermediate portrait photographers
  • Anyone looking to use constant light for still photography as well as video
  • Photographers looking to expand their creative horizons by using new tools


Adobe Photoshop CC 2021
Adobe Lightroom Classic 2021


Mark Wallace is a photographer based in the United States. Best known for his web-based video series Digital Photography One on One and Exploring Photography sponsored by Adorama.

Millions of people have watched Mark’s videos on YouTube, and the numbers continue to grow. Mark has a solid social media following on Facebook and Twitter, where he spends time with viewers and workshop attendees.

In 2014, Mark left the United States to embark on a 2-year worldwide adventure. He visited 28 countries and captured thousands of unique photographs across the globe.

In 2016 Mark decided to give up planes, trains, and automobiles and is now exploring the world on his motorcycle.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Tether Tools Pro Kit Discount

Tether Tools Starter Kit Discount

Ratings and Reviews

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Great course very informative and a pleasure to watch love the way you teach so easy to understand and follow through. learned a lot about continuous lighting ty

Alessandro Zugno

This is a very useful class for who want to start shooting video or photo with constant light. Creative Live should make more class on videography.