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Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 12 of 39

10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2


Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 12 of 39

10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2


Lesson Info

10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2

We are going to jump into our ten white, one light set ups and everything that I'm going to demo is going to be with not the box, but here's the thing I showed you tons of different modifiers, you could do this with a larger saltbox, it would just be harder to control. You could do this with a small umbrella, but you might need to bring everything closer to make it soft as this you could use make more dramatic light with a silver reflector, so all of these can be modified. It'll just have a different end result. So I'm going to show you different ways that I would use an octo bach, and as we said, they'll be this final image with the actual pds and download of the class. So may I have my model out here, and I'll talk you through what my brain is thinking when I'm lighting her? Will this be a problem to have it from that way? Or do we need to rotate it? Okay, if you wantto flip it for me, okay, so have you take a seat, so I'm going to start off with her front and center, but keeping in ...

mind that I can move her closer further, the backer and all of that to change with the background looks like the very first set up would be just a plain old lovely paramount lighting or loop lighting and this looks good with an octo box honestly on pretty much anybody does it necessarily have flair and style to it? No it's just a nice functional portrait so if you're just starting off you can't go wrong here like it won't it won't look like a bad photograph it'll look like a nice portrait it just might not be profound, so I think it is a great place to start in the extra hand ok, perfect all right, so for me I know that I want the light center for paramount or slightly off to the side if I want a little bit more shadow to her face keeping in mind that let's say I'm looking at her and this is something I consider with portrait this is not the case with you, so don't worry but let's say I look at her and it's a subject that has a very uneven face where one I very much larger than the other a rule of thumb for portrait. If somebody has a very uneven face, you don't point them straight on towards camera because that invites you to compare left and right because you're looking at a still frame you're never looking at someone and staring and say, well, ok that's uneven but you do when it's captured photograph so when I talk about paramount in this case I am talking about the light on her face so if I did say you know what I don't want her straight on towards camera so I'll turn you a little bit it might be paramount that direction if I needed to turn her head it would just be minimal shadows and right now I have the soft box it's pretty little bit higher has more elevation to it on it will give you a little bit more definition to the shadows underneath her jaw line and in her cheekbones and let's take a quick meter test thank you and I'll show you if you are going to do this again I'm going to change the boom if you don't have a boom let's give this test and a little bit higher perfect nine o okay give this a test perfect in several straight and one of the things I'm looking for when photographing her is I am looking for in a portrait for her toe have catch lights in your eyes so that is a rule of thumb for studio letting and portrait lighting in general is you want some sort of highlight in her eyes if for some reason she leans forward or slouch is a little bit this light is up pretty high and so let me just have you slouch just a little bit look your eyes down I'm like looking like a little bit lower she is. She still has a little bit which will have really small catches and really, you want to have a little bit of sparkle so a couple things you might want to do is perhaps lower your light or have your son just sit up a little bit straighter. So a couple things I want to note is that my meter told me nine point oh, what she does you put an extra eye and pointed it towards the light in this case trying to catch the light at nine o I think it's a little dark for a portrait my general rules some is if you are using light meters I generally over exposed by two thirds toe stop two thirds of a stop to a full stop so I met nine oh, I think I might like it better it aito seven one like I'm going to open up the whole lot more light and make it a little bit brighter. Good. And I already know I like this like better. So just know the meter is a guideline but then you got outsmart your meter, outsmart your camera so we have that so that's a nice light on her face for her, this light looks great she has nice cheekbones, a nice john glenn, can I un boom this for a second can I have it loops not boomed like not the boom off but just turned ok, so this is for people that don't have a boom arm roughly where I would put it let's try like ok, perfect. So something like this and I'm gonna lower this good you got it ok, perfect so roughly the height that I would put it out if it's not boomed would be about like this. So the center of her life of the light is about nine to sixteen inches of overhead nine to twelve something like that. So if you look top of the light is about here from her eyes gives her a little bit of shape if there's too much shadow I lower it so this is going to be right about here I'm gonna have a little bit of loop underneath her nose it's not too low it's not too high and it'll be just a nice franklin portrayal on a need to meet her that looks good so if you don't have a boom this is what I would do and still look like a nice portrait. You want a little dittemore shadow you pull it off to the side, he want a little more shape, you raise it up, okay, so that looks great, so that would be my set of number one that is just a nice functional portrait either straight in front for minimal shadows or if you want a little more shape slightly off to the side with a three foot locked box. Is that like meaning? That picture. All right, it's. Cool. Okay, can I have the key note? Back up. Okay, so we had that boomed out over. We had a paramount, but the next thing I would dio would be a lighting set up called clamshell lighting. And yes, do that. Since we are using the same gear again for this entire segment, can you tell folks again with what this one is perfect. Okay, so this particular light modifier is the westcott rapid box, octo, octo excel and three foot. So if you have I mean pretty much any brand has some sort of free for octo box. I like using octo box, so I'd like to catch flights in the eyes. It wraps around nicely. You could do the same thing with a three foot soft box, for example, same concept I did want to address. There is not an inter baffle in case you were curious, it would make some difference. But it's not really large enough to make that draft pick of the difference where you'll really see it is a big, soft box that would want that extra diffusion panel. Also just to go over I have the pro photo d one airs that's what I'm using we'll talk about this tomorrow there five hundred watt second lights and for the power was tricking the camera see this when I'm talking about changing the output this is all I'm doing like I'm just changing out put up her down I'm not changing anything fancy and we'll talk about model blocks and things tomorrow but I didn't I don't didn't like working with pacs where I had to figure out ok, so if I plug it in and splits the power and then I got turned up and down like this pax and heads were much more popular in the past this is called ah mon alight and so this is what I tend to use a lot more often and will describe what that means in death tomorrow. Okay booming out again just a little bit, you know have to move it out as much. Okay, so lighting set up number two is called clamshell lighting and clamps relating is the most popular of beauty lighting for female portrait's for beauty and like fashion photography but it's also just reports in general what you do is you boom the late out over or not if you get as close to center it is possible usually and then you put a reflector underneath their chin and the reason it's called this it's basically two light sources your main light and then you feel like you're reflector underneath and the subject's head is the pearl in the clamshell it's clamshell waiting and so right now this direction of light looks nice but the problem that all run into it she'll have shadows in her eyes like I said it doesn't need to be boomed it could be slightly off to the left or right but you still want it pretty high up and what's nice is gonna carve out the features in her faith but it just gets too dark under her chin and underneath her eyes so you add that light source to fill in here uh hey uh meter passes off to you thank you all right and I think I think it's still on perfect hold that big button in perfect process once oh it's cause I was messing with it I was messing with it okay, well hypothetically if I turned this right she turned down okay? Okay right channel so I'm changing it from my trigger instead of having to have him bring that down and change it I'm just going to the energy and for this particular one if I hold it in it drops by like a full stop of power all right, so this should be lovely much better now yes perfect ok so here's what it looks like without the film nice chief to her face but it gets a little bit dark so what's to silver so clamshell lighting the beauty lighting is the silver reflector underneath remembering when I do this every thing makes a difference so a little bit lower and then right there and so what you'll see and if whoever's manning light room if you'll zoom into the eyes on this one what you'll see is you'll see to catch lights one high and centered and then one underneath from the reflector I have been asked many times about this if there's a problem with multiple catch lights and where they should be I heard like long ago I think people are more concerned about where the catch lights were but it's not really an issue the on ly time I don't like multiple catch lights is when they're like this to catch flights on the far left and right of the eye like that tends to look strange but this is what this is supposed to look like it's supposed to have one catch like below and one catch late above and one catch like blow so you can actually see in her eyes the light source we're using so that's something I want to invite everyone to do especially one o one photographer's for sure because what you'll see is you see the octagon shape in her eyes and so that tells you right away that it's an octo box if you see you can tell when it's an umbrella you can see what that umbrella looks like and so if you look at some of these images when you go back and look at what we shot you'll see the catch lights a beauty dish looks like a circle within a circle soft box will be a large square and you don't know what size it is because if they wanted to make it look bigger they just bring it closer so I will look at photos that I love and try to figure out how they were living by looking at the eyes and I can tell right now it's a knock to box above and it's more or less centered but maybe a tiny bit off to the left it's not a perfectly centered but it's pretty darn close okay and then I can see in her eye if I see any kind of reflection from below that's not a perfect shape it's not a dog it's not a rectangles not align I used to know it's a reflector if it's sparkly or bright I know that it's silver if it's flat and dull just like a little bit of reflection that I know it's white so catch lights a clam shell you khun do with silver you can do it with white and I had a question before about if you can use silver, gold or gold underneath um I avoid it because right now, the light that I have coming from above is daylight balance, and it is white. It is a white light source, so if I take a silver gold mixed reflector, they have ones that are just golden tones of silver gold a little bit. What ends up happening is you've got this night nice white light source from above, and then underneath their chin is gold, and it doesn't quite make sense, and it usually isn't very flattering, so I go with silver or white. I've seen silver gold used before in very few cases, so I would just say, stick with silver white, and if you do not have a reflector, no problem you can use to other things you could use a piece of white foam core, you can get it for, like five dollars at home craft store, so they're like two by three foot pieces and the few dollars you can use that or if you want to use silver and you don't have silver there, plenty of things you can use, but even larger cake pans or, like lasagna pans if you didn't have one or if you have one sit in your house, you could use that as well the kick light if you didn't have any reflectors at all. That was loving. Let me switch to white to show the difference, remembering that the higher up you bring the light, when you check the angle, it fills in more the lower down you bring the light, the less it feels and white is more subtle and less contrast, even silver. So if you look at the catch lights in this in her eyes, in this next one, if you want a human, it'll be much more subtle and hardly visible just like to see a little bit of catch late in the bottom. And so sometimes it's sneaky because you can't quite tell, but I try to break down with the light sources are all right, so I am ready to go on to number three and lessors questions on that let's see, this question had come in earlier from e fergie, when you were showing us the back of the light does does the scale on the back of the strobe relate directly to f stops? Okay, really good question so here's the thing, while technically it kind of does like you're putting out a stop of light, like each, each jump up on this particular one a stop of light would be twice as much light it doesn't relate to the stops you change on your camera. Because the distance is going to make a difference in the modifier is going to make a difference. So while it it does technically mean that in the head itself in reality it's not like I go oh, I went from seventy eight now I can change one stop on my camera it does it's not that simple unfortunately. And every single light is different and those numbers will not like this one is fourth or ten yeah, this one's four through ten other ones are like one one twenty eighth power up to full power other so the numbers just because it's a five point six doesn't mean that's what your temperature is going to be exactly. Yeah, definitely doesn't yeah, the point being once you do have a piece of gear, you need toe learn that particular piece of gear. Yeah, great. I do have another question for you from pixel candy and again, we we have been having a lot of people ask about small spaces and so with, say, an eight puts stealing what are you thinking about differently when you have that kind of smaller space and low ceiling, how does that affect what you do? Sure, and so I do have a segment on this, but I can touched on it briefly first of all, I think smaller modifiers and bring them closer in because I can't have a four by six off, fox isn't going to work, so this something like this would be ideal. A smaller light source closer to my subject. If I don't need full length, I have them sit down, and then also, I don't boom things out as much. It would be just trying to keep it more off to the side and over instead of, like boomed out and over, it takes up more space, about seven and a half feet high, so that what we're doing now could fit into an eight foot ceiling. Yeah, and, of course, if she's sitting on the stairs, you stand someone up. Then it runs into it. So if it's a head shot, for sure, just sit them down.

Class Description


  • Expertly light a portrait using just one light and one modifier
  • Work with more complex two and three light set-ups
  • Create light for portraits, beauty, or drama
  • Light a group photograph
  • Learn to troubleshoot the most common lighting questions
  • Confidently purchase the right lighting equipment for your work


Intimidated by studio lights? In Studio Lighting 101, fashion photographer Lindsay Adler deciphers the complexities of studio light, breaking it down into simple concepts for beginners. In this class, you'll learn everything from basic lighting terminology to creating multiple light set-ups. Start with the basics like how to adjust your digital camera settings for studio strobes and layer in the details you'll need to light your first photo studio portrait.

Photographers on a budget will learn how to light a portrait using a single light, modifier, and photography light stand. Then, learn to work with two and three light kits to create drama, background separation, and more. You'll see dozens of studio lighting set-ups, from start-to-finish, behind the scenes in this live recorded class. Develop the skills to troubleshoot several common photography studio lighting problems, like lighting large groups and correcting reflections on glasses.

By the end of this class, you'll know how to buy your first studio lighting kit and how to shoot that first in-studio portrait. This class is ideal both for beginning photographers that don't understand much beyond the exposure triangle and experienced natural light photographers ready to try a studio setting.


  • Beginners with a grasp of the exposure triangle
  • Intermediate and advanced natural light photographers new to studio lighting


Fashion photographer Lindsay Adler is one of the most well-known in her field, noted for her style, posing and mastery of the studio lighting system. Along with working as a photographer, she's also a respected educator, a Canon Explorer of Light, and author of three instructional photography books. Her work has appeared in publications such as Marie Claire, Elle, InStyle, Noise, Essence, Zink Magazine, Rangefinder, Professional Photographer and dozens more. Lindsay is a sought after speaker for her experience and straightforward, easy-to-follow teaching style.


  1. Studio Essentials: Shutter Speed

    In the first lesson, gain an overview of the course. Dispel some of the most common lighting myths. Learn how camera settings change when working with studio lighting instead of natural lighting. Figure out your sync speed limitations and how shutter speed affects the ambient (or existing) light.

  2. Studio Essentials: Flash Exposure

    While shutter speed won't change the look of your studio light, aperture and ISO will affect the exposure, or the amount of light, from the flash. Learn how aperture affects the way that burst of light from your strobe or speedlight looks. Then, factor in ISO and the strobe output, or how much light the strobe lighting creates. Work with a light meter to take out some of that guesswork.

  3. Studio Essentials: White Balance

    Where should you set the white balance when working with studio lighting? In this lesson, learn where to set the white balance on the camera, and why those settings are different for different types of light and even different brands. Work with additional factors that can also affect color temperature.

  4. Light Principles: Inverse Square Law

    Dive into the three things that affect the look of the light. Consider factors like the intensity of the light, lighting ratios, and the quality of the light. Take the complexities out of the Inverse Square Law and learn how bringing the light closer or farther away makes a difference in the image.

  5. Lighting Patterns

    Learn the lighting lingo to establish a basic foundation in light -- and the ability to learn and talk about light. Pick up terms like broad light, short light, flat light, highlights, and shadows. Then, dive into common lighting patterns like paramount, loop, Rembrandt, and split.

  6. Shoot: Demo Lighting Patterns

    Watch the lighting patterns from the previous lesson in action. Learn how to set up each type of pattern. Then, add variety to the lighting set-ups through simple changes, such as understanding how height affects dimension.

  7. Quality of Light and Modifiers

    Control the quality of light from hard to soft adding modifiers to your lighting kit. Learn why size and distance matters for modifiers. Look at the different types of lighting accessories available and see how several types of modifiers affect the light.

  8. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid

    See those lighting accessories in action. In this live shoot, see how adjusting the different available diffusers and grids change the look of the image. Determine how to pick a modifier that matches the look you want.

  9. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Umbrellas

    Umbrellas are a large, inexpensive, and easy-to-use light modifier. Work with the different types of collapsible umbrellas, including silver, white and shoot through. Discover how to place the umbrella and work with umbrellas in a portrait shoot.

  10. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Softboxes

    Softboxes are similar to umbrellas in that they create soft light, but they can be a bit easier to control. See the pros and cons of different shapes and sizes. In the live shoot, learn how to control the light spill by feathering a softbox.

  11. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Extra Stuff

    Work with strip boxes, barn doors, grids, and snoots -- modifiers that are often used for rim light, backlight or hair lights. Explore how each type works, then see the different options in action. Learn about Lindsay's favorite modifier, the beauty dish.

  12. 10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2

    Launch into ten different lighting setups that you can achieve with just one light -- this lesson covers the first two. Create paramount and loop lighting with a softbox in this live shoot using a single light, a light stand, a boom arm, and an octabox.

  13. 10 One Light Set-ups: 3 to 5

    Moving through the ten lighting set-ups with a single light, work with a Paramount octabox and two fill cards for a lighting setup called the beauty box. Create a Rembrandt light with an octabox and watch the behind-the-scenes fine-tuning using a modeling light, or continuous lighting, to see how small adjustments affect the light. Then, add a silver reflector to the Rembrandt for another option.

  14. 10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10

    Continue building variety with a single light using a Rembrandt set-up with a white reflector. Create a short light loop with an octabox, a short light Rembrandt with a reflector, an octabox rim light, and an octabox behind.

  15. One Light Set-ups: Pop Quiz

    Review what the class has done so far. Look over the ten images from the one-light set-ups, recap the qualities of that light and how it was created.

  1. FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 1

    Which is better, strobe light kits or a continuous lighting kit likes the ones often used with video cameras? Discuss the pros and cons of each type to help determine what type of lighting gear works best for you. Dive into the most frequently asked questions about buying photography lighting, like what wattage to look for.

  2. FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 2

    This class allows you to shoot multiple set-ups with a single light -- but ideally, how many lights should you have in your light kit? Continue working with purchasing questions on lighting in this lesson, including name brands, DIY alternatives, and the difference between the pricey strobes and the less expensive strobes.

  3. FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 3

    If you can only afford one modifier, which one should you start with? Finish the round of purchasing questions in this lesson, including questions posed by students like you. Learn how strobes differ from flash heads or speedlights, and why strobes are often better for a studio space than an off camera flash.

  4. 10 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 and 2

    Move from simple single light set-ups to lighting with two light sources. Start with a basic portrait with a softbox loop and a stripbox hair or rim light. Then, learn to shoot a basic clamshell with a softbox, a reflector and a strip box for added highlight.

  5. 10 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 6

    Continuing the two-light set-ups, move into more dramatic lighting with a Rembrandt using a softbox key light and a strip box rim light. Next, tackle a Rembrandt portrait lightened with a fill card and a clamshell with a softbox and stripbox.

  6. 10 Two Light Set-Ups: 7 to 10

    Go behind the scenes for a short light Rembrandt with a second light behind the subject 45-degrees with a barn door modifier. Create a "checkerboard" style light using a Rembrandt key light and a grid on the background. Finally, create a dramatic Rembrandt with a silver dish and stripbox or barndoors.

  7. 5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2

    Two light set-ups aren't limited to just ten possibilities. In the second set of two-light scenarios, Lindsay walks through some less common photographic lighting techniques. Start with using two rim lights, then jump into a sideways clamshell.

  8. 5 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5

    Create a wrap around beauty light with a softbox behind, a beauty dish in the front and a silver reflector. Or, build a more dramatic wrap-around light without a reflector. Learn how to shoot with a dramatic grid light and a barn door modified light towards the back.

  9. 5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2

    A three light kit will open up even more possibilities. In this lesson, Lindsay discusses why you may want three lights, then jumps into the first of five different basic three light set-ups. Start with a high key portrait, followed by a high key clamshell.

  10. 5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5

    Learn to light groups using a three light set-up. Anticipate the likely problems with lighting groups before they happen and watch a live demonstration of a group lighting set-up. Then, create a three-point light set up with a softbox and two stripboxes, then a checkerboard with a key, rim, and background light.

  11. 5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3

    Move into the more advanced three light set-ups in this lesson. Start with a Rembrandt with a gridded beauty dish and two rim lights with barn doors. Then work with film noir studio lighting and a high key drama shot.

  12. 5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5

    Learn to use your lights to create a high key spill light. Finally, create a high key clamshell lighting in the final intermediate three-light set-up.

  13. 10 Common Lighting Mistakes

    Now that you know how to light, learn how NOT to light. Work with some common lighting mistakes that beginners make, and learn how to fix each one.

  1. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1

    In the final day of the class, work through twelve common problems that are common in studio lighting. Learn how to problem solve lighting in the studio. Work with issues like getting a white background with one light or multiple lights.

  2. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 2 to 6

    Continue troubleshooting in the studio and dive into creating full-length shots with an all-white background. Work with stacking light, dealing with ambient light, and more.

  3. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 7

    How can you prevent the subject from casting a shadow on the background? In this lesson, Lindsay explains how to tackle this tricky challenge.

  4. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8

    How far away you place the light plays a role in the image -- so what about working inside a small studio? In this lesson, Lindsay tackles the challenges of working inside a small space with studio lights.

  5. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 9

    How do you avoid reflections on the subject's glasses? Learn how to avoid reflections on glasses when using studio lights.

  6. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 10 to 12

    Finish the list of the most common problems that come up with studio lighting. Work with separating the subject from a dark background, lighting groups evenly, and using wide apertures with strobe lights.

  7. Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    In this set of rapid-fire studio set-ups, learn how to light a traditional portrait using, one, two or three lights. Watch behind the scenes for these "go-to" portrait set-ups.

  8. Beauty Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    Beauty shots are a bit different from a traditional portrait. Walk through ideal lighting set-ups for beauty light using one, two and three lights.

  9. Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    Build these go-to group lighting set-ups into your repertoire. Learn easy lighting set-ups for using a single light, or one or two.

  10. Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    Work with three go-to lighting set-ups for drama (which also work well for men). Learn dramatic light with one light, two or three.

  11. Your First Studio Lighting

    In the final lesson, gain insight into what to consider when building your studio lighting kit. Lindsay shares tips on what to buy and how to save cash for photographers on a budget.



If you're on the fence about this class I can easily answer your concerns. BUY IT. Lindsay provides top notch professional education while keeping things interesting. Her words are precise and direct. I actually felt GOOD just watching and learning. I mean, like someone surprised me with a cupcake kinda GOOD. After the class I could immediately see improvements in my photography. The best part is that I learned enough to see the wrong in my setups. Knowing what's wrong is just as important as knowing what's right. She is funny, easy going, energetic and filled with knowledge. I would also highly recommend her Posing 101 class as a must have addition to this course. I feel like I have learned more than I could possibly use. I will be going through this course over and over again just to make sure it all sinks in. There's THAT MUCH she offers that you will always learn more with each time you watch. I hope this helps someone make the decision to up their game. That is exactly what it did for me.

Beatrice Palma

Hi, I am Beatrice from Italy. I think this class is superb. I finally understood what are the guide lines to follow, I tried for years but never found such a good explanation. Lindsay is a wonderful teacher, she explains in a simple way, she shares a lot of knowledge and she shows in practice what are the results of every single choice. Thank you so much, it was really amazing and super interesting!!!!

Penny Foster

I have been shooting families and pets in my living room space for two years now and I thought I was doing a good job but certain skills had eluded me, like lighting a white background to perfection and shooting people with glasses without the reflections in my shots. Then I watched this course and had so many 'aha' moments that I HAD to buy it; not just for Lindsay's teaching style (which is pretty awesome( but also for all the lighting diagrams that I can refer to whenever I feel like 'stepping my lighting up to the next level'. Lindsay shows you what you can do with minimal gear, so you can get started right away; no need for expensive triggers (I have a set that just fires when I press the shutter), and no need for expensive branded modifiers (she shows you what you can do with one umbrella). Lindsay is so enthusiastic, it is obvious that she loves light, and it is hard not to get 'fired up' to try all of her lighting setups. Brilliant course once again!