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Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 14 of 39

10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10


Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 14 of 39

10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10


Lesson Info

10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10

Silver reflector four room light for definition ok, number six so this was we kind of did before rembrandt light, but this time the white reflector to fill in so I'll grab a shot of that just for the pdf purposes it's like that? Perfect. Great! So all this will do is she still has the shape on her face, but it softens up the shadows of it. Okay, that's a pop up the closer I bring bring the reflector in the more it fills in the shadows further back that I have that reflector, the more the shadows air still defined. So it's still rembrandt like you just don't remember it doesn't have to be solid dark shadows and this is what I was talking about before with the ratios if anyone's ever taken a class before, I used to have to know like this was it was a one to three ratio in the shadows, like if I wanted to be filled in more, I move the reflector and more switching to silver and if I want less shadows are more shadows. I just don't use a reflector or I back it away. That's all you really ne...

ed to do is go for what looks right all right, so now I'm going to go on to number seven, all right, so dr box short light position to know we're going to create some a little bit more drama on her face in the beginning everything was centered it was kind of flat that would be your glowing beauty light your normal portrait this would be remember if you want a little bit more drama a little bit more separation now we're going like dramatic so you turned to your if you can move this over if you want way heard many concerns for her cold feet yeah this is I did not force her to have no socks on okay not me in okay, perfect so look this way have three quarters great so right now she has like a loop ah long shadow it looks very beautiful but shadow is toward me so it makes that short like so I did not mean to this but it should be the same because the distance of the light to the subject didn't move if I move the light way back it would change but it didn't so notice everything gets more dramatic and the same thing is before just because it's short light doesn't mean it has to be a dramatic photo can have a little bit of white phil this is how I like subjects that are heavier or have around just really round face and doesn't mean I like all of them this is a tool that I will try if I want I'll just give it a try and see if it helps because what I'm doing is instead of straight on round face lighting everything filling in every shadow what I did is I took the area of her face that was lit from being this large to now being all morning more narrow, slender illumination so it it mimics the idea of slender rising or face I don't have to have dark shadows and heavy still in with white so I can soften it up a little bit and so it still has that shape but the shadows aren't is dark and in my opinion we'll back it up a little bit what I'm noticing is I think this got too bright that's just like this is just a personal opinion I think it looks a little bit right there I just wanted like a little bit of phil so what he does backs to light up a little bit back so reflect her up a little bit it'll be weaker and I'll just be a tiny bit of phil so I mean distance makes all the difference so now it's just like a tiny bits not as dark with this shadow still there so that is number seven short light shadows towards the camera I was looking for loop just a little bit of a loop shadow from her nose all right, we're going to go to eight off the box short light rum brand so I'm moving around and where you ours get just a little bit uh a little it's tiny but the reason he's asking me a little higher I'm assuming we're good work, we're on the same wavelength what happens is it's harder to connect that no shadow if the shadows like short because it's lower what did when you raise it up it's giving me a longer shadow and so it gives me even like a longer rembrandt instead of it being cross ways. So I get, like, a longer highlight, so you raise it up a little bit for me to do that you have just a tiny that that we get perfect in with the same ok, perfect seem area so this would be and I'll leave it like this for a second, okay, so you'll see she gets remember it's like that little bit of a move, but what I can do even more if I want even more dramatically turn ahead with me, they are not moving anything perfect, okay? And look your eyes that way so I can shrink the size of that rembrandt just the it is moving ahead and it would just give me like, even a little bit more drama or to your head wouldn't even more good, perfect and so I could make it like a a tiny bit of the highlight like almost nothing under her eye and this would be if I were I don't I feel like you could do something really dramatic it could be an athlete and they're looking off to the future I don't know but more shadow is more drama but all I did was move her head so I were I'd want her head would be right there yeah wants to wants to know what john is doing with that little pink device hold a rico feed a camera and it takes a three hundred sixty degree picture so what do we do that diagrams later I'll be able to look at and see where the lights are in relationship to in other words he that smarty very smart we're over here john trying to figure out like how is it that you're taking a picture of this set up when you're just going like I'm going to be in everyone the picture I like that that is the answer everyone to john's little pink camera thank you um okay so going back to where we all it's where we started in the beginning as well if I'm looking at this and you know I like it but I wish there was more drama I want the background to be darker, okay? So the things I can dio if I bring this like closer to her relative to the background now the background is going to be further from her compared to that light, so it'll be darker, so I'm going to bring it in a little closer. And then the other thing is right now, his book at a water you can see it it's hitting that background a little bit so I can feather it off. And if donald the cameras can see this too much, but it makes a big difference there. It's hitting the background here, it's not okay. And then I can bring this in just a little bit and I'm gonna lower just a bit. One other thing I can do to make the background really dark is something called a flag. Sounds fancy. It could be a piece of black cardboard. It doesn't need to be anything. It could be the side of this reflector. Ideally, it won't be a reflector. Reflective will kick light, but whatever. Yeah, black. A piece. A piece of black foam core. Anything that's black. It was still one more time. Exactly what he did with something black. You just put it on a stand. You clamp it and put it right next. That like to appear in a small space. And I'm trying to make sure that backgrounds dark but it's a white background I've done everything I could. I've moved the like closer to the subject and move the subject as far as possible from the background I feathered it off but it's still heading there if you just take a piece of black phone port, it just acts like a little wall. It doesn't affect her at all. It just blocks the lead out from the background. So we tried without anything, I think meeting again with that. So you notice I'm able to just buy all I just was, like, closer and angle it a little bit like that was a tiny bit of movement moved closer to her. The late on her is going to be brighter compared to the background close down, everything gets darker and feather it off. And so if he if we had the black piece of foam core, you could make it go completely black. All right, so let me add in that last part, you want to give me a little bit of phil light and I want rembrandt here. So I'm gonna have you turn your head towards me a little bit of film, get his take in the violence, and then can you pull it back just a little bit more tiny butterfield and not where my angle is this is a totally different discussion this's more of a lighting shooting nerve posing an angle discussion but for portrait's I try not to shoot too high up on a subject because they lose their neck so if you notice in a lot of these shots I just crouched down just a little bit because if I were a tall person which I'm not and I were shooting up really high she and it's not it's not wrong it's just a different look but she just kind of loses their necks they're so I've been to shooting a little bit lower for that definition so I got that all right, so we're going toe pop on now to number nine on the next one. All right, so octo box as a room light okay, so this is one do we have any flags sticking around? Wait, we can cut it to make it smaller question from david burch could you use the black side of a fiveone one reflector to five? Absolutely. Totally. You could definitely do that and I thought it was funny at all I was impressed with I looked online and they have flag and gobo kits expensive those are so I mean they will come with a little diffusion panels like black flags and it was like a like eleven hundred bucks just use a piece of black foam core they could be totally fine. Ok, so I'm going to pull that back that way. So what I'm doing is what I want is just a slice of light under face, so I'm gonna be totally that way good. And I have you bring back even further, okay? So, like, right there, turn your head a little bit more to your right. All right, so what I'm doing, hopefully you can see this is I'm split lighting her in short light, but what that means is all I see is just just the outline of her face just a little bit of her profile and so this is his dramatic as it gets, so yeah, yeah, he moved toward the sled psa and points was light for me, perfect and with the same perfect. All right, so now this would be just the outline of her profile, and this is as dramatic as much shattered towards the camera as possible, just tracing the outside. So what I would use this for this would be great for, like a musician or a new athlete, you know, musician holding their guitar or the athlete holding, you know, if it's their basketball and just the outline of their profile with a soft box from behind, if it's full length and you need a bigger soft box but for a portrait that'll be perfect and I could even turn her turn even more profile keep going I mean I could dio and I want to bring it back just a little bit more pushing it right there so now it'll just be yelling or faith so what I was looking for us he's moving in is when I had her turn more to profile all of a sudden it caught a little bit of light on her cheek so I had him move it back because it's that same thing is where I had her moving in the soft box front to back the light will wrap differently so in that case I moved it back so wouldn't rather just have a slice so this would be just a room light on her face you can do that with a soft box what you want to be careful of is what we're talking about before if you have a lens hood I would wear I would use it at this point because look I'm basically shooting back towards that light that light is definitely hitting my lens I mean I can look at it and see the reflection on my lens even so what a lens hood would do is it block out some of that extra light give me a better contrast in my image and also helped me avoid lens flare but I'm just kind of without it kind of was watching my angles you have a pretty profile and a pretty front file okay all right perfect so this is the last set up kind of funky but it's going to lead into what we do can you put this like right up against her head okay, so is the lesson we're going to do this tomorrow for two lights set up this is one of my favorite things I'm using a three foot octo box so it's not as applicable but you can actually put a light source directly behind your subject and what it does is it wraps around them now in this instance with one light you would not have them face towards camera and said you have them face towards profile and it lights the profile of their face and of their head and so um can you put it right up to her so like I actually like put it up against my subject shoulders and is there any way that can go lower ok just a little bit so what I'm going to do is I'm going to surround her in that octo box and I'm going to turn her profile and the cameras can see this not sure if you guys and see that from this angle but when the the soft boxes right up against her it wraps around her clavicles it wraps around the side of her face that wraps around her shoulders and so it kind of lights her in silhouette I would shoot this perhaps in black and white and my favorite thing to shoot this for I love this set up for maternity and fine art nudes for an octo box this small you really can only get a head shot but if even with a three by four foot soft box or something bigger if I stand a pregnant mother in front of the soft box like this the light just wraps around and it's dramatic and I shoot it in high contrast black and white and I love the results so you kind of limited with the small soft box here media ring is not is more of an art than a science in this one because it's chassis rip against it so you put it back up then I'll test it I doubt and turn it towards light I doubt it it was what to do but we'll try so since she's right up against it it's going to be very bright but I do want it right so I'm gonna cut the difference we're going to try like oh like ten or eleven exactly so I'm going towards what looks nice that was pretty good okay it's chasing right here in this next one ok, so what I'm getting and I like I said I'd put this in black and white for example, but I'm getting kind of this dramatic sidelight with a lot of drama it's hi key, because of the background, but it's low key, because the showers so she's got this cool. Look to it so boudoir, beinart, nudes, maternity. This would be really, really good for and tomorrow we add another light in in case you wanted to actually illuminate your subject, and you had that way, way look repressions into one more, had a little bit more towards the light, just a little bit good. Looks cool when I like your clavicles and get our love so it's, just something different that you could do.

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!