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Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 26 of 39

5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3


Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 26 of 39

5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3


Lesson Info

5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3

We're going to go, teo, this is intermediate, so we're getting a little fans here, ok? A little bit fancy, or for three point light set ups or how we would use it and we're going to dio a beauty edition, a grid and to barn doors so the beauty dish is going to give me more crisp shadows in the soft box or octo box would give me I add the grid in and it's going to give me nice, tight drama, and I shoot this a lot in fashion when I am looking for curves of a woman here's, why so she's wearing like the bright red dress that I shot that I said, you and john shot man, the other day cases beautiful, bright red dress and what happens if you have a soft box so which is evenly let head to toe everything's kind of distracting and just looking at the whole dress. When you take the grid on the beauty dish, it just focuses you here. So you're focusing at the subject's face and at their chest and kind of like the key parts of a woman here, but then you don't want everything else to be completely gone...

, so the barn doors, what it does is it gives you rim lights. So that you see curve on the hips and the rest of the body so it's really, really good for dramatic fashion image and I shoot this a lot for musicians that comes to me and they want promotional images you're still looking at their face but they've still got some interest in the bottom of their body for whatever if they're moving or if they're an address this I use often let me see if I can help build this do you have another set of born doors dio I might have a peek I brought tio you know what the barn doors look like ok, I did bring another set and they're there somewhere um well could be underneath I'll work on the beauty dish part because I can do that part okay, good and I'm going to show you again the beauty dish with them without a grid so you can see the difference it would make here great thank you. All right, so I'm going to bring you forward a few steps great beauty disparate is in this case perfect and it doesn't really matter I'm going to do it kind of lou pish position take one half step this great making sure that center of the beauty dishes pointed at her face and let's take a quick reading precedents off that's not you all right so right now what did that easy? Easy thank you so I'm gonna take one shot I'm going to go to about knee length, okay? With the shots I'm gonna back up, you get down lower for this. All right? Take a half step to say so fit you on the background right now. Good. All right, so and I can talk tomorrow about small spaces so the subject doesn't fit off of the back around, doesn't fall off of the background and also for small spaces for lighting. All right, so ok, so right now you see that the light hits from her face, maybe down to her knees, you can see it on the floor a little bit, but when I add a grid, the light is going to get significantly more dramatic, okay? Because I'm really short you have tell me. Okay, thank you. Okay, I think we got it. All right, good. So same exact thing savings. I think you put your hand on your hip again. Watch the light changes didn't change a single and that's how much it focuses the light so that's well, use a grid, because right now, now you're not distracted by whatever jeans, she's wearing whatever shoes she's wearing, you're really focusing on her face, but then I don't really want her to blend in the background kind of glass me she just blends in so what we're going to dio is we're going tio turn on the part of doors you're ok now we're gonna turn his barn doors on and this is the setup that I it is most often this one's for you know, it takes going up about five point cool and I usually turn off my main light so that I could make sure that I have the room lights set where I want so let me show you what that looks like. Perfect. So notice I think it draws attention to the curves of a woman, especially if your hands not flat your side can I talk this way over? I might do a little bit more curve perfect and then just put that hand leg your neck will try one like that for right now. Justice break someone look a curve and then I popped that light on perfect and turn your hand towards your neck on like in towards it the other way. Like flip big get like perfect good and I'd do one more a little bit greater. Mom, are you taking head towards the light a little bit more good and then head back towards me so it just creates for like very dramatic shots and these are bright highlights if you think they are too bright and distracting, then you turn and down this tends to be what when I shoot for, like reality tv people they want they want those really bright highlights makes him pop from whatever background there on for portrait I wouldn't do that strong, I'd probably dial it down a full stop. No make it significantly more subtle, so that would be my dramatic three point lighting and to make it even more dramatic, you know, the rules pull the lead off to the side, add more shadow perfect and shut down a little great and big eyes for me from it. And then we had more shadow. Ok, so let's go on to the next one after that pops up more shadow moving off to the side. Okay, three point lighting setup number two this is kind of in the more dramatic realm, same exact thing, but we change this one out for a grid. This is film you are, this is what I shoot from, and there are other modifiers for those of you out there that maybe you've heard of her nails, their focus double lenses. There are other things for film you are, but whenever I'm doing some new are shot. This is what I used a tight, good on the safe to really, really bright highlights created by barn doors wait five the other thing that I'll do this should be shot in black and white because it's film noir and I tend tio over exposed a little bit on the face because that's kind of how it how it looks and if you go to my website if you go to the hair portfolio I did a couple of shots that were hair themed with film noir and so it would be just dramatic tight light on the face and then kind of a wave in the hair bright red and kind of from the hotel and its look all right, you look nice for from nor right now we need, like, dramatic eyebrows and red lips. You just look nice, okay? No, next time. What? Tomorrow? Okay, all right, so great here. All right, so I've got super crisp highlights on either side of her face in her dolling created by the barn doors. If I move them to the sides more spread out more. So have them kind of in the back forty five and I've got this nice tight grid spot on her face it's going to be very, very dramatic and I'll give it a test right right in the center keep going more than middle of her face right on news well, that's pretty close to where we are perfect, all right, so I'm gonna take a head shot first and big eyes ah a little hot and it's a little bit brighter on her forehead always turned down a little okay so should have just a little bit good big eyes oh and I want to switch just the black and white so you can see I do over exposed on purpose because it looks better for the film you are look let me just pop it overto black and white good okay looking dramatic next shot with a watch what it looks like a full length put your hand back to neck one more time perfect and I should get the ricin up just a little bit more so I mean it's on ly a spotlight on her face and then the curves of her body I'm a fashion photographer so for me part of the reason that I do what I do is I know that everything works together so you heard me saying oh man I want different makeup and now I'm thinking man I'd want different clothing so the light looks dramatic but now put it all together with like a sultry sparkly dress and dramatic maybe a finger curl in the hair and that's it kind of all works together it's not just relating it all of it so that's why I do what I do all right let's see your next one it was a film you are summarizing five degree grade in the front to barn doors in the back I tend to shoot this in black and white because in color the color shifts a little bit and it's all about the film you are look which would be black and white anyway all right, so next one this is going to be high key and dramatic price you want to flip those to our conflict flip into the background okay so you can get drama on a black background obviously it's low key but you could also get a dramatic shot on a white background you still just have to use shadow and I think a lot of times and people think of white backgrounds they think glowing high key no shadows but it can be really, really dramatic and I think of a couple shots by albert watson he's a photographer that I studied his lighting not under him I wish but I looked at his lighting and books and in magazines I loved it and that's part of what influence me and he could create intense drama on a white background you just have to shadow so that's what I'm going to do now we're going to put this back to a white background and he's going to flip these around and for time's sake I'm not going to take off the barn doors I'm just going to open up the barn doors because it's like they're not on anyway so open all the way up perfect that's come over here and for this I want to make sure that I am not lighting her on the side so I so I come over here and I tryto there's a little bit of film and that was from those late so I'm trying to make sure none of those lights are hitting her because what I'm trying to dio is I'm trying to get close to a silhouette I would if there's any light that's hitting her like I see some from this white wall we'll talk about this tomorrow I'd do something to make that black all right let's just see right now no other lights are on we just have the two back room lights okay? No mainly so what I want to make sure I'm getting something kind of silhouette ish I want to shift over just a little bit I was for no reason other than the cameras of shooting off the background with you in the middle ok and I'm going to shoot this in black and white again so I want that background to be white I'm going to shoot again like I was before checking my history ram perfect all right click this and I am getting a lot of white this is good although right now I'm shooting her head and notice the top of that background is not white we'll talk about tomorrow how to even that out but right now I kind of felt that crossing up all right, so you'll understand this in depth tomorrow, so I've pointed the light a little bit higher up and feathering across remember how we talked about feathering, so I wouldn't just get a hot spot on the right like I was getting, I pointed it. I'm both of them future in that late a little bit more feathered? Yeah, just so that I'm going to get a little bit more even spread, and I'm not getting the far left hand side anyway, so let's, see if I can get a little bit better wait background and that on my history, graham, this if I can show you on that, I'm a history. It was looking pretty good. I should have the black on the far left created by her silhouette, and then I should have a heavy accumulation of the white pixels on the far right. It looks pretty decent, all right? So we've got that I wanted to have this silhouette. She is pretty, pretty black silhouette there. If you had a lot of phil, you'd want to use black phil cards, these black cards around her to try to block out all the light that's filling in, but it's working right now, we're gonna leave it, and now we're going to add in the beauty dish. And you want to have a beauty ish with a grid for this set up? And I think this looks like hollywood glam as well, because it's going to be a bright background but high contrast, black and white with a spotlight around the subject's face. So I picture this with ah, long gown with a lot of curves, you seal of that curve, and then you have the focus on her face. So, really, this is the same setup is before, with those two barn doors on the black background to switch like no, this is the white version of it where the focus is on the face and then the silhouette. You could do that by separating them out, but putting him on a white background or on the black background, you separate them out with barn doors. Like depends on how you're thinking about it. All right? And I have you bring it closer to her and more to the front. Just a little bit. Okay, so, let's, get a test on this. Thank you. Easy. All right, perfect. Really nice. Okay, this perfect. And I'm gonna back up just a little bit so I can show you for a fuller length, what it looks like. So imagine for a full length shot or hear that it kind of just falls to shadow and you pop that contrast a little bit more, make her skin just a little bit brighter. Am I open up like a tad just so you can see it. It looks very dramatic and elegant. Okay, yeah, I just opened up a little bit so her face would look brighter. There will be a dramatic shot if I want the light even more focus that can bring it even closer. You just have to worry about. Then if you're doing a full length shots in your shot, or you could use a grid, same idea. All right. I'm going to keep going on the list. You won't go for it again. What angle of grade you used on that one? Yeah. Most beauty dishes have, but usually one grid science. This one is a twenty five degree grid that comes with the pro photos. Thank you. And there are ones that are forty degrees and quickly. Yeah. What if you wanted to like her body? Just a little bit? Not a lot. How would you do that? Another light. So the question was, if I wanted to light her body full length, what would I do? This would be an instance where what I would do is I'd have that really tight light on her face. And then octo box below turned way, way down and it's, just a kiss of light, and I'll do this. For example, I've done this with. I have addressed here that it's all sparkles, but I want it to be really tight and dramatic. But I just want to pick up a couple of the speckles on the dress, so I will do that by adding another light.

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!