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Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 27 of 39

5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5


Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 27 of 39

5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5


Lesson Info

5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5

Hi key spill I can I can leave well, yeah, if you don't mind we're going to use that large shoot through umbrella in practice to take a look at making a really high key shot with a large shoot through umbrella here it's a seven foot shoot through westcott umbrella and the one that I said was pretty like a good deal is like ninety nine dollars and it just gives you really wide and wrapping light so I'm going for super high key here however, I am going to purposefully put spill on either side of her face so I want to start with that I'm going to open up these barn doors, pull back these lights a little bit and I actually want some of this light to hit her face depending on what strobe you have if you have one of those strokes with the dome that sticks out it's easy to do this, the light just kicks everywhere these were made so that they don't kick, but sometimes you want it too, so we're goingto work with that, which we call this real quick tangled I mean, can you take a step and a half ...

back could go in? You're going ok, so what I was looking at and we pop it off real quick so I'm going to take a quick shot of this to show you guys that I am getting fear I am getting spill from those lights on either side of her face if I pull her up further they go away let me take a test and I'm just going to a picture of your face basically that seo let me switch back to color holan all right, so I start to get some spill on her face I don't like the spill on her nose so when implore puts a little bit okay one a half step like tiny right there get all right I have set back I'm wiggling to try to get just the right amount spilled another half step okay something like that so I start to get a little bit of highlight on either side of her face ok just a little bit and what I thought I turned this back to color holding okay, so now let me add that shoot through umbrella and the light is going to be really, really broad and really soft and I'm going to bring it in as close as I feel comfortable and as flat to the cameras I feel comfortable and the whole idea here is I know I want like really really high key so can you grab me that phil card? I know I don't want shadows I'm gonna fill in the shadows on the side I'm appreciate when after okay it's looking good let's do a wake so it's going to be like a very flat, glowing, even light. And tomorrow we'll talk about over exposing the background. I want to show you real quick, even though you're not supposed to, but we do it on purpose real quick. Can you pump up the background? Um, I was talking at lunch with some of the lovely audience members. Let's do seven. Talking to some of the lovely audience members here about when I would learn different setups in school, in college or a class I took. I was really worried about the ratios. I was really worried about. The distance of light was really worried about where he placed the light. And so I learned all these rules, and so I thought, then I had to stick to them because I spend all this effort learning them. And so it took me a long time to break the rules. So, for example, here we got the background correctly white, not overexposed, but I want to see what it looks like when I start wrapping it around. I wanted to be overexposed wrapped around her face. Let's, try this cool and take a half that ford that was a little a little more than half step come this way you get good, okay, so now this is going to be really, really glowing it's over exposed in the back on and how you can tell that you look over her left shoulder there's a little bit of flair there it starts to wrap around her a little bit yeah go for it so you see how there's like a little bit of a hot spot there I think it looks nice it's ok to do that so the more that you learn the more that you practice you know when it's ok to say break that particular rule have that hot spot on that side and I want to do one more to show directly behind me what? This looks like I mentioned how with a big light source like this I can actually stand in front of it and the light wraps around me enough that it's not going to create a big shadow on her I have like a cool and I'm sure so it's even more convenient, perfect and have one more step back like one more. Okay, so something like this it's going to wrap around her and I'm goingto have you pump that up a little bit your test okay, perfect okay can pump it up make just a tiny bit more three little cliques carrier and it could go down so the light is going to be totally flat totally frontal you could flatten it out with more phil it was just like really even really flat it's a little bit over exposing the background wrapped her in a tiny bit but I like it so this lighting said of is two lights in the background and shoot through umbrella the bigger the better for the softer light source you can overexpose the background a little bit if you wanted to have that glowing feeling that search to wrap around I have the light nice and flat and if you wanted to make it even more glowy, you could go ahead and add a reflector or you can leave that I like that little shadow underneath urchin makes a nice little shape of her jaw line okay, very last it up we'll pop this round okay, so the last thing brings ah bunch of them together soft box behind beauty dish in front with a clamshell another light below remember is are there questions while we finagle this set up? Yet with that last shot I'm assuming you would because of the size of the umbrella could do three quarter maybe even pulling yeah, definitely. I think for that I can easily get away with three quarter the issue for me would be I probably would just have to figure out how to back up because at that distance I was her. If I shoot wide angle, she checks to get distorted but if I could find a way or just even getting lower then yeah, it would the light would be fine full length for that one we're putting on this one bt dish okay, but on the other questions I can feel camera angles because I noticed sometimes you squat down and say you're not six feet tall so you're not going to get an upper angle this is an excellent point first of all, if I were tall I would almost never be standing in part of the reason as are standing up straight part of the reason is is any time I am eye level with her or at all taller, I'm going to make her look shorter so even like even three quarter length because I'm shooting a slightly downward angle but when I'm scratching ideally I'm not crouching here because what that is and shooting up her nose and whatever is closest to the cameras largest in this case it would be her stomach I'm crouching here and that's not that's, not flattering even for a super skinny person. So what I dio is I back up for a three quarter length like you saw me doing and I get down and that makes her look taller and then when I create those curves it gives me like a longer line to follow for headshots what I'm looking for is I'm looking for when I can see a neck if I'm too high up and her shoulders blending with her, her neck and her jaw line that's not flattering for women, so I usually I'm just getting down a little bit more so I see a little bit longer neck and part of that's posing a lift to the top of the head please okay, lean fortune now and down pull your shoulders down I'm trying to show a neck, but part of its my angle as well and I do often have apple boxes for when I need a different angle cousin shirt all right, way use it for the light, but usually because I'm short okay, so, um, let me give a test all these things, so I'm gonna build the light while you you cannot finagle this one if you want. All right, we're going to build this one. Can you step right back against that soft blocks is what we're talking about before let's take a test and I'm not meet a ring I could meet her I'm just not so let's try sixteen, okay, all right, those highlights are bright, but I like them. I think it's a good amount of rightness, they're not super super blown out all right, so then I'm going to pop that on and dial it down a little bit I'm currently shooting at six, three that's what that background was set for so I want that main light when I click this I want this main light to also read somewhere around six three so way pass it to you and hold the push that big button for me and all the right next to your face ok, that was not what it's actually think. Six, three o six years well downside of this those I'm going to move it because this is not where like a beauty dish I could be initial little bit closer for that sweet spot of light so I'm gonna move afford a tad too like right here and raise it up just a bit. Okay, so now it's going to get a little bit brighter and get a test but that ranks your face perfect six three way test it so here that we have so far okay beautiful glowing light from behind nice shape of light in our face from that beauty dish and I'm going to fill in and control the shadows by adding a silver dish below and we have it turned down to start with to its lowest power because we know that the silver dish is going to concentrate a lot of light and there is going to pop in a little bit of filet and right here good whoa ho still hot so so this is all the way down okay let's problems off what would you like I would have you guys plan out in your head what would you do in this case I have this light turned down and its lowest power and it's still blowing everything out still really over exposed ok so the first thing I could do is increase distance I could pull it back sample by just a little bit I'll tell you the next thing in my head that I would do so he pulled it back a little bit and it did help so it looks pretty nice a little bright so ok overall I could close down just a little bit and see if if it looks too bottom lip so it doesn't look too bad at all he pulled it back just a little bit not bad another thing that I could dio is if this light is at its lowest power and it's still too bright but I like where the other ones were I can increase the power of those lights so bear with me ready so that one is as low as I can get it and I'm shooting at six three for those it's still too bright if I turn those other two lights up to be brighter aito s eleven now I have to close down here and when I make that whole smaller less light gets in everywhere so this one will appear darker as well so I could do that route and I don't have to use the silver reflector. Same thing is, before I could use a strip light, I could use a small, soft box. I could use a shoot, their umbrella. I mean, I probably wouldn't, but you could use it. And for those of you who would say, well, why wouldn't you? The catch light, I think, would be weird to be an umbrella blow, one more beautiful. Okay, so that's, this is the shot that I like, this last one. That was the first one was correctly exposed, but I liked over exposed on the skin a little bit makes it a little bit glory, or particularly for women. Ok, so that was thirty five set ups.

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!