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Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 22 of 39

5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 22 of 39

5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


Lesson Info

5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2

I'm going to show you some two lights that upset wouldn't be typical portrait setups, there would be ones that are a little bit more unusual, or maybe they'd have a specialty use or maybe it needs a special modifier, so we're going to start off with using to strip lights, all right? And I'm gonna bring my model out, and we're going to start with these strip lights from back forty five degree angle. So we're creating two room lights on our subject here. Those strip lights. A lot of people weren't sure in the last segment, so besides, this is I'm on the one by four. Yeah, there, maybe fourteen. Fourteen by forty eight, and sure, approximately. I always hear about that in my studio. I have I have a one by four to one by force that I use, and it looks similar ish. Loses a little wider. Um, yeah. So can I bring you forward? All right. So let's, let's, talk this out. So we have two grim lines, one for the back, forty five degree on either side. And we are going to turn on the modeling light ...

so I can see kind of what's going on and judge it now, obviously, if I photographed her street on like this, there is no main, like there's no light on her face it's just to room lights okay here's one way it could work and I have shot this if you go to the web site when the other photography dot com and you or you goto facebook whatever there's a fuller called body beautiful and in that folder there's a picture of a model that's just she's facing straight on towards camera but she's got a ton of curve and it's a fine art nude but you don't see anything because it's just the outlines which is what I could do here so for example, I'm gonna have to stand up on these if you had your subjects like this, you could make it all posing but the face straight on towards the camera will look like a blob so you have to at least be sure to see their profile so you can use this for a straight on shot of a subject but you want to get the outline of their face illuminated so I'm going to turn you to the side actually like that yet and like your head that way. So yes, these lights or contaminated but you can see that I'll have illumination on her face the outlines her body and then it's just about getting the pot's right and we're gonna give it a try for meeting as well I'll put you on approximate meter duty just right now and I'll switch it up okay? So I'm on one hundred when there's someone twenty five said we put one hundred perfect thank you folks for the stern awfully great three point six alright, I'll give it a try here because this quick test you that you can guess in other words, I say that lovingly I can also test it to see if I want to be that wide open but I don't really want it that way don't join those before yeah let's try this not too shabby so instead of shooting all the way open like the meter suggested I closed on a little bit of it five six all right, so this lighting in and of itself the to room lights from a back forty five it's interesting but it's only interesting if you pose correctly so for example let's try get me put your front anyway up turn your shoulders towards me a little bit great put your hand on your hip perfect and then look your head that way okay? All I'm trying to do their arch your back a little bit and the chess board and I'm trying to give myself curves and if you take my imposing one on one class that I have here, you kind of get to see what I'm doing but giving myself some definition some curves so that she's not a straight blob and I my saying for women if you contended bended if you concur bit curve it so here's an example okay and then can you bring your front left arm down yeah just loose right there perfect and into your chest towards me a tiny bit great great ok something like this so this is not a boudoir shots or find our new shop but it could be or it could be a low key maternity shot these of course if we're paying attention to outlines if you have a pregnant mother turned to the side and it's all about shaped and that's a great image and low key and look really beautiful in black and white notice we do have these back strip lights a little bit higher then before it is a tiny bit higher because we are using that to illuminate her face and so if it is a little bit lower than her face will have kind of bottom light and so you could even make these on even if you wanted you could make this room light higher to cast light downward on her face and you could make that one lower if you wanted fooling it doesn't matter so with the set up it two stoplights approximately back forty five and then posing to fit my last little saying about this is where she standing makes the difference the distance to those strip lights because she takes take separate in between them ok, right there, perfect. All right, so if I do the same thing, watch how the light wraps around her face more and gives a broader, like it's starting to wrap around her body, whereas if I bring her way up, which a little less, uh, chest I can't quite see without through the modern like it's, just this one, it might just be a tiny, tiny room like perfect, so all it will do is carve out her profile, and that when this would probably be how I would photograph maybe a dancer or something like that, because it's, just like I traced their outline so distance makes a huge difference, which you need to be aware of if you're in a small space, because perhaps in a small space, you don't have that much distance, so might need to put those strip lights close to the background as possible. All right, perfect. So in our next set of we are going to keep the same two lights, but we are going to bring them around front, and so we're going to use to strip lights from a front angle, and we call this sideways clamshell light, and you want both lights at equal power and at equal distance and equal everything for this particular set up, and what I can dio is I can put these lights really close together so the cameras over here will be able to see that that they're less than a foot apart where I could go a foot apart if I wanted and this is going to give me really really flat light but it's very very glowing as well and basically the reason that you might use this is because it does kind of funky catch lights in the eyes you get two strips of light on either side of the people which looks kind of cool so it's a way to get flat light glowing light and it's like a clam shell like we had before but flipped on its side so you get that same kind of glow this would not be something that I would probably do for somebody that perhaps has around her face it's just flattening everything out klim show you could do around her face but then you would still leave some shadows to give them some help to shape them and I'll give this a try I have a feeling that this light will be too low because as I said before you want the lights higher than your subjects facing right now there are about equal so I might get a little bottom line but we'll test it might work out okay and can I get a meter reading on that one perfect thank you and we'll figure out a pro ultimately what this exposure should be perfect right around where was perfect okay so let's give it a test here and some tricks for this is if you are using a wider lens you won't be able to shoot through these two lights because what happens is they have a wider field of view and therefore the edges of the strip lights will actually show up in your photo so what I'm going to do is that we need a little longer lens a little closer okay that's still looks cool I think I might raise it up a little bit but it's still had an interesting effect to it to me it's a slightly bottom let so going to raise it maybe a foot and a half two feet and a half maybe there okay okay it's close and they will be it'll look fine all right so let me try that one more time I raise it up just a little bit so it could have that downward angle some shadows underneath her doll okay if somebody will zoom into the catch lights for me as you can see what it looks like once it pops up so she and it's like that kind of streaks in the eyes traditionally and portrait photography this is not what you would look for but it doesn't matter if it looks cool and that's kind of my my rule of thumb if it looks good then it's right on but if you back back out it does have that kind of glowing really soft light from every direction so this would be good for somebody where you're trying to eliminate wrinkles really is quite flattering light on her you look very pretty ok, so that is to ship leads from the front what you want to keep in mind is you want them to be equal power equal distant from her because it's not uneven distance one light will be brighter for than the other and you want them pretty close together if you have them two or three feet apart what will happen is you'll get a light here a light here and then shadow down the middle of her face and then it's not flattering anymore a question a couple of people including kobe troy have been talking about the street fights being one stop brighter in the middle of the then on the edges and could you talk a little bit about that and if you were trying to get it fully even can you is there a way to compensate for that? All right, let me pop this down real quick see if this one has okay so generally would ends up happening is because the strip like in a super deep ok really it's only what is this you know like a foot and a half two feet to see in depth from the front of the light the light doesn't have time to spread out so what will happen? And you will see this? Maybe on some, your strip light is, you'll get a nice, bright hot spot in the middle, really bright area, and then it's kind of late, but it fades out to shadow and so that's, because you don't have much depth and that the lake doesn't have time to spread out. However, we've helped ourselves out here, because if you look at this, it is dimmer at the bottom and top, but it has a pretty broad area of highlight, and the reason is because we've used our inner baffle diffusion panel. I know this sounds awful for the britain, the microphone, come try to be aware that way you're not used to that. So what this does is it spreads it out, it hits that diffusion, it spreads the light out more, and then it has a little bit more time to spread out again before it hits the second diffusion there's, some west comics and inter diffuser, winning with a silver dot in the middle, so that dot reflects light back and them's down the center to try even adele. Yeah, even the even the octo box that we have over there, I had the rapid box sister that I set up, that is a perfect example, so it's not just this your place that suffered from this a lot of lights what'll happen is they will have a bright spot in the middle. So what westcott has done for a couple, including that, like, is it it's like a silver dish like a little it's, like a little plate that they put in the center? And the idea is just cut out a little bit of that light will try to even it out so some of that it hits the center, it spreads out, it wraps around so it's not like there's a dead spot in the center the way that it's bill it'll still wrap around so some eye one hundred does west, I have this trip like that does that there's iraq was forty eight it's an older one and they also have the other another one that's asymmetrical where the lights in the top and emphasizes the difference so that the light falls off from the top to the bottom. And I think I have seen that when they kind of like that. Yeah, I've never used that before. So like I learned something cool, perfect. Anything else? No that's great thing I'm perfect so let's, go on. This was number two this next one with the sideways clamshell with the two strips you could do this also with two soft boxes but chances are most people have to equal size strip lights and not two equal sides. Soft boxes, because why would you necessarily need to soft boxes of the same size?

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!