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Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

Lesson 35 from: Studio Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

Lesson 35 from: Studio Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

35. 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.


Class Trailer

Day 1


Studio Essentials: Shutter Speed


Studio Essentials: Flash Exposure


Studio Essentials: White Balance


Light Principles: Inverse Square Law


Lighting Patterns


Shoot: Demo Lighting Patterns


Quality of Light and Modifiers


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Umbrellas


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Softboxes


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Extra Stuff


10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2


10 One Light Set-ups: 3 to 5


10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10


One Light Set-ups: Pop Quiz


Day 2


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 1


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 2


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 3


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 and 2


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 6


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 7 to 10


5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


5 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5


5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5


5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3


5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5


10 Common Lighting Mistakes


Day 3


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 2 to 6


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 7


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 9


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 10 to 12


Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Beauty Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Your First Studio Lighting


Lesson Info

Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

What this segment is all about is rapidfire studio lighting set ups, a whole bunch of them really fast and what I mean by that is I am going to cover if you shoot portrait ce beauty groups or you want something more dramatic for each one of those categories, I am going to show you one go to lighting, set up for a few of one light, two lights or three lights, and so this is going to be a lot left explanation instead, it's going to be here's what we're doing, watch this and it's going to be rapid fire for this section, and then we'll finish up today with a really short segment just about how to save money on studio lighting, some considerations that would help you save and then go to kids. So that will be kind of our last segment, so we're going to power through this and we're going to start off with portrait. All right, let me get this set up may have my lovely model out here, and I'm going to put you in the stool, please, great. And can I switch this lens and ruffin lettuce it okay, so...

we are going to start with portrait letting some this is what I want you to take away from this is however many lights you have they're going to be able to have a lighting set up so you could pick and choose and then say, oh, you know what? I like what she did with two lights, I should probably get a second. I like what she did with three and to be able to use this as a reference, and then you'll be able to see roughly where to set the lights, all of that information. So let me get this just generally ready to go, and we're gonna start with portrait, and I'm gonna pull you away from the background if you can pull that right up to the end of the seamless, and I'm going to shoot most of this on white when I need black or something darker will pull a black piece of a foam core behind her behind her behind him, and then of the the flat if we needed a full length it's easier than changing whole background. All right, so I'll be switching between keynote and light room let's, look at the first one, ok, very first go to portrait lighting setup would be a soft box in loop or paramount or even rembrandt with some still so let's get that you have the light meter, okay, great, so I'm going to test it my camera settings for this whole entire segment will always be I so one hundred one to hundreds of second and then what changes is going to my aperture I'm going to shoot the whole thing with my signal twenty four one o five and my cannon five d mark three and we're using a light meter to give me an approximation right? Perfect so let's start at six point three looks great and I'm going to show you later some considerations I might have if I were shooting a men's portrait that I would want to do more dramatic so my drug my dramatic section is drama and men because men a dramatic okay no it's for more dramatic lighting said it's ok, so we had that and we can build in a reflector if you want to fill it in that is a very, very basic portrait lighting setup ok, so the next one portrait lighting set of number one one light an octo box or soft box with or without fill the further you put the reflector, the less full it is the closer you bring the reflected, the more fill it is and lighting set up number two is going to be the same soft box but instead with a strip lay on the back light and I am going to be torturing my dear john cornyn shallow this whole time because we're going to be bouncing around so we'll let you know my thought process the next thing is since I want to use the strip box to help him stand out from the background that's what I use a second light for the highlight to separate what I want to do is I want that background to be just a bit darker so we've talked about how to do that I'm going to angle the octo box away from the backgrounds called feathering so leslie will be on the background if I wanted to I could add a piece of reflector our piece of black sill on that back side of the of the light so that no light would hit the background on dh then I can decide do I want this to be looper rembrandt I don't want it to be flat lit because I won't really see the definition there we wouldn't be a reason tohave that definition there so we're going to go toe about lupin rembrandts and we put the strip light opposite on the shadow side of the face as far as ratios I usually start with them at a similar power output and then if I want more drama I pump up that that strip light I want less I turn it down so let's take a look we have two late so far great perfect and so what you will see think this looks really nice is you're going to see some shape to his face? Who's added a little shadow a little dimension and then just a nice, subtle highlight the cars him out from the background. I can try to feather this light even more, and if I want that background to go a little darker, remember, I can bring this late in closer to him because as it comes in closer, he gets brighter, so I have to close down just a bit and that I may need to pump up my strip light to compensate. Good. I'm gonna go a little bit more dramatic, kind of move it more towards rembrandt, perfect, great and several straight perfect and should out and down a little great, so I'm able to make that back around just a little bit darker. If you didn't want to use a strict box for this definition instead, you could use barn doors depends on what you want, but it would give you the same general feel further and the light in the front, the less dramatic it is, the further off to the side would be a little bit more shadow, and then you can add some phil. So what is at a reflected to this? This would be, perhaps, if I were photographing a woman, I wanted a little bit more shadow to the face, but I don't want to be so dark perfect with reflector filled it in great you could also shoot a guy like this there's makes it a little bit less having in the shadows. So far, we've got one light for a portrait to lights for portrait, and now we're going to add in our third light, the third light that I would use in this instance would just be a grid on a back light. So whatever late we have run here and what I'm going to use that for, as I can greet, create something called checkerboard lighting and what checkerboard lading is, and I actually will probably find a way to put the black behind him. I'm going to go darker in this instance, yeah, if you want to grab that. So what is going to want me to get him going to have more of a low key set up and I'm shooting most low key and a high key set up, we're going to put the black visa behind him. We're going to have this in the exact same position I could put the soft box could be in rembrandt, I could put it in short light position, but similar we'll have highlights side of his face against the black of the background shadow of side of his face with a little bit of separation, and I can pop a grid on the background for a little bit of a highlight. So let's, take a look so far what I have that looks nice that doesn't need to move, so we're just adding one little change and let me test this out and I told you I'd be putting them to work every brutal ok, so so far, what I'm looking at is highlight highlights a the face against the background shadow side of the face with room really light and then I've got that grid above his shoulder. All right, so take a look and also for the shape of his face since I have the light off to the side and turn you a little bit to your right hand side get exactly I'm going to turn him that way, the shadows fall towards me and this is short lights will be like a short late loop or rembrandt perfect and I would have you pump up that great a little bit more just because of the surface it's on it's not quite having the same impact as it would on a black background, so I'm just making a little bit stronger good eyes here great and in the next year I'll have you pump it up a little bit next shot what you could do is if you want it to be along like oval shape that goes across the background where it is is great if you wanted to be more of a circle you have to bring it more to the front so that it doesn't stretch out over the background so can I just bring it closer to him great and people in a tiny bit lower I'm angling so it'll be over his shoulder great party great there is perfect great so this would be checkerboard because shadow highlight shadow highlight so that is the low key version of if I had three lights all right ready for me to trust you anymore. Okay so now it's going to be like this for this whole segment ok, so the next one would be a basic white portrait I'm going I'm going to basically have you here the whole time if that's okay so I'm gonna have you grab that blackface flat bring back the way background and we're going to strip off the the strip lights all right, so what I'm going to do is we're going to light the way background if I am not shooting full length I could disuse silver dishes or bare bulbs if I need more even spread like we talked about to light a white background white we would grab umbrellas and feather them across the background but I'm going to keep it to be kind of a close shot so to eliminate his face I'm going to put this shot a little bit higher king because I am on white so we don't put it in a loop position and what I want to watch out for is when we have those lights pointed out the white background I want to watch out for spill from the back lights that would be one of my main concerns and I'm going to check with john once we get to sit up, we'll check the ratios we want to see how bright that background is compared to the foreground aiken, check it in my camera to see if it's flaring over and if it's blown out but generally when you have a white background, you wanted to be one the two stops brighter than your main line, so if your main light is f eight your background light when metered you'd want it to be f eleven or thirteen or fourteen somewhere in that range to give you a pure white without it flaring out, so I'm going to have you point those back to the background and we just put the barn doors on because since we're doing a close up shot, I don't need to have the umbrellas to spread it out. It's close up it's not like I need to evenly light head to toe um it's a six three with the barn doors I'm going to use the barn or closest to him to block off light, but I'm gonna open up all the other ones and in so doing it across the background like that and I'm going to start off without my main light on just to check and see if I'm getting any spill from those back lights that I don't want, and so I'm looking at it, and you know what you'll notice is it's nearly a silhouette? That little bit of light on the left hand side of his face is from the white wall it's still a bit from him, but even just that weight wall over there is what gives him that little tiny bit of film. All right, so that looks good, and we'll check my info may history graham, and it is just barely, almost a pure white, so I could open up a little bit more to make it pure white. I could meet her it, and if you wanted tio he's being lovely, he says, showing how I could make it to our black look at me if I block off, and it's actually didn't get too much darker, so you know, there's, also the other place could be got a bit darker. The other place it could be I've had this happen for is it reflects off the front of the box. I was like forever trying to figure out what am I doing wrong? And I had this massive white reflective because it was the front of the soft box, so that looks pretty good pretty even white background so I'm going to have you take a meter reading of the background for me and then I'll be able to do my math if it's one or two stops brighter than the main light where I want my main light to be so right now I'm guessing that it's it about guessing it's eight oo we'll see okay cool that's pretty close great. So then can I test this light and figure out where we want it to be so ideally if that background is seven oh, it should be like a stop writers maybe I want it like this late at five o for four point five I want at least a stop last at minimum to be a nice white light six three ok and you can change it from here. I just don't know which one channel that haven't said on everything's on one everything's on one by six months a little bit more okay, get more test, you know, four point oh all right, so we're going to try this and notice how he told me to pop the light once I turned the power down, I've got to dump it all do they had all that water in the bucket has to empty the bucket before I refill it with a lesser amount but I did not focus correctly so into that again perfect. So what I'll be able to see when I look at this next shot is it's a nice weight background, there's, decent shadows on the side of space and not too much spill from behind. If the hair starts to pee he's a part a little bit, that means that maybe the background a little bit too bright so I could turn down the power in the background or what I can do is if I turned up the power of my main light just a little bit. I have to close down everything so the background becomes darker. It looks darker because I had to close down my app pressure in general, let me just good and five six perfect that's. Great. So this would be this. A nice, high key portrait on a white background with a soft box. All right, so that is portrait lighting with one light to lights and three lights high key and low key.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


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.

Jason Ashley

I loved this course! Lindsay spent so much time with explaining each set-up in-depth that anyone picking up a camera could understand how to accomplish their lighting goals. This course covered so many unique (but, most likely to come across scenarios) and how one would approach the challenge and how to successfully accomplish with incredible results, not average-sub-standard or basic results, but above entry-level standards, high-level, money-generating lighting expertise! ZERO laziness in her explanations to the point where she is constantly refining her course in the middle of the 3 days. Her passion gleams throughout each days lessons with so much energy. You know she really wants her students both in-person and through the screen to be successful in whatever type of lighting they choose to dabble in. I am so happy, I have bookmarked, and i'm so happy and fortunate to have this course to reference for hopefully –everrrr. Thanks!

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!!!!

Student Work