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Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 8 of 39

Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid


Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 8 of 39

Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid


Lesson Info

Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid

So there's the tiger by the way everybody and we did the intensity of light and we did um uh inverse square law notice how the modifiers make a difference there's no grids on these the modifiers I did not love my subject at any time you look at how some of them because of the way the light's focused it doesn't reach the background it focuses it in the back or becomes totally black so all these things kind of worked together so you choose a lot of fire the use of the things you're thinking about first while you're thinking about the mood of your photograph are you going for something contrast and dramatic and you're thinking about the subject skin you want to flatter the subject try to help them look their best and then also just considering features that you might want to be controlling on flattering for the subject all right, so here are some things to keep in mind silver smaller or grids and we'll talk about what these are have more contrast sharper at edges and shadows brighter high...

lights and more focused like this is the general rule try to keep those things so if you see a modifier and you're holding two side by side if there's a wait umbrella going to be my white umbrella holder thank you if there's a white umbrella for a silver umbrella silver will be more contrast e than white and the silver is goingto have more defined shadows and we'll have more speculative highlights the white will be a little bit softer but then you make it more complicated because of size right? So right now this is going to be a little bit smaller smaller light sources have a little bit more contrast still this is going to be more contrast e like this the super sparkly silver so this if you see silver and you're comparing between silver and white go for the silver if you want more contrast want to throw the light further you want more dramatic shadows go with white if you wanted to be a little softer throwing less light ok on the other side so if you want soft, go for white, larger light sources and with the fusion so for example that's perfect if you want a giant soft light source here's one this is an awesome lot of fire that is very inexpensive so this is kind of a cool tool if you think you want a lot of large soft light or you're shooting groups this is a west caught seven foot shoot through umbrella you actually shoot through it. So remember how I said before your light source is small except for when it hits the diffusion panel so now would you point that right at them that's how larger light source becomes because it hits the diffusion panel or hits this material and it spreads out and telling you've got this giant light source so this is diffusion and its large so this is going to be extremely soft and the reason that this is kind of a cool modifier if you want really soft light is it's only ninety nine dollars whereas like everything else in photography is more than a hundred bucks like everything even like little cf card yet so anyway so this would be an example so thinking in your head over and over again whereas so I wanted something more contrast e it would be this one I'm sure michael short business where this would be it would throw more light it's bigger but it's filled for so it would have more definition to the shadows brighter highlights darker shadows it's like those of the type of things that you're considering it's perfect okay uh you find my little treasure it got it perfect okay and we'll go through umbrellas a little bit more so diffusion in general diffusion is that semi translucent material used to spread out light and can I have the octo box the rapid box over there diffusion khun go on a lot of different things for example I can add diffusion on the front of my beauty dish to soften that life so this right here is diffusion material on the front of the soft box and we'll talk a little bit more if you guys ever seen them in her diffusion and even having her diffusion. So okay, it's, all this address it so diffusion could be added to a lot of things. The next one is something called a baffle. So if any of you ever bought a soft box and in the inside you see that there's another little piece of fabric, little blake piece of diffusion. You don't know what to do with it or when to use it. It's really much more important for big soft boxes? Because here's, what happens? Do you get a giant soft box? Okay, but it's, not it's, not super deep. And you've got your little strobe head the light by the time it reaches the diffusion panel, short spreads out, but it doesn't have enough room to really spread out, so there will be a hot spot like a brighter area in the center of your soft buck. So I just have, like, the three by four one uh, so this one isn't really that big. It won't make that big of a difference to it, but let's say you have a four by six or a big soft blocks. You'll still get a like a really hot spot in the middle which is not good if you're trying to maybe late a whole group of people you want the light to be as large as possible it doesn't know that oh it does perfect so what this does I know right when you're awful okay this is perfect so what this does is the light hits that first panel and spreads out and then now it's a larger light source moving forward towards the main panel so he just gives you more even spread across the whole front of the softball which is going to be important if it's for group or if you really want to get the most out of a large light source if you've got a huge soft box with no inter diffusion you might just be really getting a hot spot in the center and if you're trying to go for soft light you want to spread it out so this is something called inter baffle a baffle it's another piece of diffusion so let me do one more before we wrap up this section okay so the last one the last thing that is part of modifiers that you might want to know about is something called grids and there are tons of different types of grids there are grids for soft boxes for example there are grids for beauticians there are grids that stand alone and how grids work is they help to focus the light and it forces them out in one direction? Perfect I like that can hide so when you change it see that shows him and see how you can't see me depending on what angle it's at its forcing the light out all in one direction there's a couple reasons why you care let's say that four over here we're going to talk about strip lights later sometimes you don't want the light to spread out everywhere you're trying to contain it to a very specific highlight or you don't want it spreading around and hitting all the walls thiss will give it more control or in an instance of this you saw how I made the background go black by adding the grid because the light couldn't spread and hit the background or it actually focused like in so if I'm lighting her instead of it lighting from head to toe for her now it'll just light from the middle of her body and I didn't know about grids for a long time and I think that's the role I'll wrap this I'm going to demo what that looks like uh I didn't know about grids for a long time, but they're really good for dramatic effect and so for example I'm gonna have you stand up and just move the chair just somewhere to the side a little bit okay, so this is what a grid has for an effect I'm going to shoot her more less full length let's test this out I'm gonna get all the way down to our feet okay partner still doesn't look too bad ok so she does get a little bit of light on her feet I'm gonna light enough to take one more shot she's live from her head and she still is getting to see the spill on her feet here that you've got this little halo at the bottom because the latest hitting the floor and you guys can see it with your bare eyes where the light's hitting let me lighten this up for one more again okay and the basically the darkness behind her is the shadow cast which we're going to talk about how to not cast shadows on your background so right now florida ceiling she's getting some light but we're gonna add a grid over there being short I never get these on my bill perfect okay so now what you can see with your bare eye it's a little bit difficult with these lights the light from the beauty dish is not on the floor anymore it's just basically lighting and add a pointed towards her it's basically a little wobbly it's just lighting pretty much her faith to the middle of her body but doesn't mean anything till I show you something show you kind of what that that looks like one more try and then we angle just towards her a little more. Everyone kind of pointed off of her face perfect here, go. Okay, so watch all I did was add the grid and so the light is all centered right around her face barely hits the ground and the background will get much darker. So grids for main light focuses the light and it gets rid of something called fall off, right? I mean, it increases falloff makes it more dramatic so the light hits my hand it's still there, it's still there and then it'll get dark by here, whereas with a beauty dish with al sigrid, I'd have light on my hand to the floor, so it just focus is everything in gives you more contrast for in effect like this. If you're going for drama or more focused light, more control over the light, you would consider grids from abby do what does shoot through mean, ok, so when in that particular umbrella or even think one, I think, um, when you point the umbrella, you're actually pointing at your lights at your subject, so the light is going to shoot through the umbrella and it's the umbrella that's lighting her balance umbrella is you flip it the other way and it will light the inside of the umbrella and kick back at her it's going to be like a softer, more diffused light source to be shoot through and I will demo those in the next segment ok fantastic and a question from photo maker with some votes on this one I assume that all these light modifier considerations hold for product photography as well as portrait photography is that current yeah all the supplies no matter what the same quality of light the same direction of light although if your product photographer you'll definitely want to get into scrims a bit most likely and we won't really get into that too much in depth but that's a little bit of a homework assignment for you all right great. Any questions in our studio here? All right, one more from our sara fulla our grid and modifiers specific as far that fits to your brand of lights do you have to match your brain of lights to the modifiers? Yes ok so that's a good lead out for all this so I'm so modifiers we'll go over back to grids but I'll say so modifiers like many umbrellas are almost universal almost like a lot of umbrellas you're putting that the shaft of the umbrella and it'll sit whatever lights however give us easy speed ring over there now or any of this you hear this works perfect um however pretty much every different manufacturer makes a different way that the modifiers connect to the light so one of the reasons that I really like pro photo is because it's so easy how there's go on is this is attention ring and so I loosen it and it slides on and then I can flip this over too tight in it other brands you've got a lineup too little not knob things and then you gotta twist it and you gotta lock it in place and I can't handle it so I like this for that reason which creates a problem because every different brand has a specific what they call a speed ring or a specific mount and so this is a speed ring, for example for a soft box so some soft boxes well, many soft boxes you khun just by the soft bucks and then as long as you have the right speed ring how it works and they just fit into the holes actual soft box itself could be propped up by the speed ring so there are many soft boxes that as long as they can fit into the speed ring, it doesn't meant matter the brand but then some aren't like that. So it's like you kind of have to do your research on them and for grids grids you have to buy for the specific modifier there aren't like any universal grids over depend on brand and so it all kind of makes it a little bit more complicated than ideal

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!