During my trip to WPPI in Las Vegas, NV, I was able to attend free one-hour workshops with well-known photographers. One in particular, Lindsay Adler, stood out to me the most and I gained a lot of lighting insight from this NYC fashion photographer. Lighting seems to be the demise of most photographers who are starting out. It is scary, it is unknown and it is expensive. Trust me, I tried to steer clear of anything that wasn’t natural light.

Fear not my fellow photogs! I will pass along what I learned from Adler’s workshop in hopes to inspire you to get out there and get crazy with some lighting.

I have always wanted to do beautiful headshots on a solid white background with beautiful lighting. I tried on multiple occasions using almost four to five lights. My space was always limited and I still wasn’t getting the lighting I wanted. I became distraught and stopped using lights all together. This one workshop lifted my confidence in giving it one more shot at lighting. This set up I am about to share with you is using ONLY two lights and NO background! Yes I said it, two lights and no background.

This is the final image I accomplished by using the techniques I learned from Adler’s workshop and was very pleased with how they came out:



For all those gear heads out there I’ll first share with you what I’m working with before diving into the lighting set up:

Camera: Canon 5D IV

Lens: Canon 70-200 2.8 IS II

Lighting: 2x Promaster PL-400 Strobes

Light Modifiers: Beauty Dish w/ Grid, Large 48×36 softbox, 42” 5 in-one Reflector, Reflector Arm



The image & diagram below shows where everything was placed in the studio.



The large softbox will be facing you, the photographer; this will illuminate behind the subject wrapping light around the sides of him or her. The soft box will act as your “white background” because it will be blown out. This eliminates using a big background set up and taking up space, aside from having to use multiple lights to make the background bright white. (PS this technique also works for product shots if you want a solid white back ground!)

Second set the beauty dish right in front and slightly above the subject’s head. This will fill in the face and create a beautiful glow. A grind was added to make the beam of light more narrow and directed more on the subject’s face.

I placed the reflector directly under the chest of my subject to bounce light back into the shadows, filling the chin, under eyes and various places where the shadows were too harsh on the face. I preferred the silver side of the reflector. If you don’t have an assistant to hold it I highly suggest a reflector arm.

Now most of you may be asking what settings are you using? Well the exact settings I used were; ISO 100 to get the best detail and little noise as possible, 1/125 because that is what the strobe I was using could sync at without problems (there are some strobes out there that will allow for high speed sync for faster shutter speeds), f/10 because I wanted the subject’s full face in focus from front to back. Now what I learned from Adler’s workshop is that it isn’t ALL about the settings, but rather how you light the subject. I chose these settings to fit my needs and limitations of my lighting. However, you can set it to whatever you desire and then just dial your lights to the exposure you want. I did not use a light meter because I followed my histogram. Histograms are what show you your exposure and how your camera interprets from blacks to midtones to whites in a graph. I also learned that lighting and being a photographer takes creativity, so get out there and just have fun playing with lights! For the Roseville locals I would recommend taking a lighting and portrait workshop at Action Camera! To see available classes visit here.




Copyright2017 © Britney Sweis

There you go! A simple two light set up with NO background needed. And the results came out spectacularly! I’ll have more photo sessions up from other techniques I learned from Adler’s workshop soon. Stay tuned! Special thanks to models: Lorraine Odell, Meg  Fiandaca and Make up Artist: Samantha Staton.

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