How many studio lights do you really need? : LUSENET : Photography In The Phils. : One Thread

So, how many studio flash units do you really need?

One! Yes only one. Do not be put off by the idea that portrait studios use about two, three, or four lights to do a portrait.

Only one is needed, and there are techniques as to how to use only one flash unit. These are: keeping your flash high and centered, using ambient light to light up the background, or deleting the background completely. Of course you may find other ways and that is the fun in photography.

First, by keeping your flash high and centered, you eliminate side shadows. Using a refletor disk, catches the downward light and bounces it back to your subject. By varying the distance between the subject and the background, you can also vary the light intensity that falls on the background.

Second, you can keep ambient light inthe picture, illuminating the background. Using one light either from the left, right, or center, illuminate your subject. Again, use a refletor disk to fill in the shadows.

And third, by eliminating the background totally, use a similar setup as the second technique.

It is ow up to you if you would prefer a umbrella, a softox, or a honeycomb grid for this. But the key is to experiment and remember what works for ou.

-- Carlo Ma. Guerrero (, March 02, 1999


I'm trying to perfect a variation of the technique you just mentioned. One light with a 30 degree grid fired from above, behind, and to the side of the subject with the fringes of the beam just touching/highlighting the hair. I then try to catch most of the beam with a large circular refelector from the front and reflect it back to the subject. The light has to be on one side so the reflector doesn't block the camera from the front..this is the tricky part; positioning the light/beam angle/and reflector. Right now I guess what I need is a stand and reflector holder so I don't have to rely on an assistant to keep the reflector steady at a certain (and neccessarily precise) angle.

-- Tommy Zablan (, March 02, 1999.

There is one more technique which is similar to having a grid above and behind the subject and catching the spill to fill in the front of the subject.

By using a very large softbox or scrim from behind the subject, let the light spill forward. Using a large styropor sheet with a hole cut in the center for the camera lens, reflects the light back to the subject. The camera lens positioned in the center of the reflector should give you a shadowless portrait. A soft filter though will add feathered edges to your subject.

-- Carlo Ma. Guerrero (, March 02, 1999.

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