Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Using One Light and Two Lights

Every lighting plan has to start somewhere, and for me, it is with the main light. What will be the main source of light in the photo, I ask myself, and what will it show? Using one light to take portraits can render great results and is perfect for those working alone and on a budget because you don’t need a lot of gear and can focus on the subject.

Later chapters cover photographing portraits with one light either attached to the camera (Chapter 15) or triggered by the AWL functions of the CLS (Chapter 16). In this chapter, you’ll learn the basic ideas that you’ll put into use in both those later chapters.

My general approach when using a single Speedlight is to want that light to be the largest, softest light possible because that makes just about everyone look good. With just one light, you can use an umbrella or softbox as close to the subject as possible, or you can bounce the light off a wall, ceiling, or reflector. For Figure 12.22, I used a single Speedlight on the camera aimed right at the white ceiling, which created a soft light on the subject. A solid black background was used against a far wall, far enough away that the light didn’t reach it.

Figure 12.22

Figure 12.22 A single SB-910 with a diffusion dome over the flash head mounted on the Nikon D750 and aimed straight up at the ceiling creates a soft bounce light down on the subject.

NIKON D750 ISO 320 1/200 SEC. F/16

Moving the flash off the camera opens up more possibilities, allowing for more precise placement of the light. Using an off-camera flash also makes adding a second light source much easier, either another flash or a reflector bouncing additional light into the scene. You can use this second light source as an accent light to help define the subject. In Figure 12.23, I added a reflector below the subject’s face to act as a second light source and bounce the light up to open the shadows especially under the chin. In Figure 12.24, a second Speedlight adds an accent light on the hair, giving the top of the hair some more depth and separation from the background.

Figure 12.23

Figure 12.23 A reflector placed under the face allows some light to bounce up and add some light under the chin to open up the shadows.

NIKON D750 ISO 320 1/80 SEC. F/5.6

Figure 12.24

Figure 12.24 Here a second Speedlight adds just a touch of light on the subject’s hair.

NIKON D750 ISO 320 1/80 SEC. F/5.6

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account