Sunday, October 24, 2010

Light Setup part I

Here is a simple light setup that is great for beauty photography.

The equipment you see here is simple to use, relatively inexpensive & very versatile.

There are three different light sources at work, all are flash heads that are outfitted with a light modifier.

Two of them are seated inside a Strip Light, a narrow version of a traditional soft box & are directed in a 45 degree angle (more or less) at the background (white seamless paper).

The third light is inside an Octodome, a more rounded version of the square softbox & a bit shallower as well.
The front of the Octodome is fitted with a Grid, the Grid provides for a more directional light output & controls the angel of the light as well as minimizes light spill.

This is my main light & is placed in front & above the model's head (I'm using a boom arm to be able to shoot without having to deal with a light stand in the way but if you only have light stands than just make sure you shoot very close to it in order to be under the light & in front of your model).

As oppose to a beauty dish (great for other applications) this main light source gives me more flexibility when posing the model & gives the model more freedom to move around (Beauty dish is more "spot on").
I love the partial softness of this type of light source as well as the round, natural catch-light it creates in the subject's eye.

The reflector - To complete the look you will need some kind of reflector to bounce the light back onto the model's face & fill in any shadows, it helps to create that "perfect" porcelain skin look.
I'm using a Tri-Flector here but any bounce card or reflector will do, the Tri-Flector gives a bit more control & helps shape the face with a little more precision, it also has a silver & a gold side for even more control over the look you want.

Below are a few photos of the set up, if you look at the model's eyes you can see the light set up - a useful trick to help you figure out what lights were used in a photo (unless they were removed/added in PS...)

In part II of this shoot (coming soon) I'll show you how a few simple changes produce a very different look!

Do try this at home kids :)


  1. What brand is that tri-reflector thing? Looks really useful.

  2. A few companies make a similar product, here are two examples:
    Westcott -
    Lastolite -