Digital Photo Academy

Learn How To Use Your Digital Camera

Simple Studio Setups

Contrary to popular belief, you dont need an elaborate set of lights to create a studio look. As a matter of fact, a beautiful portrait can be made with a single light and a reflector. With regards to the main light, I suggest it be used with an umbrella or soft box. It should be placed at a forty five degree angle to the subject. The reflector should be positioned on the opposite side of the model so light is bounced back onto the shadow side.  Photo #1 was made with this type of lighting configuration.


© Russ Burden

As you begin to acquire more lights, they can be used to enhance the look of your  portraits. In picture #2, I used a second flash housed in a small soft box as a fill light. Commensurate with how close or far away its placed, the shadow side of the subject will be lighter or darker. I like to keep the fill light at a distance that provides two stops less light than the main light. If you have a flash meter, it makes it easier to determine its placement.  If you dont, run some tests using a tape measure or tape marks on the floor.


© Russ Burden

A third light gives you the option of adding a hair light. It creates separation between the model and the background. The closer its placed, the brighter the glow around the hair. The color of the subjects hair has a direct impact upon how near or far it should be located. The darker it is, the closer the light needs to be positioned behind the model. The opposite is true for light haired subjects. In photo #3, a hair light was added.


© Russ Burden

A background light works well to lighten up what would otherwise be a dark backdrop. Gels can be placed over them to coordinate the color of the background to the color of the models clothes. Run some tests to determine the proper exposure so all the lights work in harmony. In photo #4, a background light was added.


© Russ Burden


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