One simple light

Often I get the compliment that I only work with one light and get some “pretty cool images”, of course it’s nice to get compliments but…. well it’s not 100% true.
Let me put it differently.
I strongly believe that if you can pull something off with only one light… why use more?


It has nothing to do with the fact that there is only one sun, I never really supported that case, well ok I agree there is only one sun for us earthlings but if we look at the light around us there is much more than one light source, look at reflections, the ambient light etc. etc. actually we life in a world filled with light.


No the real reason I often only use one light is the simple fact that it just does the trick, I love the more darker looking images sometimes and let’s be honest when you use one light with for example a grid you are already half way there. The other reason is also a bit “because it’s easy” you don’t have to drag around a lot of lights, setups are very fast and the results are always great without the chance of double shadows etc. However… and I really want to make this clear, I’m not a 1 light kind of guy, on the contrary I love using multiple light sources to really add mood to a location, pin point the model with one and add the rest with a second (or third), add some accents where I want them, add a splash of color and sometimes…. well I bought a lot of lights and Annewiek wants me to use them at least sometimes (Ok that was a joke…. or was it).


Now most people somehow struggle with the use of one light, so today a small sample about how you can learn to master your one light.
For this setup I used one striplight with a grid (shot during the workshops in Eersel for Studio76 with Nadine as my model).

Nadine Februari 14 Eersel (24 of 99)-Edit

As you can see the setup picture is already pretty nice…..
Now the cool thing with this kind of setups is that you can very easily move around your model and get a lot of different looks.
In fact you meter towards the light and you move around so the exposure stays the same on the model, but the look chances, this gives not only you a lot of different shots but also your model or client. And let’s be real, with photoshoots it’s all about getting the maximum number of “keepers” from one shoot, so the more you can get from one setup the better.


So let’s see what happens when we move arround.

Nadine Februari 14 Eersel (26 of 99)-Edit

Nadine Februari 14 Eersel (28 of 99)-Edit

Nadine Februari 14 Eersel (44 of 99)-Edit


You could even shoot straight on (stand next to the soft box) for a very flat kind of light.


Now let’s change the striplight for a reflector with grid and see what happens.

Nadine Februari 14 Eersel (58 of 99)-Edit

Nadine Februari 14 Eersel (57 of 99)-EditI’m using the same techniques, moving around the model, but because I have a lot more shadow play now I can also let my models posing enhance the shot.


As you can see, light setups don’t have to be complicated, they can be very very simple but effective.
However they are most effective when the photographer knows how light behaves.


If you want much more tips and tricks on lighting, finding models, contracts, photoshop, lightroom, workflow, calibrations, coaching the models, finding the story, finding locations, working with smoke, working with analogue, working with special lenses and MUCH (and I really mean MUCH) more get my book “Mastering the model-shoot” it’s available via Amazon and it should be available from every other bookstore or online.