6 Simple Lighting Techniques.. | Tutorial Freak – Online Tutorials

6 Simple Lighting Techniques..


If you’re looking to take your photography further you’ll probably want to learn how to use off-camera flash. In this tutorial we show you 6 simple studio light setups that will help you capture some of the classic portrait lighting effects.

What’s more, these lighting techniques will provide you with a solid foundation from which you can start experimenting to find your own style.

In our lighting setups cheat sheet below you’ll learn how to use high contrast light at a 90-degree angle; diffused light and a reflector; high contrast light at 45 degrees; high contrast light at 45 degrees with a reflector; low contrast light at 45 degrees with a reflector; and finally rim lighting from behind.

Lighting Setup 1: High contrast light at a 90-degree angle

A striking result achieved with minimal kit. Using a single flash head at this angle can give an unflattering result, though.

The light will show up bumpy skin textures and create stark shadows and bright highlights.

Without a diffuser, the quality of light will be high contrast and if placed near the subject will create problems with fall-off where light is spread unevenly across the face.

By not using a reflector, shadows will be deep.

Lighting Setup 2: Diffused light and a reflector

This is a much gentler set-up where the same light source is softened with a diffuser and a reflector.

Diffusers give the same effect as daylight cloud cover, spreading light from a tiny source into a larger area.

The diffuser will reduce the intensity of your flash unit, so you may need to slide up the output of the flash head, but the effect will be more flattering.

The reflector works by bouncing stray light back onto the unlit side of the face.

Lighting Setup 3: High contrast light at 45 degree

With a similar effect to the first shot, this type of lighting reveals a bit more of the sitter’s facial characteristics, but with the same pockets of deep shadow.

Positioned at less of an acute angle, this light won’t pick up so much skin texture but it won’t show the face in any kind of flattering aspect, regardless of the pose.

Only one half of the face will be illuminated and, without any reflector, the other half will become a silhouette.

Lighting Setup 4: High contrast light at 45 degrees with a reflector

A much better kind of lighting set-up that reveals the three-dimensional characteristics of the face.

Used in conjunction with an efficient sliver or bright white reflector, there’ll only be a subtle difference between the lit and reflected sides of the face.

This slight drop in brightness from one side to the other can start to mimic natural lighting. Much more flattering and a real starting point for most portrait photographers.

To darken the shadows, pull the reflector away from the subject.

Lighting Setup 5: Low contrast light at 45 degrees with a reflector

With the addition of a diffuser in the shape of an opaque umbrella, this kind of main light is much lower contrast than the previous five examples.

This creates a bigger burst of softened flash, which makes this portrait much more evocative than descriptive.

To further weaken visible shadows, place a warm-coloured reflector near your subject’s face.

An umbrella will create a similar effect to a softbox and can be partially obscured to give strips of light.

Lighting Setup 6: Rim lighting from behind

The ideal method for emphasising the outline perimeter or shape of your subject’s head.

In this lighting setup, the subject is not lit from the front but from behind to create a dazzling rim-light effect.

Only a tiny light source is needed and care must be taken not to set the flash unit at too high a power.

To prevent the face from recording as a silhouette, open up the aperture nice and wide and, if needed, use a couple of reflectors either side of the model to bounce light back into the face.


Pro Photographer, WebMaster & Writer.. Please follow us on Facebook

KeithM.. – who has written posts on Tutorial Freak – Online Tutorials.

Help keep us alive & kicking, we need coffee 24/7, please donate, thanks!

Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!