Simpler then.

You may recall yesterday I asked whether you could do professional lighting with simpler means than this:

Mono Studio (Photo Michael Willems)

And indeed, you can.

The secret is to think about

  1. The background. If not simple, then make an environmental portrait and use the environment.
  2. The number of lights. In the studio above, my lights are doing it all. So I need many lights. So how about using ambient light as one source?

Here’s ambient light in an environmental subject (environment is relevant here – you’d have to know the story):

Ambient light

That’s good for ambient, but how about the subject? So, add one flash in a softbox. This gives you a finished shot. Just one light!

Kitchen Surprise (Ambient and softbox)

The recipe here is simple.

  1. Meter for outside light.
  2. Check what aperture that gives you – set sped to between 1/100th and 1/200th second on manual and aim for, say, f/8
  3. Now use your light meter to adjust the flash to that aperture (use your light meter).

Another light lit with the same technique (and again using just one softbox):

Dress in room

So while all the equipment is nice, by combining ambient and flash, you can do a lot with just one light. Keep that in mind over the holiday period.

If this all sounds complicated, at first glance it is, but once you know how to do it, it is simple. This is the kind of technique I teach at my advanced flash workshops, and at the advanced lighting courses Joseph Marranca and I teach together. The new schedule will be posted soon!

One thought on “Simpler then.

  1. Hello Michael,
    You used a softbox with ambient light, could you use a umbrella instead of the softbox or would the light be harsh?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *