One Light Portraits Part 2: The Diagrams

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A lot of you have asked for lighting diagrams from my last post on One Light Portraits, so here they are- the finished shot, as well as the arrangement of lights, reflectors, and camera position.  Enjoy!

For this shot, the flash is on-camera, and bounced into a reflector at camera left.

This is a variation on the previous shot. This time, the reflector is placed at the model's waist, facing up. The flash is bounced at the ceiling, and teh reflector then reflects that light up into the model's face.

For this shot, a speedlite in a softbox was used. We are outdoors, and our subject is positioned under a tree for shade. The softbox then becomes the main light on our subject, and the daylight fills the background.

In this shot, a softbox is set up behind the subject, while a reflector is set up directly opposite to bounce light into the face. In this case, the silver side of the reflector was used.

A household bulb can make a perfectly acceptable light source when nothing else is available. In this case, a household lamp was used, with the shade removed. To soften the light, a white sheet was used as a scrim to allow light to pass through. A higher ISO- ISO 2500 - was used. Keep in mind your white balance must be adjusted for the yellowish cast a household bulb creates.

This shot uses one large soft box- 50 inches- to create a soft light.

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Rick Berk is a photographer based in New York, shooting a variety of subjects including landscapes, sports, weddings, and portraits. Rick leads photo tours for World Wide Photo Tours and his work can be seen at RickBerk.com and you can follow him on his Facebook page and on Instagram at @rickberkphoto.

  • This is absolutely sweet. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I know many of my people will enjoy this because the diagram shows it all. Thanks.

    http://portraitinspiration.com/inspiration-for-the-day-37/

  • Mei Teng

    Thanks for sharing the lighting diagrams. Very informative.

  • I once appeared on Talking Point a BBC show via a web cam. In the test phase they realized the light in my room was very low. The way out? They suggest me to use a table lamp next to me!

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2008/08/lazy-sunday-video-my-games-the-bbc-interactive-olympics-program.html

  • Satesh R

    Agreed! Thank you for sharing

  • Very nice. How would you diagram this for an outdoor shoot?

  • I have used single off camera lighting a lot , with and without a reflector.
    http://www.dewandemmer.com/eloise-and-hein-holtons-wedding-at-makiti-muldersdrift/
    This has a lot of images where I used only one light, and sometimes a reflector or on the odd shot a second off light speed-light.

    The fact that one off camera speed-light is so versatile is often discounted and over looked simply because people keep hearing how more is better, or maybe feel that another speed-light will compensate for whatsever is missing. Although just like everything its a constant learning curve.

  • Great post. Nice and simple. Will be sharing with my studio portrait students.

  • Bill M

    Recently was at a wedding that was shot with a large shoot thru umbrella, hand held, using a slave flash all held by an assistant,triggered by photographers master flash mounted to camera. I think they were both 580 EXll. Can’t wait to see finished shots.they made it look so easy and simple.

  • cheryl connor

    Have just worked out how to set flashes and commanders with the Nikon CLS. This article is just so good for me as I am starting from zero experience. Will enjoy trying these lighting suggestions. Thank you.
    PS do you know any goreous male models I could borrow !!!!!

  • Thanks to both RIck and Darren for a great update to the first article which was very good. This is very helpful. Arthur

  • Hi all.
    I attach here my fbk page so that you all can see my photos, specially an album which contains a lot of portraits.

    Hope you like it

    http://www.facebook.com/fotojusepmoreno

  • This is SO helpful! Thanks!

  • Very useful and easy to follow!
    This is the kind of tips I appreciate.
    Thank you!

    Iban

  • Joe Mar

    Great article and I loved the diagrams! Thank you so much!

  • ary

    great tips, thanks a lot !
    I will try it as soon as I receive my speed-light, in a few days…

  • Juan José González

    Awesome, I always looked for something like this, this is the first time I see this and is very informative, no doubt after seeing this

  • Great webpage! So few show the final photo with corresponding light setup. Thank you! I’ll be bookmarking this page.It will save me lots of time fixing photos in Photoshop later.

  • Eric

    Love these diagrams, thank you for these setups. Question about #1: Did you use a snoot or flag to keep the speedlight from spilling directly to the model, or did you just let it be? Perhaps you just zoomed the flash to max?

  • @Eric- I just let it be. There may have been some spill, but not much.

  • I would love to know what brand of soft boxes you used with speedlites.

  • Jennifer-
    I use Westcott Apollo softboxes for my speedlights. I have the 16″, the 28″ and the 50″ for various looks. In addition, I also have a Westcott 18×42″ strip box. I can’t say enough about the Westcott softboxes. Love them for their simplicity and ease of setup.

  • Barry E Warren

    Thanks, For the tips. This photo is taken with a speedlight on the right with a white umbrella. And a Reg.light or lamb on left.

  • Sheryl

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Anna Permyakova

    Really useful! Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • Elena

    Amazing diagrams, so want to start trying them! Thanks for sharing!

  • john richards

    please could give a little more info on camera settings , and flash setings

  • Kent Lehmkuhl Skjønnemann

    Yes would like to know that too 🙂 but great info anyway

  • Gareth

    Hi Rick – do you recommend any reflectors in particular?

  • Hi Gareth, There are a ton out there. I tend to stay away from gold (turn skin too yellow). Most often I will use white or silver, depending on the effect I want. I have a Westcott reflector that one side is silver and one side is uncoated muslin, which gives a softer reflection. I also have a few 5-in-1 type reflectors (also Westcott) that have silver, gold, white, black, and translucent white (for use as a scrim) that are very affordable and very versatile. As I said, I use Westcott (www.fjwestcott.com) but there are many others available as well.

Some Older Comments

  • Rick Berk April 30, 2013 10:24 pm

    Jennifer-
    I use Westcott Apollo softboxes for my speedlights. I have the 16", the 28" and the 50" for various looks. In addition, I also have a Westcott 18x42" strip box. I can't say enough about the Westcott softboxes. Love them for their simplicity and ease of setup.

  • Jennifer Victor April 29, 2013 10:54 am

    I would love to know what brand of soft boxes you used with speedlites.

  • Rick Berk April 15, 2013 03:15 am

    @Eric- I just let it be. There may have been some spill, but not much.

  • Eric April 13, 2013 05:49 am

    Love these diagrams, thank you for these setups. Question about #1: Did you use a snoot or flag to keep the speedlight from spilling directly to the model, or did you just let it be? Perhaps you just zoomed the flash to max?

  • robert schwarztrauber April 2, 2013 06:28 am

    Great webpage! So few show the final photo with corresponding light setup. Thank you! I'll be bookmarking this page.It will save me lots of time fixing photos in Photoshop later.

  • Juan José González March 13, 2013 03:10 pm

    Awesome, I always looked for something like this, this is the first time I see this and is very informative, no doubt after seeing this

  • ary March 7, 2013 02:35 am

    great tips, thanks a lot !
    I will try it as soon as I receive my speed-light, in a few days...

  • Joe Mar November 28, 2012 09:59 am

    Great article and I loved the diagrams! Thank you so much!

  • iban_g_g November 27, 2012 02:42 am

    Very useful and easy to follow!
    This is the kind of tips I appreciate.
    Thank you!

    Iban

  • Bobbi Emel November 26, 2012 02:04 pm

    This is SO helpful! Thanks!

  • Josep November 25, 2012 05:36 am

    Hi all.
    I attach here my fbk page so that you all can see my photos, specially an album which contains a lot of portraits.

    Hope you like it

    www.facebook.com/fotojusepmoreno

  • Arthur Ellis November 25, 2012 01:53 am

    Thanks to both RIck and Darren for a great update to the first article which was very good. This is very helpful. Arthur

  • cheryl connor November 24, 2012 09:55 pm

    Have just worked out how to set flashes and commanders with the Nikon CLS. This article is just so good for me as I am starting from zero experience. Will enjoy trying these lighting suggestions. Thank you.
    PS do you know any goreous male models I could borrow !!!!!

  • Bill M November 24, 2012 03:52 am

    Recently was at a wedding that was shot with a large shoot thru umbrella, hand held, using a slave flash all held by an assistant,triggered by photographers master flash mounted to camera. I think they were both 580 EXll. Can't wait to see finished shots.they made it look so easy and simple.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck November 22, 2012 12:03 pm

    Here is one with just a large soft box:

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/creative-anxiety/

  • Marlene Hielema November 22, 2012 02:22 am

    Great post. Nice and simple. Will be sharing with my studio portrait students.

  • Dewan Demmer November 21, 2012 11:28 pm

    I have used single off camera lighting a lot , with and without a reflector.
    http://www.dewandemmer.com/eloise-and-hein-holtons-wedding-at-makiti-muldersdrift/
    This has a lot of images where I used only one light, and sometimes a reflector or on the odd shot a second off light speed-light.

    The fact that one off camera speed-light is so versatile is often discounted and over looked simply because people keep hearing how more is better, or maybe feel that another speed-light will compensate for whatsever is missing. Although just like everything its a constant learning curve.

  • Rafael Marquez November 21, 2012 10:44 am

    Very nice. How would you diagram this for an outdoor shoot?

  • Satesh R November 21, 2012 08:24 am

    Agreed! Thank you for sharing

  • Mridula November 21, 2012 03:42 am

    I once appeared on Talking Point a BBC show via a web cam. In the test phase they realized the light in my room was very low. The way out? They suggest me to use a table lamp next to me!

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2008/08/lazy-sunday-video-my-games-the-bbc-interactive-olympics-program.html

  • Mei Teng November 21, 2012 01:45 am

    Thanks for sharing the lighting diagrams. Very informative.

  • Jai Catalano November 21, 2012 01:19 am

    This is absolutely sweet. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I know many of my people will enjoy this because the diagram shows it all. Thanks.

    http://portraitinspiration.com/inspiration-for-the-day-37/

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