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If you’re just getting started in off camera flash and studio photography then single light setups are a fantastic, uncomplicated way of getting to grips with lighting techniques. Despite the wide range of effects that can be achieved with a one light setup, working with multiple lights provides even greater range of creative options and my favourite multi light setup has to be the clamshell. This lighting setup can be used to produce a soft wrapping quality of light; a perfectly white background and stunning catch lights resulting in a classic beauty look ideal for photographing female models. Best of all it’s incredibly easy, so hopefully with the following guide you can also have a go at this great lighting setup.
Setup & Equipment
The basic idea behind this setup is to use a single large light source both as a backdrop and to provide wrap around light. The subject is then illuminated from above using a second light with any remaining shadows filled in using a flat reflector.
For this setup you will need two light sources; ideally strobe heads although speedlights are also fine but might take slightly longer to recycle given the higher power required. To achieve the soft quality of light both lights should be shot through large soft boxes, although if you don’t have these then you could us a large sheet as a background and something like an umbrella for the main light.
The basic setup is as follows; the key point to remember is to ensure the backlight completely fills the background.
Metering for this shot is actually fairly simple and whilst a light meter can be helpful in speeding things up it’s easy enough to set the exposure for this shot by eye. The main steps are as follows:
Hopefully the steps above are simple enough to convince you to give this lighting setup a try. Not only is this a great way to try working with multiple lights but it also results in a really satisfying and flattering image and of course double the lights means double the creativity!