One Light Setup

Young woman at home

Young woman at home

Today’s post will deal with getting a natural light feel using an one light setup. The best part of using only one light is you don’t need to carry around a tons of gear. For years I didn’t own a car and going from one job to the next quickly turned into a pain if I need to carry more than I could fit into my backpack and Camera Bag. This was back in the days before the Strobist and all his cool speed lighting tips.  I developed a system that allowed me to get the job done using the minimum amount of gear. If It didn’t fit into my Camera Bag, and Backpack it wasn’t taken.  The other plus to using only one light in the setups is if done the right you can shoot images  from more than one shooting position. With the classic three light setup you are often limited to shooting the subject from one view point, plus you still have to lug around all that damn gear.

The keys points for me when using only one light in a setup is to make the light look believable and not have it tie me down too only one angle of shooting. For this shoot I’ll use a  Hensel Integra Pro 500 flash head with a bare bulb, lightstand, and white reflector. The two elements of this image are Svenja Polenz, model and manager of Propeller fashions, and the room in which Svenja will be posing. The room is lit from four large windows that sit behind a dividing half wall that also has three small windows. Looking at the images below you may ask when not just use the window light? Well on this day the Sun refused to play ball, it was a dark rainy Berlin day. Being the old School Mofo that I am  dark sky and rain were not going to keep me from getting the shot.

Loft Bedroom

When using a one light setup I always start with determining the direction of the origin of source, in this case it’s the Sunlight or one this day mud grey light entering the room from the main windows. The sources of Illumination are the white wall. Knowing this information I can place my main light into position. For this shot I placed a Hensel bare flash head so that the light would bounces off the ceiling facing the main windows. This creates the direction for the Illumination. The benefit of using a bare flash head is I’m  also able to light other parts of the set in a very natural way that mimics the way light would normally enter the room. If you look at the lighting setup below the areas in yellow is how much of the set the flash covered. 


In the first image of this post Svenja was facing the main windows. The image below was taken with Svenja on her side and the windows behind.  To shape the light on the this image I used a reflector to push a bit more light back into the subject.  As you can see with this one light setup I able to easily change my shooting position and still have nice light falling on the subject.  If you have any one light setups post your comments and idea.

Svenja Lying on Bed

One Response to “One Light Setup”
  1. Al Sanchez says:

    This is a really awesome lighting setup. It’s always nice to mix natural light with one or two other light sources when shooting indoors. The power of reflectors for controlling outdoor lighting and moving it into an indoor shoot is often underused. Often times multiple reflectors can be used to literally take light from one room into another (if your photographing in a room with no natural light)

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