Thursday, March 18, 2010

Glam Lighting 1-2-3

When it comes to glamour lighting, I'm a 3-light kinda guy. It's basic. It's simple. It most always yields good, glamour-style, results.

While traditional 3-light setups, i.e., main, fill, and back light, have been around forever, I prefer a big main and a couple of back or side lights. To that mix, I sometimes add a reflector for some some gentle fill... or not, depending on how hard (deep) or soft (gentle) I want the shadows.

The photo (above) is a straightforward example of this lighting technique. Nothing fancy. Nothing special. Easy to employ. Gets the job done. Easily done.

I'm also a "get the job easily done" kinda guy.

Obviously, moving the lights around a bit, that is, "shaking up" the lighting, yields somewhat different results. For instance, I can adjust any of those lights by moving them into different positions. I can adjust their height, changing the "look." I can bring the back/side lights forward for a more side-lit look or I can move them back so they add edge-lighting without spilling onto the front of the model's face or body. Regardless, it all yields "glamour" style results.

In the example, I'm using a 5' Photoflex Octodome for my main and a couple of small, generic, white, shoot-thru umbrellas for the back/side lights. I've also placed a white reflector, opposite the main, for some fill.

How simple is that?

Very simple.

So easy a caveman can do it. (© Geico Insurance)

The beauty of simple, 3-point lighting, or any other lighting approach that is simple, easy, and straightforward, is it affords you more time focusing on the model. (I'm not talking about focusing your lens, BTW.)

It's been my observation that many beginners and novices spend far too much time messing with their lights and other technical things. All that stuff needs to become automatic. The easiest way to make those things automatic is to make them simple.

Keep it simple, stupid.

Good advice for many.

Good advice for pretty girl shooters.

Good advice for bloggers too.

The pretty girl at the top is Jennifer from sometime last year.


MacGyver said...

I notice that on your Octodome, you have the center circular panel removed. Does that make a difference in the light at all? And for the interior panels, do you go all gold or silver or mix it up?

Sorry for all the questions - my 5' Octo just arrived this week and I haven't had the chance to play with it yet ;-)

jimmyd said...


Actually, both baffles, the outside and inside are in place. What's missing is the back cover. I think I misplaced it. As for the interior panels, I mix it up: Usually 1 or 2 of the gold, pie-shaped, panels, just to warm it a little, and the rest silver.

MacGyver said...

Oops, that's what I meant, the back cover. Sorry. ;-)

Do you use the Octo in outdoor locations and if so, how do you deal with the wind? I know sandbagging the lightstands is a given, but I'm wondering about how to keep the Octo from twisting to the left or right in the wind.

jimmyd said...


When it's windy, th best way to keep a soft box in place is an assistant. And yeah, sandbags too. I think one time I Macgyvered a short bungie to one of the Octo's metal rods where it slips in at the front end of the box and the other end hooked to a sand bag. The bungie stretched enough so the bag was sitting on the ground but it kept it, for the most part, in place.