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What set-up I use often depends on the environment I'm shooting in. (And other factors probably not worth mentioning.) More often than not, though, I'm going to go with my "go-to" for most of what I shoot. It's quick to set up and I don't have to think much about it. I just set it up and shoot. That way, my focus and attention is mostly where it should be: on the model, from the beginning to the end of the shoot.
That probably sounds rather boring, shooting in the same ways, lighting-wise, most of the time. And it kind of is boring from that perspective. But the thing is, my clients expect consistency in my work. In fact, they rely on it. In other words, they rely on me to produce that consistency every time they hire me. That's why I generally rely on the same (boring) consistently-used lighting setup... because I generally prefer being hired and paid... consistently.
Much of my work, the glam/tease/nude work I produce for clients, has me shooting models against a seamless. For that stuff, my go-to setup is definitely "go-to." Time is often a factor, lack of it that is, so I go to my go-to setup not only because it represents my general, consistent, overall lighting style, but also because I can get set up with my go-to set-up quite quickly, with little thought, and then be shooting, also rather quickly, when I employ it... my main go-to-lighting setup that is.
There's a behind-the-scenes image of my go-to lighting setup posted below, albeit it's not set up in front of a seamless background. It's in a grungy, dirty, nasty, impound garage we were shooting in.
As you can see, my go-to lighting setup involves three lights. It's sort of like the traditional 3-Point (or triangular) lighting setup that's been around since, well, since lighting set-ups have been around. The old-school, 3-Point, triangular lighting set-up is comprised of a main or key light, a fill light, and a back light. My go-to, modified, 3-point, triangular lighting setup features a main or key light, just like the traditional 3-point lighting set-up relies on, but the two other lights aren't a fill and a back light. Instead, they're both set as back lights. (Plus, I often set a reflector to fill-in for the missing fill light.)
By the way, I usually dial-up my two back lights to about 1/3 of a stop brighter than my main. Sometimes, I might crank them up to a half-stop brighter. It depends on the brightness of the background and/or whether I want the highlights a bit more tame or very obvious. Occasionally, I let them blow out. But that's a style thing. My main light for this image is a Photoflex 5' Octo. The two back lights are shoot-through umbrellas. They're either 2' or 30" in diameter. Images were snapped with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 prime on a classic Canon 5D. (ISO 100, f/7.1, 125th.) Also, I'm a PocketWizard guy. That's how I trigger my lights.
As you can see, the image at the top is one from the set I snapped in that dirty garage (seen below) with my go-to, 3-Point, triangular lighting set-up. Personally, I think it works just peachy.
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