The Basics of a One Light Setup: A Lighting Tutorial


Hi. This is Jay P. Morgan. In today’s Slanted
Lens lesson, we’re going to take a step way back to the very basics of a one-light
setup. Let’s take a look at what it takes to light a face.
Everything in the world is a ball, a cube, or a cylinder. A face is a ball, a round surface.
Because it’s a round surface, as we set our key light, we get a nice highlight across
the face. We have a nice shadow line there, where it drops into deep shadow away from
the light. As we fill this shadow side, we create what’s known as the core. This is
the core, the area of transition between filled shadow to highlight. If you fill in that core
too much, or too broadly, it becomes very uninteresting. We want a nice ratio of highlight
into shadow, where it fills up to that core, but doesn’t wipe it out completely. The
problem is most people are, even though we are a round-type face, we have features. When
you add a feature, in this case, when you have a nose, you’re going to want to get
your light up a little higher than this one is, in order to create a bit of a Rembrandt
on the side. If I lift this light up just a bit, I start to get a bit of a Rembrandt
on the side. This will give us a nice triangle on the cheek here, if this was stuck next
to our ball. The interesting thing about our setup here, is that we have the highlight
side on the ball, and in the background, we’ve turned our light just so that we get a nice
shadow side on that side of the ball that’s lit.
I’m going to rotate this to where the shadow from the softbox, is going to hit right along
the line of the shadow of the person’s face, so I will have a nice highlight side on the
background that separates the shadow side of the face. I’ll have a nice shadow side
on the background that separates the highlight side of the face. There’s the basics of
a one-light setup. The way that you get a person to stand out from the background light,
both the background and the person with a single light. Then we simply bring in a fill
card to fill in the shadow side, not obliterating the core, giving us a nice core transition
to the front. Let’s take a quick look at a person’s face in here and see how these
principles apply. I’m loving that Kessler Crane today is giving
us a lot of great shots. We’ve got Tiffany Taylor here on set with today. She’s gorgeous,
so that makes this very, very easy to do. We have this softbox here. It has the face
off, that gives us a very hard light. I’m doing this in order to see, on the background,
exactly what it’s doing; it’s a little more obvious that way. We have the highlight
side of her face. It transitions to the shadow side of her face. We have the highlight side
on the backdrop, which gives us a nice contrast to the dark side of her face, and we have
the shadow side on the backdrop that gives us a nice separation to the highlight side
of her face. What we’re doing today is we’re shooting
on the Cannon 1DC. Everything we’re shooting is video and we’re going to pull stills
of the different shots that we do here of Tiffany. We’re going to have her move her
hair around. We’re going to do some interesting things with her hair and movement, and we’re
going to look at those things. We won’t shoot any still today; it will all be pulls
from video. I’m going to go ahead and put the softbox face on. Then we’re going to
get this lit so we can get a nice shot of her. If you put the key light in the right
place, it allows your model to turn her head from a Rembrandt, into a butterfly, into a
split light. This gives your talent a lot of room to move and has nice light in that
entire rotation. For our key light, we’re going to use a
Dynalite 1600 watt pack with an MH2065 head. We’re using a medium Photoflex softbox as
our key light. I love this setup because this head from Dynalite gives me the ability to
use all of my strobe modifiers with a hot light. It gives me a nice key light for my
talent. Our background is a white seamless. As a fill, we’re going to use a P22 panel,
to bounce a little bit of light back in on her face. Using a fan can be a little tricky.
I have found that if you turn the fan down very low, and then you point it slightly up
from the ground, it gives the best look for the hair. If you run it too high, it’s going
to dry out their eyes and really is tough for the talent to work underneath.
I am very excited to be shooting today with Tamron’s new 70mm to 200mm, 2.8 zoom lens.
This is a great SP lens. It’s very sharp and a great companion with our 1DC. Shooting
video on the 1DC and then pulling stills was quite a new experience, to say the least,
for me. I found it a little hard, because I was always wondering, “Did I get something?
Am I getting something?” Without the ability to look back at each frame and see exactly
what I was getting, I found it a little bit frustrating. It was hard. That 1/50 of a second
gave us a lot of motion blur, even on a simple move of her head. We’re going to talk about
this more on our next lesson: Pulling Stills Using the 1DC.
Here’s some of the stills that we pulled from our first setup. We’re now going to
push our makeup a little bit, make it a bit more interesting, and come back and shoot
some more. Kerry Groves of Makeup Magic did a great job; kind of gave us this Egyptian
look. We did a few shots of her with a small hat on; I thought that one was very cool.
Julene brought a piece of sequin material that was very interesting just to shoot through.
It even became more interesting as we brought it closer to the camera. At that point, it
became a diffusion material that just gives a nice soft diffusion across the whole image.
As you get it that close and shoot through it, it softens everything in the image. This
is an old trick. People used to wrap hose, nylons, all kinds of things over the lens
do give this kind of soft look. Here’s a couple of images looking through that material.
This has been a great shoot today. Sometimes it’s very elegant to just go back to the
basics; use a single light to create a very nice light on our talent’s face. It has
a very elegant look. I hope you had as much fun as I did today. Keep those cameras rolling
and keep on click’n.

100 Replies to “The Basics of a One Light Setup: A Lighting Tutorial”

  1. A little confused. This is titled, "The Basics of a One Light Setup: A Lighting Tutorial" but as soon as you start using the model there's a square softbox as key lighting plus an octobox for fill. Is the one light portion simply the initial setup using the ball?

  2. I can get just as good shots with a setup the fraction of a cost of all this gear. Most of its not even necessary.

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  4. SUBSCRIBED! Thank you so much for your videos! You are a pro!

    Question: Normally when you create light whats the best ISO for the situation?

  5. I'm about as beginner as it gets and this was quite interesting.  You just need to look past the equipment and see the science.  Can't wait to apply some of these angles!

  6. Hi,

    Watching your tut has been enlightening and helpful.
    This made it possible to achieve my video resume, available here : https://youtu.be/vWffBpgLhpMI

    Thank you, Hope you like it.
    Stephane

  7. Thanks For this Gr8 ideas I wish U post more nd more suggestion thank you Regards
    Viraj Petta
    V.R Modeling Studio

  8. Nice, JP, I always like your videos.  I am still not entirely sure what you meant by "core".  I haven't heard that term before and didn't find much when I tried to google it.  Is it merely the brightest part of the fill?  And if so, are you saying you should leave that hot spot away from the highlight to shadow line?  If I understood that correctly, that means you'd want highlight, transition to shadow, transition to fill "highlight", transition back to shadow, all happening on the face.  That doesn't sound right, so just wondering.  Thanks!

  9. Lighting is king, but why take stills from video and why use a zoom lens on a static target? I'd think you'd get better shots using a prime lens and stills instead of video (which doesn't limit your resolution so much).

  10. well, one light is one thing. But the crew, cameras, backgrounds, reflectors,.  Maybe its not that "basics" hehehe.  But still nice job!

  11. I really like the videos I've seen so far from this channel. I appreciate that you guys cut to the chase, keep things moving and don't waste my time. Thanks, TSL!

  12. I feel like I've learned more from this channel than any other. Perhaps I just learn better with this teaching style. Thanks for the great videos!

  13. I thought the stills looked very bland. All I've learned here is that the guys with the fancy stuff and know-how don't always get good shots.

  14. What a disgusting advert that ran in front of this video. Are you aware of what it was? Enough to drive viewers away.

  15. Good video and nice way to plug your paid advertisers. I take what you say and use what I think will work.

  16. some people think erroneously that they are more professional because they use more sophisticated and expensive gear…a waste of time watching this tutorial.

  17. For anyone wondering what Rembrandt lighting is. It is a lighting technique that is used in studio portrait photography. It can be achieved using one light and a reflector, or two lights, and is popular because it is capable of producing images which appear both natural and compelling with a minimum of equipment. Rembrandt lighting is characterized by an illuminated triangle under the eye of the subject on the less illuminated side of the face. It is named for the Dutch painter Rembrandt, who often used this type of lighting.

  18. Always love the tutorials and am using them with my photo students (HS).
    yeah, he promotes stuff, but you are getting some great FREE lessons, he promotes stuff that is quality, but not always the most expensive gear. ALSO, if you dig around his tutorials, he does gove lessons and ideas for working with lower-cost gear.

  19. 7 minutes of my life wasted. Learned nothing other than you shoot with expensive gear and yall pulled stills from video……..

  20. HEY EVERYONE!!! Hope y'all have a good day! If you randomly we're feeling like supporting someone, then feel free to checkout my travel video lol! Let me know in the comment section if you like it! PEACE OUT <3

  21. So many people getting hung up on the equipment
    This is a demo on how to interpret light, where to place your single light and how to bounce it / angle it and also to take the background into account. It has useful insight into setting up a scene with just one light. Believe me, this is basic in photography terms and can be pulled off with very little money. Just because he used fancy equipment doesn't mean you have to. If you don't have at least one speedlight in your inventory then you shouldn't be here.

    He also drops a few named brands… boo hoo.
    1, some might be interested in what he uses to get these results
    2. He has to make a living. If he gets paid for sponsership, it means he can carry on giving helpful advice to amateurs.

  22. Отвратительный результат… половину видео вообще через занавеску снимает и получает мутное фото на выходе… это просто пздц.

  23. Seems a lot of gear.  Keep it simple with some smaller light fixtures. The newer LED fixtures are so powerful nowadays. I use the Lustra 50's by PRL lighting.  Great new stuff out of Calabasas CA.  Easy to set up. Speed is the essence and set-up time costs money.

  24. Perfectly explain with exact examples i like it i understand it easily nice and thanks for this information Love it

  25. Guys, the basics are the fact that he's using 1 softbox and 1 reflector. That's it. That's all you need. Go buy a $15 soft box (it'll be small but still), a $20 stand (or use a ladder) and a .99c poster from walmart as a reflector.

  26. One light setup tutorial should be for beginner, it should be simple and clear as how much is the light power? camera iso? aperture? not keep showing off those equipments like commercial do

  27. Love that you used a sphere to demonstrate lighting. i learned lighting as a photography major in college way back in 1999; my professor used this same method. Lighting is a lot of trial and error while simultaneously using tried and true methods.

  28. Hello J.P. Morgan! My name is Nelson Rockefeller. Have you ever met my friend Cornelius Vanderbilt? What about my other friend Andrew Carnegie?

  29. Really REALLY hope this part where your makeup artist is using mascara out of the tube on her model, is the models own mascara…

  30. Do you guys realize how cheap you can get a basic softbox for?? This is more simple than anyone complaining thinks. Video is great! Thank you 🙂

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