It’s easy to create images with natural lighting and I can see why many photographers use this kind of lighting in photos.
However, there is a whole new world when you start exploring lighting further. You can create such different moods in your photographs just by adding one or two lights in your setup.
This 2 light setup is good for anyone working in a small studio with minimal modifiers — it uses a basic dome aimed at the subject to create the color light you see in the final image and a snoot as the backlight.
I’ve been a photographer for over a decade and this specific project started in 2019. And I as well, started with only a speedlite and natural light.
It was convenient and quick – since then I’ve worked on my impatience and understood that with lighting you can create a specific style for your work. Something that can distinguish you from themes or photographers who have a similar style than you.
The basics of lighting your subject starts with one light and the possibilities you can introduce to your images.
This image we created was done with 2 lights. Always have an idea of what you want and know how it can be created. You should always have inspirational images to create the right kind of photography lighting, something to start your planning with.
Try to find interesting lighting in photos and re-create it with your own subjects. Having too many ideas at once will have you spreading thin to all directions and not really focusing on one aspect and perfecting that.
The 2-light setup
The plan was to only light the head of the subject, but then the key light was overflowing into the background and created a glow behind her. This was done by moving the point of the key light source to be directed more in the back wall.
- 2 Studio Lights
- 1 Snoot head
- 1 Dome with a colored gel
Here you can see the 2 light sources: One light was directed the the back of the subject as a backlight to illuminate the back of the head.
The second light was directed at her in 45° angle. This studio lighting setup is easy to create and can be versatile depending if you’re using color gels or not. In the beginning of my photography journey I actually built a snoot from cardboard and straws (to better diffuse the light) and it worked perfectly.
Another benefit of this setup is that depending on how you balance your lights, you can use them to achieve different moods.
Photography lighting with different colors
Adding color gels on top of your lights can bring in warmth or coolness and add theatrical feel to your images.
This is the lighting setup used in the images: The key light (on the left) has more power than the backlight – this is because you do not want to have the backlight overexposing the backside of your subject. Unless you actually do !
We used a red gel instead of the green one, and the light was facing her straight from the front. You can see how nicely the background just disappears and the only lighted area is her head.
I made sure there was no light flowing out on the sides so it would not accidentally overflow into the background.
By utilizing the key light and one light modifiers, we were able to compose a beautiful picture that balances perfectly between highlights and shadows.
These examples use very basic modifiers, while other lighting setups use more specialist equipment. Whatever equipment you have, think about the physics of light and how you can make what you do have work for you.
Here the front lighting source has been moved just a tiny bit to face the background area more, and you can see how the colored light flows onto the wall illuminating her and creating this halo effect to the torso.
If you do not have access to studio lights, many modifiers nowadays are available with speedlite adapters – this means you can get creative results with the most basic of equipment.
If you’re looking to find more professional lighting set to create images with, I’ve listed the best portable lighting kits here.
Having the right equipment is one thing, but knowing how to use it is another. To get the very best results, you have to understand the physics of light and how light can impact your image.
With using simple lighting in photos you can create amazing results.
If you enjoyed this article, you will like