3 Light Setup for Outdoor Portraits with Just 1 Light

Equipment that a photographer chooses to use for for the photo shoot and how it is used determines the effect of shadows and highlights on the subject. SLR Lounge created a video informing photographers on how to best capture a three light setup using only one piece of lighting equipment:

Pye Jirsa used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 120-300mm lens for this particular photo shoot. The one artificial light shown is the Profoto 3′ RFi Octa Softbox, used as the main light for the subject. The other two sources are the sun for the backlight and the ground and sky and other reflective objects for the fill light. Jirsa positions his model to use the existing light and adds in the artificial light to cast a natural glow on his subject and to eliminate unnecessary shadows. Since there is already a fill light for the model’s initial position, the main objective is to amplify that fill. In this case, the softbox was positioned just outside the frame and directed toward the subject in such a way that counteracted the shadows.

edit model photographer

At the start of your photo shoot, take a test photo to examine the light, shadows, and background to make a mental note for any necessary changes. For other adjustments, ask your subject to position his or her face to best capture the incoming light and avoid unwanted shadows. One trick for having options while editing is to shoot an image with several different aperture settings so that you can choose from different images to find your favorite. In this video, Jirsa lowered the ambience of the shot and kept the same sync speed with a lower ISO setting. From here, the photographer can continue shooting and use the natural light to his or her benefit.

“B.Y.O.L.– it stands for Bring Your One Light.”

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