Quality multi-light setups can be quite expensive, yet without them it can be challenging to get the highlights and fill we’re looking for in a quality studio shot. In the video below, photographer Pyre Jirsa demonstrates how to get a great the multi-light look with just a few light modifiers and an on-camera flash:
The main gist of Jirsa’s technique is the bounce flash—bouncing a single flash into a modifier (or three) to light up the subject from multiple directions. You can control the brightness of your modifiers by using different colors—silver for brighter and white for softer and less bright. You can even balance out the overall brightness by combining a softer (white) primary reflector with a brighter (silver) secondary.
In the image below, the light from coming from the viewer’s left side is almost exclusively from the primary modifier (a silver reflector). That same light shows up on the the model’s left as a softer fill light. Its source is both the V-flat and another silver reflector (both secondary modifiers). The end result looks like there are 2–3 different light sources, when all that’s there is a flash bouncing from modifier to modifier.
A few things to keep in mind while trying this method
- Only use this method in the studio. The reflectors are much harder to control outdoors.
- Make sure to control your light (via grids, snoots, or gobos) so that you don’t have any spill.
- Consider adding a focus assist to your flash, as it’s best to use this method in a dark environment.
- If you’re not lighting the face of your subject, don’t bring the eyes to the camera. Have them look away. This will avoid bringing the viewer’s focus there.
- When choosing where to cast fill light, look to create good shadows as well as good light. It’s the dance between the shadows and the highlights that make for an interesting photo.
- Camera: Canon Mark II
- Lens: 24–70mm f/2.8
- Grid/Snoot/Gel Options: Vello Grid ($20), XP Portflex Snoot ($10), CTO Gel Sheet (DIY $10), MagMod Grid + Gels ($80)
- Reflector Options: Westcott 40” 5-in-1 ($40), Fotodiox 40×60” 5-in-1 ($40), Fotodiox 48×72” 5-in-1 ($60)
Have you ever tried bouncing a flash off of more than one modifier? If so, did you get results as good as these? Tell us your story.
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