Portrait Lighting Basics with a One Light Setup

A one light setup is simple yet effective—and apparently, easy to do, as Jay P Morgan from The Slanted Lens explains it. He starts off by saying that “everything in the world is a ball, a cube or a cylinder.” A key light is used to highlight across the face, leaving a shadow line which drops into a deeper shadow. The core is the area that transitions from fill shadow to highlight. He used a fill card to fill in the shadow side without obliterating the core transition to the front:

Morgan chose to shoot video with a Canon EOS 1D-C and lifted stills off of that. Here are some of the results:

beauty shot with one light setup beauty shot with one light setup

A one light setup allowed his model to go from a Rembrandt to a butterfly into a split light thanks to a Dynalight 1600 Pack + Head and a medium Photoflex softbox as a key light.

beauty shot with one light setup beauty shot with one light setup

Morgan also mentions how they used this textured fabric in their second setup. By positioning it closer to the camera, he achieved a soft focus effect.

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