Advanced Studio Lighting

Today we are going to take a look at an image that I (Zach) shot for new Squint recording artist Joel & Luke. These guys are really amazing and shooting them was a blast! Joel (who is in the shot below) and his brother Luke are incredibly talented and have an amazing sound. We will do a full post on their shoot soon so stay tuned for that!

The image below was a complicated shot done with 3 lights on-location inside Healthways company in Franklin. This is simply an office space that we turned into a studio for the shot.

Here is the set up.


As you can see from the behind the scenes image, there were offices, signs, and tons of junk in the background that we did not want in the shot.  Also, you could also see right through the chains, so just lighting it from the front would not have been sufficient. I knew that lighting the back of the gold chains would create this highlighted effect with light shooting around in the background and would make the shot look like it was right out of the studio.

We set up one light in the front that was almost straight on (glamor lighting) and used a huge light source that makes the light super soft  and gives it that painted on look. The soft box above is 5 feet in diameter and that is why the shot has this look. We then added two kicker lights (or separation lights) at 45 degree angles coming in and hitting the background to light it up, and then also lighting Joel’s shoulders and face. These lights are bare bulb which is why they have that contrasty effect and make the image really pop out.  It makes the background look the way it does and also makes Joel look very 3 dimensional.

We metered the main light at f/11 which gives it tons of depth and makes the shot look super sharp (there is no sharpening done in post on this shot), then we metered the background lights so that they both also metered at f/11 which makes them very obvious that they are there and makes the shot very “high-key” looking.

This is the actual JPG of the image and there is no post-production done to this shot. After metering the shot, I had Joel hop in for a few and this was one of the first three shots I took with no lighting adjustments (that is not always the case, but knowing your lights and the style you want can make things go very fast).

GEAR — USED: Canon 5d Mark 2, 100mm macro 2.8 lens, ISO 100, f/11, three 500 watt powerlights (front light has 5 foot Octobank, back lights have 7 inch reflectors attached), all powered by the Vagabond 2 from Alien Bees

Below is one more image from the shoot that has both brothers in it. This shot has an in-camera texture that was applied by shooting through the chains to give it this effect.

We hope that this post was inspiring! It is amazing what you can do with just some cool light! Happy shooting!!

  • Ulmer Studios

    Thanks for the off camera lighting tips! Great to see the breakdown of shoots such as this!

  • peter bang

    nice! thanks for sharing!

  • Michael Johnson

    Killer shot Zach! Thanks for sharing the behind the scenes setup as well as the reasons behind your setup. Keep on rockin’ it! -MJ

  • Thomas Boutwell

    I agree with Ulmer Studios. The behind the scene shots make it so much easier to understand the set up and it all makes sense. Great post and thanks for the help yesterday!

  • Anne

    Very helpful post! A great way to show how to light situations in cluttery rooms.

  • Jessica Gray

    Awesome shots. I’m loving the gold chains. Thanks for sharing the camera tips! Can’t wait for your workshops to learn more! :)

  • Jonathan Fletcher

    I doubt there is any skepticism out there, but just in case.. I saw this shot done in person. These guys are legit! ;-) Keep rockin’ Grays.

  • erika

    Oooh, I LOVE that first shot! Thanks for sharing!

  • Scott Gage

    You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for sharing

  • Corinna Hoffman

    You guys are simply amazing!! I can’t wait to find out your next workshop tour schedule :)

  • Laura

    I love the colors in these pics and the beaded background. Awesome stuff!!!

  • Derek in Finland @Nomad358

    Of course! Macro lens! Why didn’t I think of that before? Slower focus, but it doesn’t matter for a studio shot. But the sharpness right out of camera is awesome at f11….
    Great work Zach! And their music is great too! :-)

  • Feuza

    that first image is sick! I LOVE IT, like I could lick it I love it so much, okay that was weird, I just want to say it was the bomb, like you should submit to some contest, lighting always looks complicated to me, but must hand it to you guys! you rock! the sharpness on that first one and that natural texture of the second, brillant

  • amber reinink

    great post! thanks for sharing your “secrets”. shooting with the gold chains in the bkgd was a great idea! and lighting it from the back…you know your lights! absolutely love the 1st shot….probably helps that he is rather hot in the first place ; ).