Useful Photography Tip #106: Three Ways to Make One Light Look Like Two

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung 85mm f1.4 portraits extra (1 of 1)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Check them out here.

In the photo world, there are loads and loads of tricks that you can use to make viewers of your images believe that you’ve shot something with either all natural light or with one primary light. And if you have only a single light to begin with, there are ways that you can make your image appear as if two lights were added to the scene. All it requires is a bit a strategic placement of your lights or some extra knowledge of exposures.

For starters, keep in mind that when working with an artificial light (strobe or flash) that your aperture will control your flash exposure while your shutter speed manipulates the ambient lighting in the scene. Somehow or another, you’re going to have to figure out a way to balance the two out.

So how do you do this?:

A very large light modifier in relation to your subject: Usually a six or seven foot umbrella being placed in front of and slightly above your subject can make your scene look like it was lit with two lights when the according shutter speed is dialed in.

One Light and a Reflector: When your light is on one side of the subject, either set the light to its widest zoom setting or put it into a large softbox.. Next, place a reflector on the other side of your subject–we recommend using either white or silver. Then use the shutter speed to mix in enough ambient lighting to fill in the shadows while balancing out the flash output.

– One light and the shadows for evenness control: To make this one work, you’ll need to work outside and in a shadowed area of some sort. Bounce the light off of a surface or once again make the flash zoom out to its widest setting. After this, you’ll just need to mix the ambient lighting from the shutter speed accordingly. We recommend underexposing your shutter just a bit then raising the shadows in post.

Now get out there and go experiment.