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Using a Main and Fill light - studio lighting beginners' guide

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Category: Studio Lighting and Flash

Using a Main and Fill light - studio lighting beginners' guide - Chris Burfoot explains how to replace a reflector with a second studio flash to act as a controllable fill in light. Words and pictures Chris Burfoot AMPA ASWPP

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A reflector makes a useful fill light for a budget studio set-up but nothing beats adding a second light. In this set-up we have replaced our reflector with a “fill” light.

Two light set up Twin light flash set up

The lower power fill light retains the shading on the left.

Our main or “key” light is fitted with the same silver umbrella and placed at the side position as before. In addition to this we have used our second head, fitted with a translucent, or “shoot through” umbrella. This fill light is placed close to the camera position slightly higher than the subject. It is set to give one f-stop less light than the main light onto the model.

This can be easily set up using a flashmeter and by taking readings from each head individually. e.g. if the main light is giving a reading of f/11, the fill should give a reading of f/8. Don’t forget to take another exposure reading with both lights and set that as your aperture.

By adding a third head as a background light set at half an f-stop more, we put that little extra depth and separation into our picture.

three litgh set up three light set up

By lighting the background we give more separation.


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