How You Can Create Mind-Blowing Lighting Schemes Using Just One Light

Are you up to a creative challenge today? No matter how many lights you have in your kit, I challenge you to shoot your next portrait or film using just one light. 

Many photographers and filmmakers who are just starting out may not have thousands of dollars laying around to invest into multiple lights. But the fact is, there really is not much need to. Whenever someone asks me what lightng kit they should get to start out, I constantly tell them to purchase one light, whether that be a speedlight, continuous LED light, or even just using their window for free. Light is light, you just need to how how to use it. You can turn any light into a multiple source setup depending on how you shape, modify, and utilize the resources given to you in a creative way. If you don’t know how to use one light, you will not know how to set a scene with multiple. It all starts with the foundation.

For me, I find when I have limited resources, I create my best work, because it pushes me to solve problems in a creative way. In this weeks installment of Four Minute Film School, released by The Aputure YouTube channel, they interview Los Angeles-based filmmaker and director of photography Hunter Gulan. Gulan takes us through how he is able to utilize simple lighting techniques to light his scenes using just a single light source and how you can too.

One of the my favorite techniques to use when I have only one light to work with is bringing reflectors, flags, and diffusion into the mix and crafting my lighting scheme around the story that I want to tell. I always start with the key light, which I modify first. If I’m going for a more dramatic scene, I will put a bare reflector dish and position my light five to ten feet above my models face in order to create dramatic shadow and harsh falloff.

If I’m shooting a romantic scene, I modify the key light with layers of diffusion or a large softbox and get it as close to the talent as possible to output the softest and most flattering even light on my actor’s face.

After the key light is dialed in, you can start to add in cutters or reflectors to bounce or subtract light in order to disperse the light in the scene and get the most out your one light. 

Post your best pictures using one light below in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *