There are two kinds of portrait photographers: The first likes to shoot with “available light” by which they really mean “every light that’s available.” For some shooters, setting up five lights to make a portrait is just getting started. The second group prefers to use as few light sources as possible because there’s less gear to fiddle with, which translates into more time spent concentrating on making a good portrait of the subject. And isn’t that what making a portrait is all about? Using fewer lights is less expensive for the photographer, reduces setup time and results in less weight to transport on location. But can you make a portrait with just one light? Yes.
Continuous light sources are popular with new and aspiring pros because they let you see in real time the lighting effect produced. In this case, it’s Fotodiox’s LED-200WA -56 Daylight Studio LED that produces output of 7600 Lux/m or 600 foot-candles and the company claims its LED studio light produces the equivalent to a 600-Watt incandescent source.
This low-key portrait of Pam Simpson demonstrates one of the challenges of one-light portraiture. As nice as the light produced by the 47-inch Grand Softbox at camera left and an (old style) 42×72-inch Westcott Scrim Jim Reflector with silver fabric is at camera right. Camera was a Canon EOS 60D with EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM (at 61mm) with an exposure of 1/60 at f/5 and ISO 800.
If you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use lighting, please pick up a copy of “Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from your favorite book or camera stores as well as Amazon.com, where your purchase helps this blog.