Using One LED Light in the Studio

“Don’t get me wrong, I admire elegance and have an appreciation of the finer things in life. But to me, beauty lies in simplicity.”—Mark Hyman

LED lighting setupThat quotation applies to all kinds of photography, including portraiture where it’s all too easy to set a subject on a posing stool and place them in “Pose A,” then move then into “Pose B,” making the whole process so mechanical that even R2D2 could make that kind of portrait. But that’s not what your clients want. They want a portrait of themselves or a loved one that looks different from the last portrait you made and one that captures that subject’s individuality. And sometimes you can get by with just one light—and it doesn’t have to be in front of the subject—as the lighting (above) set-up demonstrates.

A Fotodiox Pro is placed near the back wall of my 11×15-foot home studio and aimed at the subject’s back. No reflector was used to allow the light to kick light all around the wall and turn it high key white. At camera right is a 32-inch silver reflector and at left is a 42 x72-inch Westcott Scrim Jim with white cover. Background is the wall.

The only direct light on Danielle Nicole comes from the reflectors. Even with the light at maximum output, there’s just a tiny bit of backlighting visible around her edge. Camera was my workhorse Canon EOS 60D with EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens (44mm) with an exposure of 1/30 sec at f/5 at ISO 800. I had to bump the ISO up to 800 to compensate for all of the light I was throwing away. Note also that the silver reflector at right kicks up the contrast minimizing what would otherwise be a flat looking lighting setup.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.13.43 AMIf you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting, in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from, with used copies (as I write this) selling for less than $8.


Author: Joe Farace

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