Two Light Setup

Instead of venturing out and looking for landscapes in the cold of winter (I am hoping we’ll get a good snow storm though) I’ve decided to work on some family portraits. Before I start purchasing backdrops and getting everyone dressed up I need to spend some time getting comfortable with the equipment. I’ve used a single on-camera speedlight in the past, but I find most portrait setups use multiple off-camera lights for creative control. I purchased some wireless triggers, a second speedlight, and softbox for this purpose so I’ll spend some time practicing with still life.

My subject is this very well designed package of laundry detergent. My plan was to create a stock-style product shot on a reflective surface. The final shot is the product of my first night with the setup. Very little post processing went into this one; a few small adjustments to exposure and a few minutes cleaning up the reflective surface.

The Setup

The sequence is a breakdown of the lighting for the scene. Shot 1 is what my camera returned as a properly exposed image. I decided there wasn’t much benefit to using the ambient light, it reveals the dents and scratched in the surface, so I dropped the exposure a few stops. This turned the surface black, but I lost the subject as well. Shot 2 shows the first light, a 43″ octobox to camera-left set at 1/16 power. It’s right where I want it but obviously the right side of the object is lost. Shot 3 shows my second light, a 24″ softbox to camera-right set at 1/32 power. You can view a setup shot to see light positions and angles.

What I’ve Learned

First things I need to do is go out and purchase larger pieces of black foam core. I spent most of the time moving the object and the two pieces (platform and background) around in the frame to keep the black full bleed. A few dollars at Micheals would give me one less thing to fiddle with. My file cabinet is lacking as well so I might purchase a piece of glass to set on top of the foam core for a clean reflection. I also wish I had a 3rd light to create some edge highlights from behind, but I’ll hold off on that for now.