How to turn one light into several for dramatic black and white portraits

Tips & Techniques

When it comes to using just a single light source in the studio, there is a lot of great content out there, and we’ve covered some of it here on DIYP before. Often, when you want one light to look like several, though, you usually need to think about multiple shots and compositing in post – whether it be for stills or video. But you don’t have to.

Photographer Jiggie Alejandrino recently showed us one way to shoot dramatic portraits with just one light but now he’s back again with a new tutorial. This one adds even more drama and produces some very impressive results that most people would guess used at least two or three lights. But nope, he just uses one speedlight for these.

Jiggie uses a very cool technique that essentially utilises just a single speedlight inside a large softbox behind the subject. Most of the softbox is covered by a big black flag, which acts as the background for the images. But it only covers the central portion of it, which allows light to leak out from the sides and top to provide a pair of rim lights and subtle hair light. Yup, a single speedlight essentially simulates the look of three lights, just for rim and hair. Once you add in a reflector to provide a little light from the front, you get a very dramatic final look that most people would never guess was shot with just a single speedlight unless they saw this video.

As a bonus, Jiggie has professional makeup artist, Carmela Jimenez speak in the video to talk about makeup requirements when shooting black and white sessions, which can be very different than the makeup used for colour photography.

[via ISO1200]

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