In this lighting breakdown, photographer Ashley Boring works with a colorful three-light setup using portable flashes and the FJ80 Creative Pack for a portrait shoot. In collaboration with her model, the shoot is designed to mimic the HBO Max television series, Euphoria.
When styling wardrobe and makeup for this shoot, Ashley wants a vibrant lighting concept that fits the theme of the show. The makeup artist incorporates bold eye shadow with shades of blue and purple that give Ashley inspiration to add colored gels on the FJ80 Speedlight.
Main Light for Lighting the Subject’s Face
She begins setting up her lights by placing the FJ400 strobe with an Optical Spot by Lindsay Adler in the butterfly lighting position. She angles her light down toward her model to allow the shadows under her chin and nose to appear more dramatic.
Ashley states, “I envisioned a hard light overhead that would quickly fade to colored shadows.” Using the Optical Spot, she creates a focused hard light source that illuminates the top half of her subject and lets the rest of the image fall softly into the shadows.
After mounting the Optical Spot, or optical snoot, to the FJ400 strobe, she aims it at her model’s face and defocuses the light to create a nice gradation from highlights to shadows. This helps avoid a spotlight look. When using an optical spot, it is important to use your modeling lamp to guide your model into the area being lit. This way, you’re able to see how the light will fall on your subject.
Using a Gelled Fill Light to Color the Scene
Next, Ashley adds in a fill light using a second FJ400 strobe. She attaches a 53” Deep White Bounce Umbrella to diffuse the light. To add a pop of color to the theme, she places a blue gel on the portable flash to compliment her model’s makeup. This fills in the shadows on her subject and the background with a blue hue.
Creating a Color Gradient for the Background
For her third light, Ashley adds a background light to create dimension to the photo. She wants to use a small light source, so she grabs an FJ80 Speedlight. She uses the off-camera flash to cast a circle of light directly behind her model. Ashley adds a purple gel from the FJ80 Creative Pack to achieve a purple-to-blue gradient on the background. She also stacks a grid on top of the gel to control the size of the light spread.
The FJ80 Creative Pack includes three stackable grids to control light spread. A single grid produces a 90-degree beam pattern, two yield a 60-degree light beam, and three are stacked to deliver a tight 30-degree beam. The more grids that you add to the light, the more focused the light will be. Trial and error help Ashley determine the size of the gradient behind her subject. Keep in mind that you will lose a bit of light with every grid that you add. To compensate for the light loss, simply increase the output of your light.
During the shoot, Ashley changes the backlight gel color from purple to cyan to create different looks. The cyan creates a more monochromatic look, while still complementing the makeup and styling of her model. She also repositions the optical spot off to the side to create more blue-colored shadows on her model’s face.
Lighting Breakdown Takeaways
In this shoot, Ashley likes the purple gradient background with more color contrast. By using lights within the same wireless flash system, she’s able to use unique modifiers designed for each light. This allows her to quickly try out different combinations for more creative possibilities.
Learn how Ashley uses the FJ400’s front and rear curtain sync functions to create light trails here.