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5 Affordable & Simple Lighting Setups For Under $300

By Hanssie on February 21st 2015

Studio lighting – those two words can send fear into the hearts of any new photographer. Images of looming light stands, PocketWizards, umbrellas, softboxes, cords, backdrops, and dollar signs all bombard at once.


Studio lighting actually isn’t difficult and it doesn’t have to be very expensive. Yes, there are complicated and very, very expensive setups out there and they work beautifully, but as the video below will show you, you can start a nice lighting kit with 5 simple lighting setups for around $300. The video, 5 Lighting Setups for Your Home or Studio Office, was put together by Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens, whom we’ve featured numerous times before. Jay demonstrates the following setups, done with a white sheet backdrop in his dining room:

  1. One Key Light: Jay P. uses one light and an umbrella off the right of the camera
  2.  Two Light Setup: Bringing in a second light to use as rim light, he adjusts the first light so there isn’t too much light spill everywhere
  3. Two people, Two Lights: Jay P. shows where to move the lights to properly light two people in the frame
  4. Two People, Three Lights: He uses the third light on the ground behind his subjects to light up the background. He also recommends diffusing this light, as in his scene, it was too bright.
  5. Dramatic Lighting: In this setup, he shows you how to do more of a Rembrandt look.

Check out the video to get details (I didn’t want to give too much away)! By the way, the lighting kit that Jay recommends in the video is the First Studio Kit from Photoflex. Check out the original post with the images from this demonstration.

If you’re new and a little scared of lighting (and honestly, who isn’t at one point in their photography journey?), you’re in luck. Next week, we are releasing our highly anticipated DVD, Lighting 101. Lighting 101 deals mainly with on camera flash and all the basics you’ll need to conquer the most important element in photography – light! Then stay tuned for Lighting 201, which will be released this Spring and covers off camera flash and more advanced lighting tips. If you can’t wait, Pye has been releasing teasers of 101 and 201 slides in the SLR Lounge Facebook Community. Join now and don’t miss out!

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Danny Thomas

    great suggestions, don’t forget the cheapest lighting setup – a window!

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  2. Mark Henry Dela Torre

    Wow throme throme aka “EVERED EVERED” is also here starting to spam again.
    Anyway nice beginners lighting video.

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  3. Brandon Dewey

    Great video!

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  4. Chuck Eggen

    For a beginner learning lighting, continuos lights are so much easier to work with. The results can be quite nice as evidenced in this video. My take away here was unzipping the reflector and draping it over a light stand. Genius!

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