Lighting can be a tricky beast to tackle. Yes, the basics of lighting can be easy to master and not as intimidating as most new photographers may think it is. But if you’re well versed with light, you know that sometimes to get the look you are envisioning in your head, it takes time, talent and creativity (and likely some tears of frustration) to get the lighting exactly right.

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Advertising, fashion and commercial photographer, Clay Cook has a solid handle on lighting. He has an impressive list of publications and clients, is an educator and writes for Fstoppers in his free time. So when Clay himself says that this lighting setup was “one of the most difficult lighting scenarios” that he’s had to tackle, I shudder in fear. The setup itself took nearly two hours. One would think that using only 3 lights, the setup would be simple and quick, but Clay explains, “all of my normal “go-to” setups failed miserably. I didn’t have much room to work with; I shot this right in my living room, so all the pre-lighting looked like senior portraits. It took a CTO, a Matthews flag and a palm tree to make everything fall into place. All of those things I have never really had to work with.”

Shooting through the palm tree branch for the gradients on the edge of the frame, he diffused the key light using the branch as a gobo.

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The images were a concept that Clay had been thinking of for a while. In the “lusterless world of commercial photography,”  (and any photography really) working with new, fresh concepts, stretches our creativity and helps us fall in love with photography again. In this series, ‘Arid Amore,’ Clay recharged his creative batteries and came out with some incredible images.

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Gear List

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50mm f/1.2L
f/4.5
1/180
ISO400

Key: Profoto D1 | 6.0 Power | Rosco CTO Gel
Background: Profoto D1 | 4.5 Power | Matthews 18×24″ Flag
Fill: Profoto D1 | 4.2 Power | Lastolite 3×6′ Skylight Rapid

Watch the Behind the Scenes Video

See more of Clay’s work on his site here.

CREDITS : Photographs by Clay Cook have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.