New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash


‘Arid Amore’ – Tackling A Difficult Three Light Setup With Clay Cook

By Hanssie on March 10th 2015

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.



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.

Arid_Amore_SLR_Lounge_Clay_Cook-4 Arid_Amore_SLR_Lounge_Clay_Cook-2

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.


Gear List

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50mm f/1.2L

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.

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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. Graham Curran

    Great article.

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  2. Daniel Thullen

    Clay Cook is a master of his craft. Wonderful images. Bravo.

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  3. Gurmit Saini

    Amazing pictures and love Clay’s work as he is super cool and love to see how you can create amazing shots anywhere with creativity and imagination!

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  4. Tosh Cuellar

    Thanks for sharing. Not only are these great images, I appreciate that it was in a smaller studio space, which makes it more relatable for many people. It goes to show that sometimes our only limitation is our imagination.

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