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Tips & Tricks

One Light and A Reflector | A Simple and Effective Lighting Technique

By Chris Nachtwey on August 12th 2014

When I first started with off camera flash for portraits, I didn’t have a whole lot of gear. In fact, all I had was a Nikon SB-700, a Shoot Through Umbrella, a five way reflector, and I used Nikon’s CLS to trigger my off camera flash via the pop up flash on my Nikon D7000. As time has gone on, I have upgraded my gear, and now I have plenty of professional options to light off camera. Funny thing is, I still find that sometimes the simple set up of one off camera flash and a reflector is all I need to achieve the look I want.

In the Adorama sponsored video below, Gavin Hoey shows you how to utilize a single flash and a reflector to create professional looking images in a small space.



Canon 60D
Canon 24-105mm
Flashpoint StreakLight 360 Ws
Westcott 5-1 Reflector
Westcott Apollo Orb


In the video, Gavin shows us a few different ways to utilize one flash and reflector for effectively lighting your subject, but for me, the one set up that stood out was the one below. Gavin had his subject face the flash, and he utilized the reflector to fill in the shadows behind his subject.  The main light (the flash) is being reflected off what is essentially your fill light (the reflector) behind the subject to give this studio portrait the look of being lit with two flashes. This is simple, affordable, and can create great images when done correctly.




As I said in the beginning of the article, this type of lighting set up is how I started. It is simple, effective, and the gear needed to do the job was not all that expensive. If you’re just getting started or want to simplify your portrait work, I highly suggest learning and mastering this technique.

Via: Adorama’s Youtube Page

Images captured via screen grab.

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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kayode Olorunfemi

    60D impressive! Thats one less excuse for me…

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  2. Eric Sharpe

    1 light, 1 reflector is usually where I start with portrait work. Depending on background, I may throw in a hair light. It doesn’t always have to be elaborate.

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  3. Brandon Dewey

    Awesome, great tips!

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  4. Rafael Steffen

    The Reflector just adds the right amount of light needed to create some great results. Thanks for sharing these simply but effective lighting techniques. I will try them out soon!

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  5. Geoffrey Van Meirvenne

    Gavin Hoey is a great instructor. Love most of his videos!

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  6. Lex Arias


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  7. claude laramée

    Easy to follow and well explained ! Good teaching + reasonable budget !

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  8. Austin Swenson

    I’ve seen this video before on adorama, but I like how Gavin runs you through the whole process and how simple to understand it is. I’ve used this a number of times and the results are really great!

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  9. Ian Moss

    Excellent. With good lighting, you’re 90% there! :)

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  10. Jean-Francois Michaud

    Awesome! So many good information. I was not sure on what to buy first to setup a small studio, but now it’s pretty clear.

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