If you spend any amount of time browsing the internet for fashion lighting setups, you’ll inevitably run into content showing complicated & elaborate configurations. Early on, I had the impression that it just wasn’t possible to create the looks I saw in magazines unless I used a lot of lights and expensive modifiers. In my quest for simplicity and results, I stumbled upon this simple, one light setup using the unlikeliest (at least for me) of lighting modifiers; the silver bounce umbrella.
As I demonstrate in the video, the setup for these shots is quite easy. I placed a single strobe (a Phottix Indra 500) with a 40′ silver bounce umbrella to my right side, slightly higher than my model. My camera settings were at f/11, 1/125, 160, and I dialed my power/ISO up or down to get the exact look I wanted. The backdrop used here was a collapsible made by Savage Paper called “Lakeside”, which added to the rich look I wanted for this shot.
The key to this setup is getting the model to be close enough to the backdrop where they both get enough light. For this scenario, I had her sit about a foot away from the background which yielded the ratio I wanted. The other important thing is to use a longer focal length that gives you a nice compression to your image. Earlier on in this shoot, I tried to capture this look using a 24-70mm lens, and even at the longer end of the lens, I could still see the edges of the backdrop. Fortunately, I had the newly announced Sony 85mm 1.4 G-Master lens in my bag and quickly found that it was just the right focal length to get the shot. In retrospect, I probably could have had a little more flexibility if I shot this with a 70-200mm lens, but you work with what you have.
While large beauty dishes and octas are all the rage in fashion photography these days, I hope that this encourages you to try out other lighting modifiers. You never know when you’ll find one that will contribute to your signature look.