Square Lighting with On-Camera Flash

Once again, standard 5-in-1 reflectors can help make square lighting possible, this time with on-camera flash. To do this, you’ll need four reflectors and enough stands and “A” clamps to hold them, not to mention an on-camera flash. Set up the stands and clamp the reflectors in place so that they create a box with the silver reflective surface facing the interior of the box. The upside to using this method is that you can use any reflectors and stands that you may already own, or you can purchase standard 5-in-1 reflectors and affordable stands to complete the square lighting setup. The downside to using this method is it is harder to capture consistent results and you will likely get a different exposure with each shot. The difficulty with repeatability arises because the light source is attached to the camera and even slight movements will change the light position, causing the reflectors to bounce light differently.

Pay attention to the catchlight in the subject’s eyes while testing the light. If the catchlight is uneven or barely visible, make adjustments until the catchlight is solid. As the catchlight evens out, the overall exposure should brighten up as well.

Because we are using silver reflectors, the specular light bouncing off of the reflectors may cause the subject’s face to appear shiny, especially on the forehead, nose, and cheekbones. You can use a white reflective surface to soften the light, but you’ll need a brighter light source than you would with the silver reflectors.

Finally, make sure to use some sort of “flag” to keep the light from spilling directly onto the subject’s face. Most flashes come equipped with a small, white flip-out card, or you can use something like a Rogue Flashbender. Without this, hard light may spill onto the subject and create a less flattering look.