21 Photographs And Lighting Setups For Every Occasion

21 Photographs And Lighting Setups For Every OccasionIt would be very pretentious of me to declare that looking at the photographs and diagrams below will teach you how to light. That said, looking at the photographs and setups and trying to understand the motivation behind the lighting will give you a good start when dealing with similar lighting dilemmas.

You can always come back to this post to see how a particular image was lit to make a similar setup or to use it as a stepping stone for your own.

You can click on the photos or on their setups to go to their Flickr links and learn about their creators.

Glowing / Steve Bennett

Glowing  365/226

This is one of my favorite photographs in terms on frugality. Steve Bennett uses 2 strip lights made from CFL bulbs and Pringles cans.

Glowing Setup

Vases / Ragoem


Shooting metal is one of the hardest things to do. Shooting Vases with elaborate curves is on the verge on insanity. In this photograph Ragoem uses specular highlights in the form of translucent shoot through surfaces and reflectors to cover in white every possible angle that may be reflected by the vases.

Setup: Vases

Know Your Job / Zeke Kamm

Know Your Job

The Lighting for this self portrait by Zeke Kamm is a pretty standard setup for these kind of shots. Umbrella as a key light and a bare strobe for some separation. The interesting bit, though is the way Zeke slows the shutter down to let some motion blur into the feast. (I tried to locate the assistant, for more details, but he would not talk).

Know Your Job setup

Martini from Hell / Vlad Solomon

Martini from Hell

This Martini glass is a single light shot (no pan intended). It uses the fact that translucent objects can be lit by a back-light, keep form, and take the color of the light. Hence a single light with red gel is used. The fire is real and achieved by “floating” a bit of lighter fluid on the surface of the martini.

Martini from Hell setup

Manon / Benoit Linard


Photographer Benoit Linard lit Manon in a classical way – a softbox from camera left, and a bare strobe from far right. sounds familiar? This setup is very similar to the one used by Zeke for his gangster image above. The list is soft since the small softbox is positioned very close to the model.

Setup Manon

Autumn Red / Steve Bennett

Autumn Red  365/149

This detailed and sharp image of a leaf was made with a very simple setup. A strobe shot into a box with paper top. While similar box are usually used as light tents or makeshift softboxes, Steve uses it as a light table.

Autumn Red Setup

restricted light snoots / fiberstrobe

restricted light_snoots

I don’t even know how to start describing this setup. This sophisticated piece of DIY includes locline with threaded fibers to direct light and an assortment of yogurt cups and snoot accessories to have your strobe mimic several separate light sources.


Tiny tulips and cotton clouds / Antonietta Kies

Tiny tulips and cotton clouds

This clever image was taken mostly using available light. The Trick lies with the tulips. Those are not tulips at all, nor are they crafted in the usual way. Those are actually light which were passed through a bokeh filter to change their looks. The hard part, it seems was to have dad to align the lights with their imprinted location.

Tiny tulips and cotton clouds setup

Eelke as a VAL (Voice Activated Lightstand) / Ragoem

Eelke as a VAL (Voice Activated Lightstand)

This one is a GOTCHA, the image is the setup :) how clever. Two strobes for rich balanced light.

Absolut Glimmer / Jimmy X

Absolut Glimmer

This tribute to Pink Floyd’s Dark side of the moon was done via light painting in the dark. Each color was painted separately, including the heart-bit on the left. IT only leaves one thinking if you need to consume the subject to come up with the idea for the final image.

Autoretrato / Hector Rodriguez




Fred / Regina Pagles

Fred - 2nd studio lighting attempt

Fred’s portrait is beautifully lit with continuous light. I have never seen three reflectors used in a sun-tan position before but the result is stunning. (Check out the catch lights)

Studio set up for my 2nd portrait of Fred

Nevada en Caracas / Hector Rodriguez

13/365 - Nevada en Caracas

Taking a good shot in limited space is always a challenge. Hector solves it beautiful by sticking a strobe behind the blinds for dramatic lighting.

Setup para "Nevada en Caracas"

Playing With Food Color / Udi Tirosh

Playing with food color - 3 glasses

If you read this blog, you should be familiar with this photo. While the floor may be seemed as a reflection it is actually a projection from a strobe pushing light through the colored glasses. You can read a complete description of this setup.

Playing with food color - 3 glasses setup

Chasing Shadows / Steve Bennett

Chasing Shadows  365/207

Gotta love Steve Bennett’s use of creating specular highlights. Using two screens, Steve can cover the entire family of angels reflected by the bottle.

Chasing Shadows Setup

Cliche? where? / Paul Silver

Cliche? where?

Paul Silver’s light strips are very very clever. Having a hard light on one axis and then a soft light on the perpendicular axis allow you to do some pretty wild stuff. The configuration below is actually not that trivial. The strip on the front provides semi soft light and the one on the back give a great accent.

Cliche? where? setup

Stacked Gears / Mike Cialowicz

Stacked Gears

While the photograph above may seem simple it is hardly so. The piece is the size of a cufflinks. (well it is a cufflink). And is pretty small. It took 7 images focus-stacked together to make it all sharp. Lighting is pretty clever too. One flashlight for creating a specular reflection on the front and another flashlight to provide back illumination.

Stacked Gears Setup

Alex / Mac V

5/365 Alex

This would have been a classic key/backdrop light. Only Mac added 2 small lights on left and right for rims. I just love the added depth those provide.

Alex setup

Packshot Farine / Benoit Linard

Packshot Farine *Explore*

This clever image of a whisk includes two strobes and lots of dark cards to block any hint of reflected light. The snooted light coming from direct left and right, provides great definition. Any spill is controlled by the black cards.

Setup Packshot Farine

packshot Affligem / Benoit Linard

packshot Affligem

Nothing says beer light under light. The good exposure is achieved via an overhead softbox. The very cool glow effect is done by under lighting the beer from below via a transparent box.

strobist packshot Affligem *Explore*

Corporate Downturn / Andrew Kufahl

Day 128 of 365 - Corporate Downturn

I love a strong image. This one by Andrew Kufakl shows that it only takes two lights to make one. A hard light source top left for the drama and a soft light source overhead for fill.

Setup Shot - Day 128 of 365


I hope that the photographs and setups above inspire you and fill your head with ideas. Now it is time to go and make your own. When you do, please drop your image and setup at the DIYP pool.

  • Ankit Jain

    good job..

  • Radiance Viz

    The metal vase shoot was just too good. Thanks for the amazing photographs.

  • Alex B

    Great work, great photo’s, simple and beautiful lighting

  • ajfudge

    this is really useful. thank you. :)

  • Tosa Lance

    thank you very much, i wil try this asap when i have the strobid