How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

While I was doing my 365 Project, I wanted to challenge myself with using 4 or more lights and using different colors for a shoot. I came up with a perfect lighting setup to for this experiment. I did want to do the colored background in camera, and not just changing the colors in photoshop, so I opted for using gels.

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

Materials and equipment I used for this shot

  • Black Granite tile
  • 5 flashes – (2) Nikon Sb-600‘s and (3) 160w Studiostrobes
    (Other strobes will do just as well, but this is what I was using)
  • 1 umbrella (Mainlight)
  • 2 softboxes (Kicker lights)
  • 1 snoot (Optional)
  • Gels
  • Stofen omnibounce for sb-600 (To make the circular effect
    on the background with gel)
  • Seamless White Paper (background)

Step by Step Instructions

Normally in a shoot, I start with setting the main light, but with this shoot I started with the background light. I did this because I wanted to get the gradient feel effect on the background and highlight perfect, and not deal with the effects fro the other lights. After setting a working space, I set a big black granite tile as the base for the subject to get a nice reflection.

I used the first SB-600 for the background – a seamless white paper – with Color Effect gels and stofen omnibounce. This combination gives a nice circular and gradient feel in the background.

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

I didn’t have enough highlights in the middle of the colored background so I used a separate flash with a snoot to put a stronger highlight in the middle of the gelled light.

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

After getting the background I wanted, I placed a second sb-600 with a shoot thru umbrella (Bounced)  45 degrees above my subject for the mainlight.

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

Next, I placed 2 studio strobes mounted with softboxes a little bit behind the subject from both left and right to get a bit of the rimlighting.

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

Here are some setup shots 

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

This was my final setup shot for this shoot. I changed different colored gels from cyan,cto gel, and pink gel to get the colored background I wanted.

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

Here is the breakdown:

  • (1) – Mainlight with umbrella (bounced) @ 1/2 power
  • (2&3) – softboxes for rim lighting @ 1/16 power
  • (4) – flash with a stofen omnibounce and colored gels @1/2 power
  • (5) – flash with snoot to get a strong highlight in the
    background @ 1/16

Here are some final photos shot using different subjects and different gels for
the subjects

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

This was my final output after doing a triptych with  shots in photoshop and
cleaning the dust in the granite tile and background.

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

I also use a very similar lighting setup for some of my portrait
shoots. There is an added reflector (or another lightsource) below the subject for added
fill. Credits to Miracle Joy Diao for modeling.

How To Build A Basic 4 Light Setup

 

  • sergeysus

    Well written and a fantastically helpful. I’ve never managed to add more then 2-3 lights for a single subject….

  • Matthew Wagg

    Great article. I’d have maybe pulled the power of the snooted backlight down a couple of stops so you can retain detail on the top of the white cameras. Also tryout smaller softboxes on the left and right fills to make them more contrasty and less well soft… :)

  • Cedric

    Great lighting for product but also for dust on the granite tile !

  • Chris

    Interesting article – enjoyed it!