I have encountered many people that think they are very limited because they only had one light (usually it is one speedlight), and I always tell them that most of my photographs are taken using a single light; From portraits to product shots. To put my money where my mouth is, I am sharing all those photos and tips – all using only using one speedlight.
Why use one light, you ask? There are many reasons:
- It’s very portable
- It’s super fast to set up, obviously faster to setup than using multiple lights.
- Less light means less money spent on lights, so if you are just starting out, and can only invest little money in lights, you’re covered.
Aside from a speedlight and a camera, you would only need one more gadget for this tutorial: There is only one thing that you might need for the this tutorial – you’d need a way to sync your speedlight with your camera. There are a couple of methods to do this, but the easiest way is by using wireless radio triggers. And a softbox (like the Apollo) for some of the fancier set ups.
Here are a couple of photos of some of the things you can do just with one light. I’m gonna start this article by showing the things you can do inside the studio, there are so many different lighting you can do with just one light, just by the controlling the direction of your light.
Starting with the simplest photo which is a basic setup: the light is set light 45 degrees from the subject (that would be your normal starting point when shooting a portrait).
Net up, I am upping the complexity and using the strobe ‘double duty’. For this type of lighting place the subject really close to the background. Again, set the light 45 degrees towards the subject, but feather the light so most of it hits the background. (feathering the light means letting just the spill of the light hit your subject).
Here is another photo taken using only one light – a one light shot using the shadow of the softbox to create a gradient effect on the background.
Another dramatic lighting shot you can do is place your light directly on top of your subject.
Also almost all of my outdoor shots are done by using just one light. Remember? One light is very portable, and it’s easier to travel light. It is also great for doing street photography because you can simply hand hold your speedlight while shooting.
but portraits is not it – you can also do amazing product and still life shots still using only one light.
Here is a minimalistic shot of a Rolleiflex using one light and a granite tile hack.
Also my very first article here on DIYP was just using one light (though with multiple exposures)
Still one light, only playing with Glass.
Snooting your speedlight can also create a nice spot on look
To end this article and ultimate Selfie shot using a softbox and I placed a black cloth in the middle to create this catchlight effect