One Light Portrait Setup #2 – Stick ‘Em In The Corner

One Light Portrait Setup #2 - Stick 'Em In The CornerA long while back I read a semi-theoretical post about using a room corner and a brolli as a full-fledged setup.

As a preparation for an on location job I decided to test that premise, and took a few head shots at my basement studio.This will add up to the butterfly one light setup I reviewed earlier.

Mind you that this little setup can be brought up in any place that features a corner, that is just about anywhere.

The Idea Is Simple:

  • Use one light (an SB with a Westcott double fold umbrella in our case)
  • The back wall act as a backdrop – brightness can be controlled by moving forward / backwards
  • The side wall acts as a reflector, drama and contrast can be controlled by moving sideways.

Yuval rose to the challenge and posed for four pictures. I shot her using my favorite 85/1.8 lens at 5.6. Each photo on one of the different four rectangle corners:

  • close to side-wall and back-wall
  • close to side-wall and away from back-wall
  • away from side-wall and back-wall
  • and finally away from side-wall and close to back-wall

The results are not surprising, and both contrast and backdrop brightness can be controlled with this option.

And Now, Some Theory

Here is the nice thing, even if you have not mastered the lighting bible, this setup makes a lot of sense. I am going to take a stub at this without going into the inverse square law.

Background: The light coming from the umbrella hits the back wall. If you move the entire setup forward (away from the back wall) the back wall will get less light and will appear darker.

Contrast: The light hits the models face from the brolli side. More light travels to the side-wall and bounces back to reduce contrast. If you move the model and light sideways, she still gets the same light from the umbrella – it did not change position. However the bounced wall is now further away from here. This is why her “other” side is getting less light.

And The Cheat Sheet

Corner Portrait Cheat Sheet

Sadly for me, I did not perform this test in ideal conditions. I shot Yuval in my small basement studio that has white walls and ceiling (not for long) and light was spilling all over the place. I feel it has somewhat weakened  the significance of the results.

As usual, summed up in a cheat sheet for your reference.