Assuming a two light setup, what would the best use of the two lights?
For a two light setup (Key + Fill ) I will describe an approach using 2 flashes:
- one on the hot shoe working in TTL (A mode) with an small bounce card for eye catch and directed towards the ceiling as main light
- plus an additional slave unit located at 60° to 75° for fill or enhanced side light.
I would start by setting this second unit directly towards the subject (maybe at 1/8 power with Guide Number 38) or maybe bounced with and without a bounce card (1/2 power) in order to experiment a bit. A possible addition is to add a reflective white large card on the opposite side.
Two light setup #3 ( Key + kicker/rim light)
This setup uses a softbox/umbrella at 45 degrees, with a reflector for fill. The second light is a "kicker" which provides glancing light on the head and shoulders which can add a lot of drama to the shot. It could be positioned to also provide some spot lighting on the background. It may be necessary to use a flag/gobo to block the light from hitting the camera.
Two light setup #1 (Key + Fill )
This is a very common setup, where you put one light directly behind the camera to provide fill (nice even light over your subject). Being directly behind the camera, it will light all areas of the subject visible to the camera and will not result in any visible shadows on the background.
The second light is the "key" light, which should be a stop or two brighter than the fill (depending on what lighting ratio you want). This is typically about 45 degrees to one side of the subject (Rembrandt lighting)
Because both lights are used in front of the subject, there will be no background or hair light. But this setup can be used if the background is lit with natural light or you want it to remain dark, as in a low key shot.
Two light setup #2 (Key + reflector, hair light)
A variation of setup #1. This simply uses a reflector to provide fill, and reserves the 2nd light to be used as a hair light (directly overhead), or behind the subject to light both the background and the back of the head/hair to provide some separation of the subject off the background.
Two light setup #4 - (Beauty lighting)
A lot of beauty lighting is achieved with on-camera-axis lighting, as opposed to the typical 45 degree loop/rembrandt lighting. So having one light near the camera frees up the second to use as a hair light.
For the main key light, there are several options.
ring light on camera or beauty dish on/near camera
butterfly lighting (softbox above camera )
clamshell lighting (softbox above camera, approximately 45 degree angle down at subject, reflector below subject (on lap or floor) providing fill
Two light setup (Strobist)
For strobist fans, David Hobby has several ideas for two light setups. These are not conventional portrait studio setups, but more gritty on-location type setups.
In the following posts he discusses rim lights, gridded spot lights, high-axis key lights and ring flash, along with standard softbox and umbrella.
Those that want a more modern look and are using small flashes might get some ideas.