I'm deciding whether to buy/rent lights to shoot my design portfolio and was wondering whether it's possible to achieve even lighting using one 500W monolight, shoot through umbrella and a reflector. The shots will vary between even light for books and hard shadows for products. I have attached a couple of images to illustrate the sort of look I'd like to achieve.

Thanks in advance!

even light

hard shadows

| improve this question | | | | |

A complete tent ought to do, with the light outside. Put a common mirror from around the house on the other side of the tent.

You can get ok results using plain white sheets or cloth from a fabric store.

So, you need more stuff but not more expense.

| improve this answer | | | | |
  • The tent is not so much a lighting technique, as much as it is really only to hide the room (and the photographer) from causing visible reflections in shiny stuff, chrome and glass, etc. It is kinda a limited technique, but it does present a bland nothingness white wall to be reflected instead (no recognizable detail). Products were mentioned, but for portraits, one light and a reflector is the text book exercise of learning to see lighting. See google.com/search?q=one+single+light+portrait for some ideas. – WayneF Sep 14 '15 at 17:48
  • 1
    More than that, it makes a nice even lighting cast. – JDługosz Sep 14 '15 at 18:46
  • I feel a lighting tent might be quite restrictive for me, especially if I want to use different coloured backgrounds or shoot larger objects with even lighting. Joe (below) has suggested using the monolight with shoot through umbrella positioned centrally and above the book - what are your thoughts? – Qrious Sep 15 '15 at 11:17
  • For a flat object, soft light from above is just fine. It will be poor for 3D objects. Note: for amstill, life, you can fake multiple lighting angles with multiple exposures. Somyou could do quite well withnonly one and a large/soft enough diffuser. – JDługosz Sep 15 '15 at 11:48

The top shot would be very easy with a shoot through umbrella centered and just up a little, then shooting from center. Think like a photo copier, light up to paper and back to imaging head (or camera in this case.) You just want flat even lighting.

Fro the second shot, you have a harder shadow than you will get with a shoot through umbrella, unless it is moved back quite a bit. You won't have a problem getting that much fill by a white wall close or a white board.

| improve this answer | | | | |
  • Thanks for answering Joe. So do you reckon two monolights positioned at equal distance either side of the book might be unnecessary when it can be achieved with one positioned as you say? – Qrious Sep 15 '15 at 11:13
  • You have to understand that light fall off is severe. So it will be pretty hard to get even lighting and take some heroics. However, if you are using the edge of the light and shooting full power into the reflector, it should be possible. If you have the option, dual lights will make the setup much easier. If I was doing this more than only occasionally, that is what I would do. Even if I had to use $70 Yongnuo flashes. – Joe Sep 23 '15 at 12:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.