This is a lighting setup for fashion photography on location. Using only sunlight and a reflector you can achieve amazing photos . We will soon publish more photos, lighting setups and lighting diagrams from Magnus Svensson. In the meanwhile, check out his portfolio at Maz Studios
Beauty lighting setups does not have to be difficult. You can easily get professional looking beauty shots using the clam shell lighting setup.
It’s called clam shell simply because you rig two softboxes as a giant gaping clam shell. It’s hard to see in the lighting diagram because of the levitated view. It would have been better illustrated if the lighting diagram was viewed from the side. Anyway, I think you get the idea.
A common setup is to build you’re clam shell with a larger upper softbox and then a lower smaller stripbox. The upper softbox is about one stop higher than the stripbox. Using two softboxes gives you good control of the light.
Simplified clam shell lighting setup
This specific clamshell lighting is simplified a bit. I used one big softbox from above and then a big horizontal silver reflector underneath. This gives you a little less control of the light, compared to using two softboxes, but the setup is about what you want anyway. The softbox will automatically give more light than the silver reflector. You can vary the distance between the soft box and the rector to control the light a bit. You can also try with a white reflector to find a lighting setup that you like.
These photos are from a session on location in Hong Kong, featuring ShellZ Zhu. ShellZ Zhu is a fashion model and actress in China, but she has also been seen i a few Hollywood productions.
Portable lighting setup
I didn’t have the possibility to bring my full arsenal of lighting equipment, so I had to find a lighting setup that was easy to travel with. I brought a hot shoe speedlight flash, a shoot through umbrella, a lightweight light stand and the Elinchrom Skyport radio trigger. The shoot through umbrella was actually a multifunction umbrella with one shoot through layer and one removable silverlayer that you can bounce the light in when needed, but for this photo session I used it only as a shoot through umbrella.
It was a bit cloudy that day so the daylight was soft and had no specific direction. I placed the umbrella in front of ShellZ Zhu about 45 degrees to the left. For the photo with the “catwoman stance”, the lighting setup was moved so the lighting direction came a bit closer to the camera direction. Since the models pose i lower, the light gets relatively more from above.
This is a photo portrait of the swedish professional dancer Karl Dyall. The lighting setup is very simple. The model is standing next to a big window which is about 4 feet from him on the right hand side. On the left hand side stands a silver reflector about 2 feet away. It was cloudy that day, so the light is very soft. As many of you know is the Canon EF 50/1.8 II bokeh a bit stressful, so the warm light in the background is not as smooth as I would like it.
Natural light photography
When you practice natural light photography, keep in mind that the constant light from a silver reflector can be annoying for the model if the light is too intense. It makes it difficult for the model to keep a certain facial expression, and the whole workflow for the session will be affected.
If the light from the window would have been more intense that day, or if it had been an outdoor session a sunny day, I would probably have used a white reflector instead of a silver reflector.
This is a simple yet very useful lighting setup with only two hot shoe flashes (canon 580 ex speedlite), two homemade light modifiers and a dark glossy board.
I use one honeycomb snoot on the backdrop to get more control of the light. That flash i placed under the board. I use one homemade horizontal strip softbox as a main light. That flash is mounted on my camera.
For this session I wanted a dark exclusive look n feel that harmonizes with the delicious dark coffee tones, so I used a brown backdrop and a black glossy board to put the cups on. Even though the board is dark, it will still reflect plenty of light from the background
Low budget lighting setup
First time I used this lighting setup was on an assignment when I shot some food and drinks for a restaurant i Stockholm and needed to keep the budget down.
I have reused this lighting setup many times. These specific photos is from a session when I shot some stock images for istock. Check out that lightbox.
It’s difficult to give a good ratio between the two strobes, since I have used this lighting setup on many different colored backdrops. My advice is simply to try what’s best for your specific session.
Good luck with the shooting!