Photography News issue 24


Photography News Issue 24


The kit we used


Moody, low-key backlighting The first two set-ups detailed on the left are great for basic, flattering portrait lighting, but if you want something more moody and dramatic, there’s plenty more you can do with just a single Octabox softbox and a reflector. Although it normally relies on using two lights, a good one to try is backlighting and using a reflector to illuminate the subject’s face. You can use this set-up in lots of environments, but it looks most dramatic with a darker background. Position your softbox slightly above and behind the subject, and turn it back towards the camera a little, so that it lights their hair, but not their face (avoiding the face isn’t vital, but it’s advisable if you want a flattering look, as even when using a softbox you’ll get lots of contrast this way). Now position a reflector on the opposite side to the softbox, and using the modelling light, check that it’s throwing enough illumination back in. An assistant or a stand is most helpful here. The light returned will inevitably be at a lower level than from the flash as some is scattered, but the closer you position the reflector, the more intensity it will have. Its height also has a large effect, and for the most natural-looking results it should be angled similarly to the softbox behind. That said, angling it from below is easier and isn’t unattractive, with more of glowing look. We used a silver surface because, as with the clamshell lighting previously, that will bounce more light than the white version and looks more natural than gold. To increase the intensity of the light, try using a grid (the 90cm Profold Octa softbox has one included) as this will channel the light more, preventing spill and, being more focused allowing a more intense reflection. With the Octabox and reflector in place, and working well, we metered the light from next to the subject’s face using a Gossen Digipro F2. Metering here means that the exposure will be accurate for the face, which is what’s important, and at around 1/8th power we were getting f/8. However, to heighten the mood, and stop the backlighting effect being too strong, we dropped this to 1/16th. You can use this set-up in lots of environments, but it looks most dramatic with a darker background

For the shots in this month’s Lighting Academy we used a Lencarta SmartFlash 200 flash (£109.99) with a 90cm Profold Octa softbox (£119.99) and a 5-in-1 collapsible reflector. The design of the Profold Octa softboxes (which also comes in 120cm and 150cm versions), allows the modifier to set up incredibly quickly when compared to a standard softbox. The Profold Octa softbox is erected just like an umbrella, but pushing down on a central collar and locking the mechanism in place, which takes seconds. The difference between that and laboriously slotting rods into a tent is huge. The inner and outer diffuser panels then attach by Velcro, with the latter leaving enough space for an included grid/honeycomb to attach in front of it. Dismantling is just as quick. Coming with a carry bag, the Lencarta Profold softboxes use a standard Bowens S fitting, so they’ll attach to a huge range of flash heads, but speedrings are available for fitting to other brands. Right now, readers of Photography News can get a 10% discount on any Profold softbox – just point your browser at lencarta. com/profold.

With just a backlight and reflector be careful that results are flattering (assuming that’s what’s desired!). The light is best when it doesn’t cross the subject’s face (top left) and too much uplighting from the reflector can look odd (above left). Using the softbox without a grid (above right) gives a softer look than with (below).

Thanks to This month’s Lighting Academy model was the brilliant Harriadnie Beau ( Find out more about Lencarta lighting kit at, where there is also a blog with detailed lighting tutorials and practical advice on getting the most from your lights.

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