Triangle Lighting Setup

I recently posted a new Facebook Profile Photo and got quite a bit of response via email and Facebook inbox messages asking what the settings were and what the light setup was.

I call the light setup Triangle Lighting and I originally saw the famous headshot photographer, Peter Hurley, use something similar with continuous lighting. I thought that the light setup should theoretically work with strobes turned down fairly low.

I used two 90cm X 90cm softboxes turned about 30 degrees inward and placed right next to each other with a 140cm X 30cm stripbox (with grid) to close the lower half. Refer to the image (click on image to open in new window for slightly higher res image).

I set the strobes fairly low and measure with the two large softboxes to get an f/8.0 (on ISO100, 1/200 shutter) on my light meter. I measure with both strobes switched on as they are coming from the same angle and are additive to one another. I then measured the strip box alone at f/5.6 as it will be a fill only. I then measured everything together to confirm total additive light is not exceeding my aim of f/8.0

This lighting setup creates a large soft light area directly from the front result in a very flat lit image, but which is appealing for headshots where you need that well lit look. I set my 90X90 softboxes with a little more light than the stipbox so I do not complely eliminat shadow, but rather create just enough shadow to give the image definition. This is not 3 point lighting and I would say rather qualifies as single point lighting as all the light is coming from one angle.

The advantage of this lighting technique is that it simulates a very large light source and thus also softens the light. The only other time I have seen this same look is from a very large parabolic umbrella (1.8m or larger) behind the photographer. A big advantage of this kind of light is that it fills in even small shadow areas so skin appears very smooth, but then again, everything else tends to smooth out too so textures may become lost.

Pros of this lighting technique: Very soft flat lighting

Cons of this lighting technique: Very soft flat lighting

It is what it is and should be used where you need this look.

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