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Guess the Lighting Setups (and win)

It’s too often that we photographers can get stuck in lighting scenario ruts. Many of us shoot exclusively available light or employ just one setup of studio lighting. We find our comfort zone with our lighting and pretty much stay there. But, understanding different methods of lighting not only gives you more control over the end result of your photos, but it keeps things fresh creatively and brings your ultimate vision to life.

Photographers often make this mistake when it comes to studio lighting. They’re going for a certain look, but the only really know how to light their scene or subject one way. So they try to create the effect in Photoshop.

But wouldn’t it be better to get it right in camera instead of wasting so much time in post-production? Begin to take note of how often you are retouching a photo to correct lighting situations and start looking for ways to fix this with your actual lighting.

For example: I began with a one light setup when I was first starting out. After noticing I was spending too much time softening shadows, I added a reflector to my lighting mix and eventually a second strobe. I now have 4 different lights in my arsenal. And, while I rarely need them all at once, I know that I can achieve many different looks with them by lighting my scenes with absolute intention.

Deconstruct my lighting setups and win a prize!

In order to understand light, you need to be able to deconstruct it. Get in the habit of studying other photographers’ work to try to make sense of how they may have lit the scene. I am offering up some of my images from a recent shoot for you to do so. I would love to hear how you all think these different lighting scenarios were set up! The person who comes the closest to guessing how they were shot, will get a copy of my “5 Boudoir Poses, 15 Sellable Images” book! Steps for entering are at the end of this post.

A little back story on this shoot to help guide you in my thought process

This particular client (an old friend of mine from California who came out to Vegas to do a boudoir session with me) has an interesting story to share that touches on both femininity as well as masculinity (keep an eye on my blog for the full story soon). So, we wanted to portray that with wardrobe obviously, but I also knew my lighting would be an integral part in telling this story too. For the masculine side I wanted a more stark, brightly lit and contrasty look than the softer feminine looks (although I also tried some moodier shots there too). So, I planned out and employed my lighting setups accordingly.

Can you guess what I used for lighting? What kinds of modifiers or accessories did I choose for this, if any?

Note: There are a few shadows I may have leaned towards softening or retouching out in a couple of these, but decided to leave them in to better help you identify the lighting. There is actually very minimum retouching on these at all, as a matter of fact.

The Masculine Setups – 1 (a, b, c)

(slight change – more like a typical set-up for me)
(complete change-up)

Feminine Setup 2:

haute shots boudoir photography las vegasPIN


Feminine Set-up 3:


Feminine Set-up 4 (a & b)

(a pretty standard lighting scenario for me):
(slight change)


A Mix of Feminine & Masculine Set-up 5


How to enter the contest

Study the images above, and when you think you have an idea of how each different scenario was lit, leave your comment in this post describing how you think I lit the scenes (what kinds of lights or modifiers were used, if any). Whoever comes the closest with the most exact and accurate guesses will win a copy of my “5 Boudoir Poses, 15 Sellable Images” book! In the event that there is a tie, we will randomly draw the winner between the entries who came the closest to guessing.  Entries must be received by midnight Wednesday, July 25th to be valid.  
The winner will be announced right here on The Business of Boudoir in the follow-up post to this one, on Friday, June 27, 2014.
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Stacie Frazier

Stacie Frazier is a Las Vegas boudoir photographer, speaker and author. Known for her use of dramatic lighting and sexy posing, she draws clients from around the globe. She's a fan of personal projects, from No-Makeup sessions to Boudoir Selfies, to keep her creativity sparking. Visit hauteshots.com too see her work, to find out where Stacie is teaching/speaking next.

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  • June 17, 2014 - 10:06 AM

    Melissa - Setup 1: One main light above the camera angled down at subject

    Setup 2: Window light to the right of the bed. Maybe a reflector below the bed where she’s laying down?

    Setup 3: Window light in front of her

    Setup 4: Softbox or diffuser set up about 45 degrees camera right

    Setup 5: Possibly a beauty dishReplyCancel

  • June 17, 2014 - 9:54 PM

    Meg - 1) Beauty dish, set up camera left in the first setup and closer to butterfly lighting in the change-up.
    2) Round modifier (guessing PLM?) to camera right
    3) window backlight with reflector fill
    4/5) small/medium softbox to camera right at a 45 degree angle to the subject

    Fun game!ReplyCancel

  • June 17, 2014 - 10:04 PM

    Leslie - I’m terrible at this kind of stuff, but here goes:
    1) Softbox with strobe
    2) Window Light with silver reflector
    3) Window light behind her with reflector
    4 & 5) Beauty dish

    I’m a bit confused on how to actually reply to which setup because of the multiple photos and slight changes.ReplyCancel

  • June 18, 2014 - 8:18 PM

    Chris - 1. Large window to left of camera, (curtains partially closed from the end behind camera for some). Large white reflector or softbox to right of camera for fill.
    2. Large window right of camera, some use of white reflector below and left of camera for fill.
    3. Backlit by window with shoot through umbrella or small softbox above and left of camera for fill.
    4&5. Shoot through umbrella or small softbox roughly 45 degrees highand right of camera, reflector low left for fill.ReplyCancel

  • June 19, 2014 - 3:44 PM

    Bill - The 1st set up:
    1)Huge light source the window left of the camera.
    2)BD camera left, crisp light, well defined shadows
    3)Really even light, PLM behind camera and up above your head

    The 2nd set up:
    1) Window light probably a cloudy day, mixed with OCF. My guess would be a BD but it could be a large octobox.

    Setup 3 is all natural light wide open.

    Setup 4&5
    1)Large softbox off to the camera right
    2)Large softbox moved over the client pointed down at the floor
    3)Large softbox moved to camera right again and pointed down and across the client.ReplyCancel

  • June 24, 2014 - 9:41 PM

    Mandy - 1) a) Large Softbox as Key light coming from top left down onto her with a Softbox fill flash to the right. b) Also Large Softbox C) This one seems the hardest..Bounce flash off corner of bathroom where ceiling and top of wall meet, black foamie thing.
    2) Key is giant shoot thru white umbrella high camera right, Fill provided by Headboard & white bedding.
    3) Key is Backlit window (real or setup) Fill is large white reflector high camera left.
    4) a) Key is small-med Softbox camera right, Reflector to left b) small-med Softbox coming from top left of frame also would be to her left, above her head, and going across her length.
    5) Octobox Key light high to camera right. Between Key and Camera is a Fill Softbox medium size at a medium height.ReplyCancel

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