Building your set, softbox by softbox

If you are used to shooting with just one or two lights then using several lights might seem confusing. But it is actually quite easy. It is just a matter of building your set, step by step, softbox by softbox.


The image above (1) in this article was shot using four lights: one Profoto Softbox RFi 3×3’, one Profoto Softbox RFi 5’ Octa and two Softbox RFi 1×6’. Again, some might be intimidated by the amount of lights but the fact is that as long as you build your set one light at a time, it is almost as easy as using just a single light source!


Let us take a closer look at the second image (2). This was shot using just the RFi 3×3’. The image is dark, moody and admittedly not very inspiring. But that is not the point. The point is that we begin with our main light, and when we are happy with the result, we move on…


…to the third image (3). Here, we add the RFi 5’ Octa as our fill light. Now, the important thing to remember is that the fill light should not add to the character, and instead just blend harmoniously with the main light. That is the reason that we chose to work with the RFi 5’ Octa – a large light source that creates a soft and even light.


The fourth image (4) shows just the fill light, but what is really interesting is, of course, to see how the main light and the fill light work together in the third image (3). Notice how the shadows lighten up, how the eyes are revealed and how the dress starts to pop out when we add our fill light. This is actually a pretty good portrait set-up. But there is more!


In the fifth image (5), we add the RFi 1×6’ strip softboxes as our rim lights. The main purpose of the rim light is to give increased dimensions and separate our model from the background.

For instance, take a closer look at the model’s arms and notice how they pop out of the image. Also, notice the rim light around her waist and how effectively it separates her from the background.


The sixth image (6) is just to illustrate what the rim light looks like on its own. Note that both strip softboxes were equipped with Softgrids, which keeps the light off the background and out of the camera, and reduces flare.

Finally, let us return to our main image (1). Look at it once more, notice how main, fill and rim light work together to give life and color to the image, and remember how easy this seemingly complex set-up was when we built it step by step, softbox by softbox.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at the set-up:


Profoto, The Light Shaping Company, is the world’s leading manufacturer of photography lighting systems. Since 1968, Profoto has been providing photographers with innovative tools to create and shape light.

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