A single strobe can do wonders!
I’m always amazed at what you can achieve with simple lighting setups. In this example, I’ve used a single light source and a reflector to achieve what you see through the image. Give it a try and see what you think.
The lighting diagram makes it a little challenging to show exactly how the octobox was placed as well as the reflector. As you can see there isn’t a background displayed on the diagram. Using light falloff and the inverse square law, I could make the background black with the placement of the light and distance to the back wall of the space we were shooting in. Denise was seated square to the camera as I wasn’t concerned about the pose. This was a “straight on” shot, and I knew I would be shooting close.
The main light was the Elinchrom 600rx and an Elinchrom 53″ octa with both diffusion panels in place. A smaller modifier would work with this case if you do not have a large octa. I wanted a really soft or diffused shadow. Have a look at the shadow coming from the nose, it’s very faint. If you were to use a smaller light source and less diffusion, the shadow would be more prominent. The main light was placed to where the center of the octabox was about 1- 1 1/2 feet above her hat and angled down as far as the light would allow. I also brought the light in as close as I could without it being in the cameras views. The light did a great job illuminating her hat, nose, and lips but her eye was lost in the shot. Due to the brim of the hat, the light was being blocked. I added a reflector from below to push some of the light back up under the hat and most importantly, it added the catch light and brought the eye out from the darkness.
I used the Canon 135L @ F/13 on the Canon 5D2 to capture the shot. Shooting @ F/13 allowed me to accomplish a couple of things in this image. First, I was shooting in close, and I wanted as much of her face, hat, and hair in focus as possible. If I shot this at say, F/4.0 at the same distance, her eyes and lips might have been in focus, and everything else would have been a blur. Here’s a great tool to learn more about depth of field and your shooting distances. The second benefit to shooting @ F/13 is to get the proper exposure you need a lot of light. The strobe provided the light but any amount of ambient light behind Denise wasn’t powerful enough to show in the exposure and the background then goes too black.
Keep in mind as with all the lighting diagrams I’ve posted… these are just starting points. Play around with your lights, don’t be afraid to experiment with the placements and the power settings. You can accomplish so much with a single light source!