Creating Three Different Portrait Photo Lighting Setups in One Second

In this video, Daniel Norton of Adorama takes you into his studio, showing you how to set up for three different lighting scenarios, with the ability to change from one to another at the flip of a switch. This is great for if you have extremely limited time with models or actors and need alternate looks or options between them.

Norton uses zones on his radio trigger to control different lighting scenarios. You'd need a lot of gear to pull something like this off, but in a time crunch it appears to be very effective. Norton shows his entire setup, with notes that cover where each fixture is placed, and how lights are set to create the different looks. He uses PocketWizards, controlling the different zones, to select his different setups. The other trick is to use a light meter to make each setup at the same exposure, and then if you have this option on your trigger, you can use a "cycle" function to capture each zone.

This is originally inspired from the work of Alexis Cuarezma, whose portrait photography work has been covered here on Fstoppers before, as well as in his own behind-the-scenes videos, which I've included below.

What do you think? Is this practical or not? Being able to have gear to create all of these looks is made possible by rental companies with decent rates, but has anyone ran into situations where they needed to do this, even for just two different looks?

Log in or register to post comments

14 Comments

Quentin Decaillet's picture

This is really awesome. It makes me want to get a PocketWizard Multimax right away :D Really a shame PW doesn't make them anymore by the way.

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

I'd like to post an update on this. Shauna from Adorama called me which I appreciate tremendously and shows a great amount of integrity. 1st, to address the YouTube comment. I posted it and it originally showed. Then I had someone tell me it was gone/deleted. However, since I posted a link in the comment, YouTube auto marked it as spam & hid it. The comment is back up & Adorama did not delete it as I originally thought.

A number of misunderstandings happened. But the fact that Shauna from Adorama called me and said "what do I need to do make this right" means so much. The video can't be changed so I told her if they could add a YouTube annotation w/ my name and if possible a link back to my video that pops when Norton refers to my video, that would be great! And much better than having my info in the 2nd paragraph in the description.

Thank you so much Shauna for dealing with this head on.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mike Wilkinson, I've reached out to Adorama about this & also directly to Daniel Norton after a few people brought what they did to my attention. The fact the Adorama & Daneil Norton not only took the time to view my BTS video on how I shot the US Men's World Cup soccer team, but also put the time and effort to recreate my idea, shoot it, make a video about it, even include the cover I shot of Clint Dempsey for Sports Illustrated but decided to purposely go out of their way to not mention my name or even give me credit is extremely disheartening and upsetting. Adorama endorsing that type of behavior within the photography community blows my mind. I don't appreciate what they did here at all. Specially using this to promote their business with NO credit, or link back to my original video where the idea/concept/problem & solution was stolen from.

If you watch the video, Daniel pretty much went out of his way to avoid mentioning my name, giving me any credit, and avoided linking back to my original video. He referred to me only as "Sports Illustrated" and "they" in the video and showed the cover I shot for SI.

I tried leaving a comment on their YouTube page but they quickly deleted. Only after I posted that screen grab of their YouTube page of the comment they deleted, then they started giving me credited. Their original solution was to add my name and link to original video in the 2nd paragraph of the video description.

I'm in disbelief Adorama & Daneil Norton were able to to recreate and get EVERY SINGLE piece of information I talked about in my video but conveniently leave out my name. How would you feel if someone ripped off and stole a scenario you faced? Then recycled and reproduced the problem/concept/idea/video, and purposely NOT give you any credit and then promote another person in case Daniel Norton.

The fact that a "photographer" & "Creative Director at Adomora" has the audacity to state on their own facebook page/post "Check out this video where I show you how to set up lighting to create 3 completely different looks in 1 second (literally). http://bit.ly/1ZKFzoH " and take credit for an idea/concept I explained in detail is alarming & sad.

I work really hard as photographer and work equally hard to share my knowledge and make videos to help photographers and photo community. I volunteered for 5 years at my local PPA chapter to help my photography community and still volunteer each year to speak to students at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and Cal State East Bay. I share with them problems I encounter as a professional photographer and how I find a solution to them. I'm very generous to them, anyhow who ask me about what I do, and make an effort to produce behind the scene video with original content, problems I face & explain in detail how I deal with them. Just look at the original link you posted from my F-Stopper feature. I pretty much replied to EVERYONES comment/question.

Often times, photographers are reluctant to share information or their techniques publicly or online in fear that they will be copied. What Daniel Norton & Adorama did and have done, was intentional and completely classless. And it further adds to why photographers don't like sharing what they do. Had Daniel Norton & Adorama simply given me some type of credit while filming I would have been thrilled. Instead, they decided to keep me as a mysterious "Sports Illustrated photographer" until people called them out for recreating my video.

This would actually make a great post on ethics of citing your source when you find "inspiration" from someone and then decide to ripped off that scenario, recycled and reproduced their problem/concept/idea/video and slapped your name all over it.

To answer your question: "What do you think? Is this practical or not?"

I've done this more than once. It's a unique problem I face when dealing with subject who can't give you a lot times. Here's another F-Stoppers post that featured me doing this technique. I came up up with it b/c the editor at Sports Illustrated wanted one look, and I wanted to created another look and I didn't how much time I would have with the subject. So I shot both at once:

https://fstoppers.com/strobe-light/shoot-two-completely-different-lighti...

best,
-Alexis

Tom Lew's picture

They're extremely dirty. I've stopped shopping there after being what I would refer to as being scammed by them for several hundred $$.

Longer version of that:
Purchased a medium format film camera from them. All over their website and receipt it says 30 day return policy. Again.. this was on my receipt. Brought it back 2.5 weeks later to return and they said for in store pickup it's only 2 weeks. They failed to find anywhere on their site or in their policy where that is mentioned but said that's just the way it is. They took it back with a 20% restocking fee.

Jon Wolding's picture

I suppose that's the inherent problem with sharing one's unique techniques...

If it's any consolation, if you hadn't posted in this thread, most interested readers would've looked you up. But, if you'd like, we can start calling this the "Cuarezma Method" or whatever... ;)

I saw the video you put out a while ago and thought it was very good. That takes a lot of pre-planning testing and setup and it shows a really creative solution to the problem of having very little time. I don't know the answer to this, so I'll ask: do you feel that this idea is something that you invented? Is this a trick that you are owed credit for? Or is it simply a trick used by people, and you made a video about it, and so did they? For instance, if I do a video talking about how to create Rembrandt lighting using studio lighting, I don't owe anyone a credit for that idea.

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

Hi Caleb,
to answer your questions:

"do you feel that this idea is something that you invented?"

No, it's a feature on the PW Multi Max. Photographers have used it before to shoot with strobes at high frame rates (e.g. 10 FPS, 12FPS) firing off different packs back to back. What I did different was setup more than 1 light in each group to make each pop look completely different.

"Is this a trick that you are owed credit for?"

It's not necessarily about the "trick". He made direct reference to my video and then recreated the scenario/situation I faced without citing the original source. When you make reference to what someone did and find inspiration from it, it's usually customary to cite that source and not leave them out.

"For instance, if I do a video talking about how to create Rembrandt lighting using studio lighting, I don't owe anyone a credit for that idea."

That's just a light placement so of course you don't owe anyone credit for that. However, if you're faced with a certain situation where you have to solve XYZ and those problems are unique to your creative decisions and you come up with a way to solve that, and someone else recreates your situations as inspiration, then I do think you're owed credit for that idea/solution.

Hope that helps. I actually just got off the phone with Adorama and they are being very helpful and sincere about how to move forward with this.

Tyler Brown's picture

You are certainly not the 1st person to use the zone functions of PWs to create multiple lighting setups quickly. Daniel also stated in the video that it wasn't originally his idea. I see Daniel use a lot of techniques that came from Dean Collins work in the 1980s. You can't just call it theft is someone uses the same modifiers and techniques as you. I often use CTO and CTB gels for special effect because I have seen others do the same, it's not creative theft.

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

as I stated above:

"do you feel that this idea is something that you invented?"

No, it's a feature on the PW Multi Max. Photographers have used it before to shoot with strobes at high frame rates (e.g. 10 FPS, 12FPS) firing off different packs back to back. What I did different was setup more than 1 light in each group to make each pop look completely different.

"Is this a trick that you are owed credit for?"

It's not necessarily about the "trick". He made direct reference to my video and then recreated the scenario/situation I faced without citing the original source. When you make reference to what someone did and find inspiration from it, it's usually customary to cite that source and not leave them out.

"For instance, if I do a video talking about how to create Rembrandt lighting using studio lighting, I don't owe anyone a credit for that idea."

That's just a light placement so of course you don't owe anyone credit for that. However, if you're faced with a certain situation where you have to solve XYZ and those problems are unique to your creative decisions and you come up with a way to solve that, and someone else recreates your situations as inspiration, then I do think you're owed credit for that idea/solution.

Daniel Norton mentioned in his video that his camera is equipped with a motor drive; I thought a motor drive was for advancing film. My 5D has a battery grip, but that's for an extra battery; it doesn't increase the FPS. I have motor drives that advance the film for my film SLRs, Canon A-1 and F-1N.

Yeah, I think motor drive is just an antiquated term that comes from film days but is not truly a motor drive. It's just shooting in continuous mode instead of single shot.

Henry Louey's picture

Unfortunately I could only see the bottom 3rd of that Video.

But i did watch it 3 times!

Eric Duminil's picture

A New-York studio, many Profoto strobes , a lot of Pocketwizards, a beautiful model with an incredible body, and .... 3 boring pictures.
I know those are basically test shots to show the described technique, but it does show how important it is to connect with the model.

I do often wish tutorials ended up with better results, another blog I read has lots of how-to's with results worse than this. But, the point is the technique and mindset so I think there's still merit. Even if these results were great, yours (or mine) wouldn't be the same anyway!

Eric Gould's picture

great idea. I am going to use it today. I have Pocket Wizard Pluses. So, I can just pick another channel for each set-up. thanks.