The Exact Settings You'll Need for a Simple Two-Light Beauty Photography Setup With Great Results

You don't always need super complicated setups with many lights to create stunning beauty images. This awesome video will show you a great two-light setup and show you every setting and detail you need to know to make it work for you.

Coming to you from Jeff Rojas, this great video will walk you through all the specifics of this two-light setup, in which he uses a Canon 5DS paired with the Tamron 85mm f/1.8 and a set of Profoto monolights, one bare and one firing into a deep medium umbrella with diffusion material. Rojas was kind enough to give us very exact details of the setup so you can replicate it for yourself:

  • Camera settings: 1/200 s, f/8, ISO 100
  • Main light: f/8, 34 inches from subject's eyes, 25 inches above eyes
  • Rim light: f/11, 34 inches from subject, 12 inches off center
  • Subject distance from background: 64 inches
  • Reflector distance from subject: 24 inches

While you'll of course want to play with the setup a bit to find the variation that best suits your style and taste, Rojas' helpful video above should help you get everything in place to immediately get great results. Give it a watch and try it out for yourself this weekend!

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37 Comments

David Love's picture

So anybody new would be sad thinking they need all that same gear he has since he called it out like magic Harry Potter wands. Look more at the position of the lights than the gear. Light placement and control is everything regardless if it's expensive, cheap or natural. And then learn to color correct and retouch.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I agree! It's a nice simple tutorial however, I agree with you, there is absolutely no need to mention equipment. I would think that by now tutorial providers would get that. IT IS ABSOLUTELY IRRELEVANT. Those tutorials always sound endorsed by Profoto, since it seems to be always mentioned by name :-)

He uses $3,500 worth of lighting equipment. No need, these shots can be taken using two $60 speedlights, a $20 reflector and a cheap softbox.

There is also no need for this expensive monitor or camera either, any decent monitor and a decent DSLR would do. Your viewers would probably use an average monitor to view the images anyway.

Lee Christiansen's picture

He mentions Eizo because the video is sponsore by them. Someone has to pay the bills and besides Eizo make great monitors. (I use two of them). He mentions Profoto because that's what he is using. Saves all those "what are your lights" questions.

There's no need to use anything. But higher end pro gear makes the job easier and faster. I switched from Bowens to Profoto years ago and I'll tell you it reduced my need for post work whilst making me considerably faster at the shoot end.

Mentioning gear is entirely appropriate - it's stuff we use. Otherwise let's have tutorials that only describe the nature of light and not even have light placement in the instructions. After all, once you understand light fully, it should be second nature where to place the lights. Any and all information is welcome in a tutorial. The best bit is they're free to watch. If you don't like them, don't watch them. If you want to pre-select what they say, then pay for a course.

Let's remember, this tutorial shows two simple lights with just one umbrella. Not hard to replicate.

I'm still stuck on the phrase that Profit reduced your need for post work. everything else is pretty spot on...

Alex Cooke's picture

Pro level strobes have much better color consistency.

Lee Christiansen's picture

And exposure consistency - important when I'm shooting a number of portraits, each with maybe 5-6 strobes. Makes post a much more pleasant task.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I assume each light is behind a light modifier? Can you control the fabric color of the modifier? I have five umbrellas from westcott, Godox and one from impact, each has a different "white" fabric. Light will be different if I use different umbrellas.

Two weeks ago I worked at my colleague studio and he has a huge and old Westcott softbox, it has a faded yellowish color, very different than my Westcott umbrella. My umbrella is much newer so maybe it's age or maybe they used different fabrics.

I do mainly portraits and there is no need for such color accuracy. Mind you I use Godox flashes and they are consistent from model to model but my modifiers will negate that anyway.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I woprry less about colour shifts because I've never found that to be a major issue from shot to shot with other brands. But exposure shifts from shot to shot is a headache when there are several strobes.

With any brand there is a colour shift with different modifiers, so I havce a set of CTO gels (1/8 through to full), and straw gels. Experience tells me which to use and when. But even then, as long as my strobes are consistant, it's a fast fix in post across a number of shots for small errors.

None of my softboxes have ever gone yellow'd. I did have a Lsstolite HiLite go that way, but they very kindly gave me a brand new one even though mine was 4-5 years old... lovely people.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Do you mean that because each light is on different power settings the color changes?

I did a test with my Godox flashes and the most consistent are the AD200's. Even in rapid burst (low power) the color and exposure is amazingly consistent.

My Godox speedlights are not as consistent but just so you know so is my SB-910. At different power levels it will have a slight shift. For me it's not crucial, it happens every now and then.

However, I think speedlights just don't always recycle fully and light changes as a result.

I usually use 2 AD200's light setup on the subject and one Godox speedlight as hair light or/and background light.

I also have two sets of Godox softboxes (20"x20" and 32"x32"). Since they were bought as sets the fabric is the same and consistent.

I tried to work with gels but I found it time consuming (or maybe I am just impatient). Two exact same softboxes help and a little color correction after.

The AD200's do have a very slight color change when on different power settings but it is negligible.

Throughout s session I will change flash power settings and every now and then a photo will have a slight different color shift. If I shoot 300 photos three or four will look a bit different. For me it's perfectly acceptable.

No doubt, one huge advantage when working with brand names is the support. I had Einsteins for years and this company was a delight to work with.

It's my third year with Godox and I never had an issue, so far so good. Their newer equipment like the 860II and AD200 are better and more consistent then the older 860 and 850 but when doing events those are great to work with due to their battery.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I'm meaning that each subsequent flash needs to be very precisely the same exposure. For me, that means more than 1/10 stop varience is too much and so I'm quite demanding of my strobes. Many strobes are quite stable at higher power settings, but I like mine to be consistent at minimal power levels too. Exposure is where I find the biggest issue, colour varience between flashes is less so.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I see. With my AD200, that are as powerful as average strobes, I can shoot a burst of 8-10 shots at around 1/4 power and all are the same exposure. However, since they are only around 200w/s they do lack power in some situations.

1/10 stop variable is not a problem for me. When going really fast (with kids for example) I sometimes get shots even 1 stop variable, nothing a minute in post processing can't solve.

Alex Cooke's picture

That wouldn’t be a big deal with one strobe lighting the scene. If you have five or six and they’re off by different amounts, that’s a ton of work.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Sorry for very late reply and, well, very narrow space to comment :-).

Here is a link to a test done by some Japanese photographers comparing color consistency of Broncolor, Profot and Godox through all power levels.

Target K was 5500. Broncolor was between 5615K-5768K a 153 K variation.

Godox was 5638K-5798K a160K variation.

Profoto was the worst, 6235K-6488K a 253K variation.

Here is the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir6ahHW9HA0

Happy 4th of July to you guys south of the border.

Motti Bembaron's picture

What I resent with all photography tutorials is that NO ONE says anything about being sponsored. I watch dozens of Youtube videos from "how to DIY' to gardening and all of them say or have a disclaimer if they are sponsored. Unfortunately, not in our industry. Thumbs down for that.

In my opinion there is no need to mention brand because it takes away from the tutorial. Use the words 'strobes' or 'speedlight' and you give the viewer the information he/she really needs.

Use the words 'softbox' or 'umbrella' also give the viewer the important information he/she needs but brand names means nothing. Some -hopefully not many- might thing you need expensive equipment to achieve that.

And please do not start with "you don't like, don't watch", I am way too old for that. Comments are there for a reason; to comment. I say my opinion, you say yours.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Then we'll just get a whole load ofpsts with, "what lights do you use / which softbox is that/ how did you remotely control the light, mine doesn't do that..."

Many of us are grateful to have the detaikls pointed out. It opens our minds to what kit is out there and perhaps why we should take a look at it.

It's why I now have an Elinchrom Octabox, and why I have a tethertools cable safety, or why I have a Seaport Tether Table, and why my eyes were opened to the benefits of Capture One... all from seeing tutorials and seeing what other photographers were using.

I'd much prefered them to list what they were actually using, rather than using a generic term.

Not all softboxes are the same, not all brollies are the same, not all strobes give the same wuality of light, (just ask the people who argue between flat face and open tube designs),

If memory serves, this video had a mighty big disclaimer that it ewas sponsored by Eizo. And even if it didn't - it wasn't telling us that Eizo was king of all monitors, or that Profoto was the best light... no, it simply said that was what was being used in this instance. It didn't go on about it. The presenter made reference to kit as per what it was, when it was appropriate.

There are probably lots of things to complain about in life, but quality, free information, presented well in a well crafted video for our voluntary pleasure probably doesn't come so high on the list.

I'm sorry you're feeling too old for my comments. :)

Motti Bembaron's picture

Like you and many others, Youtube tutorials as well as paid once (Lynda.com, Photoshop Cafe, Cretivelive and others), help me improve and get much better results. Never doubted that or said the opposite.

Disclaimers are important and I would say, a must, when making a video. Not being transparent is one of my beefs with those tutorials. If not sponsored, say it too, I think it gives the author more credibility.

I expect that when people spend countless hours putting together a tutorial they want something in return and rightly so. Since they make it available freely for everyone to watch they might receive some financial rewards from equipment manufacturers. Excellent! Why not mention it?

Not too old for comments, never, keep them coming. It's just that when people say 'don't like don't watch' it means they closed the dialog. I learned a great deal from commentators as well as the videos they were published in. I don't have much to teach but I can still call for transparency.

Jeff Rojas's picture

Thanks for the kind words! :)

Jeff Rojas's picture

"And please do not start with "you don't like, don't watch", I am way too old for that. Comments are there for a reason; to comment. I say my opinion, you say yours."

I say you sound entitled.

When you pay me, then I'll listen to your opinion. :D

Jeff Rojas's picture

Amen Lee!

Jeff Rojas's picture

Let's be clear: Profoto does not sponsor me and I paid retail for them. They're my kit I use for commercial shoots, ​and I can afford them because I worked my ass off for them. No need to be salty.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Thank you for letting us know. In my opinion it makes the tutorial that much more credible. Great video and keep up the excellent work.

Jeff Rojas's picture

Regarding print monitors - You get what you pay for. I use the products that color houses and print shops identified as the standard for color reference. Don't see any issue with that whatsoever. If you can't afford it, buy a less expensive solution.

Jeff Rojas's picture

"He uses $3,500 worth of lighting equipment. No need, these shots can be taken using two $60 speedlights, a $20 reflector and a cheap softbox."

I googled your work. Who are you lying to? :D

Jeff Rojas's picture

Damned if I do. Damned if I don't. I call out gear because inevitably people asked what I use when I create videos and truth is that I don't feel like answering the same question 50 times. ​

Motti Bembaron's picture

Why do you think I am lying? I use AD200's and some Godox speedlights for my work. You are right, people are too hang up on equipment and exact settings when it's so much more important to get the expression, pose, right light ratio etc.Equipment used and exact settings are not relevant at all. None.

However, I guess some still think they can just mimic someone else's exact settings and of course it's not realistic.

I wanted to point out that it is possible to achieve a quality shots like yours using average affordable tools. That's it. I should have rephrased it better.

Talk about not being salty... "Pro photographer" Googles your work for the purpose of giving you a slight ... ::eyeroll::

Who's the immature one?

Jeff Rojas's picture

Do you really want to go there? ;)

Jon Miller's picture

This was a very nice and simple tutorial, all I kept hearing however was product placement. I think dude was going for more sponsors so why not give a mention to everything including the Savage paper backdrop. I keep hearing that the Eizo monitors are great, I'm going to have to give them a test, although I will admit my monitors (Samsung SyncMaster) are great and I get what I see on my prints (Epson stylus pro 7880) and that is all that matters. Do I need a camera that outputs 50mp files? probably if I need to see the falling dust. I find that the Canon 5D MKII with the Canon 85mm f/1.8 does a great job. As for lights, ok we can agree on that as I switched a year ago to the Profoto B1 and Quantum T5d-r system since my 30+ year old Spedotron 2400 (i miss that system) blew up and they are not available in Australia. Ok, there you have my endorsement of 8 product brands lets see which one comes to the party. oh I forgot to mention and all of this was shot on a Sandisk CF media card. So make that 8 product placements in this comment. Now can I reproduce what was shot, you better believe it.

Lee Christiansen's picture

So... we should have free videos that are not funded by anyone. And let's not tell anyone what was used - it's a secret.

Tutorials are a balance of technique and equipment use. A Deep Brolly with perform differently than a standard brolly, and a Profoto beauty dish will perform differently than a different brand. I'm interested which camera was used, but I don't have to use the same camera myself. The fact that a particuklar piece of kit was used makes me want to know about that kit - more info is better than no info.

50mp may be important on that project so why not mention it? If we need less pixels, then that's fine too. I wouldn't mind if the tutor had said he was using a medium format and mentioned the model number. He's not saying we have to use it. He's just offering us info.

When I teach, I mention my kit. I list some of the specifics so that a little research can be done afterwards. And if needed I'l say why my choice of kit is important.

But the tutorial is free, and it's a good tutorial. Little harm in a few bits of kit being mentioned. Some of us value that info.

Jon Miller's picture

Oh I'm all for giving free advertising to the products being used and the reason for their usage.. I was having a bit of tongue and cheek with some of the other comments.

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