Lighting on a Budget - 1 Speedlight

If there’s anything that you’ll quickly learn about me, it’s that I love simplicity, both professionally and personally. It’s the only way that I keep my sanity between trying to balance producing shoots, contacting clients, editing, teaching, writing and riding my motorcycle. Now, to be extremely clear, it wasn’t always that way. Like a lot of beginning photographers, I insisted on complicating things for myself.
Looking back, I would purposely lug around more camera and lighting gear than I needed “just in case.” After so many photoshoots, I slowly realize that there’s a definitive difference between being prepared and over packing. The reality is that you can do more with less. Even if you only have the budget for one light, or in this case a single speedlight, there are a ton of ways that you can multipurpose that one light. 
I recently teamed up with the staff at ExpoImaging to produce a couple of short tutorial videos using solely 1 and 2 speedlights and the lighting modifiers that ExpoImaging / Rogue offer.
In this tutorial, I use a single Phottix Mitros+ and Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System to create a dramatic portrait of my subject. By using the Rogue Flashbender 2 XL Pro as a strip grid, I can create a strip of light that accentuates my subject’s face and the brim of his hat, while still illuminating the background. 
In order to achieve this, I moved my subject close enough to the background so that the fall off of light coming from the strip grid illuminates both my subject and my background. To the untrained eye, this image looks like a two light setup, but it is in fact one.
The less time I spend focusing on lighting my subjects, the more time I can spend interacting with them and directing them. After all, you can’t forget that you’re working with people, who may or may not have the patience to wait around while you fiddle with lights. Keep it simple.

The image below was taken with:

Canon 5D Mark III w/ Canon EF85mm f/1.2L II USM

Phottix Mitros+ w/ a Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System


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Jeff Rojas's picture

Jeff Rojas is an American photographer, author and educator based in New York City. His primary body of work includes portrait and fashion photography that has been published in both Elle and Esquire. Jeff also frequents as a photography instructor. His teaching experience includes platforms like CreativeLive, WPPI, the Photo Plus Expo, and APA.

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Killer shots Jeff! Great BTS video.

Thank you kindly! :)

This great results happen when you know your stuff! Great BTS Jeff!!

Thank you very much Paulo! :D

Boom! Well done!

Thank you! :)

I love stuff like this...simple, with a gear listing. Been thinking of a flash bender for portable reasons and this basically sold me. Great post, thank you.

Thank you so much! They're super portable... I honestly just hate carrying a ton of gear, so this was the perfect solution. :)

Let me know how they work out for you. :D

What a GREAT!!

Thank you! :D

WOW! High-End Images with only 1 speedlight! very very cool! What most people forget when buying lighting is how important light modifiers are!

Thank you! :)

That's what I've been thinking, if I would get additional modifier or a new flash. Been using 1 speedlight with a medium softbox for quite some time now. And i think I'll go with the modifier.
This article is great! Thanks Jeff!

Thank you for watching! :D

Great tips.

Thank you! :)