Improve Your Portrait Lighting With 3D Software

If you have ever struggled with portrait lighting in the past or could not decide on what lighting modifier to use on a shoot. Then you need to check out this 3D portrait lighting software, it is pretty cool.

As you probably already know, mastering portrait lighting can be a daunting task. Especially, if you don’t have full time access to a studio and a wide assortment of strobe lights and lighting modifiers at your disposal.

Not to mention access to models to pose for you while you try to figure out the best lighting setups for different scenarios. On top of that It could also cost you thousands of dollars and countless hours of your time to master the craft of portrait lighting and that is why you may find this an interesting learning and planning tool.

The software has been available for awhile but I thought I would share some of the features of Set a Light 3D version 2.0 with you to help you spark some creative ideas and to also help you to plan out your next shoot.


Deciding which modifier to use in a given situation can be difficult for you, if you can’t first visualize in your mind how an image will look. You also have to decide how many strobe lights to use and exactly where to place them to get the shot you are looking for.

With 3D virtual software you can choose between any number of different light modifiers, strobes, gels and you can also pose your model and try different hair styles, make up, and wardrobe.

It is a great way to plan and also a great learning tool that can save you both time and money and I think it is worth checking out if you want to improve your portrait lighting skills.

The only downside I see with Set A Light 3D V2.0 is that you will need a pretty fast computer to handle the software and it is still an approximation and it is not quite the same thing as real world experience.

Having said that, you may find it a useful tool on your journey of mastering light on for improving your next portrait shoot. Let me know if you think this would be a useful tool for you or other Photographers you know in the comment section below.

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Mark Dunsmuir's picture

That is pretty cool! Going to have to play with it.

I really love Set.a.light 3D, especially the latest version. It runs very smooth with a half decent haming graphics card - on my 2013“ PC with a 1070 it‘s super smooth.

One tip tho: some readers would enjoy a link I guess.

Heiko Kanzler's picture

I am using the application since 2016 (version 1) and it helped me a lot while learning lighting - especially if you don't have a studio at hand.

I highly recommend to download the demo and give it a try:

Personally, I think the simulation is pretty accurate. I planned a lot of my sessions using set.a.light3D in the past and love to use it for experiments before I ask a model to join a project. Had lots of fun to deconstruct one of Geoffrey Jones images and to re-create with my own gear in my little space ;-)

First: original image by Geoffrey Jones,
Second: set.a.light deconstruct,
Third: my version using three Godox AD200 with AD-S2 reflectors and gels.

Top example!! Thank you!

michaeljin's picture

Looks like a pretty great way to "test" without actually testing. :) Thanks for this!