A couple of weeks ago, I was driving home from a shoot and chatting with my cousin about photography. Like me, he’s a photo geek too…and with a new baby in the house, he’s been taking lots and lots of pictures and getting more into it. It’s nice to have someone in the family that understands the nerdery.
He’s been playing around more and more with artificial light…and I remember when I first dabbled with off camera flash and strobes. I remember it being overwhelming; even though I had a pretty good grasp of lighting of the natural variety, a lot of things went over my head. What sort of lights do I use. Where do I put them? How far away do I position them from the model? How many lights do I use. How do I trigger them? What are modifiers?
The fact of the matter is a lot of these questions will never be answered definitively. There are so many different combinations and possibilities that there is no one right answer.
Anyway, my cousin started telling me he heard about this thing called “the Triangle.” He was told it was a pretty basic lighting set up and that he should learn it.
It’s true, in glamour photography, there is a staple. A go-to lighting scenario, if you will. It’s no secret: you see it everywhere in glam mags…and the best glam photographers use this set up in different variations…but it’s essentially the same. This is what I believe the Triangle is, in its basic form…
The idea is to sandwich your model between two light sources by placing your lights opposite of each other. For instance, imagine a box and your model is standing in the middle of the box. You position your lights across from each other like so…
And if you happen to be using one light and the sun, you would position your model so that the sunlight hits the back/side of the model at a 45 degree angle…and then you would position your key light diagonal from the sun.
The other day, I had a fun beach photo shoot and here’s a perfect example of the Triangle light set up…
During this location shoot, I used two lights: my key light was a strobe into a diffused white beauty dish on a boom arm, and my accent/rim lights were the sun to the left of the model and a strobe to the right of the model into a bare reflector.
I find that accent/rim lights add a little something special to an otherwise boring/ordinary photo. They key is using rim lights correctly. But, I’ll save that for another blog post when I share some of my photographic pet peeves. :)