Making it Work: A “Noir” Lighting Setup

It’s been nose to the grindstone time as the deadline for my new book is less than a week away, and I’ve been writing and shooting up a storm. That, in addition to my normal boudoir client work, travel with my man, and a whirlwind week in Mexico for a business retreat (more on that soon), and the summer went by in a flash.

Today, I wanted to share a super fun lighting set up from the chapter on creating beautiful light. The new book shows eight different simple and sexy lighting set-ups I use to flatter women using only one light.

The photo above was shot for the new book this past Saturday, and is a perfect example to show how every shoot has its “make it work” moments when things don’t necessarily go as planned.

(Project Runway fans will recognize the mantra “Make it work.” Don’t you just love Tim Gunn? I repeat his mantra all the time. He lives on my block in NYC, so now I feel pressured to dress up even when walking the dog. But I digress.)

To create the look above, we needed a narrow beam of light. The reflector attachment that goes with this monolight would have helped do the trick , but was not packed in the box. Yikes. We had only this one strobe and two softboxes. Yikes again.

There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, and here’s just one that we chose:

Lighting Equipment used:
Elinchrome BXRi 500watt Strobe with 27”x27” Rotalux Softbox
Elinchrome Skyport Speed Transmitter
Impact Multi Boom Lightstand
Two Flats used as Flags
Grey Seamless Backdrop

Shot with:
5D Mark III
50mm 1.2 with Tiffen 77mm Neutral Density .9 Filter and 72-77mm Step-up Ring

100 ISO, f/2.8, 100 sec

We decided to use this small softbox with the diffusers removed, exposing the bare bulb and silver lining inside, as well as two large flats to act as flags to block the light from spilling onto the subject and background where we didn’t want it to. We kept the model bright and the background dark without blowing everything out by exposing for her fair skin. I am kneeling down, so I can best lengthen her legs while shooting full body. I used an ND filter to take my exposure down 3 stops without changing my aperture setting. You can create lighting modifiers out of almost anything in a pinch, and those crazy boards we used as flags are large wallpaper flats we lucked out finding in the studio we rented… a total gift.

Here’s the shot SOOC.
Notice any adjustments done in post? (…speaking of Tim Gunn 🙂

Thank you to Robert and Kathy from JohnsonSarkissian, my dear friends, for being an enormous help while shooting behind the scenes pics and footage. I couldn’t have finished the day without you, and your enthusiasm, positivity and creativity helped make it a success and so much fun! I am so enormously grateful to you both.

And a huge thank you to each of you as always for stopping by!

Post any questions about this set up or the equipment used in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

We’ll have more updates, tips, giveaways and news coming soon!

Lots of love,