BTS Tuesday - The Dancer

I recently reposted an old image of mine on Instagram and got a few questions about how I set up the lighting. Going through my old images, I don't have any good BTS shots of the lighting set up, so I thought I'd do it the old fashioned way and draw out a diagram and do this little write up. I figure this might be pretty fun to do regularly with images old and new, so BTS Tuesday is now a thing on my blog. Yay!

The Set Up

The lighting set up for my photograph "The Dancer"

My family is very blessed to have an incredibly talented group of family and friends whom have often become the subjects of photo projects, one such person is the truly gifted Victoria Souder. She is a dancer and studio owner in Moreno Valley, CA and this was our first attempt at collaborating together. I was doing a mini portrait project where I was photographing people I knew doing what they loved. 

We were to shoot together at her studio after class, which I knew would be challenging because, as some dance studios are laid out, the entire west wall was a mirror that ran the length of the room. Judicious use of flags would be the key here. 

I knew I wanted my final product to be low-key with dramatic rim light and heavy shadow, and that Victoria would be mid-motion. I set up my only two studio lights at the time (two Calumet Genesis 200's) directly to the left and the right of Victoria, with only the standard reflector, we were going with hard, focused light. I set up my flags to keep stray light off my lens and had to double them up to also block reflections in that mirror wall. We snapped a few shots and they were ok, but missing something. 

An outtake from my first shoot with Victoria Souder

Victoria did some amazing things, but I wanted to add a little flare (Zing!) to the shots. I wanted them to feel less heavy and more like a presentation of immense talent, but with that low-key look. It was time to break out my trusty LumoPro flashes. 

I added both of my LumoPro LP160 manual flashes to the rear of Victoria, to be shown in frame light stage lights. These lights would also even out the rim lighting I was getting from the Genesis mono lights. The result: "The Dancer"

"The Dancer" Model: Victoria Souder 

This image was also featured in the book Strobox Vol. 2, the yearly highlight of the best images on You can purchase a copy here: This is a really cool book with a lot of great images, all of which include lighting diagrams and information on how they were shot. Check it out and support the site!

Losing My Reflection - Shooting Sunglasses for Minimal Post Processing

Carefully setting up your set can save you a lot of time and trouble in post when shooting and editing sunglasses. 

Shooting sunglasses can be tricky. You want to see a good representation of the shape and style, but most lenses on sunglasses are curved and have a tendency to reflect everything in front of them. Editing out reflections in lenses may seem pretty straight forward, but the subtle gradient of many lenses can make it tougher than you might think. This set up will give you virtually no reflections and a great looking shot of your sunglasses, right in camera. 

Behold, the boat

Note the light placement. I used a beauty dish here for ease of set transition, but two softboxes would work well. You are essentially bouncing light back onto the glasses from the front and back sweep. If you are getting milky looking frames, add a flag to keep some of the softbox rom spilling directly onto the glasses. 

This is the set up used by the company I shoot for full time. One of the benefits of working in a production studio is that you get to work with other photographers and share ideas on how to tackle certain issues. The sunglass boat is one such instance. 

The idea here is to build yourself a "boat" out of white seamless paper, with only one hole big enough to fit the lens. This way, everything around your sunglasses is white and will reflect as seamless white in your lenses. 

Carefully cut a hole in the paper to allow just the lens through. This will keep your reflections to a minimum. 

This set up will eliminate reflections for quite a few styles of sunglasses. Aviators and similar styles may reflect the lens itself, but that is far more manageable in post than most other reflections. 


Note the use of white gaffer tape to tape the seams. This prevents the small paper overlaps from reflecting in the lens

This set up has the added versatility of being able to shoot straight on and at an angle, or back shot in one set with out needing to move fill cards or fancy footwork.