This is a fun and interesting technique used throughout the portrait and fashion world and it is comprised of two key lights right next to each other. When you place a light next to your subject it has a natural amount of falloff, but sometimes it is not enough. Or maybe you wish to have more abrupt and creative falloff.

You use two lights to do this and they are placed in the same position as you place any key light for the desired pattern. Start with one light and a 10 or 20 degree grid spot on it. Place in position for the desired light pattern and take a test. Here I am doing butterfly lighting. Once the exposure is correct, bring a large light box and position it right behind the grid. I also used a small light box on a boom for a hair light.


Its best to use a flash meter as you want to have the light box 1/2 to 2/3 less than the grid. It is also a sort of, key/fill arrangement. The left photo shows the result of this technique.

More Portraits

This was another assignment for a Native American organization in the Pacific Northwest. I wanted to do a traditional portrait in the spirit of one of my hero’s of historic photography, Edward Curtis.

I hung my favorite muslin background up and then used a large light box at 3:00 o’clock on camera right. That is it, one light! I feathered it towards the background so I would have some detail and then completed some burning and dodging in PS.