Beginners Guide to SFX
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Lighting Setups that Never Fails

May 08

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Clamshell Lighting

Clamshell is an easy setup you can do with softboxes or umbrellas that will always give you good results. you only need two lights, one as your key, angled above your subject, and the fill light below. Its great for shooting someone who is older because it fills in lines and wrinkles, it  can make anyone look good! The key is to keep your main light a little higher power than your fill, here I’ll show you how this effects the image.


I used an umbrella for the effect it gives with eyes, making them appear brighter and drawing attention to them more.


  • 0:40- Quick and easy setup
  • 1:10- Our setup
  • 1:45- 3:1 ratio
  • 2:30- Shooting between the lights
  • 3:30- Why a 1:1 ratio doesn’t look the best
  • 5:00- Lowering the power of the fill light
  • 5:30- Catchlight
  • 5:45- Getting the image we want
  • 6:10- Choosing your main light
  • Karl Filip Karlsson

    You so pretty! :P  
    Nice and simple! Like it! :)

  • Bernard

    so simple! You’re the best!

  • Samuel

    Oh my gosh, those Ruadh DeLone caricatures are hilarious, you should do a deconstruction of them! I’d mess with my friends so much…

  • David Platt

    I see you use Paul Buff lights a good bit. I’m interested in getting some studio lights finally, but don’t know the differences.

    Is there any way you could give a brief overview and pro/con of the various models? (alien bees, white lightning, Einstein, etc.)


  • Eric Devir

    Thanks guys! I love this look. 

    For those wanting more on this kind of setup for beauty portraiture, check out .  Sean Armenta shows how he does this with a single light, beauty dish and a reflector. 

  • Eric Burgers

    Nice! Going to try this out myself…

  • Epiphany_media

    Before I even watch this…from reading the comments…clamshell lighting can be created using 2 umbrellas / octo’s / softboxes or by using a one light set up with a triflector / reflector in an up and down or side by side configuration. The top light in an up and down configuration is the main or fill

  • Pingback: Indoor lighting help needed for headshot

  • Tony Salas

    Hi. Are you using a D240 on the end of your baby boom to affix to your AB (looks like a 1600) strobe?

  • CrackerJacker

    I JUST got roped into my first portrait session with strobes and this may have saved my life. You rock, Phlearn & Aaron!

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