Simple Lighting Techniques – Part 4

The next shot to work on in this series is a little different, a low key shot that creates a very different mood. I just used one head for this a Bowens Esprit Gemini 250 head with a Grid reflector and a Honeycomb. I really like working with low key lighting, it can great fun to play around with.

Sam was very patient here, as it takes a little time to get this shot just right. I asked her to sit on a chair about a metre away from the background, looking straight into the camera. It’s important that your model keeps really still because in this photo you are trying to light very small areas of the face and eyes. The set up couldn’t be easier, just one light pointing towards the side of the models head.

I set up the Gemini 250 with the Grid reflector and attached the smallest Honeycomb, the 1/8 th inch size. It’s worth mentioning here just how versatile this combination can be in the studio. The Grid reflector covers 60 degrees, a good all round reflector and you can buy it with a set of three ‘Honeycombs’ each with different size holes, 1/8 th, ¼ and 3/8 th of an inch. Each of the Honeycombs fits into the front of the reflector and controls the spread of light. You can use various combinations for hair lights or to create a pool of light on a background or product, they really are useful.

The Bowens BW-1865 60 Grid Reflector with 3 Grids

The Bowens BW-1865 60° Grid Reflector with 3 Grids


One word of caution here, because you are using a small diameter reflector and Honeycomb, it traps the heat of the modelling light and will get hot very quickly. So try to model and meter as quickly as you can, then turn down the modelling lamp or turn it off completely. It’s just common sense really and it will help the modelling lamp last a little longer!

I have drawn another diagram to help you place the light in roughly the correct position, but depending on the subject you will have to move the light up or down and around to get the perfect shot. My two favourite shots here are to light only half of the face or to get the light just into both eyes. As you will see you can achieve so many dramatic shots this way. If you want to bring a little more light into the opposite side of the face, just bring in a small reflector, using either the gold or silver sides to add more or less warmth.

As for the technical stuff, quite easy really, I wanted to shoot at around f 8, so I adjusted the power of the 250 until I got that aperture.

Here are three shots of Sam taken with one Bowens Esprit Gemini 250 head. As you can see my chum Chris (the proper photographer) loved one of the shots and edited it to black and white, which he felt gave a more soft dreamy effect. I hope you have fun playing with this low key effect, let me know how you got on.


Good Luck


My thanks to Chris at ReeveBanks photography for his help and coffee making skills and to Sam Gooden-Wood for putting up with me for a day and also to Chris’s assistant Mark, for all his help.