Every once in a while, I want to try new light set ups for my photoshoots. This is where I fetch my small light modifiers and experiment with them.
Small light modifiers are not the favorite tools of lot of photographers but when you use them correctly, they can give you much more control than a softbox or an octabox would give.

Where can you use this set up?

It is not the most traditional soft portrait lighting because of the relative hard light coming from the beauty dish and reflectors. That being said, if you are willing to invest a bit more time in skin retouching, I see no reason not to use it in a portrait photoshoot.
It can easily be used also for a fashion shoot.

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Beauty dish without a grid

fashion photoshoot zürich

Beauty dish with a grid


I have used short Rembrand lighting with the model slightly in profile position. I looked for the camera side of the face to fall into the shadow. You should consider this when you are posing your subject.


Arctic white. I chose the white because I wanted to change the colour of the background with a gel.


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Reflector as fill light

Main Light

I have used a silver beauty dish with a grid (44cm dish).
In the first photo you will see the beauy dish without any grid. Light spilled all over.
When I added the grid, it focused on the face of the model.
Placement of the beauty dish was important. I wanted the hot spot of the dish to fall on the centetr of the face but leave the camera close side in the shadows. You will see the little triangle under the camera close eye. That was what I was looking for to create the Rembrandt light as I mentioned before.

Fill Light

To fill the shadows on the camera close side of the face I have used a 21 cm reflector with a teal gel. As you can see, some of the light falls on to the background. That was an effect I have wanted. If you don’t want that, then you should use flags or a black deflector.

Background Light

I wanted to have more blue-teal light on the background. So I added another light just for the background with another 21 cm reflector. To prevent the light from spilling around I added an 8 degree grid. Of course this reflector also had a blue-teal gel on it.​

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Reflector with teal gel


Gels are an easy way to bring interest to your photos. They can be used to bring bold colours or pastel colours. It is important to keep in mind that they should be used with a purpose rather than just throwing some colour here and there.

Colour Theory

One other way to decide on which gels to use is thecolour theory. You can refer to the colour wheel to choose your colours based on formulas like complementary, monochromatic colours etc. One good resource for that is Adobe Color:


I made the basic adjustments in Lightroom. Contrast, highlight and shadows.
After that I went into Photoshop and did some skin retouching to smoothen the highlights caused by the beauty dish and the reflector.
At the end I used the selective colour to colour grade my image.
I cooled down the shadows and warmed up the yellows with a bit cyan and magenta in the neutrals. That was it!

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Background light: reflector with a grid and blue gel

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Final image



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Deniz Leu Photography bietet professionelle Produktfotografie und Businessfotoshootings im Kanton Zürich an.


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