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Mastering Lighting with Godox: Exploring the World of Two-Light Setups

9/01/2023 Matt 0 Comments

photographer Aries Tao

This week, photographer Aries Tao is taking things up a notch as he explores the intriguing realm of two-light setups. Get ready to elevate your photography game as he tackles various scenarios and lighting techniques that will make your subjects shine.

Backlight Situation

Let's kick things off with a typical backlight scenario. Picture this: a radiant model basking in the gentle glow of two light sources. One of these sources is equipped with an umbrella, providing that soft, flattering light we all love. This soft light bounces off the floor, delicately illuminating the model's face and creating an enchanting effect.

Backlight Situation Master Two-Light Setups

However, don't dismiss the second light just yet. It offers versatility that's hard to ignore. With its harsher quality, it can emulate the sun's kiss on the model's face, infusing a warm, glowing aura and adding dimension to the subject. Position this light strategically, from the side or behind, to achieve separation from the background. While a single light setup is effective, two lights provide you with boundless flexibility.

Balance Harsh and Soft Lights

Now, let's discuss the balance between harsh and soft lights. Placing one light at a 45-degree angle from the top can work wonders. However, consider adding a second light from below to create a "clamshell" lighting setup. This technique enhances the subject's skin and reduces shadows, resulting in a more pleasing portrait.

Balance Harsh and Soft Lights

But don't limit yourself. Experiment with the harshness of the lights. Removing the umbrella from the top light and embracing its harshness can mimic natural sunlight, producing defined shadows and highlights that align with the background. 

This consistency between the subject and their environment can lend a striking quality to your shots.

Recreate a Sunset on a Hazy Day

Ever wanted to capture the magic of a sunset on a hazy day? With two lights, you can achieve this effect. Add an umbrella to soften the highlights, simulating the soft light that filters through clouds and gently kisses the subject's hair. Further enhance the effect with a black means filter to create a subtle haziness over the model's face.

To balance the shadows, introduce another soft light to lift the darker side of the face. This combination creates a captivating image with a dreamy, atmospheric quality.

Create Sunlight on a Cloudy Day

Cloudy days can present a challenge, but with two lights, you can overcome it. Use a barn door attachment to one of the lights to cast patches of sunlight on the model's face, mimicking the sporadic sunbreaks on an overcast day. After defining highlights with the harsh light, fill in the shadows with the soft light to create a well-balanced image.


In conclusion, while a two-light setup may require a bit more effort compared to a single light, the advantages are undeniable. You gain unparalleled flexibility to mix and match between harsh and soft lights, creating a diverse array of lighting effects to complement your subject. Whether it's hair lights, fill lights, or a unique blend of soft and harsh, the choice is yours.

We hope you've enjoyed this episode of "Godox Lighting 101." Keep experimenting, pushing boundaries, and crafting your unique style. 

Images and video via GODOX Global |  Photographer Aries Tao