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Using ONE LIGHT in Studio for TOP DOWN LIGHTING by Nathan Elson

3/07/2024 Matt 0 Comments

Today, Nathan Elson is taking us behind the scenes of a recent studio shoot where he skillfully utilized one light with one modifier to create three distinct looks. Join us as we delve into the secrets of Nathan's top-down lighting technique and explore the versatile applications of this approach.

Top-Down Lighting:

Nathan starts off by explaining the top-down lighting technique, where the light source is positioned above the model, creating a dramatic fall-off that enhances the portrait's visual impact. He emphasizes the importance of light placement, using a 60-inch Rapid Snap Octabox from Strob Pro for its quick assembly, efficient storage, and affordability. Nathan's gear choices are accessible, proving that creating stunning portraits is about ingenuity rather than an extensive equipment list.

Backdrop and Composition:

For the shoot's backdrop, Nathan opts for a 9 ft super white seamless background from Savage Backdrops. Placing the model strategically away from the backdrop ensures a light gray background, allowing for creative color grading in post-processing. Nathan dismisses the notion that only a large studio can achieve these results, encouraging photographers to adapt and problem-solve with the resources at hand.


Nathan Elson's one light, one modifier method proves that exceptional portraits are within reach for photographers of all levels. By mastering top-down lighting and experimenting with composition, backdrop, and gear, Nathan showcases the endless possibilities of creative photography. 

 If you enjoyed this article and want to see more, don't forget to subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

You may also like: Using ONE LIGHT for Amazing Results


About Nathan Elson:

I'm a commercial photographer based out of Calgary, AB. My YouTube channel will be a place for my behind the scenes, Q&A, and whatever else happens to make it into video form that seems like people might be interested in viewing. Let's Get Connected: | LIGHTROOM & CAPTURE ONE PRESET PACKS: | STUDIO LIGHTING WORKSHOP 

Image and video via Nathan Elson