Single-source lighting? You got this

I’ll admit that sometimes on a commercial set it’s to my advantage to put on a bit of a show for the client. Lots of equipment on hand and a few assistants rushing around can make a client feel they made the right decision. Other times, I find I can say plenty with one light on a c-stand.If you think about lighting, it’s usually a case where we’re trying to replicate what the sun does, and what is the sun but a single light?Early in my career I would consciously take note of how the sun’s light looked at various times of day, under varying weather conditions, and reflected off surfaces. I used this knowledge to help sort out how to recreate natural and unnatural occurrences of illumination with lighting equipment.I often find I need at least two lights because the job requires a fill light, a hair light, or a highlight to open up a room. But I like to test myself by sometimes going to a shoot with a single light. It’s a fun challenge that keeps me from getting bored. Here are some recent results of my experiments.Ian Spanier is an award-winning commercial and portrait photographer based in Los Angeles.