Lighting Behind the Scenes and Inspiration

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: July 27, 2015

Category: Photography

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of the personal projects I’m currently working on is documenting the training and life of now Kick Boxing World Champion, Steven ‘Pocket Rocket’ Cook. Most weeks when we both have a little bit of time we’ll get together to work on some new images to add, and the one below is from a shoot last weekend.

So today I thought I’d give you a look Behind the Scenes and show you the lighting set up, but also this time to explain where the inspiration came from…


One thing I’m really passionate about is the planning and preparation before a photo shoot; taking the time beforehand will guarantee you a successful photo shoot every time! Part of the planning process involves coming up with a concept/idea and for this there’s unlimited places you can draw inspiration from: the internet, book covers, posters, movies, websites like IMPAWARDS, magazines and so it goes on…

Now the idea for this particular picture, and by that I mean the pose and the lighting came from a picture I saw by Photographer Joey Lawrence that he did for a National Geographic documentary called Killing Lincoln…

Looking at the lighting and watching a bit of video footage from the shoot, Joey Lawrence’s original set up was to use 2 x gridded beauty dishes to give the rim lighting and then a 135cm Octa to add a little more light and focus on to the front character John Wilkes Booth.

For my own set up, for the rim lighting I used 2 Elinchrom 130cm x 50cm Rotalux Strip boxes with just the inner diffusion panel fitted; as was the case with the 135cm Octa. This enabled me to get a light that was midway between soft and hard…perfect for the look I was after in this gym themed shoot.

Looking at the position of the Octa, this was to add just a touch more light onto Steven’s face and feathering it off like this gave just enough whilst still maintaining the look I was after…


Here you can see the positioning of the lighting and also an idea of the low angle I was shooting from; the reason for this was two fold…firstly shooting from low down adds drama and power to your subjects but also as Steven isn’t the same height as Michael I get him to stand closer to the camera position. This way in the picture, Steven and Michael still look as though they’re close together and the height difference between them is lessened…does that make sense?



Shooting tethered is a MUST for a picture such as this: slows you down and enables you to see exactly what you’re getting and so make small changes that go to make a BIG difference.

Above you can see I’m tethered to my MacBook Pro with TetherTools cables into the Canon EOS software which I find to be 100% reliable, 100% of the time…and fast. Most times when I’m doing this I’ll set up a watched folder in Lightroom so the pictures go straight into a library and can also have a ‘look’ applied to them as they come through. This ‘look’ isn’t the final picture but helps to give the models/subjects more of an understanding of the goal.

Actually on that note it’s probably worth mentioning that before the shoot I showed Steven and Michael the Killing Lincoln picture to give them both an idea of what I wanted. We weren’t after an exact copy but rather something with my own stamp on it but as they say A Picture Paints a Thousand Words so rather than me try to explain the pose, I just showed them.


So there you go, just a quick run through to give you a look behind the scenes at another picture.

As always if you have any questions/comments then please feel free to make use of the comments section below. In the mean time though, have a great start to the week and I’ll catch you back here tomorrow.


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  1. Martin Clark

    Hi Glyn, Great post! I was wondering what the white balance was set to. I see there are some fluorescent overhead lights that look as though they were strong enough to light the background. Did you use a colorchecker passport or did you just tweak the colours to suit the feel in post? Thanks

    • Glyn Dewis

      The WB was set to auto but a color checker was used for the grey card and colour settings later to give me a good starting point. From there I then added my own colouring. The overhead fluorescent lights weren’t captured in the shot due to the shutter speed exceeding 1/60sec mate.

      • Martin Clark

        Great thanks Glyn

  2. ickledot

    Thank you for that. Very interesting. Notice also that the ‘president’ picture, quite correctly given subject/mood, has a softer look, presumably achieved post. This is a contrast to the slightly grungy effect which has become something of a personal trademark in you boxing/athlete/body builder work. Was it something you also gave thought to, the softer look?

  3. R Lee

    There is a slight green tinge to the shot and I don’t know if it is my eyes or my screen?

    • Glyn Dewis

      Green? Yeah it’s either your eyes or your screen. It has been colour mapped but not green.


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