Two Light Setup with a Stripbox

Many months ago, I purchased a stripbox to something new to complement my Alienbee strobes. I had used these before in Langara College before while taking a photography course.  Of course, they have nice Profoto heads and Profoto softboxes, so I was curious what a $79, 14" x 59", stripbox with a $250 Alienbee could do.  

So a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Cinthia Torres Makeup Artistry to take some bridal themed makeup and hair headshots.  I jumped at the chance to bring out the new toy to try and see if I can get some different than the traditional butterfly or clamshell beauty lighting. 

The Setup

The setup was actually done inside Cinthia's bedroom - which left sufficient room but not a ton.  The model was to be seated on her bed, with a backdrop draped behind the subject.  Here's a lighting diagram:


The equipment list is as follows:

  • Alienbee 800 in the stripbox, with a grid
  • Alienbee 1600 in the octabox
  • Canon 6D and 100mm L macro lens

Tuning the Lights

I find that when using multiple lights, it's easier to adjust them if you do one at a time, starting with the key light or main light - the one that's primarily responsible for lighting your subject.  That way, you can adjust the power and it's clear from the modelling lamp, which strobe is contributing what to the overall subject.  

The photo to the below left shows just tuning the octabox to the correct exposure.  The photo to the right is after adding the stripbox.  The model here is Aleshia Fiolleau.

Both shots are straight out of the camera, with nothing but white balance and minor exposure adjustments.  

As you can see, the stripbox not only fills in the subject's right side, but also keeps a shadow transition area between where the two lights. In my view, this gives it a bit more three dimensional feel to the photo.

Keep Using the Same Setup!

Now that you've done the hard work getting the whole setup going, now is the time to keep using it until you've run out of poses.  Because this is shoot is for showing off the makeup and hair, I had the model face towards and away from the camera.  The shots below are all straight out of camera with no editing aside from white balance and minor exposure adjustments.

Finally, here are a few edited shots.  I applied my usual blemish removal, stray hair removal and some dodging and burning to add the necessary local contrast.  Of course, it also helps to have two great muses who are good at what they do.


Getting the lighting done right on camera really helps move the final product along and get them turned around.

Now in this case, I believe the 14" x 56" stripbox is oversized for a head and shoulders portrait.  But I'll definitely be putting it to good use for full length portraits in the future!