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A White Shopping Bag Can Help Add Soft Off-Camera Lighting to Portraits


Photographer Michael Zelbel of Good Light Magazine published this short video tutorial on how you can use a simple white shopping bag as a cheap way to add soft off-camera lighting to your portraits.

Zelbel places a large white shopping bag very close to his model (just out of the frame) and places his flash in the bag with the head pointed straight up at the opening in the top (versus at the model).



He then uses his hand as a “stand in” to figure out the proper illumination, and checks his histogram to make sure the highlights aren’t getting blown out. What results from this trick are portraits with a soft and pleasing glow from the side of the frame.


As Zelbel’s “old German proverb” says: “A bag from shopping makes your light jaw-dropping.”

You can find more of Zelbel’s photo tutorial videos in Good Light Mag’s YouTube channel.

(via Good Light! Clips via ISO 1200)

Image credits: Photographs by Michael Zelbel/Good Light Magazine and used with permission