Low-Key Film Noir Portrait with Erik Valind and FlashBender 2

Old Hollywood produced a type of lighting that is still popular today. This film noir, high contrast looks was originally created with hot lights, barn doors, and fresnel lenses. Today, however, we can recreate this look without breaking out large lights and heavy modifiers.


For the main light, the use of a Rogue 3-in-1 Flash Grid will create a directional spot light that will give a crisp edge to the shadows on our subject. Using the 45° spot we’ll be able to create a circular shape to the light with a feathered edge for nice fall off around her arms so there’s little distraction from her face.

Because grids are such precision tools, it’s important to find out exactly where the light is falling. One problem is that speedlights don’t have modeling lights, however by using the pulsation modeling light in some speedlights or by firing the flash at lower powers while the subject has their eyes closed allows us to position the light right on the mask of the face.

To separate our subject’s hair from the background, we’re going to need some more precise, but soft light. Using the FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System we can form the XL FlashBender Reflector into a gridded strip. This will make our flash source larger in size making it soft, but also make it directional with the Strip Grid Diffuser.

It’s important to remember when setting up a hair light to make sure it only falls on the subject’s hair. If the hair light is closer to camera, there’s the risk of the hair light falling on the subject’s nose and edge of their face, which is next to impossible to fix in post.

Using only two speedlights, a Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System, and Rogue 3-in-1 Flash Grid we’ve created a stunning high contrast portrait that is great for models, seniors, even boudoir!

Final Image:

Erik Valind
Erik Valind


Erik Valind is a freelance photographer, born and raised on the Florida beaches, now living in New York City. Specializing in commercial lifestyle photography and environmental portraiture - airy and energetic imagery defines the style and vision of this top pro photographer. Inspired by the form, activity and diversity of people, Erik has lent his expertise to shape the public image of numerous personas and national brands.

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