Lighting On Location


The Upcoming Fights
by Tony Corbell

As working photographers, we all experience unique calls asking us to do all sorts of things. They are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and every once in a while, just odd. This is the story of how one strange job came to me.

The call was for someone to document the six girls who were to carry the round signs for an upcoming Muy Tai Kickboxing tournament, for images to be used for posters, calendars, and banners for the venue. It actually did sound like fun and turned out to be just that. We started in a local boxing gym complete with the full ring and filled with fighters. I had this idea of asking them to line up by the edge of the apron just on the outside of the ropes. I didn’t exactly tell them they would be out of focus and dark but that was the way I saw it in my mind.

Here is the result of the first image we took. In this we took one of our models and placed her in the center of the ring with the fighters lined up in the back. We actually liked it better in black and white, but the client was all about the bright colors. The main light was a 2X3 RFi softbox on a Profoto B1X. There were two accent lights in the back, one was placed on the floor with a red gel at camera’s left and the other had a warmer gel inside and over on the right of the camera. This was up fairly high above the ring to light her hair and give good separation from the background.

As a little bit of spice we placed a fog machine down low behind the fighters to give a smokey effect. Keep in mind that I had to do six of each of the three total setups (see figure 1). Next, we were asked to do an image of each girl with her favorite fighter for posters that would be used all over town to promote the fights. We didn’t change much from the first setup, but we did change our camera position and removed the red gel and replaced it with a medium blue. The light with the blue gel metered one stop below the main light and the accent light with the warming gel metered one-half stop below the main light (see figure 2). The posters were everywhere in the community just days after we delivered the finished, retouched image files.

Next, they wanted a bathing suit shot of each girl and we worked pretty fast to get this done for all six and in most cases, they changed into a second costume. Two-light setup was in order as the small Octa was just off-camera and the accent was a 1X3 foot vertical strip light with a grid attached. These were really fun for the girls and I think the client did it mostly for their benefit (see figures 3, 4, and 5).

Finally, as we were wrapping up the day, we decided to place each girl in the corner of the ring on the small stool they use between rounds. This turned out to be a pretty good place in terms of cool composition and for me, I liked what we did. The client, models, fighters, my assistants, everyone seemed to really like this final setup. The lighting accomplished once again with only two lights. The main was 2×3 softbox, the accent was a 1×3 with no gel, and the fog machine was mostly turned up on high. It was a great way to finish off the day (figures 5 and 6). The fight date is coming up soon and these images will be everywhere for promotion. It was a great day indeed.

Camera: Canon 5D MarkIII
Lights: Profoto B1X (3)
Exposure: Varied from 5.6-11
ISO: 200
White Bal: Daylight

Special thanks to Joe Glyda and Curtis Sprague for all of their help keeping me on task.

Tony Corbell has been teaching lighting concepts, theories, and techniques for over twenty-five years and has spoken to over over 40,000 photographers throughout the world on the topic of light control. His numerous youtube videos have topped well over one million views. He is an instructor at the Texas School of Professional Photography and most recently spoke at TPPA Summerfest 2018. You can learn more about Tony Corbell at and