Simple 2 lights setup – Behind the scenes crossfit photoshoot

I captured these images in Cannes (France) a few weeks back. 2 CrossFit athletes and a simple goal: make a series of dark, dramatic shots. I’ve done a similar video in the past with bikini fitness athlete Priscilla Del Canto back in Strasbourg. Check out the setups I used back then if you haven’t already.

For this CrossFit session, I used the same technique throughout with a few variations on placement depending on the amount of shadows I needed. The lights are almost always facing each other, helping my athlete to pop out of the dark background. The angles of my lights were chosen according to how the muscles were shaped by the shadows. I would start from the side (complete split at a 90 degrees angle) and go slowly to a 45 degrees angle.

No use of HSS here, we are inside and not a lot of light was coming in. That is the reason why I am around ISO 160 and at a speed of 1/125th or 1/160th for most shots. I wanted dark but still, keep some details in the background. With these settings, you need a very short flash duration to freeze the action. With the Broncolor Siros L in speed mode, I was sure to get the shots.

I used the Beauty box 65 as a Rim/side/back light with a grid on it for more control and to avoid light spill.

Here are a few details on 9 shots from this photo shoot. If the video goes to fast you can now take your time and analyze the diagrams and related pictures.

5D Canon mark III
24-70 mm 2.8 L mark II
2 x Broncolor Siros L
90 x 120 cm Broncolor softbox
65 cm Beauty box by Broncolor








8 and 9 share the same setup:

The video was filmed by my beloved partner and assistant Marlène, with a GoPro Hero 4.

Huge thanks to Ornella Nicolosi and Kevin Fako Rantrua of Crossfit Cannes for letting me make this video. Down below is the complete gallery:


Simple 2 lights setup - Behind the scenes crossfit photoshoothazekware

16 comments on "Simple 2 lights setup – Behind the scenes crossfit photoshoot"

  1. Incredible work.
    I have a question regarding “beauty box”.
    I saw that there is no big difference in light if you put closer the beauty box or softbox.
    If so, can I use softboxes only? If not ca you explane why?
    Thanks a lot, you are really talented guy!

    • Hi there, and thank you for stopping by… The different isn’t huge but it is still there. The bigger the light source the better, the closer the light the softer the light will be and the better quality of it is noticeable. I like the contrast given by the beautybox but it’s a matter of taste. When I need a soft caressing light on muy model (for a portrait for example) I will certainly use a bigger softbox in favor of the beautybox 65. Of course you can you use softboxes only, but is it the look you are going after? Does it suit the type of work you want to show the world? If yes than they are right tools for you.

  2. lovely article..thanks for share

  3. Hey man… Awesome of you to share your skills and knowledge!! Ever used or know the Elinchrom d-light 2??? I have been given two, and a friend wants some gym shots! – I’m in the ‘can’t afford much, need to make do category’ (using Nikon d750 and wide Primes)… Any tips with these, if you know them…?

    Maybe bit of a reach, I know haha… Appreciate your thoughts none the less… Merci 🙂

    • Sorry, I’ve never used the d lights… Only the ELD line! How much power do these have? When shooting indoors, with strobes more powerful than speedlights, you can pretty much do anything.

  4. Hello I am a complete nuby to this and I love love this video you make it seem so easy .

    Anyway you can show me what I need to buy piece by piece ?

    I have the camera and lenses but I am lost on the lighting and how you are able to make the flash happen while shoot wirelessly .

    This is a stupid question and I’m sorry for it !

    Could you help me with amazon links ?

    • Hi there, this is a huge responsibility… I cannot help you if you don’t give me more information, on you your projects and the type of images you wish to create. There are so many options out there, different budgets and so on…

  5. Hey mate,

    Love the shoot and will be doing my first one soon. I’m using godox ad400 pro and 200 pro and wondered how did you work out what flash power to use? Given the distance were you at near full power?

    • I am using a 800Ws Broncolor Siros L… it delivers a lot of power, I rarely use it at full power. If you don’t have a light meter, you will have to make a few test shots and adjust your power accordingly.

  6. Thanks so much for your willingness to share your work. As much as I appreciate your willingness to be so helpful, it would be immeasurably helpful if you could walk us through the process of determining the settings for both the camera and the flash. Based on your above response I see that you do incorporate a light meter? Do you go with the light meters readings? In the past when using film I only used a light meter for the cameras settings with ambient light never used it for flash photography. So if you can at some point step by step how to and the considerations that come into play when making your decisions or choices would be great.

    • You don’t need a light meter for most of the stuff I do… The reason I never share my flash settings is that I never find the information as useful as it may seem. You will never shoot in the same conditions and location as me. You will have a different model and your style, your approach in general, will be different. The idea and I believe it is the best way to learn, is to have the basic camera settings, the intent of the photographer and the resulting images as a starting point, and with trials and errors, you will better understand what works for your images and why.

  7. Thank you for sharing all of this. Do you meter to set your lights or chimp? Is the key light brighter, or does it just appear brighter because of the size of the 2nd light and the grid? I’m going to look again, but I didn’t see anything re: HSS. I would LOVE to see anything you have on that…

    Thanks again!

    • I used to meter… now I don’t 😉 The key is usually brighter… but that depends on what I try to achieve. Concerning HS and HSS I made a video about that a while ago, have you seen it?

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