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Anatomy of a Photoshoot

Lesson 8 of 38

Light Modifiers and the Shape of Light

Mark Wallace

Anatomy of a Photoshoot

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

8. Light Modifiers and the Shape of Light

Lesson Info

Light Modifiers and the Shape of Light

Source of light okay. Very very cool so wait to talk about something that we haven't talked about yet and it is a speculator highlights okay speculate highlights very very important so um these lights over here we have different different shapes okay? So the source of our lights we've talked about the size how that matters we've talked about the distance and how that matters now are we going to talk about is how this shape matters because why would you have something that is an octa box and why would you have something that's ah similarly large that's a square why would you have something like this that is uh you know, around we've got beauty dishes etcetera why does it matter? Isn't it just hard? Light and soft light and answer is no it's not just hard lighting soft light because not only were looking at how the shadows are affected by the size of the light but the reflections are determined by the shape of the light. So if you look into somebody's go teo target or kmart or walmart an...

d go to that they're always they have like in the clothing department they have the gigantic pictures of people in the wall like babies and stuff like that um or the mall shopping mall big huge banners of people and then look in people's eyeballs like on the wall not in the store and freak him out you're getting arrested but you look in the eyeballs um or in like, the silverware and stuff like that we're going to see is like here I'm sure there's no way you can see this on video, but I can see in this this bottle right here I can actually see those windows I can see the reflection of those windows and has a shape and it's a square and it's got little lines through from the blinds, and so that is called a speculum highlight. If those windows were big round window instead of a square than this highlight would be round, it wouldn't be square anymore when you go look at people's eyes in stores and pictures and stuff, you will see that they're either a square catch light or around catch light or one that looks really crazy because it's round with donut hole in the middle, something like that and those air created using different shaped modifiers. Now, if you watch my videos over the past few years, you'll know that I am a pro photo addict. Um, I used this stuff, and the reason I used pro photo stuff constantly is they have just a huge library of light modifiers and light shaping tools and eso if you're shooting let's, say aye, a campaign for uh uh shampoo well you want, I don't know much about shampoo, but uh you want like on the hair of the model you would want like a really nice sheen across that hair we don't want a round blob of xin you want a nice specific line of sheen so to get that specific line of xin you have to have a light that is uh like sort of like a fluorescent light to do that um if you want to have a really cool kind of superhero kind of shot you have to control how the shadows are falling on somebody so you need really hard light but you also need to have a reflection in the eyes and how the clothes are looking so you're going to use a ring flash and so we're at this point what were starting to do is we're gonna combine our uh the direction of light which seems sort of inconsequential it for strikes like okay, I got it it just happens over and over we're going to control the contrast to move with the direction of light were going control if it's hard or soft using the size of the light were going to control the light fall off by the distance of the light they were going to control the spectator highlights by the shape of the light it's very important all these things they come together I'm gonna show you a couple of things so let me show you a few different shapes so we have on octo box it looks like this so kelsey is going to be bringing stuff out. John was gonna be bringing stuff out, so if you could bring the beauty dish out and bring, um also the ring light, we'll bring out a for now gonna bring a bunch of stuff out here for you, and then we're gonna go out here and we're gonna actually show you, um, how this works on our model. Okay? Yeah, I'm just gonna put this right here. All right? So I'm a first look at this right here. Another thing that's very important is the is the coating on the inside of this so you can get, um, beauty dishes like this that are silver. You could get them that are white. Um and why would you have a different color? Why white and silver and reflectors is the same way white reflect your silver reflector school reflectors, etcetera. Well, this um hey, it's gonna have a color cast so not very much with white, but if you have something that's gold's gonna color caste but white he's gonna be more diffused it's gonna be a little bit softer, light silver, higher contrast a little bit, punch your life, and so it all depends on what kind of look you like normally for portrait I like the white that's what I prefer um because I'm going with something like this notice this is a large source of light shoes for portrait sis using pretty darn close that's going to give this soft light and it's round the reason it's round is we wanted to be sort of natural right we want this to be a natural looking thing in this sun is round so natural looking speculator highlights around so beauty dish gives you a nice contrast it gives you soft light and it gives you natural looking speculator highlights so if you could mount this up we're gonna actually have carly come out we're gonna actually show that another very uh specific type of light in gotham in this all way back is a light called parabolic light now parabolic light what it does is it allows you to focus light in a direction and so unfortunately we can't show the audio part of this on the internet but when I open this up okay have your say something anything doesn't matter hey what's going on in that crazy that's pretty cool yes so what have you experienced? I'm gonna point this right at the camera here it is what this is doing is a parabolic light and if you get this from the side view notice how it's sort of a bull shape okay were sort of off on a tangent here but just go with me what a parabolic light does is a normal reflector just sort of takes light reflects it and it just goes away, goes out a parabolic reflector and I think these guys are also, uh a little parabolic is you can focus the light so it takes all the light and when it's coming back to the subject it's all going the same direction so it's, like, uh, right at your subject and so you get a much different look than you do if your light is scattered. So what I did over here with hobby air is when you talk into this, all the sound comes right back at you and it's like you're talking into a p a system it's really freaky. And so you guys can try this later, he's talking to the middle and you'll know if something's parabolic when you talk into it, it goes right back at you. So if you're ever in san francisco, you know, the real cool, doing whatever that's called stand anything, okay? And it comes back. You sure a bunch of other cities have that but that's parabolic saying gonna focus all of these light waves and it's coming right back at you and you can zoom those in and out so that's what this guy is right here, it's pretty cool, we also have things like get the beauteous so carly come on I want to show you this beauty dish gonna start giving real life samples of this stuff so you just stand right there excellent only show you what a beauty dish looks like uh as opposed to any other light source and again I need a meter thank you have you stand back just a little bit more are you all right now what I want to do here nobody would have this in a boomer but I want it to be sort of close sort of high so it's nice and natural so what we're doing here is we're trying to duplicate natural look so the sun is up in the sky this is up in the sky above our model sun is around the beauty dishes round everyone a nice cloudy day this shape is going to give us that so when I turn on this modeling light here I will meet her this and that's that's a d three s s okay good I'm gonna turn down my light quite a bit so I don't want to burn out carly's face and I wanna get over here my modeling light says go over here okay that's still way too much juice way go we're all down one thing if you have a really really ok if you have a really powerful uh lights um you're gonna have problems because right now we're shooting at twenty I don't want to shoot a twenty, but I have to the reason that we're shooting in twenty is this camera only goes so two hundred, we're doing that because it has live you normally I'd be using a d three x or one day a smart too, or something that goes down to the one hundred or so fifty euros twenty five so I could get a little bit, uh, have a little bit more leeway. We're going to go with it. Um, so we're twenty. So carly, have you looked right at me? Here you go. Beautiful. Just like that. Excellent. Okay, let's, take a look. This cia weren't looks way have nice soft light from that. And then let me zoom in really quickly here because we're really looking at the speculum highlights. There it is. This is a low resolution image. So it's gonna be a little jaggi. We're looking here at the eyes, so see it's around speculate highlight in the eye. Okay, now, if you can throw a medium soft cocks on there for me so that's that's what we want we want that round speculate highlight if we throw are just a small discover here we throw a square soft walks in here, what's all this changes everything must take that off, please all right if you pop back over there all right and I'm gonna make sure I can actually see the specter highlights yep go ahead. Sixteen sixteen okay, good. I noticed how that light became more diffused less light all right, look right into my lens. Very good. All right, now this guy so I keep calling you got this picture I'll zoom in on it here in a second. There it is that is a square speaking to highlight that seems like a small thing, but the truth is if you are, uh in commercial photography and you have a billboard or something that's a large image that square jumps out at you now that you see this when you go to walmart, target whatever you see those pictures you see little babies with squares in their eyes and it's gonna drive you bonkers drives me bonkers I'm like no make them around um because it doesn't look like a window is it looks like a soft box now it's some photographers do they'll actually put like a fake tea inside the soft box so it looks like it's window light so looks like there's a natural light coming in the window um if we were to shoot fact let's see if we can do so carly come right this way don't try just do all natural light here one of this live life to the fullest here off the grid all right so much very high I s o you yes, it was like that okay, this is an all natural light it's gonna have a horrible color temperature okay, now look at these speculate highlights zoom in here see how that makes your eyes just come to life and if you look really close go camera go go there it is you could see the studio do that you see the lights you can see the grid, the whole thing and so that is just like a small thing that when you see it in an image you can make an image look like something that is uh maura peeling or less appealing and it's it's sort of hard to, uh pinpoint that to the casual observer there like I like this one better than that one but normally it's the speculum highlights and with product photography specifically speculator highlights can make or break your career absolutely no doubt so all right. Do we have questions from the live audience mark? There are so many questions oh, let's load him up so we're headed into lunch let's just go with questions right now. Okay? Um let's start with one from kingsley who would like to know what's the difference from the parabolic light modifier in a silver umbrella just the size so the different a parabolic umbrella that silver as opposed to white well, theyjust wanted they just he asked what's the difference between a parabolic light modifier and a silver umbrella okay, perfect. We have both so just put that on the floor um so this is a parabolic umbrella right here that that'll that'll work just fine so we're gonna pretend like the light the uh one that we have his silver okay, so, um if we look at these side by side I don't know if you can see these this one see how much this is a little bit deeper you see that you see this on camera so it's the shape from the side not the front what's happening is this guy's parabolic so it doesn't have to be this large usually parabolic are a little bit large what's happening is the light that's coming from this it's going straight forward? I know mary poppins, right? So it's going straight forward so lights coming here it's all being reflected and it comes straight forward at your subject. And so what is giving you is the light's going to hit your body and on the edge is what you're going to get is an actual sort of a dark outline and so we'll shoot this okay well, street these both this guy is not focused at all so it's going to act more like a soft box because lights hitting that and just sort of going everywhere, so um let's do this let's keep going with the more questions and then what we'll do is I'll shoot these two specific things either at lunch or if we have enough time I'll shoot it right now so you can really clearly see it we're going to keep moving because we are going to be going through a lot of these shoot show, shoot show stuff a little bit later on either today or day three so I make sure that we don't run out of time, so give us another question, okay, a question from becks cute uh, regarding secular highlights I'm wondering if those highlights, though not easily visible, are also changing textures by virtue of this absolutely yes, so uh where's the dress? Is it hidden somewhere? It's over okay, day three we're trying our product, we're shooting a riel photo shoot on day three for product the product is tether tools, tables these tables that were using constantly, they have this really nice metallic sort of aluminum looked to them, I think they are aluminum and so, uh, we grabbed a bunch of aluminum and metallic looking stuff and definitely you'll see that when we shoot that we're trying to control the spec your highlight because all his reflections we can either make those reflections round or square or all kinds of things if you live in seattle okay for the people who live in seattle yeah, this is I'm not putting that on, so this is this is part of the dress and so it's gonna be really cool but we're going to try to control how these are all reflecting um and we've got all kinds of different things to do that thank you may also have big screens and stuff that we're going to be doing, but if you live in seattle or just go online search frank geary frank here he was an architect. You've known me. Did the disney building in los angeles? He did balboa, the big art gallery. He did the music building here in seattle. Was it called the you may hate me. Mp experience music project it's crazy. Actually, uh, go google this building. Frank gehry. Uh e m p okay, music experience, right? Check it out. I'm just get a look at these these buildings and what you'll see is is all kinds of texture and shape. It looks like somebody took a bunch of paper, rolled up, crumpled up, threw it on the ground and became this giant building. Um now that building has all kinds of different reflections in different times a day that building looks different it's part of the genius of frank gehry, and so um definitely yes next question um, see, russell had had asked if you recommend using round modifiers over rectangle and there seems to be a lot of questions of umbrellas versus soft boxes round versus rectangle I know of kind of touched on that. Okay, let me let me have the umbrella versus soft box first round versus rectangle. So, uh, can we kill ambient light that possible to do that? So, um and then I need a small umbrella as well. Ah, it's in the dark again. Okay, so when I turned on the modeling light here for this so carly, if you could just sort of stepped out for just a second, what we really care about is this ugly white background that we set up. We want to look at the shadows. So over here this is where the light is falling from the soft box and then back behind the soft box there's not really much light falling. In fact, we can fix this up a little bit if we move these in so what's happening is we're we have greater control of the light with soft box. Now if I take this and I'm going to standard reflector as well, so let me do this quickly thank you truly awesome, thank you normally with interns, what we do is if they're looking to the light like that click a papa pocket wizard so blind but uh we don't do that here so this we're gonna do is I would turn back on the modelling light and if I pull this back a little bit depending on how close I am effect I'll pull us back to normal I mean, see this but you can have a lot of light spilling right now it's pretty controlled if I move this back you can see that light is going to start spilling off the sides. All right, so this light should only be coming out at me. There shouldn't be any light behind here, but look there's tons of light behind here we have light spilling everywhere, right? The light should only be on this side of the light, but clearly it's on this side of the light was no good. And so what happens is umbrellas are phenomenal. For now we can turn back on the ambulance if we need that. Um, umbrellas are great if you need to quickly set up to do a portrait lighting session so to do that okay, just took this out of my car. I'm gonna shoot model, shoot a portrait, shoot a senior portrait, click I'm outside, I don't care that the light is spilling everywhere doesn't matter to me I'm not in a studio nice needs a nice soft light I can set this up and get some great light, right? I could even take on this one. I can't take this black backing off and I can shoot through this umbrella get some really, really nice soft light. I call it a poor man soft mocks me being informant so, um, that works great, but if I want to control the light, okay? And I'm in a studio and it's really important for me to have, for example, on any liebowitz type of a shot where is very soft light exactly on a model or a subject and none of that light bounces off a wall or a floor or ceiling a number is gonna be really problematic in the soft box is going to really help that out, and also soft box is going to give you usually more diffuse light because it goes through several layers of diffusion before it comes out. The other thing is a soft, soft box. The light isn't over some boxes let's use this uh, soft box light is coming from the source. Yeah, me grab them. So the light is coming from the source right here and it's travelling straightforward and so you don't have the loss of light that you do with an umbrella because with an umbrella, light goes from the source hits that it loses a lot of energy then it has to come back and so if you need a lot of punch the umbrella is going to be less punchy than a soft boxes so just a few small differences but they can be pretty significant right next question is from che bei ate what does mark think about seeing two reflections in the eye from using two light sources a main nfl to reflections of the I question um if you look closely at my portfolio you will see two reflections in the eyes I don't like it um unless I'm intentionally doing that and so one of the things that that is important to photography is something called the angle of incidence and so if you're shooting something like um glasses or something highly reflective light reflects at a ninety degree angle unless you're reflecting off something that's not flat and so what you can do is let's say you don't wanna have to reflection so the answer to your question is I don't like to reflect because it's uncanny it's freaky doesn't look right so if you have two reflections and want to get rid of one you can change the direction of your life just a little ever so slightly to change the angle at which the light is hitting the eye and you can actually eliminate that second reflection now sometimes there's a second reflection cost by a reflector it's a little bit softer I don't mind that so much um it's very totally subjective and I just sort of look at it and say okay is this something that I think conveys the emotion that I want and if so I'll use it and if not I won't if you actually look at my portfolio mark wallace photography dot com and you look at the light and dark images on there you'll see those I'm lots of portrait's probably two three or four of them have multiple reflections in the eyes ok another question yeah btw would like to know they say I've seen some stroke parabolic reflectors were instead of the usual silver interior it's flat black and what circumstances would you use a flat black kickback yeah I haven't used the flat black ones I've used um hardly called breeze alights I think they're called that have a mixture of black and silver mr looked like a checkerboard pattern really sort of cool um and so I'm not experienced enough to know why you would use black now the big the big ones oh so we do have a snoot somewhere I think can you just repeat what what yeah eso eso somebody there's a thing called a snoot and you can put a reflector in there so let me illustrate so good point john so what's happening is if it's a small reflector like this that's black that's what's happening on this is black you can have a thing on it called a snoot and so what you're trying to do is you're trying to refine the lights so only the light that's coming out is what's hitting the subject you don't wanna have that light bouncing around so the whole thing is black and so you're just getting a really narrow beam of light instead of this that sort of scattering and increasing the light but I thought they were talking about like this rarely large very expensive umbrellas and those normally retail for six to ten thousand dollars and we just don't have any experience with them I hope that answers I'm sorry some things I just don't know lots of things ask diane most things that's just not true yes next you guys have any questions I feel you have a question and it's got a question if you've got a model outdoors as opposed to indoors and you know indoors you might our brain it's used to seeing square highlights because of windows and outdoors maybe the sun does does that play in your decision making on the speculum highlight in the choice of the modifier um it does mean my my uh almost always when I'm shooting outside I'm shooting natural light very rarely do I ever shoot strobes outside I think I've done it twice in my career um although one of them I really like it's in my portfolio it's the very first image you see it's a girl and park it looks cool but almost always when I'm shooting outside just to get enough power, I'm shooting with a standard reflector. One of the things I've learned last year so is do not underestimate the power of a standard reflector, and so we had a day or two that we said let's just sort of stretched and see what we can get using nothing but a single head in a single reflector, and we were able to do what I say we mean kelsey, we were able we brought a model in to get lots of stuff I'm like, I can't believe what we're getting with the standard reflector. Now, obviously we're cheating because we have a pro photo reflector and you consume them and you can focus the light and you can make a hard and soft just by assuming it back and forth in the light so you can have soft, light and hard light and everything in between. But we found that could do all kinds of stuff so normally on location, if I do shoot with a reflector it's it's that it's one of those guys. Okay? Question from german burt, how do you control the catch light in glasses? If the model is wearing glasses, that is a good question angle of incidents so john john's gonna be our model? Isn't he attractive like john, huh? So we're gonna try this out we need a small soft boxes that small it's what we have okay, we'll see if we can wake could make this happen so what we're gonna do here is we're gonna create something that's not good and they were going to fix it so the first thing I need to do is make sure he created yes have you shooting makes you see it's hard for me to see what all the lights going on way have that. Thank you. Still the d three s okay, sixteen your eyes so has changed on there. Thank you. So sixteen. I had to set my camera back to the right mood just manual mode shooting at sixteen and again what? Why did I choose sixteen? Because that's what? It wass so I didn't have any thought about that someone take a picture here of john and hopefully we have bad speaking to highlight I think I don't have to be told that try every meter. Yes, blues eighteen all right, let's, get that nasty spectre highlight how bout with flash way go okay, so there I don't have the man suspected of highland. Okay? The reason that another nasty spectre highlight is because the position of my light now what I can do is I can move this light around a little bit more to the front do this like this thing she didn't meet their god might have too small of a soft box this's the look of me how do you fix this problem can't make the problem happen so we'll try one of these eighteen are they uh see that's a trick so can you put your son in come back okay way might have trick glasses things that would've been good to know yesterday okay, wait we get nothing because you're fun shots and shots no houses houses no shadow going there you can't see it with his beard yeah, I leave it just like it is on like it but that's the angle you would keep it on because one but for now let's see if I can get actually a shadow model. Okay, so just eighteen eighteen again okay? And I think again read a right angle that yeah, so we don't have the issue so you know what the issue is to put it at a forty five forty five and you're not gonna have any issues with glasses. I think probably what happens if you have it just straight on with hard like you're gonna get that but they the answer is move your light either up or to the side just a bit and it'll go away so we could shoot all day to try to get the problem but sorry it's the magic yes sir whoever that polarised light and go that route know too much just too much for me. Yeah, that polarizing stuff because it's, just just too easy just to get that question from philip rawson. What is the smallest soft box I should use to be safe when photographing different numbers of people? Um, okay, since you didn't say how many numbers I'm going to just make a guess so the smallest soft box I would use, um, first of all, umbrellas are great for shooting people, so when you shoot groups of people, you want light to be just surrounding them, and so umbrellas are usually better it photographing people in soft boxes. So what I use is way shot a lot of group shots with these guys. I don't know how babies are, but is just a normal umbrella, so you can see how big that is. Yeah, about forty and umbrellas, something like that, and we'll put three or four or five of those across and shoot um, so you could get away with those if you're shooting a large, large group of people like fifty or sixty people, um, you need to go outside or get a large shamir a soft box, another trick that is really super affordable works very, very well, and I shot groups of, um seventy, eighty people fact I did it I was on a tour a few years ago and we did a bunch of studios and had about a hundred people and eats workshop we wanted to do like a wrap up photo at the end of each thing and so what I did is I just took a single head it was six hundred watt seconds and I put a standard reflector and pointed it at a white wall and sit like, uh my packed full power so six hundred watt seconds because that's all I had I would normally use much more like this guy here twenty five hundred seconds and then you used the entire wall as your soft box and that works great and for a very, very large groups wave used like three or four or five heads and then he just bounced it off the wall that's why white walls are so good. So the answer your question if you got to buy, I suggest umbrellas instead of soft boxes for groups and just go with the normal umbrella and then I would do silver instead of white silver is gonna give you a little bit more punch okay question from philip rossen when photographing people of mixed skin color tone in the same shot are there any tricks or properly lighting both subjects? What I need multiple life that is a challenge so for um specifically for commercial photography when we do casting we try to cast similar skin tones and um dark skin tones reflect light they have more attractive speculate highlights than pasty white people like me. So uh when I'm doing any kind of shape kind of studies are already trying to do and find out what I really want to see uh skin glowing were usually looking for darker skinned models um if you look at like andre bitch nick I think that's a saint's name his work or a lot of uh fine art modell's fine art photographer's work dark skin is amazing um because the highlights don't blow out they just hang in there it's just awesome. So, um when you combine somebody that's nordic descent with somebody from african descent you're going to have you're gonna have large issues with that. And so the trick is don't put those two people together unless you absolutely have to that I think is the u s military flying over, but yeah, you don't do that unless you absolutely have to. And if you absolutely have to, then what I would do is definitely used the inverse square law to your advantage and so you can use compression using a long lens to trick the viewer so you could do she could use a large soft box, put the person with darker skin closer to that soft box and then put the person with lighter skin farther from the soft box. And then the lights gonna fall off. And so you're going to trick the exposure. And then you can use the long lens to compress those people's looks like they're on a similar plain, but that's, that's. Another way to deal with that. You'll never square lot. Man comes in all time.

Class Description

Join Mark Wallace as he dissects a commercial photoshoot to reveal each step at its most basic level. From technical aspects of lighting and color, to real-world experiences working with art directors, make-up artists, models, and other professionals, you’ll have a firsthand look as he puts each piece together to complete several complete concepts from start to finish. This unique course explores the fundamentals of commercial photography, from the smallest jobs to the biggest productions. Bring your questions from your own shoots, or use this experience as a roadmap when planning your first jobs. Mark will be chatting with the live worldwide audience throughout the weekend!

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CS 5.1

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Snapfactory Color Theory

Snapfactory Lightroom Workflow

Snapfactory Workflow Example - creativeLIVE

Snapfactory Model Release

Snapfactory Commercial Shoot Workflow

bonus material with enrollment

snapfactory creativeLIVE overview

Snapfactory Purpose Worksheet

creativeLIVE plan

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Brian Geoghegan

Mark Wallace, Brilliant at what he does, so clear to understand, he is amazing, well done Mark great workshop, I learned so much. Thank you, kind Regards, Brian from Ireland


Mark really knows his stuff. He was very well prepared and Mark did a great job teaching this course. Mark went through all the steps from beginning to end in great detail. He also answered questions from the audience an online viewers which helped fill in any blanks. Great course.

a Creativelive Student

I loved this workshop! Many things I struggled to understand about exposure and many other things became so clear! Just wow!