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Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Lesson 27 of 32

Shooting on Location: High Speed Sync, Balancing Light

Gary Hughes

Professional Portraits: Moving Beyond Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

27. Shooting on Location: High Speed Sync, Balancing Light


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Lesson Info

Shooting on Location: High Speed Sync, Balancing Light

What I've got here is a situation where you have overhead florescent lights and then you have a lot, you have some natural light coming in. And you've got big windows over there. And we're gonna go into kind of one of my favorite situations, which is, when you've got a big bank of windows what you can easily do is get two really different looks. One of them is gonna be to put the big bank of windows behind you. And then the other one will be, you can put your subject in front of it and shoot right into the windows. So using a shallow depth of field, in combination with high speed sync, we can balance the exposure outside, the bright sunlight, and we can also throw it out of focus to give it kind of a cool city feel, while shooting indoors without ever actually having to go outside. So, if you want to shoot high speed sync, you're gonna need to have either a controller that can do it or you're going to need a flash that has it built in. 'Cause your camera can do high speed sync natively...

as long as the flash is connected to the camera. But to use it off-camera you have to have flashes that can do it built into being off-camera. Or you're going to have to find a controller like the Photix triggers and the Pocket Wizard TT5s or whatever they are, and those will be able to do it. Basically what it means is, it's, through the lens means that as long, no matter what your shutter speed is if your shutter speed gets to high on a speed light then you can start to take a picture of the shutter as you're creating the image. And so the light can't get in fast enough to expose the image properly. So what high speed sync does is it allows the speed light to shoot along with that curtain shutter in lots of multiple bursts so that the image will still get exposed by the speed light without the shutter speed affecting it. So since we're using our shutter speed to filter out available light, we can balance that outdoor exposure with shutter speed and use our speed lights to create light in here that will give us a really cool look for our subject. So, it's a really cool technique using a bright window or shooting into the street to a bright area behind him. High speed sync's a great way to control that background. So, let's get into this a little bit and see what we can do. So I'm looking down this wall over here. And I see that what we've got is a cubicle. And that's a pretty good height, I think, for old Doug to maybe do some leaning. What do you say Doug? Let's come on over here. Yeah. See where the cubicle is right there? Into that little lounge. Right, on this side for me right here. Good. Perfect. Yeah. That's a good height for you. So let's do that. Yeah. Nice and relaxed. Put your left hand in your pocket. Yeah there we go. So I'm gonna have Savannah if you could bring in the speed box 70. And, so the first thing I wanna do is before you add a speed light into it I'm gonna turn off my controller. And I'm going to get a natural light exposure. Good? I'm gonna go this way a little bit. So bring the cable with me. I'm gonna get a natural light exposure that is going to show me that I've got detail and what's going on outside. If you just shoot and you expose for Doug, shooting available light, there you go, what's gonna happen is you're going to get a very blown out image. Like this. All that air, all that beautiful stuff in the background out there is going to blow out and have no detail. Now you can use that. That might make a could stock image or something like that. But I wanna do a little better than that. So what I wanna do is create an exposure where that outside is completely managed. While still shooting with a shallow depth of field. So that I can completely throw that way way out of focus. So it's kind of using like an extreme distance background. And so, I'm gonna power up my, ISO a little bit. And wait until, okay, so there as it's come across I realize I've got that background controlled. I've got detail back there. And so, I'm going to turn on my flash using this as a control, Savannah can you bring me the just the TTL controller? It's stuck to one of those light stands over there. And we'll turn that off for right now. There we go. Perfect. Thank you very much. Boom. Boosh. Okay. So this is gonna be my main light. And who knows, we might add more lights. We might get crazy. Two dragons. Okay, this is not our day. So, I'm gonna come over here. And I'm gonna place the light kind of in a, I like to use my lights pretty close. And when you use speed lights it's advantageous to use the lights closely for a couple of reasons. One of those reasons is because you can use them at a lower power setting. But when you are using high speed sync you are gonna have to tax them a little bit more than you would if you weren't using high speed sync. You have to up the power. So I'm gonna try this on like about a half a power. Quarter power. And see what we get. Okay. Way too much. Good. All right. Good job everybody. So we'll bring it down to a 16th. Now when you are shooting into glass, as you saw in that image, you can definitely get the reflection of your light in the background. So you definitely wanna watch out for that. Ah, awesome. Okay, so, Savannah, will you bring my big reflector? And you can be my reflector assistant. And my pelican case please. Here it comes. Cool. So what I've noticed is that the height of that partition, even with our tall strapping friend here, is a little bit higher than I'd like to make a comfortable pose. So what I might do is just give him a little boost of the apple box. And let's roll. Have you ever had to have anybody make you taller? (laughing) Not very often. Okay. So let me demo what it is I want you to do. So I wanna have you on the box and just high enough to be over this way. Like, but you know the light is here. So your body is gonna go this way. But your head's gonna be turned back a little bit to the light. You good? There it is. Perfect. Yeah. We got it. Now he looks enormously tall but we're gonna crop it in such a way that it's not so bad. There we go. Zooming in. Come with me? Good. It's a nice relaxed editorial. Tilt the head this way a little. There you go. Perfect. Opp, misfire. Sorry. Never happened to me before. Perfect. And I'm gonna feather that light because the angle of incident is gonna make that reflection a lot more obvious. So I wanna crop it in a way that where I'm not gonna get the reflection of my speed light. But when you feather it, you're gonna have to power it up. So let's see how we did. Okay. There we go. Nice. Killer. All right. Now I'm gonna frame it up this way a little bit. Now most of the stuff in the background is pretty out of focus so that it doesn't really matter that much. And I'm gonna, but I'm gonna crop it in a way that my light doesn't show up in the reflection. Cool. Yeah. Still a little hot on the light. So I'm gonna up my shutter speed to bring that background down a little bit. Now I've got my shutter speed at 400th of a second. Good. So my light's down. Power's gotta go up. There we go. ISO's going up. And there it is. Now reflector. Gonna add in some fill. There we go. Okay. Perfect. Come in a little closer. Right there. Good. Now this is gonna take the light from the main light, bounce it off the reflector, and fill on the side of Doug's beautiful face. There you go. Perfect. Turn your head a little more to that light. Two, three, awesome. Digging it. Yeah. Cool. We got it going on now man. Bam. Good. Okay. Nice. I like the way that looks. I think that's turning out great. So let's change it up a little bit. We'll come down off the apple box. I like that kind of casual look. But what we're gonna do is kinda gonna do the same thing. But without you leaning over the rail. Just lean on it. I like leaning on stuff. Yeah. Yeah. There you go. Perfect. Yeah. A little more relaxed. A little more casual. Tilt your head this way. Turn your head. Bring your chin down a little bit. Turn it back. Touch. You know, I like, just put your hands in the pockets. Don't even lean on that. In the pants pockets. Pants pockets. Yeah. There it is. Perfect. All right. So let's have you step one foot a little bit forward. There you go. Nice. All right. Shift your booty back a little bit. There you go. All right. Turn your head into that light. Tilt that way a touch. Yeah. You ever model before? (laughing) You're good at it. You should keep it up. Nice. There we go. All right, so I'm gonna move to get that reflection out. There we go. Perfect. There we go. Nice, nicely done. Okay. Take a breath. Ah. And then two, and three. That's a pretty cool way to create an interesting image. Let's go ahead and button your jacket. As the day goes on, a man's shirt can get wrinkled. And then put your hands in your pockets. All right. Perfect. I'm gonna come and adjust the jacket. Don't move a muscle. Excuse me. Gonna flip that tie underneath like we did before. And pull that across. There we go. Savannah move in closer. I want more fill. More fill. There we go. Good deal. That's what I'm talking about. Right there. Two. Three. Four. Five. And last one. Perfect. Okay. Works out pretty well. Nice and easy. Take more of a three quarter length. Boom. And there we go. We've had a, we've taken using high speed sync, and shot right into the bright light of a window outside while managing it and throwing everything kind of out of focus. And our results are pretty cool. All right, let's move around. I wanna come back over this way.

Class Description


Professional portraits go beyond the standard headshot. With the age of social networking upon us, businesses often have the need for environmental and editorial portraits. Not only will you understand individual portraits, but you will also learn to execute large group posing for corporate clients. By adding these to your client sessions, you can add to your business plan AND widen your target client outreach. 



Gary is super knowledgable, yet down-to-earth and relatable. I love how he explains the exact gear he uses but also describes ways to accomplish the same look using DIY and less expensive alternatives. The segment where he demos a live shoot in multiple, difficult lighting situations is worth the cost of the class alone! Bonus: He's super funny. He could probably double as a comedian on the side, but I digress. This class was informative, funny, and very practical for any photographer that wants to increase their profit and expand their business into the professional world. He gives all his prices and workflows so you can get up and running in 2 days! :) Awesome class overall, and it's a great sequel to his professional headshot class (which I also bought and loved.)

Richard Blenkinsopp

I love Gary's straight teaching style, and appreciate him demonstrating with regular people, not models. This is the real life of a regular photographer! I wish Creative Live could show more from the photographers viewpoint, so that when he's posing and moving lights etc, we see exactly what he's changing, and can analyze why... not sure how they'd achieve this in a live environment though. Loved his going around to less than ideal locations and finding the place that works. My favourite course on Creative Live so far.


Gary makes taking editorial portraits look simple and fun. I want to start shooting heads! I love Creative live and Gary is really doing a great job. I got to buy the class next. Thank you.