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Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Lesson 25 of 49

Airstrip Shoot: Concept


Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Lesson 25 of 49

Airstrip Shoot: Concept


Lesson Info

Airstrip Shoot: Concept

What we're gonna be talking about today, obviously we're gonna do a little bit of an introduction with the concepts. We are going to breakdown mood boards. We're gonna talk about the actors. We're gonna talk about the wardrobe, the hair and makeup, and all of those little decisions that go into this process. Remember, this is a pretty involved process, the pre-production portion is really important. And so, we're gonna go into a bit of depth on what that looked like, and how we found a lot of the things that we were looking for. So, more or less this, once we come back from the shoot, we are gonna end up editing the images. We're going to develop the images, do some retouching and do some color grading, just basically bringing in that final level of polish, making everything kind of match, and feel nice and beautifully cinematic. So that's the agenda for this particular section. So, without delay, let's go ahead and start looking at concept one. This is, we called this The Airfield. Wh...

en I was looking to put this particular image together, we were scouting locations, and we were looking to see what our options were for kind of, like a love, like timeless things, vintage things, historical things, what the options were. We came across this particular location, and it's amazing. Beautiful collection of planes. It's called the Historic Flight Foundation, it's here in Seattle. Little bit outside the city. They have this really, really, really, amazing collection of beautifully restored airplanes. We got permission to be able to use them, and shoot there, and that was amazing. But, the approach that I wanted to take when it came to shooting with these planes, I didn't want it necessarily to be 100% right on the nose with the subject matter. I didn't want it to just be a straight interpretation of the scene. I started doing a lot of research and homework on historical photographs of World War II, and looking for something that had a little bit of an interesting pull to the story, something that just shaped what liFe was like then, in a slightly different, more nuanced way. This photo I had seen before that I absolutely loved. It is a, I believe, I've looked and looked for the, the black and white version of this but, I believe this is a colorized photograph. I'm not 100%. Everything that I've found kind of points to that, and it does look colorized, hand colored but, I can't find, I was never able to find the black and white photograph anywhere. This is an RAF Royal Air Force pilot getting a haircut between mission breaks. This is from 1942. I love this photograph because it just was not the obvious story that was necessarily being told and photographed at that time. It just felt like this really beautiful break. This very quiet moment in what was not that moment in the world. It's incredibly calm, and it's very peaceful. If the plane wasn't in the background, you'd have an entirely different context and meaning for the photograph. This pilots names was Francis Mellersh. I don't know if I'm pronouncing that correctly. He was a twice awarded Britain's Distinguished Flying Cross. He was recommended for the Victoria Cross. He lived many, many years. He made it through the war, and continued to be a pilot throughout his life. I was reading an article about this, and his daughter had said that the pipe is what eventually got to him in the long run. It's really just this beautifully kind of soft nuance photograph. I love all the elements to it. I love, it's the, the barber. I love the book. Interestingly enough, the book is actually, it's a pop culture novel. It's basically a spy novel but, it was set during World War I. And it's a guy in World War II reading it, which I thought was kind of fascinating. I mean, he's an interesting guy. He ended up staying as a pilot in the RAF for another 30 years. He flew his whole life. I just thought it's such a cool photograph and I wanted to use this as my heavy inspiration and I wanted to recreate it. So, it was a vertical. I ended up kind of extending it, and drawing it out. We're gonna turn it into a little bit more of a horizontal. That's kind of the first set that we are going to be making. The second shot, that I was planning on was something that was a little bit more traditional. It reminded me of these posters and drawings that, my dad was in the Air Force, gave to me when I was a kid. I wanted to do something that felt like those old kind of, drawing illustrations from the period. This was kind of a hodge podge collage of different source material. I'd kind of put it together in Photoshop and I'd trace over it and draw on it. I wanted to create a staggering of the planes to create a little bit of depth. I wanted to have a foreground scene happening. Some stuff happening in the background. We're eventually going to take you through what this process was like. This is definitely the more complicated of the two logistically. This is the one that we planned for first, even though it wasn't the first one we shot. So we had to make a lot of decisions about how things were gonna be laid out and positioned over the day for this, to save us a lot of time. We'll speak to that a little bit later. So those are my two source images. We ended up getting one more, third round of shots that were unplanned 'cause we knew that these were gonna be pretty complicated, especially this one, to pull off. We just happened to have a little bit more time and we'll show you that a little bit later as well.

Class Description

Most photographers get comfortable with the lighting setups they use, and tend to shy away from trying new or different ones. Pushing yourself to incorporate new lighting techniques can help to expand your photographic style. You don’t need to buy more lighting equipment to start thinking about how the light is appropriate for what you’re shooting. Learning to see and light a location or scene and bring it to life in your images takes an in-depth understanding of lighting, direction, and creative vision. Join Chris Knight, well-known photographer, instructor, and author, to learn how to create cinematic lighting that allows you to be more innovative for your clients and yourself.

Chris will explain:

  • How to think like a filmmaker but apply those ideas to a single image
  • Motivated lighting and how to incorporate the techniques into your creative vision
  • Framing and layering for your images
  • How to use direction and guidance to achieve a cinematic look
  • How to enhance the cinematic lighting you achieved in-camera through post production processes

In this class, Chris takes you through his creative process during two cinematic style shoots at two different locations to share with you his behind-the-scenes thoughts, motivations, and scenarios. Chris also takes you through an in-studio shoot to explain the importance of prop placement, intentional set design, and light. You’ll learn the confidence to develop and incorporate new thought processes and get out of your everyday routines when lighting your subjects.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. What is Cinematic Lighting?
  3. Motivated & Practical Lighting
  4. 5 Cinematic Lighting Tips
  5. Low-Key & Upstage Lighting
  6. Control Your Fill Lighting
  7. Show Depth In Your Image
  8. Pre-Production for Cinematic Lighting
  9. Grip Tools: Clamps
  10. Grip Tools: Apple Boxes, C-Stands & Grip Heads
  11. Grip Tools: Pins & Portable Gear
  12. Grip Tools: Scrims, Silks, Flags & Tape
  13. Grip Tools: Wind and Haze Machines
  14. Grip Tools: Unusual Tools
  15. Grip Tools: Filters
  16. Grip Tools: Q&A
  17. Theater Shoot: Concept
  18. Theater Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations
  19. Theater Shoot: Lighting Gear
  20. Theater Shoot: Motivated Lighting Considerations
  21. Theater Shoot: Lighting Walkthrough
  22. Theater Shoot: Capturing The 1st Shot
  23. Theater Shoot: Hero Shot
  24. Theater Shoot: Capturing In The Seats
  25. Airstrip Shoot: Concept
  26. Airstrip Shoot: Pre-Production Considerations
  27. The Haircut: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting
  28. Working With Scrims On Location
  29. The Haircut: Getting the Shot
  30. The Haircut: Shooting Plates
  31. Staggered Planes: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting
  32. Staggered Planes: Getting The Shot
  33. Capturing Plates With Talent In Background
  34. Airstrip: Environmental Portraits
  35. Airstrip: Location Shooting Q&A
  36. Using Plates to Create a Pano in Lightroom®
  37. Transform Tool
  38. Post-Processing 1st Theater Shot
  39. Retouching Details in Photoshop®
  40. Color Grading in Alien Skin Exposure X3
  41. Post-Processing Theater Hero Shot in Photoshop®
  42. Creating a Spotlight in Photoshop®
  43. Adjusting Color for Cinematic Lighting
  44. Post-Processing: The Haircut
  45. Coloring the Sky and Removing Modern Building
  46. Creating a Pano Using Plates in Photoshop®
  47. Developing Cinematic Portraits in Lightroom®
  48. Retouching Cinematic Portraits in Photoshop®
  49. Color Grading Cinematic Portraits in Alien Skin


Bruce Walker

This course is simply terrific, and I highly recommend it. Firstly it arrived at the perfect time for me as I am soon to do a studio shoot very much in keeping with a cinematic or theatrical aesthetic. Secondly it's taught by Chris Knight who I swear is like a long-lost twin brother. :-) There are so many parallels in the way he thinks and works to my own style. So I avidly watched this as soon as it was available for anytime streaming. This is the first time I have made extensive use of the CL iPhone app, btw, and I love how it pretty much enabled me to seamlessly switch back and forth from desktop viewing to my iPad that I carry around the house during the day. I was able to make coffee and still carry on taking in the course, uninterrupted. The content is fantastic, delivered succinctly yet entertainingly. Some material and ideas are already in my repertoire and were reinforced and validated by Chris' demonstrations. But he also introduced a lot of ideas and methods new to me and very welcome. I was particularly glad to see how practical it is to stitch a series of tripod shots into a wide pano. I have been afraid to try that but I will now be using that in my next shoot, for sure. As alway, his post production practices revealed all kinds of tips about Lightroom and Photoshop I didn't know. Negatives. The volume level mastering is iffy. It started out at a decent level then midway through one of the early lessons dropped so much I had to turn up my sound system to compensate. And as I write this one lesson (34) is missing and in its place was a duplicate of the next lesson (35). I expect CL will have that fixed shortly though (I sent support a note).

Jeph DeLorme

One of the best classes I have viewed at Creative Live. Definitely worth the investment of time and money. The pace of the class allows you to learn extra tips and tricks throughout the process. Great instructor, highly recommend this class to anyone looking to step up their creative game.

a Creativelive Student

excellent class in all regards. outstanding instructor with experience in complicated cinematic shoots but who also is willing to thoroughly cover the basic nuts and bolts. i wish all creative live classes were of this quality.