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Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Lesson 14 of 49

Grip Tools: Unusual Tools


Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Lesson 14 of 49

Grip Tools: Unusual Tools


Lesson Info

Grip Tools: Unusual Tools

Let's talk about some unusual lighting tools, and I'm not gonna dig into this too heavily. But, these are just some things that are pretty helpful when it comes to -- this is not grip; this is just things that you might wanna keep in mind to know that they exist. So if you are augmenting ambient lights, meaning you are using fixtures that exist, a lot of times, those fixtures are dim. And when we wanna add lights into it, it's helpful if they balance closer in power to our originals, if you have that option. And that early stuff I showed you in the hallway, I didn't, but it woulda made my life a lot easier had I gone in and replaced all the bulbs. And so when you are working with practical lights, it's helpful if you actually put photofloods in them. They are a more consistent color temperature, and they're cheap, they're not expensive. I mean, you buy a regular photoflood -- you know, they're four or five bucks a piece. They're not expensive. They're slightly more than a regular bulb.

They're gonna give you more consistent color, and they also come in a variety of wattages. So you can buy stuff that is ... Your 75-watt bulb, which is gonna be nice and bright. That's a pretty standard photoflood, but you can go hundreds of watts. Like I think three, 250, I think is where you can get 'em. The downside of the higher wattage bulbs is, obviously, they run brighter and hotter, so they don't last anywhere near as long. You're gonna get a few hours out of that bulb, so know that it's kind of more of a single use when you're using those super bright ones. But 200, 250, that's bright, like, for something that's coming out of a lamp. I would probably suggest sticking to something closer to like a 75. And then what you do is you go buy one of these cheap dimmers, and you hook it into the lamp, and then you kinda hide the plug and you can vary whatever your practicals are with a dimmer switch. And so you can dial in that, the power of that light just exactly as you need it to be. That's a really handy way to work with practicals. Yeah? Now, do the photofloods come in different color temperatures? Mm-hmmm. Yes, absolutely, the photofloods are usually around 3,200, usually, but they do have different color temperatures available, yes. They absolutely do, yeah. Standard is like 3200, yeah. But, when you are working with different kinds of lighting, it helps to be aware of these things: CTOs and CTBs, color temperature orange, color temperature blue. And these are all different levels of how blue or warm you wanna manipulate your light. So for example, if you are going from strobe to tungsten, it's about a full CTB. It's a full; it's half, quarter, eighth, right? All these different variations of it. Same with blue, it goes in the opposite spectrum, and you can play with light to tweak the color temperature. This isn't about usually creating aggressive lighting effects; this is about matching the lights. That's usually what you use stuff like this for. This is my little pack of like small color-correction gels that I always keep with me. There's different kind of CTOs, CTBs and color effects in here, and this is just a nice, small pack. I also have like a much bigger pack when I need to bring in added variety. Just really handy to have in your kit. Tape 'em on; there's holders for them as well, but I usually just keep it and tape it on and it works as a way to balance my lights. Okay. Now, I don't actually have this in a slide, but I also wanna touch on the tripod as well. I use a tripod for the vast majority of what you're gonna see. Especially because in one of the situations, it's very dark. Obviously get a tripod head that you're most comfortable with. I personally really like a ball head, because it gives me a lot more of a range of flexibility in terms of how this moves. I can get into position a lot better than unscrew one, tilt forward, unscrew the other. This is just a lot faster for me. But I'm gonna be doing stuff with compositing plates later on. So, for me, it's important that I have something that can rotate cleanly and evenly to help me with that, that stuff later on. Like I said, this is not really like part of this, but a good tripod head and a good tripod is a really worthwhile thing to have 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.