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Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Lesson 48 of 49

Retouching Cinematic Portraits in Photoshop®


Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Lesson 48 of 49

Retouching Cinematic Portraits in Photoshop®


Lesson Info

Retouching Cinematic Portraits in Photoshop®

In terms of different distractions, I probably want to minimize, the one in particular. I don't like the one on the nose. You could soften some of this stuff. I don't really necessarily hate it. I don't love both of these. I mean, you could say that it's the sun, right? Like that is believable. But, let's see what it looks like taken out. So, we're going to create a new blank layer. I'm gonna come through here. I'm going to use the healing tool on the nose. Get rid of that. There we go. Good. And then, I'm gonna come over here, I missed. Let's see if we do this. And I'll fill it with a content aware. Maybe that'll work. Not really. You know, you could also do stuff like this, where it sits on top and then you can fade it away. So, you know, I take this. I take my erasure. And, maybe you do it at 50% or 30%. You can kind of bring it back a little bit. So, I mean, it's an option. I think this is fine. I don't think you notice it. This would be a really good place for this image to start.

I'm gonna remind you there's an Alex soft photograph, where the guy's holding two airplanes. So, I'm gonna zoom in here a little bit. We'll do a little bit of cleanup on some of the things. But, I don't really wanna do too much. Let's get rid of maybe some of these threads, a little bit. Cool. This is what I was talking about, where you can take a catch light from one side and put it on the other. It made it a little bit bigger. I'll brightn it up later on, and it'll be even more amazing. OK, this looks pretty good with the clean up. Not doing too, too much, keep it relatively natural. I think that looks good. I mean, this might be a little bit distracting. Probably can come out. Maybe something like, nope, wrong one. Something like that. And then this is where that erasure can come into play. Just kind of fade that out a little bit. Yeah. Good. Yeah, a little bit less distracting like that, I think. So, I'm going to dodge and burn here to give this a bit more shape. I'm gonna create a solid, a 50% gray layer. I'm gonna fill it with 50% gray. You can also do curve adjustment layers. It doesn't hugely matter. But, this is a 50% gray layer set to soft light. This is my favorite way to global dodge and burn. So, you're creating new blank layer. You go to shift delete or edit and fill, and you change the contents to 50% gray. You don't want to create a solid color fill layer. Don't do one of these. It's gotta be filled, because it's gotta be pixels. Change this to soft light. And, now I'm gonna be using my dodge and burn. Right, here's the dodge. That's the one that looks like the lollipop. And, the burn is the one that looks like the fist. My general way that I go about this kind of stuff, is I'm usually around 8-10% on a mid-tone for doing global dodging and burning. But, to make this a little bit faster for you, if you hold down the option key while you were on one, it will give you the opposite tool. So, here I am at dodge mid-tone 9%, and it's dodging the mid-tones, right? That makes sense. But, if I hold down the option key, it will burn the mid-tone at 9%. You're not gonna see any change to the tool, but know that when you do this, holding down the option key, it will give you the opposite tool. So, what I do is, I use it as a way to switch back and forth between these two tools quickly. OK? And, I'm just kind of tracing what's already there. I'm using that as a point of reference to create that depth. I'm just kind of tracing along and following it. I'm gonna zoom into the eyes a little bit. Brighten those guys up a bit. Darken the edge. Okay? There we go, that looks good. And, so that would be kind of how I would shape this image, by using the local dodging and burning in this way. You can also obviously extend it to the background. So, we'll do some stuff back there. Create a little bit of depth with some streaks. Come in here, darken the bottom. Let's darken that whole area over there, which I think is a little bit distracting. Darken the edge of the frame a little bit, give ourselves a little bit of a vignette. OK. And then maybe, dodging and burn, it's an art. And, once you really figure it out, it can just transform the image. And then, obviously, you can lower the opacity of this particular layer. If you find it's too strong, you can blur it. There's a lot of different ways that you can use to really finesse this particular step. So, again, lowering the opacity, if you find that your dodging and burning is too streaky, give yourself a blur and a Gaussian blur and you just kind of turn this up. Zoom in on the face and you can see it a little bit better. Here's what it looks like right now, and then as you blur it, it just kind of fades what you're doing, and softens it a little bit. And, it can become a really good easy way, a really good easy and effective way, to make, um, fine tune this. Obviously, you can see how significant the dodging and burning can be here. I'm gonna show you one extra cool thing that I like to use on glowy areas like this. It just kind of like a blooming or halation of light. And, so, what I'll do is I'll grab a new layer and change it to something like a soft light. And, I'll sample this bright color, and I paint it, just over top, where the light's hitting, to make things just a little bit glowier. Because I like sparkly things. (audience laughs) Yeah, that looks pretty good. And, then what I'll do, is I'll lower the opacity. Like, obviously that, alright? And, so it can make metal glow. You get that glowy effect on metal. You can get it on a lot of different things. I just think it adds a nice little soft, pretty golden effect, which I think is pretty cool.

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.