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Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Lesson 30 of 49

The Haircut: Shooting Plates


Cinematic Lighting for Portraiture

Lesson 30 of 49

The Haircut: Shooting Plates


Lesson Info

The Haircut: Shooting Plates

We have covered the actual shooting process, we've covered the lighting, the one last thing that we're gonna take a look at is the act of shooting plates which I talked about a little bit and so we are going to see that in action on this shoot. I think I got this, so let me get the plates on this shot. (shutter clicks) (shutter clicks) All right, cool. Cool, cool, cool. That should be good with that. Let's wrap you guys for now, and then we will move the scrims out and I'm gonna do one more of just the scene. So, in this particular instance, because we had to use the scrims obviously the scrims are in the shot. And that sucks a little bit, so I could go through in post production and I could spend time clone-snapping and healing and removing it by hand, which I've done, and it's definitely a way that you can achieve this, but because I'm shooting on a tripod, it actually makes it a lot easier if I just take the time afterward to get that same shot from the same position at the same foc...

al point. So what I'm doing when I'm stitching these together, once I have the guys' shot is where the focus is locked, what I'll do is I'll switch back to manual focus 'cause I'm a lazy auto focuser, I don't trust my own eyes to get it in focus, especially at like F28, and so I flip it into manual focus and I pivot it in both directions and I get the shot so the focal plane is consistent. Now that it's locked in place, I'm gonna take the exact same shot with them not in it at that same focal plane, so that when it stitches on top, everything should be pretty lined up, and I don't have to spend forever making the clone-snap try to work on the background. Take it up. Okay. Yep. All right. All right, you guys are good, thank you very much. And now for the plates, (shutter clicks) (shutter clicks) (shutter clicks) And so now I'm getting the shots for the plate, nothing else, just the plane out of focus. (shutter clicks) (shutter clicks) (shutter clicks) Good? Nice! All right, so that wraps us up here for the first shoot of the day. I'm gonna talk a little bit more about putting the plates together and assembling these images in a little bit of a later on lesson, but for now we have a good foundation and we are ready to move on to the next piece. Okay, all right, so that's basically a quick little preview as to what those plates are looking like. I'm gonna show you how to assemble those when we get into the post-production section a little bit later, how we put the initial plate together, how we put the secondary plate on top and how easy it is to actually blend the two together. The hardest part, the most frustrating part of the whole process is just waiting for the computer to render them putting them together, which can take several minutes. But once they're actually put together and layered on top, it's much easier than you think it is to make that work. But what I do want to show you while we have the opportunity is kind of what the evolution of these images looked like so you can kinda see how we got to the final product. And so on the far left image is what this looks like. This is our test image, our marker. What this looked like with no scrim. And you can kind of see how it's lit from the back and it has a very, very different feel to it. So we bring in the scrim. It changes the exposure of the subjects. We ended up having to compensate, we went to a much lower aperture, but all the light looks a bit softer. Okay? Then we figure out what we want that light to look like. So, between changing the overall exposure, using ND filters, we basically could darken it down, make it feel a bit more like a gloomy, cloudy day. Here, I've added in, it's a little bit strong, but I've added in the main light, the key light which adds in some shape, and I've also cooled the color temperature down a little bit so in the original image it was a bit warm, and here it is cooled down a little bit more, and that gives me again that blue-ish, gray-ish look and feel to the day, making sure that light balance is correct, and then when they are in place, it ends up there. How do people who are just sorta starting out, like can they do a portion of this? Or what's your recommendation on that? You can, when you do the leg work, more doors will open up to you than you think. And, wherever you live, there is something that you can find that will be a cool location that you just have to ask or be very charming to get them to let you to use. And I've seen airplane graveyards, I mean everywhere you go. Everywhere I've, you can look and do enough homework and you will find something that can work really well for you. You just have to try, and it's not necessarily about spending the money, it's just about asking. And talking to the right people, 'cause generally I find that people are a lot more accommodating out there in the world than we might think. Now, when you're in a place like where I live, New York, it's not that at all. It's very difficult. It's expensive, it's time consuming, it is a process to find these places. But, if you are in a small town somewhere, somewhere that's not New York or L.A., you would be surprised at what you will have access to be able to find if you just go out and investigate. These places are everywhere. I mean, I've done location scouting in a lot of different kinds of cities all over the world, and I can always find something wherever I go. It's just, you gotta find it. And that's probably the hard part, is just looking it up and finding it. I notice that there was a shadow from the scrim at some point, and it still looks like there's a shadow there, when you're setting all that stuff up, do you ... I mean, does that come into your equation at all, or do you just, do you say, "Oh, I'll deal with this in post," or? I mean, there's only so much you can do with it. The thing about, in this particular shot, I actually didn't necessarily hate the shadow that was being made. I thought it looked kinda natural, because there's a shadow under this. And it's pretty out of focus, like you don't see it a whole lot over here, I mean, you see it there behind them but if the light, and the direction of the light, like it actually makes sense. And if you look at the source material, there is a shadow in a similar spot. So I don't necessarily hate it. In the second shoot that we do, it's a lot more obvious. And I have to go fix it in post. Basically you can use a really big scrim, or you can try to blend it later. And I didn't have the ability to use a really big scrim so I had to blend it later. But you can also, if you're using a shallow depth of field helps to blend it, also if you're really low to the ground it also hides it a lot. It's when you happen to be up higher and you're shooting down, that's when you see it the most. And so here, I'm down here. And I'm shooting with a long lens. So it's pretty minimal in the final result. I actually don't think, like, I didn't do anything to it in the final stitch of this I think it looks fine. The other ones are low, needed a lot more help.

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.