Lighting for Compositing


Compositing 101


Lesson Info

Lighting for Compositing

So the lighting for this shot and the lighting for compositing in general, if you guys are relatively new at compositing, which I'm guessing some of the you are because this is compositing wanna one is one big tip that I could give you and that's to keep your lighting generally broad, large light sources with soft shadows and that's going to make your job a lot easier when you're compositing these things together. So we'll explain that for a little bit, basically, if you're using a large light source like you know me right now, I've got basically like a kind of a neutral light on me. I don't have, like, you know, rim lights on the sides of me like a dark shadow on the side of my face and things like that, I blend into the scene fairly easily, there's just a giant, broad light source on me. It makes it a lot easier when you're doing composite, because we're going to be photographing different pieces of the composite, so you have to match your lighting as well as you can to each of these...

different pieces of the composite. And if you're brought light sources like big and broad, it makes it a lot easier to do in post. So instead of matching like, you know, I've got a rim light over here and two rim lights over there like a shadow here and like, you know, a shadow coming down from my nose at this angle and all that sort of stuff it makes it a lot easier to just say like he's got one big light coming from this side now if we want to photograph something and put it in here we just put one big light over on that side too so that makes it a lot easier if you guys are doing composites use large broad lighting so I'm going to talk about our lighting setup today and a lot of what you guys going to see it looks a little bit complex, but a lot of what you guys are seeing is basically trying to achieve that like big broad white source that I was just talking about so we're going to start off right over here if you don't mind and this is just a couple of alien bees and you guys don't need to use expensive equipment or anything like that you can if you want to if that's if that's what is important to you but these air alien bees they're incredibly cheap and basically we've got two of these they're firing directly into what's called a b flat and basically this is just these lights are hitting this flat which is just a they like a v of white material and the light's hitting there and it's firing back in this way so it just creates like a big broad light not only that but that light is on access you can see my camera is right here so the white is kind of coming from the same direction as the camera. So that's what we call like a film like because it's going to fill in all the hard shadows and things like that because anyone used like a v flat or anything like this as I have you bounced like a light off a wall okay the same exact thing like if you like put like if you had a speed light on your camera and you put it off to the left and bounce it off a wall it's the same thing there was just wasn't a wall here so that's the whole idea is like oh cool it creates a wall for you right there it's really, really great to use one of these because it's cheap to use you can buy this stuff you know any like a craft store something like that it's just foam core that's been taped together so think of this is like a soft box that's that big which you know might cost several hundred dollars in this case it might cost twenty or thirty dollars you just fire some lights into it and it will shoot back this way giving you a really big soft light so this is going to fill in our shadows making sure we don't have hard shadows and like the areas don't get too dark within our subject so that's basically what that's for the next time we've got going on is we'll just kind of switch right back over here and this is a soft box that we've got firing against our back wall and that's basically doing the exact same thing so we've got a light coming from the front which is going to fill in some shadows and now we've got a light coming from the back, which is also going toe it's going to light up this back wall a little bit and kind of project some of that light back on your subject so we're just kind of filling in shadows here that's that's our main goal and we're going to talk about why this lighting is set up in the way it is for now, okay, the next light we're going to talk about is right over here this is just off camera and there are no gels or anything on these lights guys these they're just like, you know, daylight balance lights this is just going to fire at our subject in this way which is going to give her a little bit of a highlight on her side maybe pretend like there was a window off to the right over here and this window is going to bring in a little bit of light so that's just going to help make it a little bit more interesting so the next night were using were actually we're using a lot of lights, but think of this is like a giant soft box or if there was a window there, we could just use that as well. The next time we're using is this light here and this is on einstein with a this is a long throw reflector on it, and basically this is shining directly onto our cereal bowl and that's just going to give that a little bit more contrast that's going to put like, a little bit of shadow in there, much like what you see with the window light it's actually kind of reproducing the window light here in the scene, and then this light here is basically it's a soft box it's a call a strip box is a long, thin strip with the grid on it, and this is going to be firing directly at our subjects face just in case her face is a little bit to darker, it needs a little bit more definition this is going to fire directly at her face just kind of like brighton that up, so do you have any questions about the lighting it's a little bit of unconditional, you know, like untraditional set up here yeah go ahead thought so when you're designing this lighting did you design chicago or when you got here you've looked at what you have then you said, okay, here's, what I'm trying to achieve we'll need to do this that's a really good question, so when I have the sketch I kind of did designed some type of lighting I knew that I wanted her to have some light coming from behind because that kind of says like early morning, you know, when the sun is like, not quite high in the sky, it shines through windows and so you get like that nice backlit effect so she's got a bowl of cereal this's probably early in the morning, the second point that which I'm really glad that you brought it up is this is supposed to be like a commercial type of image in other words, like we don't we're not really going for like, fine art here we don't want like hard shadows. You know, I don't want someone like standing in the dark with like a silhouette of light where you can only see half their face and, you know, like that's awesome and I take photographs like that, but what I wanted to do with this image is to make it like bright and happy and cheery and almost like kind of like a commercial type of feel to it. So that's, why we have all this feel like going on in all these lights because we want to keep it like brighton area and that's. I always like to say that if you want an image to be like bright and happy, like actually make it bright, like don't have hard shadows in your image like don't have a lot of dark areas and your image, like actually use light and make it bright, and they don't like that'll translate with the final. It'll make it like, happy and bright and fun, so we're going to be photographing and during during our shoot today. If it turns out that, like she's got too much shadow on her face, where the shadows are too dark we're going to be doing is bringing up our fill light to make sure we take care of that. So this lighting diagram we had a rough idea in chicago of what we wanted. Yeah, before I move on with lighting, there are so many people in the chat room is wondering if you could do a composite like this with natural light as well, or you actually lighting every single set that's an awesome idea, a composite like this with natural light is actually perfect. That would be the easiest thing if if I wasn't absolutely in love with using this sort of stuff, I think it's fun that's to me, one of fun types about photography, but natural light would be like the actually best way to do this. I'm going to talk about answer that question with, like, two different points, so natural, like we've got some really nice window lights coming in from this angle, that air lighting our set fairly well, you can see it actually does look pretty good in my opinion, if we wanted to bring in a little bit of phil, we could put in, like a white card here like that v flat, and that would bounce some of that light as the phil there. Now, if you're different deposits like let's say we wanted to put a person in the pool well, we would just put the pool right here, and it would be getting this same exact light that's coming in from those windows, so that is, like that's, a perfect way to do it. Natural light is a great way to use for compositing, because you don't really have to match it that much. It's like, okay, that's, you know it's, a big, broad light source not only that, but natural light you can see which makes it a lot easier these strolls like you guys have no idea what it's gonna look like with all the stros fire, right? And I don't either so that's the fun part so naturally it's really great, because you can actually see it now. There may be one downside to using natural light and it's something that, you know, depending on let's say, I'm shooting half of my composite in the morning and it takes about two hours, and by that time, the sun is kind of like clouds have come over the sky in my natural light has completely changed. Well, if I'm going to shoot my second part of composite and it's like almost like it's, a little bit darker outside, especially cause we're in seattle than my light on the second part of composite has completely changed. So if I wanted to match that, I could then try to match the natural light, but that's just going to be something that you have a little less control over natural light. Sometimes the second point is that when we talked earlier, we said we want to kind of figure out our aperture from the sketch. We want a lot of this to be in focus, so if you're not getting a ton of natural light, maybe you wouldn't be able to shoot it at thirteen or fourteen maybe you'd have to crank your eyes so up to four hundred if you wanted to do that, so that's kind of like something you might have to give on like it, I want to shoot it like so one hundred because I'm shooting with a cannon five demark too, and you know, you could go up to, like, two hundred, four hundred, but above that, I think that there's a little bit too much brain, especially for like a commercial application one hundred, I think, is where I want to be shooting. So with using all these external lights, aiken crank up the power and make sure that I could shoot it won over one sixty of the second, which is going to freeze an emotion, I can shoot it at thirteen and I can shoot it is a one hundred. So if I was using natural light, I would probably should be shooting something like one of her, like a fiftieth of a second that maybe so four hundred five six so that's just going to affect our depth, the field a little bit and if I'm able to freeze motion as much but that's, a really long question for a simple that's, a really long answer for a simple question, but the answer is yes, you can most definitely news natural lighting and I've seen many, many composites that air done very well, and I want to answer one more last question if you have the shot than you taken was done in natural lighting let's say that you're doing a certain composite where you took a picture of someone outdoors and then you wanted to take something else and make it look like it's outdoors let's say there's a person and they're standing in a field, okay? And you take a picture and there's the sunlight on him and it's natural and it's beautiful, and then you have like a toy rocket that's this big and you wanna photograph it and make it look like it's actually like this big and have it next to them. I would recommend doing that in the same light, so if the theory jinnah lll photograph was taken in natural light, take that toy rocket outside and just do the exact same thing using the sunlight as your natural light don't take that back into your studio because you're going to miss out on a lot of things like the feel like that the sky creates and things like that. So if your original photo that you're trying to match is with natural light, I would recommend any elements that you're trying to put into that also be taking with natural light as well, cool, really good questions, awesome so that's, basically, our whole goal with the shot is to create, like that type of commercial image, and all of our lights are basically coming together to do this, so the first thing that we're doing is kind of like going to figure out how this is actually going to look now, I was fortunate I came in a little bit earlier today and actually, like, worked on this lighting for about two hours just kind of like moving, tweaking things mostly because I don't want these pictures stuck it's like your own creative lives, you should create a good image. So that's that's cool idea if this, if you didn't have the time during the photo shoot, I would recommend taking, like, a pre lighting day, which we do a lot in, like, if you have actual, like a client or something like that, they want to make sure that when they get on set, you already pretty much know what things are gonna be like if you guys are just doing this for fun didn't take your time and play around, but a lot of the time you will take, like either a day or the morning up to do a pre light, so right now what I want to do is just take a picture here with the camera, then I think its tether and so I think we could just see what it looks like. Is that okay? What it's gonna look like on screen? So I'm gonna take a picture there and you can kind of see everything that's going to come through. And then I'm going to explain some of these lights and I can't even turn some of these lights on or off, and you guys will be able to see the impact that they actually make with the with the final image there, you can see some of our images we were using people from around the studio's test subjects earlier, which is really, really fun, you know, if like, you're, uh, if jon is having a great time posing for this, then the final image is going to be really, really fun. So when using complex lighting, do you keep a sketch of your set up, or do you vaguely remember where your lights are hitting? So you know where to late your next elements? That is a really, really good question, and the answer is yes, oftentimes I will keep a sketch if it's not the same day. I'll even take some photos, probably not with this camera, but like with the behind the scenes camera grieving your iphone just kind of take a step back and be like, okay there was a light over there there was a light over there there was a light over there so kind of keeping that in mind the next thing which is interesting is you'll be able to actually see the final shocked that this light created so oftentimes you can kind of look at that and say like, ok, this is how we should like our composite but that's a really important point because when you are compositing images the two most important things you can keep in mind again are your camera angles and you're lighting and if those air pretty close you don't have to get these exact if they're pretty close your composites going to be pretty believable so we can see here with the image of if you guys just want to pull up that image john or there we go so cool I just say that it happens up here you have an amazing department so here with our image of john you khun basically see like there's some light coming from the camera left right it's creating the shadow where the orange juice is it's creating this shadow here so we can actually see that light is coming from there. So with the cereal bowl, we want to make sure we match that so although we're going to be photographing a giant a giant pool, we're goingto make sure that we're actually bringing light in from a similar angle there we can see that the shadows really or not too dark here the shadows are fairly light so we want to make sure that our fill light is actually filling in some of those shadows as well so you can see from the orange shoes class to the bowl of cereal weaken see like kind of a dark shadow that kind of like runs that line there so that shadow is produced because we have a light source that's basically the opposite way so you can follow a shadow go the other way and that's where your light is going to be so we can see that for the cereal bowl when it comes to compositing that we're going to actually have to create a light on that side now here on john's it's the camera right side we can see there on the top of a shirt and also here on his beard we can see it's a little bit light and that's going to show that's the rim light that's this soft box that we have right over here this soft boxes creating that rim light so this soft boxes creating that light that's kind of like on him as well so when we do bring in our subject in the giant pool we know we got to keep a couple things in mind we want to keep like a relatively harsh light coming in from the camera left which is going toe it's going teo simulate the harsh light that's creating that shadow on the orange juice we want to make sure we have a little bit of a rim light which is going to help like separate our subject out maybe like their hair from from the background we want to make sure we have a fill light that's just making the shadows not very dark in the image so those were like the key a couple of things that we want to do so you can figure that out from either a sketch of your images sorry sketching your lighting photographs of your lighting or just kind of like looking at the sketch there the image afterwards and figuring out okay these were a couple key lights and this is what we should bring in really good question tt three one three is wondering how you go about determining which order to shoot the components of your composite that's also a really good question so again there are several types of compositing in this we're going to be doing is element compositing in generally what you want to do is you want to start off with the element that time of the largest or the hardest to change and if you guys remember from our sketch the biggest element will makes up most of the picture is the girl looking into the cereal bowl just the cereal bowl which is going to be what we're gonna be doing that pool later that's really kind of like just one small part of the frame so you want to photograph the largest part of the frame the thing you can't really change as much after the fact and then you kind of match everything to that so if you're doing a different type of compositing let's say we were going to be photographing a person and then putting them on a different location you would want to make sure you have the location first and then you could match the camera lighting in the angle and everything to that location to start off with like the biggest element of the photo or the element that you can't really change and then go to everything that kind of like comes in afterwards that's a really good question so this is what our frame looks like without a person in it and it looks really good I think it looks good anyway it looks like a fruit loop ease we can see our shadows aren't too dark now I'm going to just do a couple things and you guys can see kind of the impact these make because it's one thing for me to just say like oh yeah that light's important but it's another thing for you guys to actually see them so I'm going to do without the subject in there I'm just going to turn these lights off which this is our fill light and then we'll be able to see the background and everything is going to get a little bit darker, which doesn't have much of a commercial application. Now, keep in mind our subject isn't even in the frame, so if there were her face was in there, we're going to bring her in and admit it and her face would get even darker and generally you don't want your subject, you know, if the main thing in a photo you don't want them to be completely in shadow, so I'm gonna take another photo and this is again without my fill lights turned on there in the background and you should be able to see as it comes up that it's just a little bit darker there in the shadows. Yes, he kind of liked that change there, so it's on the background, you can see it pretty pretty easily. I don't know if they can flip kind of back and forth between those oh, there we go there's like before any after see the background and everything's just a little bit darker that would basically translate onto the face of our subjects so her face would be again in a bit more shadow, so not like the hugest changing the world, but we can see that is an important part of, you know, creating an image is managing your fill light

Class Description

Compositing is about making complex, visual masterpieces driven by your creative vision. Through mastering compositing, you will deepen your understanding of color, light, and movement — vaulting your photography skills to the next level while bringing more value to your clients and your pocket.

Instructor Aaron Nace has taught millions of photographers at every skill level how to construct vibrant images through photo manipulation. This 3-day introductory course will teach you everything you need to know about compositing — from basics to mastery.

During this in-depth workshop, Aaron will show you how to conceptualize the idea, plan out your composite, photograph and light each piece of the puzzle, and artfully combine the many parts using Photoshop.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CS6, Adobe Lightroom 5