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Crazy Stupid Light

Lesson 3 of 12

Multiple Flash Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

Crazy Stupid Light

Scott Robert Lim

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Lesson Info

3. Multiple Flash Techniques

Lesson Info

Multiple Flash Techniques

Money shots ah shots that I kind of ahh do it every wedding which I call um and once you start developing the shots that you can consistently do any time any where it starts to become your signature style and in wedding photography or in any photography in general that's really what we're trying to you know get is that signature style when people like saw your photo is like you know what I saw that but I knew that you took it wow don't we feel like that's a great compliment when someone says that to us and the more we differentiate ourselves from the masses the better off we're going to be the more money we can charge ah and the more we can establish ourselves in this industry so what I did was I started to create to organize I know this is not a wedding purse a lecture but what I started to do is to create these formulas of what I could do all the time um anywhere any time one was the reception lighting that we talked about but here's another one what you could do with the cake now in...

weddings brides love details anybody here just get married? Is that not true? Priscilla's it's got married they love this I mean they spend a whole year picking out that freakin favor whatever right? But I mean it's ridiculous the amount of time you'll color coordinating that in I don't know all this stuff right? Picking out whether shoes and all that stuff they love it they absolutely love it and so I kind of treat those little details as little many subjects that are very important to that bright but she could have spent a long time figuring out, you know, just how that program looks or whatever or the rings or whatever and one is the cake and sometimes when you go into the kind of higher end upscale venues uh, everything is lit well for you but there's other times where you're just walking into the elks lounge and you know, there's the cake and you've got to do something with it and you don't know what the lighting is gonna be, but if I create my own light I could get that look no matter what and this is what it is, so what I like doing is using to sidelights um I used to flashes and I put it on the lowest ah power possible and I set them on the side to give me the side lighting and then what I do is I fire another flash on the back of the wall and I put a color gel on it ah, whatever color I feel matches the wedding or matches the cake ah in the background and so I can create any color I want back there um and so it gives me this type of look every single time because I'm in control. Think so. There's two sidelights hears. I point to these flashes on the side, then there's another flash in the back. Ah, and I just gel that and I shine it against the wall and that wall picks up any color. Um, that I wanted to and here's my typical settings on this particular situation. I shot this at s o eight hundred f nine at one sixtieth. So you can kind of start there and go from there and tweak it. And now that you know how to adjust your power and your light, you khun that'll give you a reference point, and then you can kind of, uh, do your own thing from there. Any questions on this? Yes. Uh, what distance would you start off at three? Since their details or what? Yes. You know, usually at the edge of the table. Whatever that table is, how much room I got. So I would probably set it about, you know, three feet if you find that the power is too strong. Another trick you can do is every flash usually has a diffuser panel on it. Which spreads the light out a little bit more but also takes away a stop or two and so if you find that your flashes too strong okay so now I had a flash at one sixty fourth power but now I just made it one twenty eight there one two fifty six just with this little diffuser panel on it so um that's another trick to control your flash on that any other questions on this floor okay howto handle your worst nightmare with flash and what do you think that isthe where you hate using flash or what? What situations let's say you're doing a wedding what's the worst possible lighting situation that you hate shooting under yes outside at noon outside at noon oh wow right the bright sun that's what we really hate because why that sun is high right and it's giving us those raccoon eyes and you know it's the worst oh people think this is great let's have a beach wedding right let's started it eleven and twelve oh my gosh right and there's no shade there's no cover its bright light we're all sweating to death and like what do you do? And so that is probably one of the most difficult of kind of situations that will have to encounter is this situation right here bright sun high noon or anywhere from twelve to three again is very difficult so did you know that you could step outside you could look at the sky and you could immediately figure out what that setting it's without even looking at your camera you know you could do that. In fact, in the old days they didn't have light meters they didn't have automatic cameras you would literally have to figure out what that light setting was by looking at the wood, you know, the clouds or the sun or whatever and they created something called the sunny sixteen rule. Anybody familiar with that? Who knows what the center's sixteen rules robert what's the sunny sixteen rule um if if you're in full sunlight and you shoot, you can expose properly at s o one sixty f sixteen at one sixteenth of a second or one one hundred yeah that's pretty close. Okay, so the way the sunny sixteen rule was determined was there were there back in the old day they were pretty smart. In fact, I think the people living back then were smarter than us, but what they did was single let's figure out when the sun is the brightest and let's figure out what that setting is. And then we can figure out everything else where so that's why they devise the sunny sixteen rule because that's when the sun is the brightest out and how you determined that is one you set your I s so too your shutter that's the first thing that you do when you want to determine use the sunny sixteen rule okay, I start at shutter speed one hundred and therefore my eyes so is that what one hundred? Why do I start at one hundred shutter speed? Anybody? No what's my flash think speed two hundred to fifty right say two hundred for all practical purposes that correct? So I start in the middle so if I want to eliminate the ambient light I can raise my shutter and if I want to let maur ambient lighting I can lower my shutter so that's why I start right in the middle? Does that make sense to then you say your s o to your shutter and then you're at f sixteen if you were in bright sun now how do you know if you're in bright sun? Look on the ground and look how sharp those shadows are. If you see extremely sharp shadows then you're an f sixteen territory then you start to see a little bit a soft ng of that edge then you're at f eleven, which is one half the light, right? Every stop is one half the life f ate is kind of like overcast or their slight shadows or you could barely see a shadow then you're at about f ate territory now this is outdoors that is okay five six then you're in shade but you khun you know see the sky somewhere so you're but you're in shade so you're in bright shade as I call it f or you're in dark shade and then two point eight year and very very dark shade or shade at twilight it is very dark so isn't this open and so now you know that you're going toe let's say your ah wedding photographer okay and you just finished your session indoors and they say oh we want to go outdoors and take some pictures automatically in my mind I'm already at s o eight hunt ah I s a one hundred and shutter speed one hundred right and I know I'm pretty much going to be a f sixteen eleven or f ate or if in the shade five six so aiken automatically I can look outside because wow that's pretty bright sun out there I already know I'm shooting at f sixteen s a one hundred that shutter speed one hundred before even step outside already know my camera settings does that make sense if I want to pull in that background and so this helps you manage your day and what settings that you're going to be a so whenever you're outside you could always set it at I s so one hundred shutter speed one hundred and bam go for it and then it's only it's going to be one of these f stops here and just practise it it's not that hard to do so next time you're on vacation or whatever uh or you just want to take away walk around the park or you're a disneyland or whatever just try to figure out what that setting is without even looking at your camera and you will be really, really close and you'll figure it out very, very fast it's not that hard to do okay, so now we are determined here's my little family here and we went to a mount vernon here the home of george washington last year we had a family vacation out there and I didn't have a flash but anyways I just wanted to demonstrate the sunny sixteen well now look at their shadow where is their shadow? It is directly under them so you know that sun is just straight above cried and so this is perfect and you can't even look at the sun on the shadows I mean sun on the house and you can see that the sun is on top, right? So you know that this is definitely sonny sixteen here, so I'm at sunny sixty nine f sixteen s a one hundred shutter speed one hundred if I wanted to properly illuminate my family, how much flash power would I need? According to that chart you know what I just realized I did a huge boo boo I have those cards to give to you but I didn't give them tio but anyways I think I have the chart here okay, so the chart right at sixteen it I s so one hundred I am out what full power at six feet away right f sixteen is sixty I'm at full power so I would need full power to match the clouds and the sky and the subject to make it look teo illuminate them okay now what's wrong with full power why don't I like to shoot on full power one recycle time it's really slow when you're shooting up full power you with my flash on a fresh batteries it takes about three seconds we're to recycle on full power another thing is is when you're using a small portable flash like this how many full power shots do you think you get on a set of batteries? Anybody know why do you got one hundred maybe hundred hundred twenty right that's all you get so that's another reason why I don't like shooting on full you're goingto only get about a hundred full power shots and then you're gonna have to change batteries that's not fun it's hard light on lee what happens if I want to diffuse this light on them? I'm how many stops my losing two stops how'm I gonna get some extra power out of this it's already half full and that's why we run into trouble shooting flash outdoors because a lot of times we are underpowered and you're going oh man this is not working uh gosh, I'm having trouble a lot of times it's just because we don't have enough power and we don't realize it umbrella takes away two stops as I said so we can't go anywhere after full I mean that's it so what does it mean one flash is not enough power in bright light ok, one is not enough because you're reaching your maximum already so guess what? This is the story of the big boy bar okay, well, first of all when I put this light together and I arranged it this way now my source size is not just a small area but now it becomes this size here some getting a higher quality of light we talked about that right the larger the source, the higher quality of life second of all, we're getting how many stop gained you think we're gaining right versus one flash so if we wanted to if we're using one flash and I wanted to gain one stop right? How many flash is what I need to gain one stop if I'm using one? What did I say? Adding a stop was what doubling the light right so what's one times two too ok so if I wanted to gain one stop I would use two flashes right so now if I wanted to add another stop on top of two flashes, how many flashes would I need what's two times two four so therefore this gives me a to stop gain does that make sense? So instead of shooting at full power, I'm shooting out one quarter power so therefore my first cycle time is extremely fast and I'm getting higher quality light and on top of that it's wind resistant how many of you have been on a session where you've been on a windy day and you've tried to use your soft box of your umbrella? You're just like all over the place I've actually taken this set up, I think I, uh we were just in a workshop in cause of man I am not sure if I did that, but I've set this in the water with the wind going and everything yeah, it doesn't blow down there it is right? And I've done that before, so I get to get holly hi equality of light you're going to get us to stop gain in power and is going to be wind resistant okay, are you interested in seeing the type equality of shots that you can get with this kind of set up? All right, so here we are if you want that commercial feel this is literally like taking out a studio light with you okay, this is like taking an alien be eight hundred or something like that out on the road with you, but no battery packs its pourable okay, and it's actually back up and what I mean by that is let's say you go somewhere ah, let's say you go to paris or something like that and you rented out a light, right? Like a big studio? What happens if something happened to it? It doesn't work, you're stacked right? But on this system, if one flash doesn't work well, I could use three flashes still. And so, even though it might not be as powerful as what, I still could do my job with three flashes, so it's got a kind of a built in backup or I could even do it with two flashes a lot of times too. So it's got a lot of backup, um, properties to it when you, when you use multiple flashes and that's why I like using multiple flashes, but look at this quality like that you get right here. And so this is the situation here where I am at sunny sixteen rule look at the shadow that's created is that not sharp? See the edge of that shadow there on that bench? Isn't that sharp and tight, so that was f sixteen that's a perfect sunny sixteen situation right there that was probably about I don't know two or three or something I'm sure it looks a little bit lower but it was pretty bright so I'm firing with four flashes if I was to use one flash I would be at full power if I were at two flashes what power do you think I would be at where you're going to gain and stop half yes very good right? So even if you don't have four flashes at least put two together your system has two hands so it's very easy and a lot of times I do that too like if I met a wedding and I might have assistant it's like they're holding up to and I'm using one camera and I'm holding another and you know you just get it to work so even if you just don't have four put at least two together and you're going to save half the flash power four flashes is that quarter power and you get better quality of life so let's start looking at a few of these examples here f eleven s o one hundred ah one hundred now look at the shadows behind her don't you see that soft, softer edges on that shit on those shadows behind? Let me use my pointer here see that back there right that's shadow on those reeds isn't doesn't those edges look a little bit soft there that's why you're at f eleven here's another one here. Ah, where I'm using four flashes and just kind of getting that very commercial feel to it now let's say ah, you do anybody do here, senior portrait at all and I know seniors uh, they love that fashion forward look, why? Because they're looking at the fashion magazines all the time so they want a copy that so with this particular lighting style, you could go out and bright light and take those types of photos. You don't have to wait for sunset all the time. Here's the same set up, but I added another person and how many classes do you think I use? Is there a guess? Hey, almost, I was actually using six flashes because I already had four on him and I already had that lighting setup figured out, so I didn't mess with that. I just left that there. I brought her out. She posed right here, right on. I had another assistant just hold two flashes like that you could see the catch light in her sunglasses. You could see that just had two flashes. So if you like this style, uh detailed up the rich colors shooting at f sixteen and just that pop in that boom, guess what, you're going to need a lot of flashes you know you're going to need at least if you shooting two people you got at least six flashes to do this type of work. Okay, so scott yeah, I got a couple questions from people in the chat room um wondering why don't I just buy a single studio strobe and do that instead of having multiple you can do it but a lot of times then you need a battery pack and sometimes when I'm traveling to europe that's not gonna fly when my bags go by and getting checked internationally and things like that nature and it's it's very portable um and that you can do it that way but the the issue of the battery pack all the time and the heaviness of it and so like I'm not sure if I show here I might show some pictures of us in the water and it's a lot easier to go out in the water with some strobes instead of the battery pack hanging and all this kind of stuff ah and that's the reason why I like it's just unaltered native ah, you can use that but you can do this also all right. Any other questions? Yeah. Another question from fashion tv in singapore in the big boy bar I just like saying that yeah should we always use flashes with the same guide numbers? Should we always buy extra flashing it's with this same power I mean in general you should use this but you can mix and match it's not like an exact science okay no right for let's say let's say you're not shooting it full let's say you're shooting at one sixteenth power with all four okay if you have one flash it's a little bit weaker won't you set that one at one eight power and the rest at sixteenth power on you can experiment in general I like to use generally the same but you should go out and practice with it and see how they interact with your flashes but try toe pick the flashes at the same guide number um and you'll be all right but understanding you know it's weird because the manufacturers they kind of rate the guide numbers differently because some raid it at thirty five millimeters some raid it zoomed out at one hundred millimeters some rated at I s o two hundred some rated at one hundred they try to hide all it took me a long time to figure that chart out because I had to go through the manuals of all these flashing goal hey mad they don't want people to know this information because they make it really hard to figure out uh just even explained for some newbies what thie guide numbers are uh that's a good question I don't want to get too technical but it's actually it's like horsepower in the car right? And some people but uh when you raped that guide number at, say I s o two hundred instead of one hundred that guide number is twice as powerful because is rated at two hundred instead of one hundred so you have to have a level playing field and figure out what that guide number how it was arrived at also there's other features on a fat flash that make a flash powerful some have zoom heads on it and if they zoom out at like, say one hundred millimeters it might be more powerful but you would have to shoot at one hundred millimeters all the time in order to achieve that. Uh, type of you know power because it's going to narrow the you can't shoot a group picture for say if you're close because it's just going to narrow that light to a specific area so there's a lot of different types of I guess you know different features that you have to be aware of um but yeah, it can be tricky sometimes great. Any other questions? Good getting all right. Any questions here? Yes. Ok. I know this is a stupid question, but yeah, could you just get two flashes but poem at full power someone for the girl and one for the guy you could well in this particular case you could do it on half power each okay, right and that would fight it would work but you're draining more battery to okay okay because when I go out in the session let's say I'm going to shoot four hundred five hundred shots I like to conserve power so I don't I don't want to change batteries I don't have battery packs or whatever so I I you know I kind of start food shooting it have power I like uh inside of me it's like I'm wasting energy esso I do it every once in a while but general I like to keep the lowest flash fire possible to conserve my my battery power okay um yes um these commercial shots are really great um is there any specific we like to position the models relative to the sun when you're using the strobe site oh, your advantage or for its not really kind of mess up what you're trying to do with the strobes yeah well when we do the live demonstration I can show different things but sometimes I actually like to put thie subject there's two ways to do it the easiest way is to actually put the sun behind the subject because then you can use the rim light that that son it creates and then fill it in with flash in this particular case the son is coming I think it's so it looks like it's coming this way right if there's a shadow right there um uh and in this case I was just basically creating my own son where I didn't care and that's if you haven't of juice and that's why I have her where her sunglasses too because I'm like right there bam right if you have enough juice, you can kind of create it doesn't matter because you're what they call over powering the sun I'm mashing the sun's power with my flashes, so it doesn't matter I'm going to get my life whatever I need but in general won is I like to put the sun behind my subjects so I could use that back light from the sun and then I could fill in the flash with my my own flash is filling the subject with my own flashes another way you can use it is you can have the subject face let's say the sun is coming here okay a lot of times let's say I'm posing this subject and if I'm having them put the nose uh towards the light that's another general rule that I tell people when positioning lighting always put the nose towards the light because if the light's coming this way for example and then the nose is not towards the light, I'm gonna get funky shadow across the face all the time right? And so if you always put the nose where the light is, you'll always get a nice little face and then the shot you'll see this shadow the camera will see this shadow it's like we're just saying shooting on the short side and it will define that face in the shape of the face and so that's what I'm doing here look att the noses towards the light and I'm gonna point to her cheek and see that shadow on her cheek is because that the light is coming this way and I'm getting that short side shadow and I'm defining her cheek bone and when you want to slim a person down you define that cheekbone all the time with a shadow ah and that's the case here his nose is towards the light right that way you could see a little bit of shadow there on his nose so he could see the light that was coming from this way so that's another rule that I didn't actually talk about is always put the nose towards the light and when you're lost is I know this is not opposing course but in general keep the body pointing in a different direction than the face because it just looks more natural because if we're going to do lighting and let's say where the body and the face is pointing towards the light it looks very robotic right see that but once I do this and let's say the lights coming this way I turned the head this way right it looks a little bit more natural so let's say um does raise shooting right and let's say the light is coming from this direction ah lot of times if I'm posing a woman I know the lights coming here so where's the nose going to go here right? And if I look at you with my eyes but the nose is coming there and I turn my by this way pop the hip out get you right lean forward slightly right then I get the short side shadow here and it looks natural so that is like one of my go to when all heck is breaking loose and you don't know what to do the first thing is established okay where's my light coming from put the nose that way turned the body of the other way you might not get a super awesome shot but you're going to get something that's very, very, very usable every single time it's a money shot that's so in during the chaos of the day of wedding yes that's that's the two rules where's the light but the nose no search the light body away pop the hip you can't go wrong just those three things I know there's not posing but well that's bonus okay here again we were doing ah workshop just a few weeks ago this is in key west and uh where's the nose towards that light air right? And then the back side was actually created with two flashes so there's actually six flashes going on and that's the situation that we're doing okay, so we had the nose towards the light and then on the back end uh, which is for fun I didn't have to have it but it's kind of a signature style that I like to use to get that high light back here and it opens this area up here but I still have the definition of the cheek of the shadow get that so if I didn't have this light, this would be in shadow here, okay, but because I used that other like coming in from camera left I would could fill her cheek, but I would still get this shadow defining the edge of her face and so that's any questions on this this actually is not f sixteen this's shot about? I think f twenty f eighteen um I don't know if the light changes when you're closer to the equator or whatever, but I'm like man, this is like if this is like turn that f stop up because I wanted that rich blue sky and to me okay, I got to get that sky at f twenty, okay, I gotta shoot it at f twenty and so I needed extra juice so I had the four flashes I I think I just put in a little bit closer and fired away and bam so he's salmon has a question saying how are you setting up the white balance when one light sources the flash but you're trying to also get say, the clouds in the background like that like in the shot how do you how did you figure out your white balance for that? Ah well in this particular situation it's daylight right? So I'm setting my camera to daylight or flash um a lot of times I'm setting it I'm keeping it at flash but if I wanted to have kind of a color kind of tinge to it sometimes all set even though I'm in bright light like this I'll set my white balance to shade and will give me a nice kind of warm glow over things so a lot of times I'm using white balance not to correct a color but to give me a color effect that I want but in general I usually are in flash all the time because in this particular case right it's uh it's daylight right its son so I'm not mixing different types of lighting uh temperatures here any other questions? Okay, here are different types of shot using that same technique the face towards the light now this even though this shot here to the left uh was very bright it could look more like this with a lot of high contrast between the highlights and the shadow in this particular shot I post processed it differently where it had more of a darker feel to it but because the highlights were still there as you could see the catch light in her eyes you knew the light was coming this way but because the catch lights were still there and I had the highlights on her face uh, you know, uh, robert sarita and yes, but when you are using the pointer yeah kind of describe what you're pointing at okay can't the camera can't always see it or they might be on the slide itself, right? So like the left hand side of okay, so that thing right? Right? Right? Okay, so on this particular image on the left, if you look at her face, I'm pointing at her face and I'm I'm if you can see the highlights on her face, right? And you can see the shadow points right with that flash because the sun is coming over to her left here, okay? So without that flash, her face is incomplete shade, there is no highlight, you got it and so it would look very, very flat at that point because I'm bringing my flash in and I'm basically overpowering the sun I'm able to get a highlight on our face and a shadow on her cheek and I could match those highlights to the highlights in the clouds so it looks believable, okay? And then I can take that entire image and aiken I kenbrell it down in my tone to make it look darker like that but because the highlights are still there I khun do that with my post processing when you have highlights and you have shadow in the right places, you can go crazy with your post processing because the light is right and that's what I feel about images and post prices ing when you get the light right, any post processing looks good whether you choose to put process it or you don't it still looks good because the light it is right and I would find that once I started shooting correctly in camera with light, I found that my post processing time was cut in half because I didn't have to generate that correct light. A lot of times I didn't have to depend on the available light is that I could create that light I could put the highlights where I wanted to and so it's very important to create that now look at the other picture on the right and I'm going to be pointing to her face and you can see that short side shadowed right there right uh and you get those highlights and it matches the highlights in the clouds so, that's another thing what I find that people do incorrectly when their post processing that image is what they do is they create a highlight on the subject, but when they pose process the background, they want to make a darker so they just make the entire thing darker, and they forget to add highlights still back there with clouds and so it doesn't look believable. It just looks like some light is on the subject, but there's no light on the clouds and it doesn't match. And then bang, you're going to get a seventy eight, you're going to get seventy six when you intriguing competition because it doesn't. The light doesn't look believable at that point, so understanding light helps you a lot. Help me a lot with my post processing. Um and it made my pictures better. Here's, another situation here. Uh, so let's, how did I take this picture? Let's walk through what went through my mind here in hawaii. What did I meet her for? First the background. So I got the background the way I wanted it to, which happened to be what? F four so eight hundred at one fifteenth of a second, and then I simply at that point, she's dark still. Because the background is brighter than my subject and the and the sun is behind my subject so she's at that point when I set my camera I f f four I sold eight hundred at one fifteenth of a second my sky looks amazing but my subject looks completely in the shade or dark does that make sense to you so I could bring in my flash toe add those highlights in her face that matches the sky and and then it starts to look really, really nice because now I've got that brightness and those highlights in the background if I go to the picture on the left and I'll be pointing at the ocean and you can see the highlight can't you see the highlights in the ocean right? And I get the highlights in the ocean and I get the highlights in the face it looks very believable although she was in the complete shade but my flash I was able to create those highlights for me because of course the nose is pointing towards the light is that not correct now in pointing towards her cheek area so you can see the shadow on her cheek still to define her face and sculpt her face um and that's why I love using flash there and then also as you can see is I, uh, point to her body look at her arm I've got that nice ej light that glow that highlight our arm so now you know, aren't all women they're very conscious of their arms. I don't care how skinny a woman is there always so don't show my arms are so big, huh? Right. So what do you got to do is that you got to create a highlight a shadow on her arm and it automatically looks ten pounds thinner and so, uh see that highlight there? And then you bring that shape of her arm and then what? Her legs look good, like, right? And then look at this area here. Her boobs look good. Everything looks good. They're gonna love you, it's all about making that subject look more beautiful and you can do that you can sculpt their shape with light, learning how to use that if I shot it all natural light I could get a good exposure, but that light would be flat and I wouldn't get those highlights the contrast between, uh you know, brightness and darkness on the body so that yes, they would be properly exposed. I might blow out some of the sky, but you won't get that highlight and shadow that sculpts the body and that's the difference and so you can see over here ah on the left hand saw on the right hand side, this model and she looks great you know she was ah a little bit heavier set than all of the other girls and that's why I chose to side light her because I wanted to maximize the shadow on her body to create more contrast so ofyou I'm pointing to her leg right and so because this shadow is on her leg it's looking a lot thinner as if I shot on on camera flash so I'm sculpting her body with shadow there and accentuating um you know the positive aspects the portrait ok here's another thing what you khun dio I both I'm using the big light and I'm also defusing it even mohr I'm having someone stand back there with the flash and giving me kind of some rim light and uh that's the kind of shot that you can get very studio quality ish um as you can see, I didn't photoshopped very well because you could probably see the person in the background still uh which not really looking there. Okay, I talked about this a lot uh the soft box versus the octo box. Now I like using uh soft box that you could put multiple flashes in like a lot of soft boxes you khun on ly add one flash now when you add a flash to one soft box and they have a lot of soft boxes have a diffuser panel directly in front of the flash and then another diffuser panel after that are we losing a lot of stops at that point right so we could be the year losing three stops or four stops if it's going through two diffuser panels and if I could only got one flash that means that I can only shoot it five six maximum is that not correct? And so if I'm on a bright sunny day I'm not gonna have enough juice was just one flash so I love using uh something like the octo box where you can put multiple flashes in there because I know that I'm going to be losing two or three stops when I put it in a soft box like that now I have one of those maybe we can set it up later and we can mess around with it if you want to see how that looks um and that's why one flash in a soft boxes if you're in bright light that's not good so if you actually look at advertisements when they show those types of things, they're always going to show it at sunset or when the sun is lower where you don't need a lot of flash power ah and that's when they demonstrate that particular because it just doesn't simply the physics I mean tells you it just doesn't have enough juice in it questions on that all right let's go on okay, this is a good one now what about high speed sync and using low f stops who likes to shoot here? I guess if you're a natural life shooter who likes they do this a lot who likes to shoot in low f stops like f two point eight her lower anybody right? Okay, we love that and there's a problem oh, it could be a problem using manual flash and lo s stops you can't do it and let me explain a little bit the sunny sixty let's say we're shooting in bright light the sunny sixteen rule says that in order like the photo on the left is get that blue sky there we're going to have to shoot it f sixteen s o one hundred at center speed one hundred in order to grab that blue sky now remember we talked about equivalent exposures what happens if I wanted to get an equivalent exposure meeting? I still wanted to see blue sky but I wanted to shoot it after two point eight my shutter speed would have to be pulled up to thirty two hundredth of a second to get an equivalent exposure what's wrong with that? I'm out of my flash sink speed and I cannot use my manual flash and that's why people some people have a beef with using manual flash like, well, I like to shoot at two point eight yeah, I'm saying and it's taken me that's not my signature style. I'm like low f stop guy person and so I you know, that's just not me but there's a solution. Okay? And what I use is a variable nd filter and you can see here is when you turn this filter, you can change it from two to ten stops, see how darker or lighter it becomes. See that its variable so I can change how many stops? I want to prevent that light coming into my camera by using this nd filter. Okay, so let me explain a little bit because you're probably confused right now. So look at this. Okay? This is a typical situation using manual flash. I want that blue sky it's ah, sonny sixteen I'm shooting f sixteen one sixtieth of a second and I s a one hundred. If I were to change that this the two point eight my shutter speed would have to be at thirty two hundredth of a second, okay, but if I take like sunglasses and I put it over my lands now everything becomes darker in my camera. Is that not correct? I can lower if I turn this to five stops if I give me a five stop production in light, I can pull down my f stopped a two point at eight and still stay at my shutter speed at one sixty if that makes sense it's really hard to visualize uh except we're going out doing it you can do that okay so what this is this is like putting sunglasses on right if you all put sunglasses on when it look darker in here so what would happen your pupils would have tto open up to compensate for the light that you just like lost is that not correct so the same thing if we put sunglasses over this lens here to compensate I need to open up my f stop so I can let more light in but my shutter speed remains the same okay so now you have the power with a very low cost filter instead of buying six hundred dollars flashes you could buy a little cost filter like that and you could do shots like this and I'll show you samples of this so ah what the workflow is this is I set the f stop theis oh and the shutter speed and I just leave it there I am now controlling the light through my filter that's acting as my light control so if I want a brighter also alternate and make it two stops if I want a darker I'll turn it and make it five stops you see that but I'm but my my f stop my eyes so mature speed remains the same and I am varying the light into my camera through the variable filter because I could turn this enough, you can see it right, see l's brighter and then turn it and then it's darker. See that this is controlling my light. The camera is no longer controlling the light. This is you understand that? Ok, so I said it to the desired f stop that I want to be at and now I put this on and now I'm controlling the light, depending on what situation I'm shooting in. So I, uh, turned the flash, and if I'm in a bright light situation, I expose it as if I'm shooting at f eleven or f sixteen or whatever, okay, so what I'm doing is I'm looking at the background, I'm chipping, I'm shooting it, I'm turning this thing and I'm shooting it and then looking and going, oh, that background is too dark, ok, I'll turn my variable filter lighter, so lets more light in, okay, I'll shoot it again and go, oh, ok, that backgrounds perfect, but still my subject looks very, very dark. Is that not correct? Then I'll just bring my flash in and light up my subject and I'll control the power on my subject with distance, and I'll find tune that light until that person looks perfect the way I wanted to but I'm assuming that I'm shooting in f levin or f sixteen situation so if I'm three feet from my subjects then I'm probably at you know, one sixteenth power all those flashes on one sixteenth power one eighth power somewhere around there okay now what's great about cameras with live you now this this uh, sony camera that I have it has actually live you I don't know if you're familiar with the sony cameras but when I looked to my villa finder I am actually looking at ah monitor a computer monitor it's it's a display in my camera so when I turned so I can see if I change my shutter speed or my f stop I see immediately what my sensor sees and so I don't have to chimp and go back and forth so when I put this filter on I literally can see the effect of the nd filter and so I turn it to the desired background darkness that I want and then damn I just start firing way if I didn't have live you, what would I have to do? I would have to take a guess I'm like okay, I think it's about five stops shoot it look at you it's too bright make it a little bit darker shoot it I would have to go back and forth until I find tune that background the way I want it I would remember that marking so how the nd filter works is actually it only needs a quarter turn to do its full effect. Okay, so this is maximum here if I turn it one quarter that's two stops okay, so it only takes a quarter turn to do its full effect and what's happening is that this is too polarizing filters put together so imagine this polarized filters air lines if I turn my fingers that's letting less light in you see that and the more I turn it, the less light it lets in and that's how it variable andy filter works ok? And so you're only using a quarter turn to do its effect okay got are questions are there need guides on the filter itself is to like I have just shifted it one stop to yes, there are markings on there so you can kind of figure out what maybe five stops are and then you can remember okay that's it so yes, there's markings they're safe for you to figure it out beautiful. Thank you. It may be another thing when using this andy filter when you've got it really dark let's say you've sometimes you've got it at five stops and it's making your subject very, very dark at that point it may be hard to focus your camera because there's not a lot of light there, so what I do is uh what you can do is remember look at that setting of where you want that background, turn it to minimum at two stops, focus it and then turn it back to that mark where you remember it at I don't have that issue because I have live you so I could just see if I can I can I can just open it up focus and then I can close it down exactly how I wanted it and shoot the shot yes what's the maximum good question on that very bill I don't care what variable andy filter you use in general I wouldn't go past six stops once you start going into the ten stop area, you're going to notice some vignette ing on your image because at that point it's really closing down a lot and some areas of light are coming through the filter and some were not as as as easily so you're going to get some vignette ng so if you're kind of shooting within two to five stops a variable nd filter is very good it works, but if you're going to like, stop it down ten stops orm or I would say just get a solid um neutral density filter on it will look better for you alright, good question we have some more questions about the nd filters yeah, this is a very complicated subject to understand so I totally understand that ok? Awesome. So one question is from joe g how much color casts if any are introduced with your very yes you will get a slight warming color cast to mine and a lot of them just depends on which one now I have a four hundred dollar one too, but I actually used this one because the reason why was the color cast wasn't that much of an issue because in light room I just easily fix it and it was just a slight warming feel to it and I don't have to worry about it, you know? So like, you know, for fifty nine bucks of whatever she put it in my back pocket falls on the it falls on the santa okay, whatever, right? Lose it not a big deal, but when I have my four hundred dollar one is like, gosh, is this like a lens? It's like I almost don't want to use it and man, a piece of sand might get on it or whatever this I just you know, I just actually use it and I don't worry about it and it gets me what I need um and I'll show you some shots, the quality of it you might lose a little bit of sharpness here and there because it is going through two pieces of glass here in additional glass but in general you know and I think this is a great way to get started on it like you've never done it before and you're just like I just want to try instead of investing for hundred dollars into something uses a low cost you could mess around with it and and if you really really like this feel or look you can go ahead and spent four hundred dollars or you could just keep this one I just keep shooting with this one it seems to be fine for me uh and I'll show you pictures here of what I've actually shot you khun to differ determine whether or not it's enough quality for you but here's a situation here see that how you get that blurred background I've got the sun behind okay? And so what I did was I metered for the highlight on her hair and her arm and when I got that highlight the way that I liked it I stopped there right? Because I could let in more son if I wanted to it was my choice so I turned that variable filter to control the highlights that I see does that make sense to you because it's it's brightness or darkness and if I didn't want any highlight it all I could make it darker and then filler and with flash and it could look very like a nighttime almost so that's the setting I used there for this here's another one okay slick of that nice blurred background is the big boy bar with four flashes coming in getting under her hat okay or else they would create a shadow on her um and getting that look there here's an interesting image what's great about it andy filter and they do this in the movies a lot is they make it look like nighttime when it's not because right if you put sunglasses over your eyes it could look like night is that not correct? And so in this particular case I wanted that I feel so what I did was I was on this bridge and there were areas of darkness in areas of intense sun because it was afternoon so what I did was I put her and I pointed her nose towards the sun in an area of intense brightness. Okay? And so what I did was I put the filter on to kat make even more of a contrast to make it look like nighttime so just the highlights were showing through but everything else was dark and there and then what happened was she looked like just her highlights were showing everything was dark and even the umbrella was dark so what I do to make that umbrella pop added another flash so I made her dark and made it look like night time. Then I added another flash in the back to pop the umbrella makes sense. I did the same situation here where, even though it was like two or three in the afternoon, I wanted kind of that darker feel to it, so I made it dark. I just turned my filter to the darkness that I wanted it to. The son at this point was behind her. So she's hard that sun is ari lighting the umbrella already so I didn't need toe fill that end. She at this point was very, very, very dark. Everything was dark, so I wanted to create highlights on her. So I just used my flash to filler in with light and I just did that flash power just by distance, so I usually start at three feet see how it looks. Oh, too bright. Pull it back a bit. Not bright enough. Move it in or if it's if emmett three feet and I needed even brighter on maybe I'll just up my flash power on things. So once I set the background in order for me to expose subject correctly, I adjust my flash either by distance or were actually physically controlling the power on the flash, okay, because once the background is set, I don't want to change any of that and then I just used the flash to properly expose the person any questions online? They're definitely some questions on the uv filters on the nd filters amy you'd specifically saying, do you use a uv filter while using the nd no, no, why not? Why not? I don't even use uv filters to begin with, okay? Because I don't like that I just like to go bear I just like I don't want want least interference through my lens is possible, so I do use a lens shade if possible, and so that's the only thing and I, you know, I've been shooting for thirteen years. I have not scratched my lens one time and all I've ever used where lens hood's. So I'm a big lens hood guy, uh, and so I don't like to put a lot of stuff on there less the better question from catherine. Um, who put this on facebook? How do you avoid shake on your subject when shooting at such low shutter speeds to achieve the sky correctly? All right um like I I think you're okay if you're like at a hundredth of a second or so um you know, I know on some that was fiftieth of a second I'm not sure what happened usually I probably just dropped the camera it hit a knob or something and made a fifteen second I shot I wasn't us unaware of it but I usually when I'm outdoors I like to keep it up in one hundredth of a second and so usually shake is not issue but for me personally I can shoot a fiftieth the second that's not really a problem for me personally. Ah lot of times two lenses will have built in image stabilization and what I love about my particular camera that it has built in stabilisation no matter what lens you put on it so I don't know if you know this this is a little trick that I that I used but um sony bought out minolta basically okay, so all the monell two lenses work on all the sony cameras and so and because the stabilization is built in the camera whatever lens that I put on here I have image stabilization already, okay? And so now I can go online on ebay or whatever and I could find all these minolta lenses no one even cares about and I can get them for hundred bucks two hundred bucks and like, for example let's let go back that one image and cousin mel the only lens that I took with me oh shoot I gotta go back a while okay yeah so like these images and and we're sad other one before that that image that shot on a two uh two hundred dollar lands as super small and light because why I'm certainly gonna have twenty here I don't need to two point eight so ah lot of times when I'm outdoors I can use this cheap lands in them I always carry like a fifty millimeter one point four with me if I need to go that way if I want to and I can just find all these amazing lenses for a lower cost if I'm not having to shoot at low f stops all the time okay anyways eso let's go one more question about the very well indeed yes is wondering how do you determine the power of the flash when using the variable and a filter okay, so I assume when I'm using it just looking at the sunny sixteen rule right I just meet her it as if I'm using the sunny sixteen rule so if I'm in really bright light I figured well, you know what this is that f sixteen worth a light here and I accept my flashes according lee okay and then depending on how I use my filter I might be a little bit off okay let's say I look at things and I just heard at us about eleven worth a light and I said all my flash flash is according to f eleven okay and I fire it and oops it looks too bright what do I do back off my flash a little bit or is not bright enough move my flash in just a little bit see that so I controlled by distance there and but I set my camera the way I want the background does that make sense? And then I just adjust my flash either by physically adjusting my flash power or I just the easiest way is by distance and just fine tuning that light on my subject that's fantastic that makes say it's really hard to visualize this stuff sometimes he actually just have to go out and do it uh ah man it all make sense once you start doing it s so maybe we'll get to this ah wednesday we go outside in the bright light ok, um we're getting down to the end here. Uh the only other thing that I have to talk about is the cost prices on things and we'll finish up here and go to questions when you use a manual system what's great about using a manual says now you don't have to use my system you can use any manual system is that you could use literally any manual flash isn't it beautiful that when you're using a manual system, canon and nikon can work together in peace? Isn't that amazing? Uh, because why we are controlling the light. We are telling the flash b one sixteenth power were one eighth power or whatever. Okay, so what's happening is the transmitter is just telling there's a receiver fire that's all it's doing there's. No other signal. There's, no computation of light or distance or anything. It's just say go off! And then you set the flash. Whatever you want, teo. So that means that you can go back on e bay and find all those espy twenty eights or whatever flashes from yesteryear and save yourself a bunch of money and go to a manual system and that's, what a lot of people do. So look it. If you learn a detail system to operate three flashes, most likely it's gonna cost you about twenty five hundred dollars to control three flashes. Do you understand why now? People don't do multiple flashes it's cost prohibitive. And so when I was teaching and I was lecturing on multiple flashes on like man, this is expensive. For a lot of people. There has to be a better way if I goto manual, then we can save ourselves a lot of money doing this and that's. Why I switched over to manual because I wanted a slow cost solution for my students so they wouldn't have to spend an arm and leg to do flashes and what's interesting about this is that every time you add a flash once you go t t l they got you because every time you had a flash it's going to cost you five hundred to eight hundred dollars because you gotta buy a t t l flash. And so every time you add it's going to add up a lot. So once you go to a manual system right for this is a price comparison. So if you've got a system like mine and flashes like mine basically the cost of one flash, you can get an entire system it's very cost effective at that point. Okay? And that's the way. Okay, great. So we're going to stop here because I know you guys got a a little bit of a food coma and just filling in, and I could see the day's looked on. Your face is a little bit. I'm not going to hit the inverse square law, roy, I let you take a break, it would come back to that. But I think that's about it right? We have a couple questions or anything let's take some questions before we get a break we can start with you all there in the studio. You guys got any? Yes, you're andy filter do you have several different filter sizes? Yes, I basically have all the sizes look, and maybe you can explain that for people that because that question had come up if you need a different one for different ones yes, the most popular size is the seventy seven millimeter but I have all the different sizes. If you go online, you'll be able to do to check what site? And then I also have a guide on there for a lot of the popular lenses. Ah, which filter size you need ah for that so um yeah that's not a problem. What some people do is because they have a lot of lenses. Ah, an expensive way to go is that you could buy an andy filter for the largest size that you have and then you could buy some thing what they call step up rings to fit all the other smaller lenses so let's say you have a lands and eighty two millimeters is the largest uh, filter size that you have you by the eighty two and then you can buy step up rings and then you can fit all your other lances all right, all right. Well, any other questions? Let's see let's go with snappy gourmet who's wondering whether certain kinds of flashes are better for a more natural light look, when you're trying to, like replicate the sun here in these sort of situations the only on ly time that's going toe look make it look natural is diffusing the light mohr or making it less hard or hard depending and it doesn't really have any quality to the flash because the flash uh temperature is basically the same on all of them so in order for it to look more natural which you might want to do is make that light softer, bigger in some way and that's when it's gonna look natural great thank you well and do that talking about there's a question about adding gel color and you are so still photo had said regarding flash power for the jelled lights I'd heard that the lower the flash power the greater the impact of the gel color is that correct? Um yes, that can be true. Ah, because what happens is the brighter you shined the light through that jail the less color effect it's gonna have right? So the lower you put the flash power the maur the pigment pigment is going to show because the brightness of the light is not going to dilute the color so yes that that can't be true right, but we're going to get into jails and and my, you know, kind of eliminate the ambient light type of shots and the next time he's going to be really fun because we're going to do some hands on and we are actually going. I'm going to teach a different kind of concept on using flash. Now, most of the time, the way people want to use flash is more like a fill light to kind of naturally accent the ambient light, but I'm going to teach a different technique where we're going to get rid of all the ambient light it's, like we're going to create a black box and then we are going to be decide and mole delight so it's a different kind of way to see flash uh, instead of using it, maura's a feel like using it? You know what? We're going to create a black box and let no life into my sensor, and then I'm going to build up the light, according tto what I want, I'm going to dictate the action here. I'm going to dictate the lighting set up, and I'm not going to let the andean dictate, but I'm going to dictate it.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Learn how to find the best light available in this CreativeLive photography course with Scott Robert Lim. The award-winning portrait photographer will help you master simple photography lighting techniques by using available light and small portable strobes, you can create amazing images on location and almost anywhere within minutes.

Scott Robert shows you how to shoot in lighting environments from extreme bright sun to dim light and partial shade. This course also covers how to use lighting recipes to maximize your shooting time and capture a variety of stylized images. Finally, you will learn to pull off crazy "one-shot" images with Scott Robert's amazing off-camera lighting techniques.

Class Materials

bonus material

Crazy Stupid Light Slides

Master Flash Guide

bonus material


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I just finished this course today, and I'm so happy that I bought it! It's been on my wishlist for months, after watching it as a rebroadcast here on Creative Live. I absolutely LOVE Scott's approach to lighting. The way he explains how to light manually is so clear, and easy to understand; he also has a great sense of humor which takes the edge off of trying to get everything perfect the first time. I like how he encourages the class to just try new techniques, and if mistakes are made, that's okay, just adjust and keep moving. This has allowed me, as a perfectionist, to try his lighting formulas, with a lot of success. I'm so appreciative that as an instructor, he took the time to create a class that helps us as photographers to be more creative. Because of this course, I feel so much more confident as I experiment with light on my own, and then apply it to my work. I feel that I have all the tools that I need to create amazing images that really stand out. Thanks Creative Live for making this class available, it has changed how I shoot! =)

Jack C

This course is simply amazing, super good, and completely exceeds my original expectations! Scott is such a brilliant photographer and teacher. His way of teaching is of great fun, and he delivers the ideas so well. I learn really a lot from this. Thank you so much Scott! Creative Live is doing such a wonderful job!!


This is by far my most favourite course on Creativelive. It's inspiring, funny and most educational. I learned so much about flash and lighting and can't wait to practise all that I've learned. Scott is an enthusiastic teacher and his way of teaching just clicks with me. Highly entertaining! And it was fun to also get some posing, composition and other tips out of the workshop for variety. I 1000% recommend this course if you want to learn more about lighting in an inspiring way.