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Crazy Stupid Light

Lesson 2 of 12

Soft Light vs Hard Light

Scott Robert Lim

Crazy Stupid Light

Scott Robert Lim

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Lesson Info

2. Soft Light vs Hard Light

Lesson Info

Soft Light vs Hard Light

Let's talk. I want to back up a little bit and talk about some features that you should look for in a manual flash. I mean, not just mine but any manual flash and to me the less stuff the better right now I know the newest thing like for example, what a lot of times manufacturers do is they create a display and they load that display up with like, one million in four features like like my wife's car first of all, she's got this like this nice display computer controlled stuff I mean, to control the heat you've gotta go through five different levels and switches theo I mean, what happened to the old days? You just turn it hotter or colder, right? That's like my car's very easy. And so when you when I designed flash actually to me the less stuff the better. For example who's a cannon user here, right? Okay, great. So let's say you're assisting me on a wedding and I for example, use say soni and I give you my sony flash and I hand it to you and I said, hey, can you get that to manual pal ...

your power one sixteenth power for me gonna look at me and you're gonna go ah, whom do you have the manual for that right? Because it's so complicated and you look at the flash is nowadays and to get it into manual you have to hold this button down turned this knot dial right and then wait for the light to blink and then click it again and then rotate yeah, I mean it's like really difficult to get into manual mode and so what I liked the less the better everything hands on just like those old school cameras there was a dial for everything it's so fast, so there's a dial yeah, you know shutter there's thing the f stop was controlled right on the lens I could get to think so fast I didn't need a lot of things I just needed those important things to get to right there and there and that's what I like about flashes that are very easy to control and for example, you got it. One thing is is that it needs to be one sixty fourth power or lower that's what I really recommend that flash needs to get down to that why? Because we shoot at higher isos now there was this flash that I loved I don't know if you're familiar yet to be the old school to know this flash is called a son pack three eighty three anybody familiar with that flash? I loved it because it was so simple it had a mechanical manual dial that would went from sixteenth power to full and you could just like, very quickly switch back and forth to it and control it and that's, why this flash to design this way? Kind of like that, but because it only went down to sixteenth power it's not useful, especially when we're shooting at higher isos like I s o eight hundred and so forth. You don't need all that juice sixteenth powers actually too much so one make sure that you can get down to one sixty fourth power or lower sleep issues. A lot of times your flash will go to sleep on you and there are some flashes out there where you can't even turn that off. Now let me explain why this is so important, okay, let's say you are setting up a shoot and you're photographing a child, okay? And you got your flash set up over there. It's ready to go? You got the exposure. You got the card bam! You're lined it up, it's perfect. This person is this child is it's got a sour face and it's very hard to get that expression that you want. Finally, after a few minutes you'll get that perfect look you bam! You click the shutter uh oh, my flash went to sleep on me that was just wake it up, and then I got to take another photo to take the picture it's very frustrating when you're trying to await for that perfect moment and then all the sudden you're fat flash falls asleep on you uh that that is another issue, so make sure that if you do have a camera that you can adjust that teo, go into your custom function and turn that off uh and so it'll stay on all the time my particular flash stays on for about thirty minutes eso you're good there but that's another important future too fast recycle times uh those old flashes are great I mean, hey, you confined those old the vivid tar flashes online for like thirty bucks. There are sixty bucks or whatever that is great, but some of those old flashes take like forever to recycle, maybe even up to ten seconds after full power. The newer flashes recycle a lot faster like mine on full powers like three seconds it takes before and I rarely shoot on full power. So that's another thing you've got to keep him like good powers. Another thing right? You want a guide number of probably over one hundred and twenty aa but you know guide numbers is like horse power. They could have a guy number but doesn't really mean that it is that guide number, but anyways that's just a general reference in expenses of great like I would during the wedding season the reason why I started to using with straight manual flashes because during the wedding season I would I'll show you later I had this technique where I used to flashes on the dance floor and I've just put them on stance and every once in a while every time during the every wedding season some drunk dude would come along hit that darn thing buh bam there's five hundred bucks and that gets to be very, very expensive so if you can use very inexpensive flashes you don't worry about them as much if they fall in the water whatever and that's great going to save you some money oh, great to ah mei what I love about my flash two is I actually as you can see here on this flash I I have put the guide right on there for you so it's a little bit easier um or you could just be like robert and memorized the entire card I leave it how the card good for you. Okay. Oh another cool feature that you want to look for in a flash is the loa fascist have what they call a slave mode is anybody familiar with that? No, that is so what happens is you khun set some flashes to put in slave mode so when it sees another flash go off it will fire too so that's great! Just in case maybe you're triggering system is not working right? Or you don't have batteries in it or you don't have enough for every single flash. You can still make your flash fire if it sees another flash go off and that's. Another key feature um that you should look for in a flash because sometimes you need it. Um and it's very handy to have. Okay, so let's, go back to why who's in favor of going to hawaii who's in favor of shooting these guys. Okay s so here we're going to go and let yes let's go get into my mind. How am I going to solve this puzzle? How am I going to take this picture? What am I thinking? And let's go through the exact steps. So here we are in hawaii there was a huge mountain and there was light coming in over this mountain and of course, what? Creating shade or shadow so therefore where my subjects were, they were darker. Ah, then the clouds right in the back out. So the first step you do is you need to determine your background exposure and by that what I mean, is it as you see these clouds up here ah, you I need to set that in my camera why because I don't think my flash khun fire five miles away and light up those clouds I don't think any flash in the world can do that so if I want those clouds scene I have to have them seen in my cameras that not correct so I have to expose for those clouds the way I want it right so I determined that I liked this at f four s o one hundred and one sixtieth of a second okay you might want it darker you might be at f I six I don't know it's up to you or you might want it brighter I don't know you're in control it's your vision but this is how ice there's no right or wrong to this okay and so I saw these clouds here at f four s o one hundred at one sixty okay so that's my background so once I set my camera for that those clouds look perfectly exposed but what did my subjects look like being in the shade they were what they were dark right they were underexposed okay does that make sense to you because this area is darker than the clouds if I'm earing for the clouds that means that this is going to be darker is that not correct so to make this exposure match I have to give f four s o worth of light on my subjects does that make sense? I have to match the exposure okay so what do I do well how dowe I know what f or I s l one hundred with a light is well you go to the handy dandy charts then it tells you you just line it up ok I mean I s so one hundred at f or what flash power doesn't tell me to set it at one sixteenth power so I go over to my flash I set that on one sixteenth power which is ah three lights on my flash all right I have my subjects say they're here I go about six feet away here right and I fired my shot and damp there it iss okay and let's say you fire the shot and it's a little bit too dark okay like who I almost got it right it looks like um this person maybe is a little bit further away and I didn't come I need to compensate for that a little bit I need to I need to get a little bit more light in there what is the best way to exposed these properly and add more light I talked about four ways to control the flash right but what are the best ways to do it in this scenario aperture wrong why do I say it's wrong? What happens when you change your aperture I changed the background so therefore if I change this then I gotta reconfigure all that and it's a big hot mess it's like oh gosh right so what are our other ways that I can control my flash without changing my aperture or my eyes so because once I change those two is going to change my background is that correct? Yes distance I just find two that light in by distance also I can change the quality of life of how much shadow I want on the subject so let's say the cameras here and I'm firing the flash here it's not going to give me as much shadow as if the flash was over off to the side get it so the maur the light is off to the side the mohr shadow I can create on my subjects okay and when I review um portfolios and people are using flash the number one mistake that I see is that they don't get that light off to the side more and I don't see enough shadow on the subject um and because you know in in in the real world this world is lit by what the sun one huge off camera light source so a lot of times we're used to seeing shadow and brightness and highlights and things like that and so when we see shadows in the background and then we don't see shadows on the person then the highlights don't match and it doesn't look believable okay, so what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to match the the contrast between shadow and brightness just like those clouds back there so if there's no shadow on my subject but then I look at the clouds over there and I see highlight and I see highlights and darkness doesn't look believable because there's a mixed lighting situation there so I'm always trying to match the lighting to my environment to make it look believable this is also going to help with your post processing too when you know about lighting because you'll know howto highlight things and how to shade things with a better understanding of life okay, does that make sense the people and how we lined out up and how we did that and how we adjusted it so with the first step was what to expose for the what background or whatever that flash can't if your flash can't get over there and light it up then you're gonna have to get it through your camera settings so that makes sense yes christine you because I notice that like towards the end of the chart it's blank so like I s a sixteen hundred f for there is no number so why is uh very good question because that is such a little light value like ah, a lot of times we'll some flashes will go down to want to see two sixty fourth power right um but there's the kind of stops there with flash you can't get it less than that but there's a little precursor for tomorrow we're going to learn about video light and video light takes over where flash ends and so you can get all the full spec shin of light okay but good question all right let's go on to another example let's keep moving here okay oh let me talk a little bit about what I used to some of you might not know this like wireless trigger system might be like freaking you out like what is it I don't understand it what's going on okay so this is what it is there are many systems out there and what you have is what you put on your camera is called a transmitter okay it transmits a signal to what a receiver which you put on your flash okay so let's see if we can get this to work actually what I'd should have done was test everything before I went on air but you would think that'd be the logical thing but you'd be surprised okay? Okay, perfect. So can I get somebody to stand up here? Thanks, neil. Okay, so what happens is is when I pushed my shutter right and I click it the transmitter sends a radio signal to this and it tells it to fire okay now incompetent and very expensive systems when you do that it actually there's a lot going on it tells a comp and computes light and it tells it what to do and it tries to figure out your life for you mine is stupid all it does is says fire dummy because it knows that I'm controlling your life that's what a manual system is it just says like when I fire this right it just says fire that's all it does because that's all I wanted to do is because why who's controlling the light here I am so that's why I like the systems that are sample like this because there's not a lot to go wrong with it there's no displays there's no like like less is more because it's simpler now another thing is that there's two types of systems you khun on every camera system they have their own built in wireless system but a lot of times that's infrared meaning that in order for that to flash off flash the camera has to see the sensor on wherever it's usually on the flash like right here. So in order for my that to go off this camera has to see that other sensor but when you go to a radio system we could put it around the corner we could put it under the chair because it goes off through radio waves. Does that make sense and that's probably the bestest of another thing that why you do not want infrared is in bright sunlight because what happens is is it fires off light to tell that it sees the light to tell to go off, but when you're an extremely bright light, all the light value is the same. So there's, no contract doesn't know when it goes on or off because it can't see it because there's too much light does that make sense? So that's why infrared systems get to be very inconsistent in the bright light that's why, when you put the flash in slave mode, it won't work in bright light because they can't distinguish between your flash going off and the sun because it's equal value does that make sense? Uh, anyways, go ahead. Thank you. So, though that's what I'm talking about an off camera system, there's many systems out there I happened to use a manual system because they're very inexpensive, um and there's a lot to choose from, um and there's also tt l systems too. But my feeling is every time you go through that tt l system it you get complications because it's trying to do it's trying to send so much information there to figure things out, that it becomes very unreliable at times, um, and I just find that the manual is the way to go for me personally, okay? Let's say you okay this is this is what we're going to regress like I made you work really hard and now we're going to take a little break okay now let's pretend you're a natural like shooter okay and I'm going to teach you how to use flash right away by just being a natural light shooter okay so for example let's do this let's pretend we're taking this shot so what I did was I placed my subject in an area where there's good natural light which was a stairway okay and so that light was funneling in and that's there was a way I was acting like a huge soft box and I got some nice light on my subject how do I know I got nice light I could see some beautiful catch lights in her eyes I go mad bingo this is a great place so I sent her there and I meet heard my camera as normal the only wreak arm it wass is I can't my shutter speed below one two hundredth of a second why is that? You don't get a shadow right? Because that way my camera will be in sync with my flash if I happen if I use it okay so what I do is I'm just meeting a ring as normal okay and then I'm adding a flash in the back what do you put that flash power in the back? Scott whatever your vision is, seriously, it won't even matter whether you put it on one sixty fourth power or full. Why? Because you've already made meter the main light, the main light you already metered in your camera that back, like coming in it's? Just extra sauce, pan it's just whatever it could be bright sun or a little bit of sun you're in control of that. In this particular case, I put a blue gel on the flash behind because I wanted to make it look blue. So let's, go to that diagram. Right? So what I did was this look at my camera setting sierra. I'm going to show my camera settings. Whatever gave that that exposure? Four this subject. I said six, three, one. Forty eights of a second, and I s a one hundred that was perfectly needed for her natural light. Okay, I just added a flash in the back with the blue jail and I can't even remember what I put that sucker at. I could, I would probably say started at sixteen power. Just knowing me, you can change. You could be half power. If you want more that light in or you could be less that it's up to you, you're in control here, this is the fun part about it. You just meet her is normal and then you just add that what we're going to do that later today and just go crazy whatever you want to do right and you'll see that it really won't matter it's just your own personal taste okay and this is kind of opposite of what we were taught traditionally you know with ratios and how much flash and whatever I'm saying throw those rules away um and as long as you get your main light right whatever you want behind is your own thing make it your own ok so let's look at some other examples here let's look at this example here which is actually that guy over there in that post or two so this is great. Okay, so what did I do? I metered him as normal I put him in this doorway and you could see the sunlight coming through this door lightweight creating a nice huge soft box giving me what? Why is it good luck do c catch lights in the guy's eyes very pointing to his catch lights here in his eyes right? And then I meet her for it and I told me that f four five at one fiftieth of a second and I s o two hundred would give me the perfect light to expose him okay and there was light coming from behind and what I notice is what I always love is that ej life now I'm going to be pointing to the outline of my subject here see that edge light there and here I love that little separation in there okay, I wasn't getting that that light behind him wasn't strong enough to give me that edge light but that was my vision my vision was I want ej light so let me create that edge like so what I did was have my assistant stand behind this door with a on a mono pod holding the flash and what I did was I put a orange gel on it to kind of give it a kn orange feel and I just fired it behind my subject to give me that edge light okay? And it didn't matter what power it was at its just according to your taste whatever that edge is that you want but because the main light was already metered in your camera correctly makes sense any questions? Ok, good let's look at this situation here. Okay. Uh do you see catch lights in their eyes? You ok, right. So what was happening here was there was an overhang and that soft light was coming in. Uh you could see the diagram over here was coming in and giving them beautiful catch lights in their eyes okay? And what I did was I wanted to, uh, make it seem like sun was setting behind them it wasn't there was no sun there it was flat but as you can see I had a flash right here and you can tell that I don't photoshopped that well because I should've put I've should have took that stick out but I leave it in there because it is great demonstration ah diagram and there's the mono pod with my flash on it with the cto gel orange gel coloring my light been tending it was the sun you thought it was the sun right but it wasn't but that was my vision for this photo I was able to create it very easily so you can all do that right was so if you want to start using flash right away you khun this is a fun way to do it without even thinking and just having fun with it you know forget the darn guide numbers like oh that's confusing me right now I just want to go out and use flash and have fun right now okay go this's way to do it start using your flash getting used to it and seeing the effects of it experiment and have fun here's another way to experiment yeah, yeah love to jump in ask sure let's do that yeah, just for for people who might be again just very basic level yes fashion tv question from singapore can you define again what is a kicker light ah okay kicker is I think it's synonymous to like separation light or it's any additional light in my opinion that is not really the main light it's a light added for fun or for additional accents are a little kick for a little kick you know, I think they termed it for a kicker as something on the ground you know that you can kick it right? Ah, but in general I think it the term it well, I don't know I could be wrong but I kind of just see it as any kind of ah additional accessory like but not the main light something that's used as an edge separation light um any other questions? Yeah. Steffen daniel schwartz from germany is wondering how do you meet her for your natural light when you're mixing natural with the flash doo doo aperture priority than transfer settings to manual mode or do you just stay in manual exposure meter or yeah, I you know, I put it in manual right? And I, uh basically used that meter in my camera on I just kind of go from there take the beauty about digital is you can actually see the photo in the old days when I was phil I would actually meter it with light meter but now I just look at the back of my camera you can also check the history graham to see you know if you're not blowing anything out but I I don't know I never really looked at that history graham I just go by the back of my camera but I start off in manual and I just used that meter there and I just make sure that my shutter is under within my sink speed maybe one more question surely move on folks were asking back at the sort of the beach scene and some of the other samantha are yes did you have an assistant who held the flash for you or did you carry a stand to attach the flash then it similarly for the fourth e sand when you're on the beach how did you do that? So just thinking you are by yourself good what should you d'oh don't be by yourself seriously I mean okay, well because I kind of like takes shots very quickly and I have to be in and out for me the most efficient way is with an assistant, right? I like that voice activated lights stand as they say so if I'm having a person hold the flash I could tell him to move back move forward I don't it's very quick right? So many people want toe learn photography and they want to learn this stuff that you can easily easily nowadays find assistance they love if they would love to learn how to do this stuff and so you confined assistance very, very easily nowadays, and I'm saying whatever use whatever it takes to create your vision and to do it efficiently, and if you have to get four assistants get for I mean, look at this room, how many people are here operating cameras and lights and whatever do what it takes to create the quality that we want and so don't limit ourselves in resource is get what you need to complete your vision because without your vision, we are nothing. Is that correct? If we can't separate ourselves from the masses, why do it? Because our stuff is going to look exactly like everybody else is that is a great question, any other all right? Let's keep moving. So this particular situation here, like jail from behind about it being about a boom go let's talk about photographing rain how do you photograph rain? Or how do you photograph smoke? It's kind of the same thing, and the key to doing that is to get the light from behind. Okay, that's, the on ly way that you're going to see those raindrops is when you have it back lit or side lit, okay, so if you want to show water, don't light it from the front, you won't see it. That's kind of like going out in the rain and you want to take a picture of the rain that's why you've never seen the rein in your shots because you think I look through my flash on you know I can see it the only way you're going to see it is if you get the light from behind so let's say you had a beautiful venue okay and there's a beautiful water fountain there and you want to see that water position yourself so that the sun is shining behind that waterfall and then you can see it what happens if you don't have the sun use a flash light it from behind do whatever right so you have and that's the same thing with smoke if you want to see smoke or you want to see so get that light behind this is what we did this is a workshop I didn't japan and we were in kyoto and they had we were in this place they had beautiful bamboo trees I don't know if you've seen one of my photos where I have this uh oh I was hey I was there with matthew jordan smith you had matthew here right so we did a workshop together in japan right and we had so much fun I mean we were there for hours it started tow pour rain but we were having so much fun we didn't want to leave right so for a tower we were like going at it and was like, hey, let's photograph in the rain and so we had this idea of photographing in the rain and so what we did was we used the video light as her main light, okay, lighting her up with a video light and then we took a flash from behind and just fired that. Now if you look at a lot of people's different photos from that workshop it's gonna look different because everybody have different tastes on how much back life a person ah wanted back there that's just my interpretation, but it's whatever you want, but because of that back light, if I go back to this photo so what, you see, those droplets of rain there? So that wasn't a texture. Anything that was like the real thing in camera. Okay, so that's, how you photograph frame? Okay, let's, go on to difficulties with flash let's. Explain the reasons why sometimes we just hate flash. The thing is, is that flash comes from a very small source. And when light comes from a very, very small source it's going to create harsh life or create very hard shadows, okay and that's not very pleasing light sometimes it's when its heart and when you get into a situation where you're in a soft light, situate it's like we're in here right? If we happen to look around, we're going to see that there's the shadows on the ground are very, very soft they're not very well defined that means that we're in a soft light situation, so if I'm in a soft light situation and I'm creating hard light on my subject it's not gonna look believable and so like, oh, that looks ugly because the light doesn't match right? So if urinal soft light situation, you want to create soft light and the way to do that is to defuse the light and make that light source larger. Now what I like using a lot of times is a simple shoot through in morella, and if you notice this as you can see the picture when that flash fires on that umbrella, that entire umbrella becomes the light source. So now I've just went from this small two by three size to this large circle area created by this thirty three inch umbrella and so there's going to be a huge difference in the quality of light coming out of this, okay, so if I fire this, let me fire this flash and you're going to see this entire, um, flash light of this entire umbrella light up see that? And so now this becomes the light source now there's a there's a cost and that cost is is not we are getting softer light or a higher quality of light but we're losing power and how much power we losing? We're losing two stops in general ok? I mean, I think they say sometimes one and a half stops but just think of it as two stops okay? So we're losing four times the power but we're gaining higher quality so the reasons why I like using the shoot through umbrella one is very inexpensive uh like twenty bucks or less or wherever and if you lose it no big deal oh ah you have to worry about it the set up is extremely fast. Like I said most the moment when you set up a soft box off boxes are great but they usually uh take five minutes to set up a recipe I got this umbrella down ready to go assistant can hold the flash right here by instantaneous diffused light that's why everybody should have one of these in their bag or whatever if they're just you know not sure if they're going to use it though it in anyways it's small it's light it packs very well fast set up okay light goes is reflected both ways as you can see here it is reflected through the umbrella as I'm pointing at the umbrella here and it's going towards the subject and also it's being reflected the other way too. So there's a there's differences in the light quality when you shoot through the umbrella the light is being defused faster as you can see that this is a dome, right? So when we fire through this dome the light is going straight then it's going off to the sides and it's wrapping around this way right? So you've kind of and now if you are take the flash and you were to fire it back into the umbrella and let it reflect back what it would do is it would come back as a wall of light at you and so you would get probably a bit more wraparound light um and what that could do is create less shadow for you uh for example let's um neal you want to come up for example just demonstrate a little bit right? So if I'm shooting this sway okay let's say the camera's here can you turn your nose this way? Okay, right, let's say the cameras here. Okay? And so let's say I'm shooting it this way. What's happening is I'm getting a small quantity of light at neil through here, but the other light is being reflected out this way is that not correct? And so I'm actually going to get a harsher shadow here as if I were to do this because if I refined fire the light back this way then it's coming back as an entire wall of light at him and it's wrapping around his face and it's creating less shadow on that short side. Thanks, neil. I'm not sure if that makes sense to people, but go out and just practice it. You see the difference, it's? Very minor. I'd like to use personally. My method is just shooting through near come back up here because I can get closer to my subject this way versus if I have to fire it this way. Look, and I'm not losing two feet of distance this way so I just like it this way because I can get closer to my subject. Scott, did you say if you ever this is from lens? Chris photography. Do you ever use a reflective umbrella? I don't, um, that you could it's a little bit. You get more light but it's a little bit harsher from for what? I use it. And I'm not saying that, um you know, it's, just not my particular tastes. I'm not saying it's it's better or worse, but I like the softness of this. Right. So that's what? But that's the effect. If you were going for something harsher, you can actually google. All this stuff is online, and if you want to see the differences without actually doing it, you can google it on youtube and they'll show the difference between reflective and shoot through and all that kind of stuff. But I remember recommend actually going out and doing it is the best way to I learnt is hands on so let's go to paris now anybody up for going to paris? Okay, so let's go to paris and we're going to shoot this photo and see what was going through my mind how I accomplish this, how could give you one little tip if a client hires you to paris to photograph their session or photograph their wedding, you've got to make sure and at least one of the photos the eiffel tower is in there do not blow out the eiffel tower. Okay that's the reason why they're there this was all done um with one a shoot through an umbrella and this small flash that's it doesn't this look like it's studio quality lighting here all it was was one hundred twenty five dollars flash and a shoot through umbrella that's it to create this so let's go through and see how we did this. The first step is what does anybody know you meter for the background? How you want that toe look, is that correct? So I'm meeting for the eiffel tower I want to make sure that the eiffel tower is in my picture and I don't blow it out okay? So I'm meeting oring for how I want thea eiffel tower and those clouds to look so I did term because mike flash cannot fire five miles away and light up the eiffel tower, right? Is that correct? So if I'm going to see that, I got to see it in my camera first, so that may make my subjects a little bit darker uh, or depending on what the situation is but that's, okay, because I'll get this the subject exposure from my flash. So the one exposure in my camera is the background, and then I'll get the exposure for my subjects with my flash, so I don't have to worry about it. So what happens? What I determined was the perfect background for my vision in f four I s o two hundred at one fiftieth of a second. Is that not correct? Okay, so what did I do? I took much chart and I look at and I see guess what? At f four s o two hundred, it tells me that I'm at one thirty second power does everybody understand that? But how many stops? If I wanted to use an umbrella, how many stops am I going to lose? Too. So if I was at six feet at the same distance I would put it out what power what's two more stops on one thirty second power just double it twice. So one sixty this is the math part that some people kind of freak out about but we kind of had to learn this uh okay, so if we, uh one thirty second power right? So if we double that power it becomes one stop would be one sixteenth powers that not correct, but okay, and then we're but I'm losing two stops so I've got to make it two stops higher. So if you look at the chart here and, uh so one thirty second power one sixteenth powers one stop another stop would be one eighth power. You get that three stops would be one quarter power. So that's, when you state take stops it's just actually the next number on the grid. Okay, does that make sense to everybody? So if I were at six feet okay and I put an umbrella on, I'm losing two stops so I would have to increase my flash power tow one eighth power okay, but I got a easier way in a better way that's what I would do this what I would do is ok don't freak out, but I would use the inverse square law okay. Did that all just relax? Eso what the inverse square law says is if you have the distance okay, instead of shooting at six, feet I shoot at three feet. I gain two stops. Okay, how many stops did I lose when I used an umbrella? Okay, so I'm at six, feet and I how many stops did I lose? If I go to three feet? How many stops did I gain it's a wash, right? And not only that the closer you get the source to the subject, the higher the quality of light because the source eyes becomes larger in relationship to the subject and you're going to get big, beautiful light the closer you get this sucker to your subject and that's, why this what you get like this? Because this is three feet away from my subject. So therefore from a from ah uh, come technical aspect and determining your flash power. When you use an umbrella, just find out what it is at six, feet. Put the umbrella on and moved to three feet it's the same, you know that the think it's easier than you think it is. Okay? And that's, what I did there any questions that you got that confuse you understand how that works? Quick, quick question, yeah, from beets for thirty five so if you're shooting through our against the umbrella um what is now the distance from the light to the subject does that umbrella add any distance for a general rule I just used because I always shoot through the umbrella. I just kind of, uh wherever that in bere ella from here to the subject that's right distance right? I just want to clarify that if you move this flash way back then it's obviously going to change and ah and also you will change the quality of light how close that umbrella that flash is too the center of the umbrella so you you don't want to pull it to close what's the optimal I don't know what the optimal spot is like you know, I'm right here probably about a foot and a half away. We're going off here right here about here is good right here. Thank you. All right, so let's go but we're a little bit behind here, so I'm going to rip through them something here. Okay, so these are umbrella shots just with umbrella, so I got the main okay, I got the main light on her with an umbrella and I used the flash in the back when this is at ten o'clock and night in the santa monica pier but I wanted it my vision was I wanted to look like sunset there so I just fired a flashback. There only remember what power put it. I probably put it on sixteenth power or something like that and that's to taste back there. But the main light was with the umbrella. Okay, here's, another one. I am doing photos at a reception. I really loved that window light feel I didn't have a window is like being in here. There's no window. So what I did was I took a ah, an umbrella off to the side to give me that big soft light coming as if a window light was coming through here's. Another one group shots. Okay, group shots. Uh, but I want that studio quality. All that is is one flash through an umbrella. Okay? And what I did, wass, I changed my s o to sixteen hundred, making my flash sixteen times more powerful. Okay, so, that's, how I could compensate for the extra distance that I need, so I'm not shooting at six feet anymore. I'm shooting at twelve, feet, so the inverse square law tells me I'm going to lose four times as much power. I'm going to lose two stops when I double the distance back, so when you have the distance, you're going to gain two stops, but when you double it back then you're gonna lose two stops. I'm losing two stops that way. Then I'm putting an umbrella on top of that. How many stops my gonna lose our using four stops at that point that's. Why, I put it at s o sixteen hundred so I can make up for those stops. And so how it turns out to be, um in general is put your flight. This is a little this is his tip. Go about twelve feet back if you're going to shoot it five. Six s o sixteen hundred one sixtieth of a second. Just stick your your dark flash on one quarter power and you should be close and that and that will give you that type of shot there. Okay, so that's a formula that you can use one quarter power. Okay. And the reason why I want to keep it at one quarter power and I don't want it at full because I want it to recycle real fast and I want to use less power it's possible. Okay, cause I'm managing my flash throughout the day, okay? And brew l a is a must for outdoors at night, okay, uh, great for outdoor dde anybody do weddings at nighttime outside, that is probably a bad situation because you can't reflect the light anywhere. If you're using on camera flash and so you're going to get very harsh light all the time because you're just firing at your subject so what I like the dues and umbrella so this is a situation here where in los angeles we always have these kind of culturally mixed weddings okay so this gentleman here the groom was of armenian descent and though his bride his wife was of mexican descent so he comes up to me this is like a ten o'clock at night go scot I got this really important shot I'm going to sing to my wife in spanish I hired this mariachi band they're coming so in five minutes we're going to do this you tell me where to set up and we're gonna do this shot okay so it's ten o'clock at night and I got five minutes this shots very important to him I gotta nail this shot what am I going to do so what I do is I find the best background possible I survey the situation I go you know what I really like that tower coming out of there I really like those those lights going across that makes a great scene I am going to shoot my background first and what does it tell me to set it at I am at I s o thirty two hundred doesn't that tell you that was very dark at night plus I'm at one sixth of a second at five so that you know it was very dark but that's what give me that background that's what would give me those clouds okay, so I set that up and I got my assistant holding that flash up like that I fired it and bang that's the shot I got and I guarantee you that my shot looks way better than this guy shot right here with his little point shoot camera I guarantee you um and that's why we get paid the big bucks is that within a few minutes we can negotiate things like this and get beautiful shots right on the fly because we understand light and we know how to manipulate it, okay? So we got to get really get going through here these air some multiple flashes I mean, the chat rooms goingto take this because we gotta fly through here but maybe we could give you a little bit multiple flash ups this's my signature lighting get your pans ready because I'm going to tell you how I do this. This is my signature lighting style at a reception and this is what I do. I put two flashes by usually by the deejay speakers I fire them towards the middle of the dance floor at one sixteenth power why one sixteenth power because it recycles real fast and I'm not burning up I mean I could go a thousand photos over a thousand photos at one sixteenth power on one set of batteries and I'm not going to shoot a thousand dance shots that's for sure okay and then I set my camera to ah hi I sl either eight hundred or sixteen hundred and I have my f stop it either two point eight of four depending on what lens I have on I put my shutter speed at one hundred and then get a load of this I put a on camera flash in t t l on oops I put but I put that light at minus one and two thirds stops meaning I just want that flash toe kiss that subject with light and I want most that light to wrap around like the sun shining to give me that glowy romantic feel and that's my set up there and see what you get shots like this okay where you're kissing the life there and then you get that light it looks like it's a nightclub but I can create that night cub feel any wedding I do and it became my signature style ah lighting style here's other shots what I did hear that those two flash set up on this particular I didn't use teal flash what I did was I stuck a flash on the ground and all I did was I threw an umbrella like this under it giving me some beautiful up light that's why it looks like stage lighting doesn't look like that up light coming through because that's what I did there. Okay. Ah here's other examples of using this type of lighting uh, effects that you khun get ah here's a quick tip when you see three when you see three hot chicks dancing together take a picture of them always looks good on the website. Okay, that romantic feel there with those two flashes back ah, that kind of feel there with that back line coming through this is a particular ah photo I did anybody see the movie clueless? Ok, I did her wedding. Ah, the girl that the whatever girl the redhead right s o she got married. It was a big thing. So after doing her wedding all these, you know, people all these magazines wanted her picture right? Because he's the clueless girl. So, anyways, what I do had a wedding is I do this one particular shot where I have the bride's maids interact with each other and I put them behind a nice big window. So I get that romantic feeling with that light wrapping around them, and I always do that shot. Well, I was in china doing a workshop and I wanted to simulate this type of field, but I didn't have a window, okay, so what I did was I did this shot ah, but I used four flashes around them acting as my window. Okay, there was no window there, there's, just like a two a m in the morning. There's, no window there's, no light, but I wanted that feel. So what I did was, I wrapped four flashes around them, as you can see there, okay, a wrecked give me that big wall of light behind them, and I got that shot that so that's, how I did that shot was actually kind of like I do weddings. But I translated that into something that I could perfect. Morris like a masterpiece.

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

Related Classes



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.