Base Plate Lighting Tips


Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography


Lesson Info

Base Plate Lighting Tips

So understanding light. When you're doing a composite you need to have a great understanding of what light is, and how it behaves, and especially cause we're building it in the studio, so we're not shooting anything on location and then filling the light in like we did with the previous class. With this class we're creating completely synthetic light from nothing and then we're gonna use strobes, and try to emulate it as close as we can. And there's once again tons of different techniques, there is no right way from wrong way in my opinion. I have seen people pull this off with every lighting setup imaginable so, we're gonna go through just one option today (laughs). So don't think that what I'm teaching you guys this is like the only way that this can be done. You know, go out, educate, you know educate yourself and try a bunch of different stuff, and then you might find one that works really well for you. So in this case what we're gonna do in the video is you'll see we're gonna put ...

a person in there, and we're gonna basically study the light of what's going on around her, and we're gonna figure out how that works so cause when you photographing with an overcast sky, light's bouncing everywhere. Right, it's just this giant soft box that covers the whole space. So basically, we have this huge light source therefore our shadows are extremely soft which is kinda nice, cause I like soft shadows, I'm not really, I've never been the type of photographer that likes to photograph hard shadows. I appreciate it when somebody can do it well, I've just never been able to figure how to do it well and it always looks awful when I do it, so that's one of the things I'm working on. But in other case we have nice soft light today and we're just gonna try and wrap this around her, we have a pretty model coming in - she has mermaid hair oh my god, her hair is like down to here it's incredible. So we're gonna light this, we're gonna try and make her look as close as we can to the environment lighting with the equipment that we have available to us today. Does that answer your question? Perfect. Cool. So the other bonus of having a stand-in is I can understand how the light's gonna look on my subject. So in this case with this image we have really dreary flat-light, it's not very fancy, so that means in the studio I'm probably gonna add a fill light to the front just like how we did when we were shooting on location up at the cliff edge with the model, so I would probably add a similar effect to that in the studio, but I still need to understand how the environmental light is going to affect my subject. So when I have my stand-in, I can actually just go there, have the person stand in, and take picture of them and I can analyze the light that's hitting their body. The other side to that is if I don't have a model and I don't know what the lights gonna be doing I'm out by myself, I can hold my hand out in front of me, and then I can photograph my hand at whatever direction and then study the light of how it's affecting my hand, or if you have a bag or whatever, whatever it is that you want, we can add this into the shot and then study it afterwards. So basically just a slight expansion on what we just covered so you know, using the tools that are available to you. It actually is kinda nice like even on an overcast day, if you stick your hand out and then you photograph it at different angles, you're gonna see that the light's gonna affect it differently, even on a totally overcast day. In the sun it's even more obvious so and even if you have soft light you can sit there, and you can photograph it even with your iPhone or like whatever device you have, if you just wanna have a reference of how that light is gonna hit, and then how you want to replicate it in post-production so. Understanding light is probably one of the most important things to a photographer and especially a compositor. Let's take this a little bit further and tell me a little bit about how you first (stutters), some skills that you first came up with how to learn how to see the light. So actually that's a really good question. I'll just leave that open for now. How I taught myself lighting is actually I use it in one of my other presentations, I have a picture of a flower and I put it in the fridge. So I cleared out the top shelf of my fridge and this is like when I was still using a point and shoot, and I discovered the little flower setting on the camera so the macro setting, and so I put this flower into the fridge and I sprayed water on it, and I figured that the water droplets were kind of like eyeballs, and so then I started blocking off the light and understanding what happened with this mysterious catch-light thing that I had heard all about. So I started trying to understand how light behaved and it was in large, soft environment like an overcast day. And then I went to a studio, a friend of mine who's a DJ was like hey I need some photos but I don't have any money, I was like I have no skill, let's do this (laughs). And so a friend of mine, his name's Lane, he let me use his studio which was really awesome, it was my first time experiencing photographing studio lights. So a lot of people will say oh well you're a model so you must understand that. Let me tell you in my experience, it might not be this way for everyone but watching photographers do what they do well from a models' perspective for me was like watching Olympic level swimming, but having never put my feet in the water. So I knew what good technique looked like but I had no idea how to do it myself. It made no sense to me. So I showed up at my friend's studio and you know, we got my friend in there, and we had all the lights were set up and I was looking at these photos, and was like I took a picture and he had at the time this beautiful five-point lighting set up, I took this photo and I looked at my camera and I was like, I don't get it. I don't understand what's going on, this makes no sense to me whatsoever. So I was like okay if I'm gonna teach myself lighting, it will be one thing at a time. So I turned off all the lights except one light and then I started photographing it, and I took tons, and tons of photos with one light. And then I just went okay I kinda got this one light thing figured out, let's go to one light and a reflector. Let's figure out what that does and then I learned like butterfly lighting, and I was like oh my god butterfly lighting, that's really pretty. And then from there it went into two lights and a reflector, and then three lights and a reflector, and it went up, and so far to date the biggest lighting setup I've ever done is 16 lights. But it was literally from taking time and going one light at a time, doing as much as I could do with that one light so shooting hundreds of photos, thousands of photos with one light, and then going onto the second one, and going onto the third one, cause I knew that if I just jumped into it full on with like five lights, I was gonna be missing some serious fundamental stuff.

Class Description

With the right Photoshop know-how and studio shoot experience, you can merge fact and fiction into a reality that lives up to your imagination. Renee Robyn has made a career of turning everyday photos from her travels into eye-catching images. Robyn will teach you how to add people and other elements to your existing landscape photos using ethereal custom effects.

Join us for “Creating Your Reality with Composite Photography” and you’ll learn:

  • How to choose or set up a shoot for your background image
  • How to direct posing during a shoot, and work with directional light in studio to make your subject fit into the background image
  • How to composite your subject into your image using Photoshop

Photo compositing allows you to breathe interesting ideas into your photos. Open your hard drive, walk into your memory, and turn past experiences into fantastic new realities.


1Class Introduction
2Why You Should Sketch Your Composite
3What to Look for in Your Background
4Posing Your Model
5Communicate with Your Team
6Elements of Compositing
7Learning from Failure & Criticism
8On-Location Safety Tips
9How to Nail the Right Perspective for Your Composite Photo
10Gauging Light & Exposure On-Location
11On-Location Posing
12Cliff Shoot Location Final Thoughts
13Tips for Culling Images
14Culling Images Q&A
15Preparing Your Image for Composite
16Composite Image Cleanup
17Adding Background Image to Composite
18The Difference Between Flow & Opacity
19Composite Sky Elements
20Using Curves to Color Match
21Adding Atmospheric Depth to Image
22Using Color Efex Pro to Manipulate Color
23Using the Liquify Tool
24Color Theory & Monitor Calibration
25Adding Smoke Layer to Image
26Selective Sharpening
27Crop Your Image
28Goal Setting for Digital Artists
29Review of Location Composite
30Understand Angle & Height for Your Base Plate Image
31Base Plate Focus Point
32Base Plate Lighting Tips
33How to Use a Stand-In for Base Plate Image
34Capture On-Location Base Plate Image
35Student Positioning Demo
36Base Plate Sketching
37On-Location Sky Capture
38What to Look for in a Base Plate Model
39Building Composite Model Lighting
40Composite Model Test Shots for Angle Matching
41Composite Model Shoot: The Art of Fabric Throwing
42Composite Model Shoot: Working with Hair
43Composite Model Shoot: Posing Techniques
44Composite Test with Final Shot
45Lighting Setup Overview
46Culling Model Shoot Images
47Adjusting Skintone Colors
48Merging Background with Model
49How to Mask Hair
50Creating a Layer Mask with the Brush Tool
51Creating Shadow Layers
52Removing Visual Distractions with Stamp Tool
53Replacing Sky with Layer Mask
54Drawing Hair Strands and Atmospheric Depth
55Creating Contrast in Your Composite
56Adding Atmospheric Elements
57Using Particle Shop
58Selective Color Adjustments
59Cropping, Sharpening, & Final Touches
60Closing Thoughts