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Creative Wedding Photography

Lesson 5 of 33

Outdoor Lighting

Susan Stripling

Creative Wedding Photography

Susan Stripling

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Lesson Info

5. Outdoor Lighting

Lesson Info

Outdoor Lighting

So natural light outdoors, which is generally the biggest thing that people ask me about yes, sometimes I can use direct light phenomenal usually it is right before the sun sets. Most of the time I'm not going to use directional light you can't have your client's facing into the sun they will squint, they will be uncomfortable, they will feel kind of weird kind of blind when you're on a rooftop in new york and the sun is two minutes away from setting and it is gentle and beautiful and lovely and warm by all means put their faces right into the sun that's not what I get most of the time directional light at three o'clock in the summer I'm going to tell you how I position my clients in low light and then I'm gonna show you what it does at different times of the day because the principle of where I put the client doesn't change ever the dramatic aspect of the light changes as it comes further down in the sky you can see at three o'clock up on her on her chest a little bit you can see the ...

light on her chest it's coming from much more overhead there's not a huge dramatic halo of light around her the sun is still very high in the sky but the principle is still the same what I am looking for if I'm shooting them megan and jason let's say they're standing in the sun the sun is over there, right? My clients are in the direct path of the sun I am on the other side of my client so we're making a direct line son clients me two key things about this that's a very simple principle son clients you number one a dark background is very helpful because it juxtaposes that light really, really well for me the darker the background, the better the darker it is, the more you can see the light around them. The other principle is that there needs to be shade not for the clients, for you we have a reflector I do not use it to reflect light on the client's my assistant pops it out and holds it up if I need to shave my limbs, how many times have you gone outside scene really beautiful lighting and it's really amazing, but to see it you had to do like this, right? How can you shoot it without doing like this two year linds as well? And at three o'clock in the afternoon, the lens hood is not enough, so I'll look for the shadow from a tree, a bench, a building to get my linds out of the sun so that it doesn't go straight into the lens and haze over the image I can't you with you know nano coded glass all day long but it's not going to help me if the sun is blazing straight into my lens so I will seek shade for myself so that's exactly what's going on here three o'clock in the summertime the sun is on the other side of these people they're in the path of the sun I am on the other side I'm in the shade of the trees as you can see it five thirty in the summer starts to get a little bit better exact same principle the sun is coming from over the building I have a dark background my clients are in the path of the sun I am on the other side in the shade same people same wedding seven thirty in the summer same principle sun coming through the trees nice dark background clients are in the path of the sun I am not a shaded because later on in the day sometimes I will let that gentle sunset light into my lens to give me a little linds flair doesn't work so well at three o'clock but it's seven thirty when you're on those last fragments of light let it come on in it's kind of nice so talking through the different times of the day two o'clock in the afternoon in summer who wants to shoot outside at two o'clock in the afternoon in the summer I don't but this beautiful woman, great time shooting her, I had her lift her face up into the sun, so the sun coming down from the sky came down directly onto her face, and then when I exposed properly for her face, the entire already dark background got even darker like that she's literally looking up into the sun, and if I want them to look directly into the sun, I'll say, hey, guys can just close your eyes for a few minutes and then when I say three, open your eyes and closing again. I don't want to burn your retinas, but it's really beautiful light just pop them open and popping close, and I've got my shot three o'clock in the afternoon in the summer kind of a difficult example because they're very little, but I've deliberately surrounded them with dark sides very hard to get a dark background. You can actually see the light's not that dramatic because they're against much brighter um leaves in the background so again, the darker the background, the more dramatic the light. But you cannot take somebody outside at three o'clock and expect that halo of light to look the way it's going teo at eight o'clock at night she's not going to look like that three o'clock in the summertime she's slightly lifting her face up into the sun already dark background by the time I exposed for her face, the background gets even darker and they stand off as more dramatic here's a really good example. This is three o'clock, but it's in the winter, when the sun is setting much, much, much earlier. So you have a much more beautiful halo of light in the winter, because three o'clock and the winter is a lot like, you know, five, five thirty in the middle of the summer in new york. Three o'clock the sun's already kind of thinking about coming down it's, kind of depressing four o'clock in the summer and again, as you will notice as we go through these five o'clock in late fall. Same principles, same lighting setup, same set up with the clients. Same set up with me just as the day goes on five in the summer, six. Thirty in the summer the shadows get longer, the light gets more dramatic. The halo is more pronounced and again, this is a great example toe look at that background the light on olivia. Over here you can really see that light around her veil in her face because she's against those dark trees her husband is against the bright part of the trees, so the light is much less dramatic around his head. Keep on moving, said. Okay, okay. To keep going, I want to get the info in for you. We're going to revisit a lot of these principles when we're shooting tomorrow. So any technical questions about what were your settings here? Usually f four. Just in case you're wondering, most of those that you saw were the seventy two, two hundred at two hundred, as close to two hundred as possible. None of those were with the tele converter in case you were wondering. But again, background awareness is very, very, very important. If you find the light, you have to have the right background or the light's not gonna do what you want it to dio silhouettes. I love them. I had a little love affair with silhouettes a couple years ago and when little crazy with them, but I've learned to temper myself with them a little bit. The main principle of a silhouette. You have to have enough of a stop exposure difference between your subject and your background that by the time you under expose your subject so that they become that pure black sharp silhouette, you still have to have contrast between them in the background. If I put them already in a mirror here, if I had put them against maybe the bottom of the frame, kind of the darker water by the time I exposed down for them to make them a silhouette, the background would've gotten so dark that it would have looked really muddy. Um, so when I was first doing these silhouettes and kind of bringing them down and bringing them down, I was afraid to expose them as low as I needed to to make them sharp and crisp because I wasn't choosing my right backgrounds and everything was looking really muddy. Once I realized to me I need like a five to six stop difference between the subjects in the background, so that it's still very prominent when I adjust my exposure accordingly, usually to do a silhouette, I cannot stop down enough an aperture priority to make it work, so I'll switch over to manual and adjust my settings that way. Also, when doing a silhouette, I try to be very, very careful tohave my subjects, looking at each other at each other and not kissing. If they look at me, I lose their profile and it becomes a little bit less clear what story I'm telling, and if they kiss, then I'm shooting a freaky siamese twins joined at the head, you know, sometimes a silhouette can it doesn't have to be them looking directly at each other, you know, poise straight together, sometimes it's about the graphic nature of the movement of the image I used to be afraid to do silhouettes so I would realize I'm stopping down on these people to try to turn them dark and crisp and shadowy my background is way too dark to do something like that but then in this exact same location I went back three years later and realized how to do it it is standing on the same wall in the same location I just put their heads against the brighter part of the sky instead of the darker part of this guy moving on artificial light outdoors I understand there are going to be a awful oh god, I love those people they're the most wonderful people melanie the bride is actually done some business teaching here on creative live and they're the kind of people you could ever know in your entire life one hug mammal but I digress from artificial lighting, artificial lighting outdoors I will talk you through it very briefly if you want to seymour examples of that it is in the think book if you want to read it and tomorrow we will actually do it so I can talk to you about settings I feel like it will become much more relevant to tomorrow when you're actually seeing it happen so artificial light outdoors will be for something like a formal portrait of the bridegroom together or something like this which is the bridal party together outside what I am doing to give you a very brief overview of what we'll go over again tomorrow in the actual application of it I've got my seventy two, two hundred is close to two hundred as possible, I am taking a reading off of my client's faces and figuring out if I shot this without any flash at all. What would my settings b now talking about where I have put them, you can see that they're actually in the shade my subjects during the shade, but I've got beautiful lap dappled light in the background. The reason I put them in the shade is because I want to able to control the light on their faces. If I've put them in the sun, it is a little harder to control. I've got my background bright and graphic and interesting because what I am going to do is taken exposure reading off for the clients like I said before is if I was going to shoot it with no flash and then I'm going toe under expose that for about by about two stops because my goal there is when I under exposed my clients, it also brings down the background, makes it much darker and much more dramatic, I'm using my off camera flash to fill in their faces. This is the only time when I'm shooting portrait's that I'm going to use off camera flash outside when the bride and groom were wandering around or when they're when they're beautiful backlit and it's really wonderful and gorgeous I'm not using flash I'm using flash for the formal types of portrait so I've got your id in his groomsmen I've taken a reading off of them I've underexposed it so that if I take the picture right then it's going to be about two stops underexposed then my assistant is standing about eight to ten feet away from them on a diagonal a very gentle diagonal so if I'm facing show you guys my back sorry if megan and jason here are my formal portrait right on the wall here um if I'm standing here with my seventy two two hundred as far back as I need teo my assistant is going to be standing about here about eight to ten feet back from them making a very gentle angle towards them but sorry I'm freaking out the camera guys by wandering around a lot she doesn't want to be so far off to the side that when the light from the off camera flash hits the people it lights one side very strongly and by the time you get to these gentlemen on the other side it's fallen off she doesn't want to be so close to me it's flat straight on light so a lot of working with your assistant if you have someone doing an off camera flash for you you have to find your sweet spot of where you want them to stand where you're comfortable with everybody being lit well but it still gives a little drama of the off camera flash usually when we're outdoors the off camera flashes on full power because it's outdoors we take this dolphin on the balance off the top of the flash and put on the robe flash bender it's kind of like shooting through a little soft box I swear to you I know this is probably blowing your mind because I'm throwing a lot of information at you right now we will do this tomorrow and we will do this many times it's in the think books if you want to read it I just set it out and tomorrow I'm gonna actually do it so that's generally what's going on I used to hate family formals I used to be kind of scared of them because they took forever and I felt like they weren't very good but now that I'm set up like this with the light that looks wonderful and beautiful and fantastic we can't shoot these all day I don't mind my settings never change as long as the flash stays where it is I can go forward I could go back I can shoot from the side the light is going to remain constant you can also use artificial light indoors and I'm going to be I just want to show examples of these we're going to spend an entire section of this actually doing it tomorrow, so please come back and take a look at this artificial light indoors the same off camera flash that I have been using for family formals outside we're going to use indoors for toasts and first dances make sure you had to do that and that and that possibly also that well, shoot them during introductions, we will shoot them during toasts. It is a very, very, very simple set up again mind bogglingly frustrating if you've never done it before after you see it a few times and try it a few times yourself, it starts becoming second nature. The beautiful thing about it is you're off camera flashes always on manual and my assistant never moves, so I know that the output of the flashes going toe look exactly the same every single time I can move wherever I want the flash isn't on my camera, I'm talking to it with a radio I can go across the room, I could go right next to the bride, the light is going to continue being the same on my subject unless my subject moves or my assistant moves, so we will show you tomorrow how to make a very basic triangle with your assistant so that her light is coming this way and my camera is coming this way, I'll show you what happens when she goes to the other side of the clients, and I shoot straight into them again. I feel this is one of those things that describing it to you like this is very hard to understand unless you actually see it, and when I'm shooting tomorrow, showing you the reception I'm shooting tethered, so you'll be able to see the images as they come up, you'll be able to see every single setting as it comes up and see exactly what I'm doing in all of these scenarios. The other type of flash is your basic on camera flash my twenty four to seventy with the flash on it bounced gently back that I was talking about earlier for cocktail hour pictures like so that's also the way I should all of the dancing, sometimes we'll add an additional light, and I'll show you tomorrow what it looks like and where to position your assistant again. Talking about it is great, showing it to you is actually better other lighting indoors that his artificial is your video light again, this is the ice light, it makes my heart happy, the background here is just a bunch of twinkle lights on a white cloth that was hanging behind the client's table I shot through the champagne glasses which I get asked about a lot and I promised to show you how to dio and then it is just a very simple I slight on full power off over here aim directly at her face by my assistant and again I don't want to sound like a nice light commercial but it's wonderful I love it it's it's phenomenal! Sometimes I will also use a video light for something like this, which isn't necessarily normally something that I would use a video light for but it was a very tiny room ah, very cramped space we're talking about maybe five feet of space tables pushed together it was a rehearsal dinner and when might we're trying with off camera flash even when we dialed it down to a very gentle power setting, it was still a very obvious flash burst, so I found that the best combination for something intimate and small like this was a nice light and an eighty five one four at two o so that's, why it's important for you to understand and again I'm not trying to say you have to come back tomorrow to learn this, but it is much, much easier to show it to you then just describe it out to you and I'll show you the scenarios that I would use something like this and but as you learn your flash as you learn your video lights as you learn your gear and your settings and your apertures and what all comes together, then you'll be able to start thinking for yourself, like, okay, well, I'm in this little small spot in the flash isn't really working. What do I do here? Video light and the decision was just that fast. I mean, this is these amazing moments are unfolding she's giving her mother these gifts at the rehearsal dinner were popping the flash off. I look at the back of the camera and I'm like, and this is wrong, and in yours passed, I would've been like, ok, so what can I do here to make it better? But in this scenario, I just looked at him, looked at my assistant and I said, video light one, for she runs a grabs it comes back within thirty seconds, were set up and we're shooting again. And this has taken me thirteen years to be able to think on my feet this quickly.

Class Description

Join award-winning wedding photographer Susan Stripling for a 3-day journey through the world of artistic, compelling, and financially successful creative wedding photography.

Throughout this course, you’ll explore lighting, posing, capturing detail, and much more. Susan will simplify the potentially daunting process of selecting the right equipment for every wedding’s needs. You’ll learn about transforming poorly-lit or visually uninteresting wedding settings into picturesque images.

Susan will also guide you through the workflow she uses, and explain the composition principles that result in dynamic images. You’ll explore concrete, on-the-fly troubleshooting strategies for unexpected wedding events.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the tools you need to think on your feet while photographing every phase of a wedding, with jaw-dropping results.



Outstanding, one of the best courses on Creative Live. Wow! The delivery is sharp, on point, and focused. I've learned tons. There are so many gems I've watched this video many times and have now purchased more videos from Susan Stripling. Outstanding presenter. My photography has already improved greatly by implementing some of the techniques shown.

a Creativelive Student

The content of the course was perfectly taught at a "real" level. Susan's work clearly, speaks for itself, but her willingness to be so generous with her knowledge is fantastic. She has become an instant favorite of mine and her style is truly special and unique. The course was reasonably priced and I am beyond thrilled that I have taken the time to learn from one of the best in the industry. INCREDIBLE course in every way!!


I Loved this course. I would definitely take another course by Susan Stripling. Her images are beautiful. She has the posing, timing, lighting, mood, etc. all down perfectly and makes amazing, beautiful pictures. She is an excellent communicator as a teacher too.