Digital Photography 101

Lesson 10/36 - Lighting: Reflecting and Diffusing


Digital Photography 101


Lesson Info

Lighting: Reflecting and Diffusing

So we've covered a lot of different things from me during the light and learning how to see the light, understanding, quality and direction and all those things about light light light it sounds like it's all about the light and it is so now that you kind of learned are I've showed you those things or thinking about him there are other ways to work with light where you can actually control whatever light is shining anywhere and make it look harder, make it look softer just really play with it and get the effect that you want. And so I'm going to show you a few examples and kind of go through reflecting and defusing and then we're going to actually have hands on on taking pictures and just working with light and again playing with the direction of light and and defusing and reflecting so we came up in the last segment I called it refusing it's kind of a combination of reflecting in defusing but it's actually a positive thing so controlling the light it is all about kind of making sure t...

hat what you have in mind that you can create with lights your camera can capture it so reflecting in defusing there are all sorts of ways that you can reflect and diffuse now in my other segments I pulled up some of these reflectors and they come in all different shapes and sizes and you know what if you're just starting out and maybe, uh you don't can't find one of these camera store you don't want to wait to order it online you can use other things to reflect on diffuse allies I've got a picture here of this is a car dashboard reflector and living in southern california we have a lot of these because it's so hot in the summer time shines and on the cars we put that over a dashboard but she can also use it as a great way to reflect the light and a lot of these air silver on one side and gold on the other. Now explain a little bit about this reflector too but you can use all kinds of things to reflect light and reflecting light basically is finding whatever your light sources so I've got light coming from over there I would find that light and bounce it back on to reflect it back onto whatever it is whoever is on photographing I will never forget the first time I was on a photo shoot helping out a this is way back one helping out another photographer and I was still learning about photography and the light and everything and they handed me a reflector and I stuck it like right in between the light source in the person was like, well, how is that reflecting anything on them it's actually blocking the light so when you think about working with the reflector you want to think about first I have to find the light the light source that I'm working with and then I and you'll see people on photo shoots they're constantly kind of going like this with a reflector they're finding that light and then bouncing it back on whatever whoever it is that they are photographing so here's an image a set up shot I was taking of a friend of mine her family her kids and my friend mike was down below and he was holding there's that old piece of gold cardboard reflector that I was working with I think I bought at an art store which was a great example because I just have all sorts of things to reflect light sometimes I'll even use a mirror or maybe one time I was shooting in restaurant at like a table top of the counter when people go up and have coffee and you know those napkin holders that air silver that people they put the napkins in and like the coffee shops and stuff I used that actually to reflect light on someone's face one so it's think about it's just something that can reflect light and bounce it back is what you want you can buy these professional reflectors or enter my contests and win a couple but they're easy ways to reflect the light and so here's the set up shot for this picture and then here's the picture I was able to capture and the reason I was using this gold reflector I'll go back to this is it was a gray overcast day in california and as I mentioned before overcast days can actually be a good thing the lights can still be kind of bright the only problem is sometimes if it's later in the afternoon and it's like an overcast day it starts to get a little bit darker and you see sort of just light shadows under people's eyes and it's not as attractive as it could be so if you just bounce a little extra light up in there just kind of finding ambient light you know all over the place and just bouncing it back up to their face you can see how it really brightens up brightens up their face and I was able to capture this happy cheery shot and it looks as if maybe I use some special lighting on it or something but no it was just you know in over half a day and I had a gold reflector sometimes um if I'm shooting if I'm going to shoot like a real close up portrait of someone I'll have them hold the reflector so I think in the last segment someone said you need someone to help you hold their users and reflectors well yeah sometimes or you could just have a person holding themselves so as an example um well, I mentioned that I always carry reflector with me because I tend to it to look a little bit better with light reflected back into the shadows if you were to have someone hold a reflector like this you want to make sure that you know, maybe it doesn't come from down below because then you're going to start to get that kind of reflected under lighting that maybe won't look so attractive but if you find a light source and we're going to practice this but just there's an example they have got a light source coming from behind someone and I would find that light and reflect it back into their face like that this is another reason tio sometimes you can buy reflectors that this is called a five and one a thirty inch on five and one reflector so that means you can do five different things with it so on one side it's silver the other side it's black this is actually for reducing the light or blocking light or maybe you just want shadow on one side of someone's face you can take this cover off zips right off not all reflectors due this summer just one thing but this is five and one inside is a diffuser so this is something that can defuse the light and you can also switch this around and turn it to the other side and now it's a gold and white reflector and white can actually be really nice. Sometimes you have to be cautious about the color of the reflector you're using, because sometimes gold will look to gold on someone. Once I took head shots of someone and I had them hold a big gold reflector kind of like this reflecting light back up into their face and their teeth look yellow, not good, so and that instance it would've been better to maybe use white. You can also use, like a big, quite foam core board, those air often used in professional photo studios to where they just use the white to reflect its like becomes in a bigger light source. And so the bigger the light source, the softer it's going to be falling upon someone so you can use the white side of this or white anything that's, often to why I only go to restaurants with white tablecloth. I just look a lot better and a restaurant with a white people cause they don't go to restaurants of black damon clause or red table clause, so just think about where the light is coming from, and then what it's bouncing off of you can use reflectors for that, and reflectors come in many different shapes and sizes, too. This is a forty eight inch, and this is another five and one and they come sometimes a little bit a little bit different set up a bit different colors it's gold on one side, silver on the other so you might use the gold say if you're outdoors and the lights already kind of warm light maybe in the late after noon and you wantto kind of match that that bounce light with a gold reflector it's pretty gold though um oftentimes what all use to bounce a little highlights under someone is silver, especially if I'm indoors we're going to be working with a an led light in a few minutes, but this silver actually is more kind of daylight balance, so if you're working with like bright daylight this's kind of a similar color you remember we talked about color casts and your image is this is kind of a similar color to say daylight balance studio lights or bright light outside in the middle of the day. Now on this reflector it has another side I kind of like this it's a combination of silver and gold so not only going to get the best of both worlds so you get some of the kind of little more speculative highlights kind of sharper highlights of the silver and you get some of the gold two it's a little bit warming but it's not gold gold like that's gold, gold and this is like sopped gold and silver so this is a nice warming effect on someone and you can use it in a lot of different lighting situations and also in this one it being the five and one reflector it's got black here if you want to block light or create kind of shadow on one side of someone and then on the inside is a diffusion panel I'm going to talk about that in a minute too but the way these were set up there the five ones are zip like that and it's a it's a disco it's got like this wire that goes all the way around it and the benefit to that is it's kind of like a figure eight if you want to fold it up it's hilarious watching kids try to do this you want some entertainment for the afternoon but it's just it's like a figure eight you kind of hold it like that and it holds up it's not always perfect but you kind of moving around and then you can put it back inside the case I teach classes on how to do this specifically reflector classes anyway then then it usually pops out so they're easy to carry around and the bigger the reflector that kind of a little bit more difficult it is to get back into its spot like I love this little thirty inch one it's easy to carry around and holds up easily but this is good for like one or two people or if you're standing kind of far away, you know from someone that's the other thing that also makes a difference when you're bouncing the light is how far away from the light source you are and that light then there's going to be, you know, hard or soft on someone's face depending on how far away you are. I remember I shot this swimwear catalog once and we had to light up all the models with like they had to be outside and bright sunlight and we had to bounce light back into the shadows and we had these big reflectors and it was like they were ants frying under magnifying glasses, you know, because we're bouncing bright, harsh sunlight right back into the shadows and their faces it was supposed to be a big, sunny look so somebody could get kind of uncomfortable for the people that you're bouncing light onto sometimes it's a good idea if you just back up you know, the farther away you are the soft without lights gonna look so if you go two and we're gonna try this today, but if you ever go to a photo shoot, you'll see someone there with a re selector finding the light, looking at the person's face and kind of going like this and moving it around because they're really studying the face and looking at the catch light in the eyes and watching where the light falls upon whatever it is, they're bouncing light on it's not just like now we got a reflector you know it's like you have to really find the light, bounce it here and then bounce it to the right place ok, so that's a little example about bouncing and reflecting light diffusing lights ok, I want to give you an example of how I diffused light one day and an afternoon in burbank so here's little max and little max is sitting out in the backyard and it's this super hot day and the sun just like beating down and it's usually not a good idea to, you know, put kids and babies and like hot lights or the hot sun, you want to keep him comfortable so we knew we had to protect him from the light but also make it pretty short and sweet and give him something to do because I think he was like one and a half maybe you're something like that and he just he needed a lot of activity and there's no way that you can put a child that age and plunking down and go ok, so turn your head to the right a little bit I'm going to take another shot here and so you just have to like be fast and control the light mrs were defusing the light really worked because here we were hot afternoon in burbank in the backyard what I had my friend he was hold a big diffusion panel which you can see him over here they're holding this big diffusion panel over max is head and could you fly in a couple of those diffusion panels era what's gonna unzip this fucking believe it set up a reflector it's reflecting too much thank you very much so these are some diffusion panels here and until they kind of come in different shapes and they come in different sizes um and sometimes they come in different weights where they might cut down the light a little bit more than the other one so I think one of these this one here is a little shearer it's like a one stop diffusion panel and this is a little bit thicker you going to tell from my fingers here and this is a two stop diffusion panel so I would use this one of them is a super bright sunny day and maybe this one if it wasn't and kind of play around just so you know they come kind of indifferent they call them stops of light so so I have my friend hold this diffusion panel right over max so it's between the harsh sunlight and max you can see that shadow kind of around max on the grass and then I had max's dad get a bubble machine, kids love bubbles because it just, like, get totally focused on the bubbles and what's going on so that's the set up now, I couldn't really shoot him in the open shade back here because in the yard they had one tree and under the tree, it was like, muddy, it just wasn't going to work, and it was almost like two dark back there. So this was just a perfect solution was using this diffusion panel, so I zoomed in, and while max is like it's, like a playing with the bubbles and having fun with the bubbles, and then you know, he's, not paying any attention to me, this is the total candid, authentic shot and that's it's, what you always want to do with kids because they're like magical creatures, and they do these fabulous things in front of the camera if you just let them, so don't so much control them as you might kind of direct them into a particular area and then give him some things to do. But then you've got to kind of walk around and, you know, learn how to control the lights of it's too bright in one spot, you know, defuse it if you need to bounce light into the shadows, do that so I was able to really zoom in and capture all kinds of pictures of max with the bubbles, and this is just something you cannot cajole, you know, you can't really construct this, you can just kind of set it up and hope that it happens and be ready and that's exactly what I did and being able to defuse that light it's kind of like having, you know, a nice open shade of a tree or or kind of like being in that open door away, it was just making the light really soft and even all over his skin, so for one, he wasn't that uncomfortable and two I didn't have that many shadows on us, so I could just really capture his baby nus and let him play around with all the bubbles oh, that's the last picture, max tasting the bubble so he was a cute little kid um s o being able to diffuse and then reflect light sometimes then you can work with with both of these that were not outside today, so we're just going to be working with one led light in a few minutes. We'll have a couple of you help me, but I wanted to also point out that there are other ways that you can really kind of sculpt the light and control the light that way, so if I were let's, say I've got two of these and I was just coming in and someone was taking a picture of me and zooming in on my face. This is where it helps to have a little bit of assistance, but I'm just going to show you this is an example and then we'll get into it. But let's say I'm outside and there's just like really harsh light right above me, and I want to block that light so I could have unless I didn't want my arm in the shot, I could have someone else hold this and they would be blocking that harsh light falling upon me, so I'm going to have this soft light on me. But then let's say, I want to add a little more to my face and kind of provide a little you know, more catch light in my eye, I could also work with the reflector at the same time. Now this is where again, it helps to have a little help, a little assistance there on the side, and I'm also going to show you as we're going through this there's a stand in an arm you can use toe hold these two, but this is the this is the concept, so if I had harsh light over me, I could defuse the harsh light and then also bounce some pretty light back into the shadows, you know, whatever light is bounced from any light source, it makes it into, like, kind of a bigger light source also depending on how big your reflector is and because it's traveling a distance, it's softening it a little bit so the farther away, the softer it's, the bigger the light source the software twenty look, so just so you know that this is a kind of a cool thing that you can do when you're outside diffused the lights off in the light overhead and then bounce a little light on my looking any better here's my good side so you can defuse it and then bounce it so that's the concept of kind of sculpting light so what I wanted to d'oh here in studio is due a little hands on and everyone's going to get a chance to play around, and I thought all of you out there could could watch this and I'll be explaining what we're doing as we're going through it and just talking about, you know, where we're positioning the light, you'll get to see the light and we'll just play and it'll start to make more sense because as soon as she started to do it assumes it physically grabbed the camera and then hold a light and then photographed the light you're really going to it's going toe be appear as opposed to just kind of floating out here solar it's good to see examples it's just I think it's better to do before we move on and from this whole section how would you mind answering a few questions about the reflector kirsten and natasha were curious about reflector colors relating to skin tones how you would use different reflectors for different skin tones well skin tones and also light source so you kind of want to match your light source whenever you're especially taking portrait so you don't want like like a gold light coming in from one side and then a blue light coming in from the other unless that's your creative intent but usually not so it's a good idea let's say if I'm outside in the middle of the day and it's like bright light maybe it's misty out or something and I have a kind of pale skin although right now I kind of have a tan but you could barely toe but since that's kind of my my tonality I would use something white or maybe silver or possibly so if I were outside and wanted to add a little warming effect um I might use the silver gold side um white is always it's great on every skin tone because it's just kind of like the white light that you are hoping to see if you've got something that's really warm and you want to match it like super late in the day and in the light just looks really kind of golden you know hello you might try this I don't tend to use of the gold a lot of the time I like to personally use this silver gold side or soft goal they call it and white and silver so it just really depends on kind of your light source and the effect you're going for but I think it's a good idea to try and keep it as neutral as possible so you don't introduce any extra colors into your image unless of course you're just in a grey light like I mentioned you just want to warm it up a little bit part was asking how you would recommend lighting people in snow do you have any suggestions with what you've explained today? Um snow gosh that that could be tough just because it's so bright it's hard for people to keep their eyes open if they've got on sunglasses or something I guess you know that's it but you want to be careful about where you're standing when you're shooting and snow again you could be shooting and like in the time of day maybe you're kind of in the open shade in snow and it's a bright day and you've got some reflection people people have a really tough time keeping their eyes open that's that's the issue but again I would probably use white or silver since that's going to be kind of the dominant color that will be out there and for some of our friends like jenny who don't actually do a lot of portrait's they do a lot more nature and landscape type stuff do reflectors work just a cz well with lily pads or flowers or anything like that of the people yes absolutely I know I get little people centric but yes you can definitely do it especially like with macro photography you could just go to town with and product photography reflecting and defusing the light falling on small things that you're shooting me if you're shooting a landscape you're probably not gonna be able to reflect light that far back into the landscape but saul things that you're shooting and fairly close leaves flowers wherever you can find light and then bounce it back maybe into the shadows works really well that's why another reason why I like this little reflectors this guy here when I carry my purse it make me look better but this is also actually I started using these when I was shooting some macro photography so up close flowers and I think some coins and things I just wanted to bounce some light back in certain places while product photographers people that are really into shooting very small, intricate objects they just like they're constantly working with mirrors they're constantly working with maybe defusing light and then bound to get into certain places and, you know, those things usually are moving, so you can kind of take your time. And, you know, really get the light where you want it to be. But yeah, definitely. Definitely. You can use these for flowers, small things, whatever you want to do.

Class Description

Are you ready to start taking amazing digital images? Join award-winning photographer Erin Manning for a three-day introduction to the fundamentals of digital photography — frustration-free.

Whether you take pictures with your phone, a point-and-shoot digital camera, or a DSLR, Erin will give you the tools you need to capture beautiful digital images. You’ll learn about light and exposure, including how to work with and modify your on-camera flash. You’ll learn about common errors beginning photographers make and develop strategies for troubleshooting. Erin will also guide you through the basics of digital image editing and sharing your images online.

By the end of Digital Photography 101, you’ll have the creative and practical skills to create, edit, and share stunning digital images.



Good basic or "refresher" course.