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Outdoor Shoot Results

Lesson 39 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

Outdoor Shoot Results

Lesson 39 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

39. Outdoor Shoot Results

Take a look at the results from the final shoot. In this lesson, Dan shares his thought process behind creating each shot and why he made the lighting and composition decisions that he did.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Introduction to The Environmental Portrait


Environmental Portrait Purpose


Personal Work


Find Your Process




Purpose For Action Editorial


Prepare for Shoot


Lesson Info

Outdoor Shoot Results

The results of the shoot at the Moto Shed. You saw what we first did, it was that wide shot with the three light setup. This is kind of the more edited version of that. So what you could see, or what I was saying when you were watching the video is all that shadow, all those shadows had detail that was able to be brought out in raw. I know that when I'm shooting, that's why I'm shooting tethered. What you were seeing was the true raw files. So all you're seeing is the effect of those three lights. When I'm shooting tethered, I know, I don't need to adjust the light so much because I'm metering, so I know that the lights and the exposure is all spot on. It's just a matter of knowing what do I want accented by the lights. What do I want the lights not to hit, which is why we're using the grid. How much ambient light to I want. So with these fluorescent lights, I wanted you to be able to tell it was a shop and those lights are on plus they give a nice little glow here but at the same time...

, I don't want those to throw off any white balance or anything, so it's this delicate balance of showing that those lights are on, but also not letting them affect the shot too much so balancing my strobes with those. This was the three light setup, so like I said, he was looking at the motorcycle quite a bit working, which is fine, I want him to kind of be in his zone, but I also know that the light's over here, so he needs to be looking back this direction, which is why this is the winning shot from the group. It's the shot that fits the lighting. It definitely has mood, you can tell, even his hands are still up, they're adjusting things and working. I let him set the tools out, the tools he wanted, I didn't prop it. I probably wouldn't have picked, like that white rag but it looks authentic. That's what he does, he sets that on the thing, on the rack and sets his tools on top of that. There he is working with his rubber gloves and the whole works, so I just wanted it to be real. I didn't want to prop it up too much. And then we had our fill light, was the silver umbrella. That's kinda filling in some of these shadows and definitely filling up the back of the room so it doesn't go completely dark and then we also had our kicker light, which is adding just a little bit of accent. It's hard to see, but if I didn't have that, this black would just completely blend in with the background, so that was that seven inch reflector way up in the sky here, aimed down at him. It just adds a little bit of separation without hitting the background too much. This, to me, is like the hero shot, the shot that I had in my head of, you entered the garage, it's pretty clear what he does, it tells a little bit of a story as to where's he looking, what's he doing, he's clearly working on a motorcycle. So this is the environmental portrait as defined in one shot. I'm really happy with how that turned out, once we got that shot. Now we can move on and get the next shots. So what we did was we moved outside. As you saw in the video, that was the look we were going for which you were seeing just the raws. I knew that the light was very subtle, but if I didn't use the light, this was completely in shadow, because as you can see, that white car and things like that are pretty bright. To expose his face properly without a light, everything back there would have been blown out, so I needed to play with that balance where my light was the main light, but it's very subtle. It's not like I'm just blasting him with light. So you can see, now that we've processed it out a little bit, it has this natural feel and letting him do the thing, change the spark plugs, provided a little natural action and motion and it kept him focused on a task that he's familiar with and that he's comfortable doing. One more shot from this set, oh this was the same lens, by the way. It was the 24 to 70, but I'm literally a foot away from him and this is probably at 24 millimeters. It's just a little different look. I love his his head is kind of right in the middle of the frame and it's pretty clear that it's a portrait of him, and then we actually did another version looking down the sidewalk with a little more depth, so you could see some of the texture of the motorcycle. You can see how I framed his head when I'm looking through the images, you probably saw in the raws, there was tons where all the power lines were gone and his head was, it was, things were distracting. Well this was one of those frames where everything lined up to him. He's centered in the top third. You have these power lines but they're not as distracting and I placed his head clearly in this tree. So those are things I'm thinking of that when you're shooting on the fly, you can get a little stale or stiff if you're only paying attention to those, so that's why I shoot 100 frames of the same thing and I'm always moving around because as long as you keep the subject doing things and staying natural, you can get all those technical aspects to line up and again, I'm just going for like one or two good shots from each of these setups because when I go to my website, I'm not gonna put eight photos of him changing a spark plug, I just want one. As long as I get one, we're good. If I don't get one, then that's too bad, but next time I'll learn that I need to take more photos or pay attention to things a little more. Lastly, we went into the garage. We did these two portraits. These are loosely edited, I didn't spend a ton of time on them, but you'll see what I'm talking about with straight lines, he's in the wrench, he's among all the wrenches. We have the air hoses, he's holding on to one. We kinda propped out the workbench a little bit. It's a little bit of a moment, but it kinda tells this story and I like the symmetry of it. Then we did one more of those, where it's a little closer up, with him just leaning back looking off to the side. If I were to be really picky, I could go in there and do a lot of stuff in Photoshop to really clean it up and make, darken some things, lighten some things, and really make it pop. I may even darken up the workbench at the bottom and really bring all the attention to his face and those yellow hoses are pretty cool. How they frame it all in. So that would be something that I might spend a little more time on in Photoshop later. But this is just processed through Capture One. That's the only editing that's done. So it's basically how it looked on my screen while it was being tethered. Kind of again, the full results of that shoot from start to finish of the wide portrait, the outdoor stuff, and this. Helps tell a story if we were shooting for a client, or something like that, we gave them a few options. And there were several hundred photos total, so there's other things to choose from if someone else has some ideas. Any questions regarding the outdoors shoot or anything that had to go with those videos? I was just gonna ask, real quickly, how long did that motorcycle garage shoot take, start to finish? I'd say, it's a little tricky because we're filming it live, but if I were to have gone and done that shoot on my own, without a film crew behind me, I'd say that would have took 40 minutes, so I probably did the first set up in about 10 to 15 minutes. The lighting setup doesn't take me that long, especially when I'm not thinking about it out loud. I can do that in less than 10 minutes. I would have shot him for five to seven minutes, because at that point, I get the idea of what he's doing, it becomes a little redundant. One thing I didn't do there that I wish I would have done, in the garage with that first shot, was I didn't switch to the 7200. I was so fixated on getting the motorcycle and everything in there, I only used the 24 to 70. But now when I look at the frame, we'll go back to it real quick. When I look at this frame, I feel like, knowing the framing of all these wrenches and everything, this could have been a really cool shot compressed with the 7200. I even had that written down, to switch lenses. I didn't go to my notebook because I was in a rush and I didn't slow down like I keep telling everybody to do, so that's my only regret. But everything else came exactly how I wanted it to happen. But I would have spent 5, 10 minutes setting up, five minutes shooting. Once you do that, it's all the same thing. The second shoot would have been outside, he changed the spark plug, the same one twice. That was enough content for that. As far as personality, he wasn't like the most smiley, outward guy, as far as emotions go, so this kind of caught him. He's in his zone, he's pretty quiet. And then I wanted just some different looks that kind of, you wonder what's going on, what's he looking at, things like that. He's clearly working. And then again, this last setup probably took the most time, but that's because it was the most challenging due to the situation with all the motorcycles. This might have been another 20 minutes to set up, so yeah we're looking at like an hour total shoot. And that's pretty typical when I go in to approach people for personal shoots and things like that, I try and tell them, oh this will take like 90 minutes tops. Depending on how many shots I'm trying to get and then I squeeze out any additional time, for instance, with the fireworks guy. I got the shot I wanted. He clearly was enjoying chatting with me cause he was just sitting there by himself, so I thought, you mind if I do another set up? Oh yeah go ahead. Hey what's in this garage behind here? All right, mind if we do a photo in there? I don't know why you wanna do that, but go ahead. Things like that, I just keep pushing until either I'm catching a hint that they're not enjoying it, or they straight up tell me like, all right I gotta go. I'll take all I can from the shoot until the point where I'm becoming a burden to them, or annoying, because I don't want that to happen. I want them to enjoy the experience. With that butcher, with all the sausages and meats. He was one who, I could definitely tell that he was proud of his shop, he enjoyed the photo process, so I had no hesitation. I was only gonna take that first photo and maybe some shots of the product and he started suggesting things, so I knew I was like I can shoot all day, I was probably there for three hours and he wants me to come back and do those other photos with the smoker cause he thinks that'll just be a cool photo. So I know, I can take my time, I can come up with crazy ideas as far as lighting and that guy did not care. He was all about it, so it's kinda feeling out the subject, but yeah, that shot probably would took about an hour. I have a question regarding when you're shooting outside in the street and there's like a lot of cars and you can not move the cars around, like how, do you have any tips for that? Just watch your framing, you could, in the case of this shot, there's obviously a lot of cars, they could be distracting. That's why I'm closer up to him, because the further away I got, the more those cars were distracting. There was plenty of people that walked by behind him on the sidewalk. I just had to wait until they weren't there, which takes 10 seconds, cause we were on a busy sidewalk. It's mostly, you saw that I started off with him standing up. Well all the power lines and all the cars were distracting so that's why eventually you work your way through the shot and I was like all right, would you mind taking a knee, because I knew then then I could get down low and get rid of all that stuff so just, I didn't see it initially, but as you shoot, I kinda worked my way to the final shot. You'll probably also notice, when you watch the videos, the first shots I take are not the ones I showed you later on. Within each set, I slowly worked my way and processed my way from, all right this is the first frame, to let's see what all the little details and how everything lines up, and then you eventually find it. It takes a little bit of time. Christina is asking, are you ever stopping down for your environmental portraits and shooting wide open? Not too often, although, I like things to be sharp, I mean even looking at this photo here. This is probably at F8 and you can see every little detail from the American flags that are 40 feet behind him are sharp, I like that cause I think it helps tell the story, I want the environment to tell as much of the story as the subject. I think stopping down to like 2 8 would make it more about the subject himself, and less about the environment, so I don't do that. There's been cases where I needed to get rid of some of the ambient light, so I stop, I used high-speed sync and would stop down just to get my shutter speed really high because I didn't want certain things in focus, like distracting elements. But for the most part, I leave it at about F5, to F8 depending on what I need, because I like the things in focus but again, that's personal preference. I've seen some awesome environmental portraits shot at F2 with high speed sync to really bring down the sunlight and bring the shallow depth of field into play and they look really great, it's just not my style. And Matthew Chase, who's watching and saw that, the whole scene unfold, and was wondering if you tried photographing, instead of the street view, for the background being the shop itself. And did that not work or? Yes so that was the first thing I actually looked at was having the shop be that, but what happened there was because the shop was actually painted black and the lack of light inside the shop, it was, you couldn't see anything that was in the shop without me setting up more lights and all of that. So I looked at it, I always kinda do a 360 view to see what's there and it wasn't, it didn't quite give the same feel. Plus in the name of education, I wanted to show how that shot affected the trees in the background which were lit by the sun so I kinda wanted to show that balance of ambient sunlight mixed with strobe and how you can kinda do that. The other thing I could have done is turned up the strobe light, raised my shutter speed a little bit and my aperture and really drowned out that background and made him pop. That was a thought too. There's a couple shots that'll probably look that way because I experimented with a few other things that are not on the video but they're all captured here on the file. So we can show some of that. But I definitely played around with looking at different backgrounds and just picked one that seemed to work best for that shot. Cool, it's cool to see you work the scene. Yeah well I mean you have to, otherwise you leave things on the table or you, things happen that you didn't even know were there. I always like to do that.

Ratings and Reviews

Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

a Creativelive Student

Dan is an excellent instructor! He's completely transparent with his thought processes, from technical to creative. He doesn't waste time horsing around or getting off topic, but is structured and sticks to his outline. Every minute watched is on topic, and is understandable. He's sincere and likable. The course is great for anyone interested in this genre!

Student Work