Shoot: Create Soft Light with Umbrella


Environmental Portrait Photography


Lesson Info

Shoot: Create Soft Light with Umbrella

We're gonna go into one more shot here and then we're gonna kinda go through some of the images so what I want to do next is one more light setup that's a little less harsh and a little more soft so we'll have run the full range of lighting options as far as harsh light to soft light. So we're gonna use the soft lighter umbrella next and we're gonna put it pretty close just to do something different and to try it. I don't know why I took that all the way off of there. To do this. All right, we'll set this guy aside and we're gonna use the 46 inch soft lighter which is this one with a diffusion sock so this light's gonna be a lot softer and it's just gonna have a little different look. And, again, when I'm going into the shoot, this is not what I had in mind but because we have time, it's like, why not? You can always see, maybe it'll be a pleasant surprise. And we're gonna keep that background fairly dark 'cause I really want him to pop off of the background. So in order to put this th...

ing together, I am not seven feet tall, I need to lower it a little bit and these umbrellas are pretty slick. For those who haven't used 'em, it opens just like an umbrella because it is an umbrella. The light bounces into the umbrella and then reflects backwards and it becomes extra soft because you have this diffusion sock on there that just straps around your light. It's elastic, it literally feels like a sock. It can fit around pro photo lights, it can fit around an alien bee if you stretch it. It can fit around most lights that aren't too huge and it's pretty easy to use and if you break it, the good news is they're only like 80 dollars so it's not the end of the world and mine's old. I've had this thing for years and it's one of the ones that has a metal interior as far as the ribs of the umbrella go. The new ones are plastic, similar to the pro photo so they're a lot more flexible and they don't bend or when they bend, they don't stay bent, is what I should say. Okay now we have our umbrella set up so we're gonna bring that in here and I like shooting with these tilted pretty far downward, not quite this far, so the fall off goes low. We're gonna switch this battery out real quick with one of the lights we're not using. (camera equipment clicking) All right we're back to full speed and we're just gonna do one light to start and, again, it's gonna be pretty soft. I'm gonna keep the light fairly close to Brock. We're gonna feather in front so it doesn't hit the background. When I'm using these umbrellas from a side position like this, I usually start with the rear of the umbrella even with someone's ear and then let the rest of the light fall on front. If I started it right here, for one, a lot of this light's going nowhere. It's now less soft because we're only working with a light source that's this large and I don't want to light the background so I generally tend to start it up front and feather it forward, same thing with tilting it down. This is gonna have a completely different look and it's gonna be a lot softer light than what we were dealing with before. I'm gonna switch the lenses back. All right we should be good to go and then we're gonna meter 'cause we're still gonna shoot at F8. And our fill light's on but it's so far back, it's not doing anything. This light, however, we don't want that guy on. Perfect. So we're metering. We're at F11. We need to come down a whole stop. We're at F8, we're good. And if you don't know all the stops, like if you don't, a lot of people, I just memorize it because of lighting all the time but don't feel like you have to get it exact. If you don't know how many clicks it is, it's no big deal, just do it 'til the meter says it's right. I just have been doing this for a long time so I know but if you don't, that's what the meter's for, it's to tell you so I'm gonna actually have you start by turning this way completely and, again, this is gonna be really soft light. Hold that ball down, I'm gonna get a closer up image. So this is gonna be a softer lit portrait, the background's gonna be pretty dark but you're gonna see, there's not gonna be those specular highlights that there were before. Chin down. (camera shutter clicks) And you can see, just a totally different quality of light. It's up to you what you prefer. I am gonna throw a little bit of this kicker in there and this is gonna add a little bit of edge that we're missing 'cause I feel like with this current outfit, with Brock being a basketball player and all that, we need a little bit of edge. So I'm actually gonna move this so it might catch his face just a little bit. You're good right there. And it's gonna be pretty bright, which I'm fine with. So I'm gonna stay nice and close. And you'll see, there we go. So it's just a different quality of light than the other one and you can see what I mean when I said the light would hit his nose, that's annoying to me and some people might like it, I don't, so I need to move this back. All right, there are times when I wanna do that, maybe we'll do it on purpose here in a second. All right one more of those just so you guys can see. I'm gonna have you turn this way so body away from the light, shoulders more this way, feet too just so you're comfortable. Turn your whole body this way like this and now head straight at me. Nose this way more. Right there. Chin down a little bit. Perfect. (camera shutter clicks) So I don't mind that quite so much. Head this way even more. Don't even look at me. Move back so we get the ball. (camera shutter clicks) Yeah, that's pretty sweet so I'm gonna do one more, I like the background going dark like that. Eyes a little more forward. The reason why I did that, keep looking where you were. I don't know if you can see but his eyes, like his retinas are all the way to the edge of his eyes, I don't want them to be strained off this way so with that, I'm saying, yeah, look right there so now it looks like they're a little more in the center of his eye. And that's just a picky thing, you know, if you're moving and people are doing a lot of stuff, I wouldn't be too worried about that. I am gonna have you take a tiny step backwards and then turn your head more into that light and now look forward a little bit, right there, perfect. Nose that way even more, right there, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Yeah, that's pretty good.

Class Description

Are most of your portrait sessions in an environment other than a studio? Learn to light your subject in any setting through simple techniques that lead to dynamic photos. Editorial photographer and lighting expert, Dan Brouillette teaches how to work in and shape light for any environment (indoors or outdoors) while creating a workflow that allows you to work independently and quickly. You’ll learn:

  • How to light in a variety of portrait scenarios
  • The benefits of tethering while shooting
  • Quick lighting solutions to enhance your shot on set
  • Culling techniques and post processing tactics to create high end images and portfolios

By incorporating light in new and inventive ways, Dan will help you push the boundaries of your portraits and improve your workflow. It’s time to work on your skills and expand your creativity to attract the clientele you’ve always wanted to have. 


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!

Rita Carmo

I do this kind of Photography for almost 20 years (previously in film, obviously). I can see myself exactly in all that Dan is teaching. Congrats! It is so great to see that, (almost) on the other side of the globe, we can work exactly the same way :)

Terry Hammond

The information given so far is so valuable! Dan is so relateable and shares personal experiences that I personally connect with! He shares information that I thought would be a stupid idea; a perfect example being taking a notebook onto shoots with things to remember. Dan even said that sometimes he also goes mind blank on set, so the notebook keeps him grounded. Love this guy!!