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Studio Light On Location

Lesson 37 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

Studio Light On Location

Lesson 37 from: Environmental Portrait Photography

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

37. Studio Light On Location

Mix the natural light with the ambient light in this shoot outside the garage, continuing the third project of the class. Learn why you might use artificial lighting outside and how to mix the sunlight and a studio light kit.


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

Studio Light On Location

Now what I wanna do is actually take things outside, so we're gonna mix the natural light with the ambient. And there's different ways you can do this as far as lighting. You can use the sun as your main light and fill it with your strobe, you can use the strobe as a main light and fill it with the sun, or you can use the sun as a backlight and use a strobe as your main light from the opposite side so it's kind of, that's almost like a three-light set I'm using. The sun as a kicker, the overall ambient as the fill, and your strobe as the main light. And there's different styles that you can do within that similar to studio lighting. So one of the thing I like to do is figure out which one fits the setting and with Richie, he was gonna be working on a motorcycle outside. It was kind of an overcast day, the sun was peeking in and out of the clouds, so it wasn't anything consistent, so I don't want to rely on the sun in that situation to be the ambient because otherwise I'm gonna be adjus...

ting camera settings constantly. So I actually went with this more of an on-camera flash type of look where the light's a little more harsh. I used the pro photo with a seven inch reflector, no grids, no diffusion or anything. And I just placed it right next to the camera so we kind of are blasting him with light. He has a wide area he can work on. He was changing spark plugs on the motorcycle. Glancing down the sidewalk, I was just kind of directing him through that to stay within the light and the frame and since we're out on the sidewalk there's also things that can happen like people walking in the background, cars, all that. So with this lighting it's a little more free it's not so finicky, it's not perfect. But it does provide a look that looks different than what you naturally see when you're out shooting. Similar to natural light, studio lighting on location I use both soft and hard light depending on the image. It just depends on what you wanna go for. For this particular light I'm obviously using harder light. I'm using just a seven inch reflector on the pro photo head. So it's almost giving you that bare ball flash look, kind of the on camera look. And mixing ambient with sun light and strobe to create a unique effect. So what you can do is the higher you want your power of your light, the more you can drown out that ambient light. So these are where photographers might take images in the middle of the day and make it almost look like it's night. Or how photographers can get that deep blue sky without shooting a silhouette of a person you can balance that light. For me, I like to make it look slightly more realistic and natural so it's just a touch of light filling in shadows. But at the same time it does have an effect where you know it's lit, it's just not over the top lit. I don't have a lot of hard edge light and kickers going on. And again, that's a look a lot of photographers love. I just prefer this for my own work. So with that said, we'll kind of get into the next video. This is when we go outside and we start combining the two light sources and we're just letting Richie work on the motorcycle with some subtle direction. And then we'll show a few of those shots at the end. And what you're gonna notice is as the raw shots pop up, some of them are gonna look like they're lit more than others. It's a little bit tricky because the light kept changing so I had to adjust for the ambient. But what you'll see when we're going through the raw edits on my computer is that that's not really the case. You'll be able to clearly tell they're all lit. So even though some of the raws will look a certain way here or they might look really dark, it's all planned because I'm shooting knowing the post-processing that's gonna take place. So I'm just accounting for that as we shoot. So let's watch that video now. We've now moved outside with the shoot. We just finished the shoot inside the garage. But we have such a nice overcast day, it's not raining, the weather's cooperating that I want to kind of take advantage of that. And also it's a good time to show how to balance natural light outdoors, ambient light with strobe lighting. So I want to kind of get that on-camera flash that paparazzi look where it's a little more specular. So to get that look we're going to use just one pro photo B one with a seven inch reflector. It's very specular. Definitely has that look we're going for. And I'm gonna position it somewhere just off-axis. So just not right above the camera, but one side left or right but not too much shadow caused by this light. And again, in order to get this the first thing I did was I took a few shots without the light at all. Because my light's not gonna affect these trees or the sky. But I wanted to see, you know I have a vision of how I want the trees to look, then we're gonna use that shot as our background. We're not gonna change our camera settings anymore. And we're just gonna change the power of the light to kind of fit that look. So again, I decided to go with ISO 100, two hundredth of a second, at seven one. Set the light metered to seven one to those settings. And now we're just gonna shoot. So I'm just gonna let Richie do his thing. Kind of looking up once in a while. This one will be a little more, I'll be a little more in your face, a little more closer up. So you just start working and I'll kind of tell you when to look up and all that. I'll be moving around quite a bit. And we are still tethered into the garage. Okay. So I'll have you just kind of, when you have something, I'll have you like is there anything you can adjust, I'm just trying to think of how to get to a spot where you're standing there adjusting something. Maybe the bike's just an accessory to the shot and you're you know, if there was a part, I don't maybe it's something that's not even out here, where you can be adjusting it with your hands, you know maybe tightening something or loosening something, or maybe changing sockets off of a wrench or something like that. I'm just trying to think of things you could do while you'll still be standing up. Let me go grab something. Perfect. So while he's doing that, I'm just gonna frame up a couple shots. So there's always distracting elements in the background, especially when you're outside so I'm looking at power lines, I'm looking at parked cars. Anything like that where I can come up with a good clean frame. And then once he's back we can kind of place him within that frame and begin shooting knowing that we won't have to use our clone stamp tool later to remove a sign from right behind his head or anything like that. It's better to address those things up front than have to waste your time on the computer. Perfect, so we got a ratchet and some different sockets. So yeah that's perfect, just be doing that. And I'll just keep shooting here. I just wanna make sure how they look, and I put the tether in the garage. Because I actually hate trying to see the screen in bright light. It distorts everything a little bit. So I'm gonna go ahead and just keep shooting away here while he's doing that. And there's an alternate way to do this too. Right now you can see we have the light on a stand. I'm gonna move it around a little bit. I'll show you the alternate way to do this in a second. Which gives you a little more freedom to move about. Kind of looking up here real quick. Yep there you go, looking down the sidewalk once. Great. Just kind of looking at what you're doing once like you're adjusting, or even looking down at the ratchet. Glance down the sidewalk one more time for me. Perfect I'm gonna check these out real quick just to make sure we're on the right path with the light. It's a little tricky when the sun keeps peaking out but yeah these are great. So knowing that we're at a good spot with the light, and the color and everything else, I'm just gonna keep shooting so just keep doing that real quick I'm gonna get some different frames. Some with the bike in it. Look up again, down, just kind of yeah any time you're looking down there it looks really good with the sky. I'm kind of zoomed all the way out with this 24 to 70 so I can actually see the whole motorcycle from just above the license plate. I can get the whole handlebars and a lot of the sky. A couple more of those. Now I'm gonna move in pretty close. So you can start, I don't know if there's anything you can even work on with that right? Oh perfect you can do some spark plug work here. So because he ducked down, I need to lower my light to follow suit or else it will be way too high, we'll lose catch lights and everything else. We don't need to adjust the power much. I'll turn it down just two tenths of a stop. You can keep doing that. I want to be able to see what he's doing so I zoomed out again. You can just kind of look down the sidewalk once, every once in a while. Perfect. Yup, now maybe just put it back in there I guess. Even take a knee, would you be able to do that where you're. Yeah that's perfect. So now we can see a little more of the texture in here. Glance down that sidewalk again. Perfect. Do a few horizontals. Just for good measure. Great. One more looking down the sidewalk. Alright I think we're good there. I'm gonna go through and review them. And then I think we're ready to move on to our portrait. Alright, so like I said that was pretty subtle. I just wanted that wider angle look. You're definitely gonna be surprised when you see the final image versus the raw. Because again, I know that I'm shooting for post. The light is really subtle but I do that on purpose. I know there's a lot of detail in the highlights and the shadows that we can bring back in raw. And you'll see that when we get into the editing and you'll see it even earlier when we show the results because I picked a couple shots that I've already edited so you'll be able to compare that. And you'll really be able to see it when we get them on the computer here.

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