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Lighting 101

Lesson 28 from: Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

28. Lighting 101

Lesson Info

Lighting 101

Wow, we're day three, okay. So have you guys noticed we switched the room around? It's back lit, it's for a purpose. We are actually going to talk about ambient light today. Available light is what a lot of people say. Daylight, using daylight for capturing imagery for motion. So if we take a look, I call this thing Lighting 101. Lighting 101 for me, what it really incorporates is just a basic understanding of reading light and how light can strike an individual and understanding what that certain light pattern, how that light, when it falls on somebody, how it can actually impact your image. You know, you often hear the term, oh this room has got beautiful light. Or you walk outside and the light's so beautiful today. And I think there's a lot of people who say, oh, there's a lot of specularity in the light. And you throw out these terms but I don't think people really kind of drum it down and go, okay, why is the light beautiful? Why is this studio, why do I think the light is beauti...

ful in this studio? So even before we get into nuts and bolts, and even before we get into the idea of what's an aperture and what's a full stop? I want to give you guys an idea of what it means that there is beautiful light. When you walk into a room, there is going to be certain pools of light as it hits this room, right? If we were to pull back into the studio, I'm going to stand here and look at this room. There is a wonderful light pattern here that's coming in from these windows. And the first thing you should ever do before you start even looking at taking your camera out, is just to get a feel of where the light is falling. Because, in this room, the last thing I'm going to do is take somebody and put them against this wall. Right? But I see so many people do that. They take somebody, they grab them into this room where all the light is so gorgeous, right? And then they put them here. Why is that? Because they think that the background is more important than the light. Right? So, even as I walk forward, I don't even need a camera to prove this. As I walk forward, you can see how all of the sudden, I start to just lighten up as I step into this light. Right? You start to see shadows sculpt my face, you start to see highlights and you start to see these wonderful things that creep up just by taking a hot minute and looking at how your light is falling in the room. Now if you look here, there is a gigantic pool of light that's coming all the way around in this room. It's being cast here by these windows, right? It's all being cast by these windows. So I have a distinct direction of light right now. So if I put myself against these windows, I am back lit. And we all know that back lit situations are really, really difficult to capture an image in. And so you try to avoid that backlight, right? And then, if you turn me to the side, now I'm side lit, right? If I turn me flat to the windows, we'll look at that later, I'm going to be flat lit. So, there's a number of different things here. When I started learning lighting, I started learning photography. When it came to this, I had so much fun because it was as if this was a gigantic soft box that was fixed and I had to move my subject in the light as opposed to moving my light around the subject. And I think when we first start lighting, when we first start understanding how light works, we get this idea that if we move the light back or move the light quar-- it kind of is almost counterintuitive to how we want to work. Because we should be moving our subject in and out of the light at first. Because we fix our light in one position and we move our subject around, it's going to be much easier for us to understand what's happening with that light. I've always just used one light for a lot of different things. And as I got into video and as I got into kind of doing more motion and interviews, stuff like that, I started adding more lights. So, we're going to talk about artificial lighting later. We're just going to talk about available light right now. Before I move on, how does that feel to you guys? How does is make you, does it make you look at light differently, as you approach looking at this idea of basic lighting? Yeah? Cool. Alright, so, what's a stop? I mean, there's stop signs, there's bus stops, there's all this stuff. What exactly do I mean by a stop? In photography, we've got numbers that indicate for aperture, certain stops of light, right? And if you look at the screen here, we've got 1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6. Now all these numbers are representative in relation to how much light is being measured in terms of F-stop. These particular numbers are important because One to 1.4 is an actual stop. 1.4 to 2 is an actual stop. Two to 2.8 is an actual stop. When I say, oh, I'm a stop off, what I'm really saying is that if my light measurement is at F8 and my camera exposure is at 5.6, my camera is overexposed by one stop. Do you guys kind of grasp that concept a little bit? Good. So, I mean, it's kind of hard to memorize, I mean, I've been doing this a long time and I still get tripped up about what the full stop increments are. So there is an actual pneumonic to remember it. So if you've got one and 1.4, think of the one. Keep doubling, one, two, four, eight, 16. That way you can build the other half. 1.4, 2.8, 5.6, 11, 22. That's just so you can remember it. I get into a situation where, if I'm teaching and I've got a million different things going on in my brain at one time, and if I misspeak a measurement of light or a stop, you know, this helps me remember where my stops are and what my stops are. You hear a lot about contrast ratios. What's a contrast ratio? A contrast ratio is a measurement of light against another measurement of light, basically. If light is falling on a subject and there is a shadow somewhere on that subject, there is a relationship between that highlight and that shadow. That relationship is contrast ratio. We can actually measure this contrast ratio because lighting is logarithmic, right? Which means a one-to-one contrast ratio means it's flat. The lighting that's bright on one side is the same intensity on the other side. So there's a flat look to that person. Right now, I'm standing here and I'm being lit by these studio lights and I'm pretty much flat lit. And there's a reason for flat lighting, we'll talk about that when we actually go into the demo. When you get your contrast ratios, your 2:1s, your 4:1s, your 8:1s, when you talk about contrast ratios, again, it's a relationship between one measurement of light and another measurement of light. So, if my measurement is eight and I'm at 5.6, that means I'm at 2:1. Because there is, in a sense, two units of light and one unit of light next to it, right? How am I doin'? Okay. I know it's like math-y, but it's important for us to know these things because it allows us to really get a good feel for what we're looking at. Because here's the reality of the situation, guys. If you can light by contrast ratio, you can replicate your lighting anywhere in the world. You don't need to rely on what time of day it is. Because you can modify and shape light based entirely upon what your measurements are. Now we'll talk about that a little bit more, but I'm a big believer in looking at how light falls on a subject. So we're gonna break my camera out in a minute, and we're gonna break my assistant, Danielle, out here in a minute. We're gonna work with her just to see how the light will look, alright? Now, if we continue on. I'm going to leave, let's see here, I'm gonna leave these guys up. Before we even start, let's talk about this light meter. Let's talk about proper light reading, okay? There's two things when you think about using a light meter. First thing is, where's your subject and where's your light? It's really, really basic, really simple. And I know that some of you guys at home and some of you guys in this room may already know a lot of this stuff. But I really believe that if we understand and focus on the fundamentals of lighting and start from the ground up and build up we're going to be much better lighting technicians in the future. I'm gonna turn my meter on. I'm gonna hit my little button here. I'm gonna pick HD Cine because we're actually shooting motion. Now if we were shooting still photographs, I'd actually hit either shutter speed or aperture setting. I'd set my shutter speed or aperture speed, or whatever it is. But in this case, what I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna hit my HD Cine mode. Pop quiz, what frame rate are we shooting at? Twenty four. Um, 50 or 48. Oh, that's the, 24, our frame rate is 24, right. Oh, the frame rate. So I'm gonna click 24, to make sure my frame rate is 24 frames per second. I'm gonna pick an ISO, I'm going to start off with ISO 160 and see what my readings are. And then what's my shutter speed? 50 Fifty, good. So, if I'm going to be standing as I am to the camera right now with the windows behind me, someone take a guess, where should I put the meter? Facing the windows. So, facing the windows, where is another place I can put the meter? Under your chin. Under my chin. Where's another place I could put the meter? Wherever the light is being reflected from. Where the light is being reflected from. OK, so technically, those are all correct answers, because I didn't tell you what I'm exposing for. Right? So, let's think about this, the first answer was point it towards the window. If I point it towards the window, the dome's going to face toward the window, what am I exposing for? The back of your head. The window. The light on the back of the head and the light coming from the window. If I put it under my chin, what am I exposing for? The light falling on my face. Put it here, what am I exposing for? The light falling this way. All right? So the meter will only give you a reading based upon what you want the reading for. It's only going to give you a number. You have to understand what that number is actually saying. Because at this point, if I take a reading behind my head, I'm going to get 5.6. Take a reading up here, I'm gonna get 3.2. Take a reading here, I'll get 4.0. Take a reading over here, I'll get 4.5. Those are all technically correct readings, right? But you've got to understand what those readings mean. If I was gonna expose for myself, as I'm looking at you in the light falling on my face, because, what am I doing to expose for? A human being. Expose for me, I'm going to pop that meter right under my chin. Get the reading and that reading is going to come out at 2. Or, sorry, get that reading. It's going to come out at 3.2. Now you noticed that I closed off the dome and opened up that dome, right? So I closed it off and I opened it up. When you close off the dome, it's a more directional reading. If you open up the dome, it's going to actually get more of an angle reading. Okay? So, how we doin'? Great. Doing great? Excellent. Now, I don't go anywhere without this meter. Especially if I'm doing interviews. Because if I'm going to do interviews with multiple people, what I'm gonna actually do is, at interview one, I was at F8, F5.6. Or maybe I couldn't get to 8, I was at 7.1 and blah. What I will do later on is, I'll take those notes so that when I go to the next location, and I've got to do another interview, I can still set the same contrast ratios and have my lighting look the same throughout the course of that film. Because you don't want interviews to be like, completely different as you are cutting back and forth. Because, not only does the mood change entirely, if the lighting look changes, it doesn't keep that continuity. Remember we looked up the continuity of the bag of bread, right? It was full and then all of the sudden it disappeared. You're like, what the heck, right? I know we're talking about lighting and I know there's a lot of things about lighting. But if we break 'em off into manageable chunks, we can then start to really understand why a tool like this matters. Why reading the light matters. We haven't even talked about the camera yet. We haven't talked about white balance yet, okay? Right now, I'm going to bring Danielle out. Really quick, just before we get going as you are sharing how important your meter is to you. Dillionaire, who I don't know why they are even asking this if they are a Dillionaire, wants to know if you need an expensive light meter to get good metering. Does cost change the quality of the metering for a light meter? The cost doesn't change the quality of the meter, the meter is gonna still to do the same thing, it's what functionalities that you want inside of the meter. Typically, like for example Sekonic, is a really well known light meter company. They've got a 308S, which is just for still photography. Then they have a 308DC, which is a very simple meter that does cine and still photography. And then you jump into a 358, which is an older model that you can probably still get used somewhere, that will do still but has some cine capabilities. Like I showed yesterday. Then you jump into a 478, which has a ton of features, which is the meter I'm using right now. And then you go all the way up to a and a 758 is broken out into a cinemeter and a basic meter and then it has a one degree spot meter. You add features as you pay for more but the essential, the one thing the meter is always gonna do is it's gonna measure light accurately. That's what it's designed to do, you just get more features when you spend more money.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Victors White Board Notes - High Resolution
Pre-Production Planner
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

Victor van Dijk

This course was quite a treat! I had been learning piecemeal about DSLR Filmmaking but never had the opportunity to follow a course that ties it all together. And my namesake Victor is ex-cel-lent!!! Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking is a very very clear (I would almost say, lucid!), carefully, comprehensively tied together course teaching all you need and wanted to know about DSLR Filmmaking. Massive PLUS is that the course is first and before all NOT about the nitty-gritty technical details and numbers, but all about the basics of what filmmaking REALLY is all about. And yes, technique and gear are part of that but not for their own sake. And Victor shares that it's all about fun, and telling your story your way in the way that you like. I truly admire Victor's carefully planned and laid out path, in my opinion he planned the course exactly and meticulously like he would a full-blown movie production. And he is very open and honest and not belittling at all. He is really passionate, compassionate and 'infectious' with his happy happy mood :-)! I HIGHLY recommend this course for anyone wanting to properly and thoroughly learn the ins and outs of filmmaking, with a strong focus on using a DSLR.

Penny Foster

This is a very well constructed course by Victor Ha, who is very easy to watch, and very knowledgeable about using the DSLR for more than just taking pictures. For a Wedding Photographer like me, who wants to add some moving images into a slideshow for my client, this course was perfect. Victor shows us that, with the equipment you already own as a working professional photographer, you can get started into video RIGHT NOW, with baby steps. This is not a course on video editing, so if you need that tuition look elsewhere, BUT, Victor shows us how to set our cameras up for success right from the start, so that when we are at the editing stage, the footage is in the perfect state possible to produce excellently exposed, perfectly colour balanced material. He goes over the use of a light meter for capturing video, and how essential it is to get the exposure right 'in camera', so this is certainly a Fundamental DSLR Filmmaking course, for anyone who is already using their DSLR for stills, but who is interested in adding something else to their skill set. Victor is so enthusiastic in his teaching style, and this is a course I will keep coming back to time after time.

Sara safajar

Excellent overview on how to think as a storyteller with DSLR video. Great breakdown and really accessible examples- fun video on the making of a peanut butter sandwich- which inspire and make it feel like the video beast can be conquered. This course is packed with great ideas on not only figuring out to how to make the switch from still to motion, but also creative inspiration on how to begin thinking cinematically. Well worth the price. Great course!

Student Work