DIY Lighting Modifiers


Hack Your Light


Lesson Info

DIY Lighting Modifiers

First thing we got to wait to the parlor trick hey one of the band that I'm going to shoot come be a parlor trick where we garth come on out here that's a parlor trick I don't even know if this is gonna work but we're gonna find out um here's just a regular light here's a camera is only this is ok the point of this is sometimes just playing this kind of cool and you just kind of start playing um I'm using an std too for some reason is the only thing that makes this work I got my pocket were radio popper was the px see if it's going to fire yes it does okay I'm going to shoot this above my sink speed so let's go a hundredth of a second do it let's see s so you know this is the trick with this I esso put it a four hundred um three point five but it looks like a rock star yes oh you see it's not quite there it's not quite there parlor trick so we got to turn the power up that helps you let's do that let's do this check this aching hole that person I'm using this thing this is one of the t...

hings that we can't really sees that this is work with speed it runs really well pro photos really well um photogenic ce I haven't had luck with it all hoops you see wow ok without the flesh it's a black friend cream with the flash on I'm in it eight hundredth of a second a eight hundred of a second of three point five pop kind of going let's get down to like to check it out coming up it's cool it's coming it's coming it's coming so can you go above eight hundred? I don't know let's try it well look at that where's the line where's the sink curtain doesn't make any sense right again it's part let's go teo ok here's what you do because you got here you might messing it up a little bit no no no no no no no like this I want you to go do the do the rock and roll roll no you know yes there it is okay I can't tio I'm going to kick my ass so up a little bit more he's going he's going right there it is there is check it out okay let's let's do one point for twenty yes go for it I love it way didn't fire well why isn't fire? I don't know what's on fire one more time way need to shoot that one twenty five twenty five and I'm not getting any right so here's the trip it's I don't know how the trick works but we're reading the immediate decay of the flash so is pop so if you've got a really good light that's got and there's no decay it's going to be black because I'm not supposed be doing this the only way of noting figured out how to trigger is with this is to you too in one of these like if I put a five eighty on here and do it don't work so like no just like watch um the flash goes for awhile hits popped and then through that there is a curse from fleischer's right? So the flesh the races there's absolutely no way to monitor this it's just all guessing it's just in every lights a little bit different speedy trials are great because it gets it and it's like in the more powerful the light the more you like speeding trying twenty five hundred's left I get eight thousand the second problem and but it's just a weird one point four like I'm shooting one point four right now I have one hundred twenty five hundred you know it's like let's do a weird flash again yeah let's do this three to one yet and let's do with without the flash see there's this is my family and reading justice to show you that the solution is not life um one more yeah there's the immediate and then there's a flash there's no there's, no shutter line it's a parlor trick so parlor trick there you've just been reported but I know this probably means nothing cheap trick means something in the rock carlos I wish he was still playing with him who's playing drums for many many weeks right? I don't know I almost bought tom peterson's basic two weekends ago ok why not? I don't have the money for all that makes it just it's nine hundred fifty bucks get it down one of the music stores rock black music in nashville and brought it in selling some of this stuff it's really cool looking base it's like yeah hollow body how costly dignity grand and so there you ok enough of the parlor tricks but point is play these air foot rule small so I told my story about ryan he's waiting floor image in place for the story about ryan outcast story and this is a way okay these next segments are going to be how I really shoot if that's cool and we're goingto just I'm just going to shoot and I'll explain kind of what I'm doing and what I'm thinking but it's not going to be specifically okay look this is what we do this is what it's just going to be what I do so when I first starting to learn how to light okay I know some of you out there maybe like the natural light guys but and this is years ago I had done studio lighting for product you know, at school and then my job, I was a commercial photographer, and we did a lot of, like, perfume bottles and stuff like that in corporate head shots and some environmental portraiture, but pretty basic lighting when it comes down to well, I also work for the pro camera store. It was a side job, and there was a guy there, um, his name was ryan ryan, if you're listening, I'm sorry, man, a pretty cool guy, but he worked in the photos side of the lab, and I remember seeing a picture that he shot and it was really ambien and cool and moody and I was, like, fashioning that's how I want to be able to photograph and I asked ryan, I'm like, you've got to teach me how to do this and, you know, especially back then people were a little bit more, you know, I didn't like to tell their secrets and ryan's, like, did use that lights up on I'm like, really is like, I don't know just put some lights up, man, that's all I do and like shark, you know, so I go out and I work to the camera starts with access to all the lighting books, so I bought this book in this book and some of those lighting growth the pictures just aren't that good I mean let's be on you know it's like they're not there to inspire me but then there was this one syriza books that has a really interesting pictures in them so I bought those books and then I went out and bought my three light no votron kit that was, I think four hundred dollars when I bought it it was used and it would like jock you sometimes if you got it but that was part of the learning process and then you know, and so I had my three like it because it's gotta have three lights right to do a proper portrait and I would go into my garage who's done this one of the garage and I got a seamless and I didn't have the money for some reason to buy a background stand so we duct tape the scene was too well, you know, in a and we find and this is way before the days of like, model may ham and stuff like that so we find friends that were sort of interesting looking, you know, and we grant him come here, I want to practice with you this lighting and then I married a make up artist that's smart, she did my makeup and we go in and I do my lights and I try to mimic it and I got lighting that was flat and all these pictures, and back then I was shooting chrome, and I get my pictures back and I just want a happy with anything like, why is it just look, it doesn't look like the cool fashion stuff, it just looks kind of boring and flat, and I was really getting frustrated with it in eventually, as I practiced mohr and I went out, and I mean, my poor wife, we used to live in this kind of cool part of town from the plaza in kansas city, and I mean, every night I was dragging her out and we were, like, just going out and taking pictures over and taking the film and get back, and every time I do it, I'd learned something and just shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting I was like, and doing stuff I normally didn't dio and eventually I started figuring out this stuff in lo and behold, ryan was right when he told me, just put a light up, you know? But he said it and kind of I'm not telling you anything way. Well, I'm telling you, that's what you need to do, but I'm trying to explain, why do we do these foundations is and direction of light. You know, that's important, I don't want to like going here. And that's, one of the reasons why my light looks so flat. It's like the forty five degree angle thing. Here's a light over here. So we've got rembrandt lining on him and that's kind of ah it's not great for everybody, and I was more of a fashion, so I wanted that kind of cool beauty lighting, but this was my I didn't. I mean, it really just never occurred to me put the light here, you know, it was like, this is what they tell me to do, and then you get shadow. So what do you do? All I need to get a reflector because I don't want shadow and put it over here and like, a wedding party whose shot? The wedding, if you know and you've got I need the light here because they're gonna like this side, and I need the light here because they go like this side, and I think the picture in it is a kind of a boring looking lit picture, you know? So a couple things I learned, the more you bring the light around closer to the camera, the more of that cool kind of loot patterns, you get that, you know? I also learned my wife is got some acne had any problems she was a kid so she's got some scarring well, I learned that if I like her from the side what do you think I get shadows if I like her from the friant and more the beauty style I feel in those shadows and then I over exposed or a little bit and all of a sudden it's a gorgeous picture so I learned about that the other thing I learned is hype and that was the you know when you're back here and I had the light right here because I just get this kind of put it up on the scene the lining books don't really tell you how high to put the light just tell you the distance and everybody kind of you know look at the schematic and it's like okay here's a life and then here's the camera guy so I always assume all the lights they're ok in pop what do we have? We got lines going and we don't have the job so what I'm more concerned with about now that's mr light but the shadow because that's where the drama comes in that you know or the lack of doing certain things like that and so back to ryan yeah it's how do I want a line up? I'm gonna make a little masculine doing here closer than we get farther away on a he'll pop and so we're going to do a couple of things they don't shoot the band and maybe individuals and a few different ways we're going to do kind of and take some modeling can just bring some of the stuff okay, I'll tell the story behind this you see this ready? Okay, I love it oh my god there's a ringing it oh, I'm driving I talk like him from nashville again I'm driving by twenty four going towards nashville coming from murfreesboro where I'm getting off of my exit seventy seven b and I'm going to smyrna and I get off the exit and what happens is this thing comes crashing down and it almost hit my car about the distance from me to you I get up at the top of the exit ramp and I looked by going kind of looks like a magnum reflector and my kids like what? And I get up to the top of the car and I go, yeah, I got to go get that so I turned my car back around and now I'm going back down the upper hand and of course cars going on and it's the middle of the day so it's not like I'm drunk or going at night, but they're going you're going the wrong way and I'm like, I know because that thing right and it was just laying on the ground so I parked the car got out looked at it looked up that had just fallen off one of the interstate like lights and it had a big hole in it and I was like yeah picked it up all the glass fell out there's a couple of little pieces right here so I kicked those off took this rim off threw in the trunk thinking a light can go in here and it becomes a big reflector okay it's not that heavy heavy exactly it was that that uh oh but I am not mechanically inclined I'm lucky if I can use the screwdriver and it sat in my studio for a long time and then one day I'm I'm a part of a photo group in nashville and we had an outing and it was like, you know, this is a good chance for me to do this we're walking around the campus is a vanderbilt I'm not going to use this well I didn't know how to fix it up so I took oxide won his little head pierce like light like reflectors and was a tiny one like a little checker but our silver on one side and so I duct taped it and you can see the duct tape marks right there are duct taped to the back of this because I don't want like shooting because I didn't know how else to get lighting here other than to duct tape a five eighty into there and I pointed it back so they popped out and did this so we went out and tested it and it looked really cool looked like shotgun of light with all these little ridges and stuff and I used it on some things and I was like, really impressed but it was fun it was different people, you know, like the giant gary fong you know it's it's awesome. I told gary that you start last, but when I got back to kansas city my friend marco ciminelli who I do a lot of stuff with he is really good with tools and really good at creating things and you know what we think of he's able to make it and we started getting is I've got these alien be speed oring so you can buy just any goes I'm like cool let's put one on there so we drilled it on. But then I started thinking about what made this cool I think was bouncing the flashback in and put so you know, we grabbed a pizza pan because we always have pizza pans laying around his name's simile so he drilled some bolts in here and we made it a beaut dish so we could reflect light back in and there you have it so that's just thinking about light and playing with it you want to put it on here here all this is the easiest way to do it just like that and just make sure he gets all the way in the second thing is this marco I think he comes up with the strangest stuff and we shoot with the iphone a lot and we like to ring flashes now what could a couple of fluorescent tubes and some would do make a triangle ring flash here we got it on there you go so way light it up and we shoot through it. Okay, check that out now look at those catch light he looks like or we get like this and you know we're like this there you go. And now he's got the point coming down pretty neat, right it's just thinking a different things and lies in that last full lighten up too much that's okay it's not point out as much light as we normally want. I don't know what those bulls or maybe it takes a while here so let's let that heat up for a little bit um, you know, it's just having fun and playing with stuff and you know, that's the beauty of digital photography is it allows us to play with things we were used to shoot in the commercial world and you know, all the stuff that we do is back in ninety nine two thousand yeah all meaning format has of lads and we're photograph itself. And then we had the nikon d one came out, and we had a couple of those if the paper and we would this one when I first opened my head to it, and when it first really became like, oh, my god, what can we do with this was when we had to shoot a technology piece there was, like, a technology right up, and we had to do a little insert picture, you know, that kind of goes along with the piece, so it wasn't a big cover because we weren't allowed to shoot anything with that. But the little piece we could do with the digital, so we took it. We got a mac or a shot of a busted up old, like innards of ah, old pc, you know, and all the circuit boards and stuff like this put the camera on a tripod and two started playing like we got some gels. We got some different, like grids. We got this. So what we do is ok, we put it on let's try twenty seconds, click it and we'd fire fire, fire, fire to turn the main lights on, shake the camera fire again let's just do, and then we'd still seeing around wait. Look, this is something we never would have done with a polaroid because we weren't even, you know, it's. Like, well, there's, two blocks down the drain and one for you. We just never would. We never even thought about it. But now it opens us up to doing things like what's, this going to do and that's the beauty of digital photography.

Class Description

Hack Your Light is part of our special week-long event Lighting Toolkit.

Join award-winning photographer Chuck Arlund for an introduction to innovative lighting methods that result in breathtaking, dynamic images.

Chuck’s methods will enrich the work of a wide variety of photographers, whether you’re a natural light photographer trying to incorporate off camera lighting into your work, a studio photographer wanting to work on location, or a beginner looking to take your work to the next level.

As Chuck guides you through ways to make a photograph you’ve mentally envisioned into a reality, he’ll give you the confidence you need to fearlessly approach approach lighting not as an exact science, but as an art.



I just watched the rebroadcast of Hack Your Light with Chuck Arlund and at first wondered if I would get anything out of the class as he seemed ADD (he warns you he's scattered and a "blond"...LOL) but I stuck with class and by the end was sad it was over. I have a few years experience in photography so I could perhaps understand what he was teaching better than a true beginner. He gave some fabulous points and even demonstrated how you could overpower the sun with one speedlight something I've only seen others do with a strobe or multiple speedlights. He took some awesome pictures without thousands of dollars in camera and lighting equipment. He explained the difference between the portrait and the fashion look. He showed you could potentially go above your camera sync and still get a decently exposed pictured without high speed sync. Best of all he reminded me of the principles that it's the photographer not the camera/equipment that makes the difference, it's all about the light and most of all photography should be FUN! This was one of the most awesome demonstrations of lighting. I would love take a workshop from Mr. Arlund as he is obviously very talented and passionate about photography and knows his subject even is his explanations aren't practiced. Some found him frustrating; I found him refreshing. If you like experimental you will probably appreciate Chuck Arlund.


I have been a pro photographer for 30 years, and I loved watching Chuck and even learned quite a few things. He is creative and enthusiastic, and reminds you to think outside the box and get back to the enthusiasm you had when you first picked up your camera. He certainly knows what he is doing, and he has fun doing it...