Selecting Light Modifiers


High Impact, Low Fuss Lighting


Lesson Info

Selecting Light Modifiers

First and foremost okay everybody knows this one okay and it's a it's a must have for portrait photographer's a three by four foot soft box you don't have to get this particular signs but let me tell you why a soft box is important for your kit in the class that I taught here skin won a one on creative life I talked about how different modifiers affect the skin and how a soft box works is it is the most gentle of modifiers to the skin so if you're photographing portrait's off someone with blemishes or wrinkles or just honestly someone that you just want to flatter ah lot of times a soft box is going to be great because it is gentle on the skin and part of the reason that it is gentle on the skin is one of the qualities of a soft boxes it is a bit larger so my tip number one of the day and we're not going to do key note today so I would take this note so you have it reference of the larger the size of a modifier relative to your subject the softer the light okay so what that really mean...

s is okay if I take this soft bach thirty feet that way it's not so soft on your face anymore because relative to its small just like the sun the sun is massive but it's so far away that it's relatively small which means when you go outside that's why it's so harsh? A small light source appears harsh. Soft boxes are generally larger and generally you could get them nice and close. It gives you a nice soft light and think of it like this is well, let's say you have wrinkles. Ok. Well, when it's a big soft light, it fills in underneath those wrinkles and it's the shadows under the wrinkles, for example that make them show up that make them more pronounced. Same thing with blemishes. So a soft boxes just like it's your go to when you need to have softer, more flattering light on the face. The other thing is because it's larger this is generally a go too for photographing more than one person because it has more even spread it doesn't have really intense fall off like a lot of other modifiers dio and then the last part of why it's great for portrait is this diffusion in the front on there's actually two in this one ok, and what this does is any time you have diffusion, it softens and spreads light, so we're right back to why this is so great for portrait's over and over again it's soft, it's, soft it's, flattering over and over, and by the way, the seconds diffusion in here what that does is it just softens it even more, and it gives the light more even spread in the soft box. Perhaps you may have seen in a photo like if you ever taken a photo of a soft cock that on lee has this outer diffusion, you see a bright hot spot in the center. Well, when you add that second diffusion, what happens is the light hits the first diffusion, like in the inside, it spreads out, and then it goes through that and hits the second. And so, by the time it's a second it's, much more even across the entire front of this modifier, which means when you're lighting groups of people, it's just one big wrapping light. So this is something that I would add to the must have kit, because even if you don't photograph may be as many portrait's. Maybe you are a fashion photographer, to be honest, a lot of the money that I make its portrait it's portrait that they want to feel like fashion and sometimes it's nice to go a little bit more gentle. Uh, I've just picked the three by four foot because there's a particular demonstration that I want to do that this is great for but also and octa boxwood work ah larger soft box like jeff used in the previous presentation that four by six the four by six the reason I have kind of stayed away from it because it's so unwieldy like my my first studio, I had a giant soft box and I'd have to tear it down every day because you could walk through the door like I'd have to set it up in my studio to be able to use it. So if you're in a small space, something like this is going to be just fine or say a three foot octo box okay, soft boxes are great if you go to the complete opposite extreme, so I'm like at the end of a cold if you hear me cough a little bit. All right at the exact far other end of the spectrum is a silver reflector thiss pro photo calls him zoom reflectors. I used to hate it when I was first shooting because people talk about reflectors and I didn't know if they're talking about reflector or reflector this's called reflector and this one I think, is like the seven inch reflector okay, so this is the complete opposite end of the spectrum because it is small so it is going to be contrast it is silver and reflective so it is going to be contrast ing so for a portrait light on the face this is not something that I would maybe late the heavily pimpled high school senior with this would probably not be the direction you want to go but why is this awesome like why why would you want one of these one of the reasons this is great is it's like the cheapest of the modifiers right a lot of times it comes with the light that you buy so that's really nice but sometimes with the soft box like this is a fantastic example so last night I was shooting in the seattle library and we're shooting on the fourth floor and all red acrylic everywhere and when I threw a soft box on that light reflects everywhere and it was giving me all these highlights I didn't want I lit my entire shoot of my model with this modifier right here and what it did is it gave me just this nice highlight on my subject and she's a model so she has gorgeous skin so I wasn't so worried about the wrinkles of the blemishes and what's really nice is it gave me crisp rembrandt light like just razor ed shadows soft boxes they're just much harder to control the light goes everywhere it's going to be soft and so when you look at the shadows from asafa you see the kind of trail off like they're they're soft there's not as much control it's hard to get chris rembrandt light or to get exactly the shape of the light on the face of the software with a silver reflector I mean, you can get gorgeous, crisp shadows, it's just the light is harsh, so there's a place for both and we'll see how that works and they're also good for back lights. Um, a lot of times what happens if you have a bare bulb, these d ones that's, what we're using today are a little bit there built a little differently fair ball was actually recess and there's a diffusion on the front, but most of time, what happens is if it's bare bulb, the light just spills everywhere and you're you're not only like losing light because it's spirit is spreading everywhere, but you don't have control and the light hits the wall and then it bounces off and it bounced off the ceiling and it fills in shadows. And so something like this helps you control your back lights just a little bit more. I'm going to tell you how to modify this to make it have more control because then we start getting into people asking, well, don't you usually use barn doors or can I use a stripped light on the back? Foot then we get back to how many pieces of gear do you have to buy to start off and have really great light. So I'm just going to show you how to modify this particular tool to give you the control you want. All right. So if you go to the spectrum here really soft, really harsh and then right in the middle would be a beaut dish. And so these are the three modifiers I would say would be a great place to start if you want to be ableto have I'm going to be not everything. You put this with everything you need. Maybe not everything you want in your studio. Um, so this is a twenty inch white beauty dish. It also comes in silver. I would not get silver because you start moving a step in this direction more towards contrast, e, you see more texture in this skin. Silver is better if you photograph may be a lot more athletes, um, or maybe models where you want really crisp jaw lines, but I kind of actually hate it. Like I never shoot the silver it's a little bit too harsh for me. The beauty dish that is white is in the middle because as you can tell, it's smaller so I do get a little bit more control over the placement of the like and because of how it's built, I have more control over the shadows. If I want tohave crisper rembrandt light or have more shape form or direction or steeper fall off, I can get that with the beady dish. So what? I will show you what I mean by fall off, but I can focus the light more and it still looks really nice on the skin it's not as gentle as a soft box, but I get a little bit more control a little bit more shape of the shadows a little bit better contrast on the skin. So these would be the three if I had to set them out here that I would recommend. Um, all of the lights amusing today are pro photos. I use pro photos, the ones in my studio all the time. But to be honest, when you're shooting with studio strobes a lot of times it's not exactly like for most portrait's and fashion stuff exactly the stroke that matters it's actually the modifier because light is light there's, another recycle times and there's wattage and all that stuff. But as far as what the photo looks like it's less the head that matters and more your modifier choice and how you use it so just know that if you have alien bees or you of einstein's or you have ellen chrome it's actually more important out the heads that you have it's the modifiers that you're sticking onto those heads okay, so these are the three modifiers I'd recommend but then we're gonna add a couple modifiers to the modifiers okay, so a couple of things that you might want to check out first of all, I'll take that thank you okay, so the next thing I would recommend and this is good because these happen to be also on the less expensive spectrum of things you can actually get this this entire setup that I'll talk about depending on the brand you get two thousand dollars like including the lights, it depends on how thrifty you are. Um I bought my entire studio lighting setup as refurbished here every modifier every light is refurbish what difference does it make? Um and I bought every pretty much everything that I use in my studio it was about thirty five hundred and it was much more than this. So just note like yeah, new and expensive doesn't necessarily help you out uh, we've got a beauty this year these are grits and I use grids and this is called high impact low fuss lighting I use grids for high impact to give me drama to my shots because what they do is they focus light it's fundamentally what a great does so for example for a beauty dish if I want to have the beauty dish just light a subject I have the model pose and I just want to light from the top of the head to the middle of her stomach I throw on a grid because that's how it focuses the light if I don't have that great it might light head to toe and that's not what I want so I think of it almost as a filter like on the front of a water bottle or something it forces the water the light all in one direction and it's the exact same thing with grids for the silver reflector over here and they have different degrees on only cure have forty thirty, twenty and ten of it depends on what set up you have just remember this the smaller the number the smaller the holes, the more focused the light. So if you want insane drama like really really focused light on your subjects face you might want one of these ten degree grids or five degree grids and it will give you all that focus all of that concentrated light just know we've moved it back in the harsh direction so that there's always always kind of a trade off I think of it this way the softer and the more flattered bring the gentler to the skin, the less control you have generally the less drama at the more dramatic and the more focused the more contrast you get the less flattering it is to the skin but you know what? You could either treat as I'm going to retouch it or maybe you shoot the film noir style where you blow out the highlights on the skins you know, I really care about the bad texture on the skin so it's all about how you use these tools so this is what you want to add to your list of if you wanted to do everything that we're going to do in the next a little bit okay, so I am going to start off by using a beauty dish and this is the light related modifiers couple other things that I'm going to use next thing reflectors okay, this is, um this is in any photographers kitt must have it doesn't matter whether you're in the studio or on location my favorite month my favorite reflector for the studio is this one right here it's a thirty inch silver and white? This one is from westcott and the reason is is if the modifier is too small, I can't catch enough light to do anything when I'm trying to reflect with it if it's too big, then I lose control like certain to cope with the big soft box because let's say I want to put this underneath the subject's chin well, if this is huge let's say this forty inch reflector now I can't have my light any closer than the edge of this this reflector here like I'm limited by the size of the reflector so this just just thirty inch tends to be exactly the right size for how I shoot penn's on what you're doing but this is what I use and then one other cool thing I'll introduce you to and you'll see this in action is this stuff which we photographers don't use as much this is actually use a lot more in theater and film and it's called sin a foil and it's basically black tinfoil but more expensive has anything in photography and what it's going to allow you to do is you could use this to make modifiers for yourself or to flag off like make your own barn doors make your own snoop control the light like there's a lot of fun things that you can do with this so we're going to add this to the things that we'll talk about today so soft box beauty dish silver reflector reflectors and senna foil that is everything so with that I'm going to get started let me just look at you guys question so far all that okay it's making shit great, perfect and if you don't mind, sure let's ask this from artists and then three other people were wondering because one things you don't have on here is an umbrella so what's the difference between a soft spots and an umbrella yeah so there's different types of umbrellas some umbrellas I like better than others and so this this questions actually kind of going a little bit of a circle one of the reasons I don't like umbrellas as much as I feel like I don't have the same amount of control as I do with the sock fox saw fox I can add uh basically grids that you can add in them to focus the light and they're softer and their broader and I can add extra diffusion to defuse them more and I don't have that same control with an umbrella there are white umbrellas if I want it to be softer there are silver if I wanted to be a little bit more crisp but it doesn't give me that same control that I want but there's one one type of umbrella I like I like parabolic umbrellas the really deep ones so if you watch the segment before jeff was using the westcott zeppelin the forty seven inch technically that is a parabolic umbrella and that's a fancy name for like it's a deep bucket that's halfway between a soft box an umbrella it's basically what it is um and what's nice about that is it gives you more focused light which has, like a little more crisp edges, but it's still soft, like those air really, really nice, but they're also like they're a little bit more difficult t carry around, they're not as compact. Sometimes I love that one, and I'm not gonna lie. I've been using that in my studio a ton recently, the one that he used before, like I would say right now I go, ok, I have obsessions, like, right now, it's, like fifty percent of my chutes, and then I, like, move onto something else. And if you guys see that same year the same thing with lenses like I found the lens and I shoot it and then I'm like, okay, time for something new. Um, but anyway, so I really like parabolic umbrellas, but the regular pop up ones it's, they're just they're undecided. Are they soft? Are they harsh? Are they bigger? They small like they're just nothing, but they are cheap, which is good, so that's like a definite plus for them.

Class Description

Ready to capture gorgeously-lit images without expensive gear or complicated lighting setups? Join portrait and fashion photographer Lindsay Adler for an exploration of high impact, low-fuss lighting.

In this course, you’ll learn how to achieve a wide variety of visual styles using basic zoom reflectors, a beauty dish, and a soft box. You’ll explore dozens of possibilities for setups that require three or fewer lights. This one-of-a-kind learning experience will give you the tools you need to create dynamic, beautifully lit images -- without investing in crazy modifiers or breaking the bank buying multiple strobes.

Lindsay will be using Profoto gear during this class.



Such a great class- second one i've seen from Lindsay and both were really informative! This one really helped me, i've always liked the idea of playing around and not being too hung up on the numbers- nice to see a pro taking the same approach and getting nice images.