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How to Take Amazing Photos with your DSLR

Lesson 29 of 31

Adjusting Background Color with Light

Julia Kelleher

How to Take Amazing Photos with your DSLR

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

29. Adjusting Background Color with Light

Lesson Info

Adjusting Background Color with Light

- [Julia] Now, we're going to introduce a little more exciting stuff. Whoo, it's getting exciting. They just slide in there right that. It's pretty easy. Oh, these are silver inside, fun, kind of silver-white. Are these the same ones as before? - [Belinda] Yeah. - Oh, okay. They look silver. Maybe I'm seeing things. - You mean the black [inaudible] or something? - Yeah. Okay. So, I'm firing these up to 10, all the way to full power. I love how they make noise when they recycle. It's like, yeah. I got to dump this one too. Always close your eyes when you dump it in your face because it hurts. Okay. So, now, all I've done is introduce two background lights, okay? That's it. What's this light up? - Ten. - Ten, thank you. See, she seems to remember all these stuff and I don't. And then I'm going to drop this down to eight. I'm totally shooting on a gray background so, normally, I would do this on white, but we'll try it and see what happens. So, what I did is I put the backlights on the hi...

ghest power possible and then I put my main on a stop or two down from that, okay? Why did I do that? What's going to happen? Think, think, think, what's going to happen? - [Judith] The background is going to be bright. - The background is going to be really bright. Sorry, Judith. Yes, you probably should have a mic but that's okay. Okay? What am I going to expose for? - [Woman] Her face. - Her face, exactly, because I still want her to look good, right? So, no matter what, I need to expose... Am I on here? Let's try this and see what happens. See how I just made that white, okay? It's a little intense but that's okay. But basically, I turned the gray background white because I completely overexposed it, okay? Yet she is still properly exposed. Does that look good on the hist? - [Man] Let's check it out. - Let's check it out. Yeah, so see how this is totally blown out. Now, granted we're getting a little spill on our hair, you see that? Is something you want to control. And the reason that's happening is because the umbrella, I can see if I look right here at her hair, the umbrella, I can see the white. So, that's bouncing light into her. So, if I just move these back a little bit and then move her forward a little bit. Hop off. Come about two feet, perfect. Move this like that and take it again, and we'll have a lot less spill on her head. I just totally put my light in my background but that's okay. Okay? Be careful. Okay. Spill is a high key nemesis. Better. So, it's not so hot around her head, okay? So, you can have a lot of fun because now, all of a sudden, introducing another light allows you to get a different effect based on how much light you put in certain areas, okay? Now, if I want to turn that background lit gray, I drop the power to about six, just to kiss it with light because you remember that one's at eight. Dump, dump, okay? And now, it should turn a soft gray. Voila, okay? So fun, isn't? Now, all of a sudden, you're...that's why I love white paper because white paper, it's easier to make high key on white because you don't have to totally blast it with quite as much light and get all that spill. But that's why I love white paper because you can shoot it on white, you can make it middle gray. If I pop the power up on that, just a little bit more, let's do it, and it'll turn even softer gray. Dump, dump. I think these are actually recycling to that. And it'll turn a little bit lighter. See? I made it a little underexposed, I think I hit my aperture. She was a little dark, in my opinion. Oh, that's a bad picture. Chin down, thank you. We don't want to show that one. Okay. All right. So, you can see the background has changed from soft gray to dark gray to white, all just by changing the power on the lights, and that's the beauty of strobe. Okay, so the scary parts of this seem to be, how do I trigger my lights? Okay? And this little unit does it. What happens is, the trigger is set to a channel, it's channel 1A. And then each of these lights on the back of it, it says, "What channel do you want to be on?" 1A, please, and then they are all synced on the same channel. You can then power the lights up or down, I'm not doing it that way, but you can actually power the lights up or down on this unit. So, you can sit here and go, "Oh, I want the backlight to be more powerful," beep, beep, beep, and power it up right from where you're standing, I kind of like running around. No, right? Get that girl some more caffeine. But it's such a cool thing because now, all of a sudden, you have the control to power three lights from one unit, okay? This is what triggers the lights. This is the transmitter the lights receive the signal. There's also pocket wizards out there which do the same thing. They're a brand that's not associated with any lighting brand so that it will work with any set of lights. So, it's a trigger system that will work with LMPs, with Profotos, with Bronc, any light out there, okay? So, it's simply a matter of investing in the light, and the unit, and you're good to go. Now, some like the LMPs have a cord trigger which you plug it into your camera. It's a little cord. So, you would be corded to your main light, okay? And the main light, going off, triggers the other lights in the system to go off, okay? They see each other. So, you'll be hooked up to the cord and just fire away, and it'll fire, okay? What you'll quickly learn is that having a trigger because it's a little weird to be tethered to something, you'll find that having a wireless trigger is truly the best way to go, long-term. Then there's the pocket wizard. So, in order to do a pocket wizard system is you get the transmitter that goes on the top of your camera and then you get the receivers that go on the lights, okay? And then also, the Sekonic L-358 meter, and I believe there's a newer one out now, they have a radio trigger chip inside of them that will trigger pocket wizards. So, you just have to press the meter and it'll fire the lights. Whereas, if I'm going to meter with the Profoto system, I have to go into flash mode on my meter, click the meter, then set off the lights, and that will measure and tell me what exposure I need to be at on my meter, okay? So, it's just a little different way of metering. That's it. So, now, I'm totally limited because I can't change my shutter speed. My ISO is as low as it's going to go, I don't want to open it up anymore because it'll overexpose everything, right? So, the only factors that determine exposure now are aperture and the power of the light. You've taken out other parameters. So, now, all of a sudden, it's a lot simpler. And the cool thing is that, once you've set your exposure it pretty much stays the same unless you start moving your light distance away, and powering things down, then you're going to want to adjust your aperture but for the most part, it stays that way. Then it's just a matter of balancing the ratio between second, third, fourth, fifth lights you add to the scene, okay? There will be people who add a hair light, and a fill light, and two background lights, or a background light behind. It can get really complicated in a hurry, okay? So, don't let it get too complicated. - Let me ask you one question from Sea Wheelock who said, "Will white cloth muslin turn gray like the white paper here? Any issues with fabric absorbing light?" - No, it won't do the same thing but what you're going to have to be conscientious of is wrinkles and shadows, that's why seamless paper is so nice. It's because it's flat and it doesn't cause any massive shadows. - So, if you finish with that one, a question came in from Barbara Carmen who said, "Can you use the strobes on the background without the umbrella?" So, if you were just shooting them directly, why or not?" - Why or not, good question. Well, I can show you and try it if we want. it'll make it a hotspot, okay? Remember what this umbrella is doing. ♪ Singing in the rain ♪ It is diffusing the light, scattering it, right? So, light fires into this thing and then spreads out. So, it's making it more even diffusion of the light. It's bouncing light around in there and then sending it to the background. If I just do a direct hit on the background with the light, we're going to get a massive hotspot, okay? So, I'll show you what it does. So, let's turn the light around. I'm going to put these two at the same power. The modeling light came off. The modeling light is nice because it just kind of tells you where the light is going to hit, okay? So, chances are, and you may not even be able to see it in the file, we'll get a hot spot somewhere that'll be blown out on the background. Yeah, see how that is a little hot right over here and we get what's called banding. You guys ever seen this in your files? Banding happens a lot on seamless paper and what's happening is... I don't know if you can see it or not. When you work on seamless paper and you have a slow gradient change of light, from light to dark, the camera has trouble making that smooth. The digitization has trouble keeping that smooth and so you get these rainbow-like magenta and cyan colored lines, and it's called banding. And it is a seamless paper photographer's nightmare, and I spent probably eight years of my life trying to get rid of it. The only way to get rid of it is to evenly light your background, work in raw, and process your images in 16-bit, which is a whole other animal. See you at Photoshop class to learn about that, okay? So, my goal is to always make my light even on my background unless I'm going for that digitized look, okay? So, as you can see, using a bare bulb works but you're going to get these hot spots and then this funky banding stuff and that's going to end up being in your print, okay? So, that's kind of...yes, you can do it, just do it with extreme caution. But any time you can scatter or diffuse the light, you're going to end up with a more even tone across the paper in the background, okay? More questions? - Yeah. So, working on that drip box over there. So, we will go to question from April Varga who says, "Do you use different strobe lights for the background than you do on the subject? Does it matter if they're, or do they all have to be the same? - Well, okay. That's a good question too. Different manufacturers have different color temperatures, they may be slight. So, you might not notice the difference. I've LMPs with Profotos. I mean, Profotos are like two grand apiece, so I can only afford one at a time, initially, and so I would use LMPs on my background and Profoto for my main. It wasn't so discernible to my clients, but I knew that there was a color temperature difference between the two lights. So, yes, you can. Just know there's a difference. It may be subtle, but you can do it. I think it's just a matter of how particular you want to get and what your eye sees. So, go for it if you can only afford one light at a time. By all means, you know, do your best with what you have is what I always say but just note there is going to be a color temperature difference. And once I saw that and realized it, I kind of like, "Mm-hmm, okay. I need three or four Profotos," and just bit the bullet and did it. The same thing is true for softboxes, stick on brand. So, if you work with Profoto boxes, work with Profoto boxes in the front and in the back because they put off different color temperatures as well, okay? I have a good friend, Mark Bryant, who's a wonderful photographer who works with Samira boxes that are incredible and I asked him that very same question. We tested it, and it's definitely different like a Profoto box or a Samira box, it looks...just has a different color cast. Like, I said the untrained eye probably won't see it, but the trained eye, you'll see it and you'll be like, "Mmh," especially if you're looking for it. It's the same thing when you see something that just bugs you because you just...yeah, it's a problem with being a photographer. Yes? - All right, we've got more questions. - More questions. - And let me know if you have any in the studio. But this one is from Angie who was in the class earlier when we were working with the same seamless without additional lights, and we moved the subject closer or further away from the background, you were showing how the light fallout works, and today, you're changing the amount of light of the amount of light on the background. So, if you didn't have these two lights but now you are working with a softbox, would you also be moving her forward... - Have the same effect. - ...and backward to change the color? - Yes. Exactly. Light is light is light. It's still light and it's still going to behave in the same way and I think that's what's so confusing to people starting out, is they think that the light changes behavior. Light has physical characteristics, laws of physics that it will always follow, okay? So, yes, if I pull her away from the background and shoot, it's going to turn pretty much black. You can just stay exactly as you are, my dear. Okay? We're pretty much going to turn that background almost solid black, it's charcoal gray, okay? If I move her closer... thank you very much, this light is going to spill onto the background, right? Not much. Slightly lighter. But you can see we're in the shadow of the boxes and we're getting that banding, okay? But now watch. I just changed the angle of the light, feathered it towards the background, and now, that's spilling onto my background even more and I'm getting the fall-off on this side because that's further away from the light. See what I'm saying? So, yes. Light behaves the way light behave, whether it's a strobe or natural light but what you have to be careful was, especially shooting in these seamless conditions is you're going to start seeing...see the banding, see that magenta color and cyan color, sparklous digitization in there? It's because I haven't evenly lit my background. Whereas when I work with the two strobes in the background and then the main upfront, I'm evenly letting my background. So, I get rid of that banding, okay? Can you guys see it in the file? So, yes, you can work this way but trust me, oh, trust me, I've spent eight years fighting this, and that banding...I mean, like, I talk about banding and she starts to get PTSD. It is really annoying because it comes on the print. It prints. So, if you're going to work with seamless paper, now if we shot it on that brick wall, piece of cake because the brick wall has texture in it and it makes it not a smooth gradient anymore, and the digital nature of the file can handle it, okay? A seamless paper like that is where you have the issue, right? Okay. Yes? - [Woman 5] I have two short questions - Okay. - First, I want to make sure to ask it right because that's not even straight in my head but... - Okay, no worries. I get it. I totally get it. - We set our sync speed to keep up with the strobe, right? So, it doesn't have the banding. - So, it doesn't have that curtain. - Right, the curtain. - So, you don't have that black band across. - Is it ever the other way around? Are there strobes that are too slow that you have to adjust...Okay. - No. - Okay. - Now, I could shoot at 1/40th of a second and I would still get a sharp fast image, okay? That's because the flash freezes the action. I could shoot at one-second speed and still get a sharp image because the flash is freezing that particular moment. It may not be perfectly sharp, but it would's because that flash is in control, okay? Not the time that the shutter is open, okay? Aperture is what controls exposure with flash, not shutter. Makes sense? And I know that's a weird concept to wrap your head around but if you just follow the rule of, "Set your shutter at your camera manufacture sync speed, and use the power of your light and aperture to control exposure," you'll have great images from here to the moon, okay? And when you realize that those are the only parameters you have to be concerned with, all of a sudden, it becomes more about creating a good image than worrying about your lighting and your exposure, that's why I love strobe so much. Okay, let's pop this baby on here. - [inaudible] - Yeah, please, talk away while I'm struggling to battle my lights here. - Can you mimic the same type of lighting with these off-camera flashes with two or three of them or are they just not powerful enough? - Yes, you can. As a matter of fact, they're not as powerful as these but... Okay, we could get really complicated here in a heartbeat. I'm going to be careful. No, I love it. It's me, I got to be careful about what I say. A lot of people use strobes outside to overpower the sun and they'll put, at high noon, a model in the sun and blast them with flash and create amazing beautiful images because that flash can, essentially, overpower the sun, okay? I don't know if I want to say this because I'm totally going to throw you guys off. There is something called high-speed sync, okay? The Nikon and Canon flash systems will allow you to sync at any shutter speed. Don't go there until you've worked with that source but it's really cool because then all of a sudden, that allows you to open up your aperture and blow backgrounds out of focus, no problem, and shoot flash at 1/2000th of a second, okay? It's advanced technology but yes, you can use outdoor strobes and you can put strobes inside of softboxes, no problem. Okay, they have different rigs but you can do that. So, yes, and I know a lot of photographers who have a series of strobes on camera flashes, you know, like what you get...I need to have you move forward by about three or four feet, hon. Like, what you get for the top of your camera, that separate flash unit, they have like four or five of them and they'll put them in boxes off-camera and make a mini studio with those. That works just fine. You'll have to kind of play with the power and see how it works and what you can shoot out as far as aperture goes. But, yeah, those are fun. A little more...I don't want to say complicated because they're really not that complicated but it's not as simple as simply turning up the power and turning it down. It's got like the whole TTL and all that stuff that goes with it, which can make things a little complicated. Okay. So, now, any other question before I move on to this? Nope? - I think we can keep moving but just to that question. Other people were asking about speed light as well online. And so, we've got a number of classes. Check out classes from Tony Korbel, you can check out classes from Joel Grimes, or just search "lighting," search "off-camera flash" and you'll find those in the CreativeLive catalog. - Pye Jirsa has a nice... - Pye Jirsa, yup. - Yeah. There's tons of good... Mike Fulton, the Fultons are wonderful at off hair...He taught me off camera flash and he does that whole high-speed sync thing. He opened my world when he...

Class Description

Understanding how your camera functions is a start, but in order to capture the best images, you need to know more than what buttons to push.  Julia Kelleher will walk you through some likely beginner photographer scenarios to show how to work in multiple situations, compose your image and get the most from your subjects. Whether you purchased your camera to take photos of your children, your friends or even products you are hoping to sell, Julia will show you how to feel comfortable in any environment. In this class Julia will show you: 
  • Taking pictures of children: how to work with energetic subjects, what compositions are safest as well as poses and ideas to keep them engaged 
  • Taking pictures of groups: be it your friends, coworkers or clients- learn the best approaches for group photos so you can capture people looking their best 
  • Products: If you’re starting a business or selling your belongings online, a great picture goes a long way in helping a buyer choose your product 
  • Headshots or banner photos: learn techniques to get professional headshots or captivating banner photos for your social media or website 
  • How to work with natural light and control it in your favor, as well as inexpensive options to help improve your lighting quality 
 If you’re new to working with a professional camera, this class will give you the confidence to capture an image in any scenario with your expensive purchase. Make the most out of every situation by learning to compose, pose, direct and light your subjects.  

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Julia is an amazing teacher!!!! Funny, go with the flow, honest, and obviously so gifted at what she does. That came through and also inspired those feelings in me as a novice photographer. I left her class feeling excited to play with my camera and appreciate that she encouraged me to use what I have now and get good before spending tons of money on fancier stuff. I also love that she showed how everyday materials from Home Depot can make for great images. I particularly appreciated the 2nd day on product photography, social media images and the short demos in PhotoShop. Please do a full class on just this Julia/Creative Live!!!!!

Brandon Couch

So first off I've been doing photography for a little bit now and only shot in manual 20% of the time and was okay with it. Since coming to this class and seeing how manual mode isn't scary, it is everything you need and want in the life of photography, I now will not use anything else. The team at Creative Live is amazing and Julia's love for other starting and even professional photographers is amazing. She would sit and talk to us together and individually and really loves those who love photography. I would recommend this class and any other one of Julia's classes here on CreativeLive. I can't wait to come back. Was AMAZING!!! LIFE CHANGING!!!

a Creativelive Student

What an awesome class! I am not a beginner and am currently making a living as a photographer and was interested in this class because #1 Julia is such a great teacher with such talent and #2 I was expecting to take away some valuable information to pass along to my little after school beinning photo club. I am happy to report Julia did not disappoint:-) What actually happened was that I learned so many things that I probably should have known being a seasoned professional that I lost track of my original intention of why I was there. I couldn't wait to pull out my camera and try all of the new things that I had just learned. The color balancing and the little dot showing when your camera (Nikon) was manually focused alone was worth the price. I enjoyed every minute of this course. Thanks Julia! Anyone would benefit from this course....