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How to Take Amazing Photos with your DSLR

Lesson 30 of 31

Kicker Light with Strobe Light

Julia Kelleher

How to Take Amazing Photos with your DSLR

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

30. Kicker Light with Strobe Light

Lesson Info

Kicker Light with Strobe Light

- [Julia] So now, what I'm doing is I'm just creating a kiss of light on her shoulder and up her hair, just like we did with that reflector in the last segment. Do you remember that? So I am hoping I'm in the right zone here. Okay. We need to power up a little bit. Can you see the little bit of light right here? I need to make it go more. So this light is about, what, two feet away? Okay. It's at eight power? - [Woman] Mm-hmm. - Is that right? This light is four feet away, twice the distance. Right? And it's at 5.6 power. Way too low, let's put this one at eight. Why? Same as that one. This one's at eight, two feet away. This one's at eight, four feet away, twice the distance. How much light do we have? How much less than that one? (inaudible) - Seventy-five percent less, very good, Vindu. Okay? That's the fall-off. Did we get it? Did it click with everybody? Okay? So this is couple stops down from that one, so it's not as bright as that one right here. So standing right here, this one...

has four times less power than that one. Make sense? Inverse-square law right there. So if I put both lights at the same power, eight and's just a power number, don't worry about f8 or anything like that. It's just a power number on the light. Just know that they're at the same power. This one's two feet away at a certain exposure. This one's four feet away. You're going to lose a lot more, 75% less light over here. Well, sorry. This light is producing 75% less light right here than this one is. Does that make sense? Sorry, I spoke that wrong. Okay. So when I shoot the file, you'll see it won't be as powerful, but it'll just kiss the light on her shoulder. Okay? And it'll separate her from the background. Do you see that? That's what we call a kicker light. Okay? So especially when you're working with a dark-haired subject on a dark background like this, getting that light to shine through her hair like that separates her from the background. So we just did the exact same thing that we did with the reflector with a second light instead, and we have more control over it because we can power it up or power it down, whereas with a reflector, it's only going to give as much light as it gets. - [Woman 2] Would it not have been better to have just moved the light closer? - I could've. Totally could've. - Because the further away, then the harder the shadow. Right? - Yes. The harder... Yes. - Is it... - The harder the light source, and I could've done that. The reason I didn't is because I didn't want it so close that I couldn't get a background out of it. It would be in my way. It would be in my shot. - Okay. - Okay? So but, yes. You could easily power it down to half its power. And moved it two feet in, you'll get the exact same effect. So it needs to be down more. Okay? That would give you the exact same effect that we got right there, just a closer light, but because I wanted that little bit of space beside her, I have to move it back so it's out of my way. Okay? You want to see what it looks like? - Yeah, just the... Her shadows don't look as harsh with the light closer, to me. - Okay. Let's shoot it. - Yeah. Is that accurate? Is that just me reading it? - Yeah. Well, the closer the light source, the softer the light, but this is also a really small light source too. The smaller the light source, the harder the light. Okay? So it's just a matter of balancing how big of a modifier you're using with the distance away from the light, and experiment with it. Okay, let's shoot it. Is that about right, two feet? I'll shoot it vertical so we can... Move in closer so I don't get that light in my frame. Looks a little darker than the background. Okay? It's actually a little less, I think my power's too little. Whoa. Sorry, Adam. I wondered if I should go down the... And honestly, I feel really bad, because I should be metering this instead of just relying on the power of the light. If I metered it, I would have exact representation of what we're doing here, but...yeah, it just goes to show you can't always trust your light power settings, but... There we go. So almost the same effect with the light a little closer, and if you like the way that looks better, then go for it. It's all personal. It's all personal and what you love. Okay? It's an art. All right. - [Woman 3] And so just to clarify again, would you be able to get natural light images as sharp as strobe-lit images if you just use a faster shutter speed? - No, you won't get it in this environment. If you're outside in bright sun, like sports photographers are out on fields, with fast lenses, and they can shoot... with extremely high shutter speeds, yes, you'll get very close. But in this environment, shooting like this with a strobe, versus shooting this with a continuous light, which doesn't have as much power as this thing does, nor the ability to freeze the action, it will not be quite as sharp. Adam, did you by chance pull up that old image of the little girl? - [Adam] I'll go do it right now. - Would you? That would be awesome. I just want to show you the nuances. You'll see when we look at that, when we go in close, that it's just a little fuzzy. It's not shaky. It's just a little fuzzy, soft we call it. Whereas with strobe, you zoom in and you're like, "Wow, that's sharp. That works. That's sharp." And unfortunately, these monitors here in the studio don't entirely show the sharpness, but on the computer screen, you see it and you're like, "Wow, this is much sharper than when I shoot with a continuous light." Now, when you're...Even outside, when I shoot a kid running at me or fast action outside, it's still not quite as sharp as doing it here with a strobe in studio. Seriously. I hope he gets that image, because I'd love to compare the two and show you. Excuse me. There's just something about the way the flash freezes the action, that split-second fast light burst, that is faster than the shutter can ever be. Do you know what I'm saying? So the shutter will never quite get it. We're talking...this is like splitting hairs here. Okay? If you get a nice sharp image out of camera in natural light of a kid jumping, that's as sharp as it's going to get, you apply sharpening to it in Photoshop, and print it big, parents are going to love it. It's going to be amazing. It's going to be an in focus image and sharp. But when you do the same thing in strobe here in studio, you, as the photographer, will be looking at the photo going, "Damn, that's sharp. This don't even need no sharpening action." Do you know what I'm saying? So it is a subtle difference that people might not notice, and most people don't. As a matter of fact, do you really notice it? Probably not until I've told it to you. Okay? So but this is where it's training your eye to be a better visual artist. And if that's super important to you, great. If it's not important... My sister shoots families wide open, outside running, jumping, playing. Some of her images are slightly soft, it doesn't bother her at all. It's a look, it's a style. So don't let yourself get bogged down like, "Oh my gosh, it's got to be really sharp." So it doesn't have to be. I'm just trying to tell you what's easiest and what's the most reliable. If you want to shoot kids on seamless paper jumping up and down and being crazy, doing it with strobe is going to give you more consistent results. You'll be excited and happy to shoot, because you know that every image coming out of that camera is going to be good. Whereas if you're doing it with natural light, you're going to be so worried about getting sharp and not getting that shutter shake that you're going to be more concerned about that than you will about getting good expression and good looks from the kids. Do you see what I'm saying? So there's a balance of using the tools the are best for the certain job. Yeah? - [Woman 4] Maybe this is obvious, but you do a lot of newborn photography and obviously, they're not really moving, so in that case, I guess it doesn't... - No. - I guess in that case, it doesn't really matter. So it's what type of photography...if they're moving, then you're saying this is what you need, versus.... - Exactly. Exactly, you hit the nail on the head. And I use continuous light with my newborns, because it's easy. What you see is what you get. You don't have to guess. Here, what we see is not what we get. Right? It looks totally different on there than what it looks like here. It's so nice, and it's just, you don't have to...the trigger, blah, blah. It's just easy and it' can do those nice big open apertures for that beautiful out of focus background, so much easier. And that's a look I love for my babies, so I shoot my babies with... my newborns with continuous light. Okay? It's totally up to you and what kind of genre you're doing. But yeah, the minute I switch over to families, where I have more people and a wider plane of focus needed, I've got moving kids, then yeah, these strobes are really what help nail that. Okay? Yeah, look at... And we still got great shots of this little girl having a good time with continuous light, jumping around. The... What you'll notice... Oh, it's not on there. (inaudible) - Okay, okay. Not a problem. I was wondering, can they zoom in to her eyes? Is that all possible? See how it's just a little soft? Not much, just a little bit. This I said, it's pulling teeth, it's pulling threads. But then if you look at the image of Belinda, it'll be tack sharp on the eyes. Okay? And you may not even notice it here from this far away, but I can see it. See how's a little fuzzy in her hair? It's just because you see the motion blur, and sometimes that's cool. It looks awesome, but with Belinda, her hair was just almost tack sharp. Okay? That's the difference. We're talking subtle. But I find it harder to capture focus with natural light in these active situations than I do with strobe. I know I'm going to nail it with strobe.

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.  

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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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....