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Daylight + Flash

Lesson 42 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

42. Daylight + Flash

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is engagement photography with a focus on using natural light, backlit elements, and flash to create beautiful and engaging images.


  1. How can backlit elements create a beautiful bouquet effect in photos?

    Backlit elements such as trees, leaves, grass, or sand can create twinkling and sparkling effects in photos, which add to the overall beauty of the image.

  2. How can the beach be used to create a sparkling effect in photos?

    By shooting into the light with the sun behind the couple, and positioning oneself low on the sand, the sun will hit the sand and create sparkles. Using a zoom lens and shooting shallow can enhance this effect.

  3. How can dappled lighting be utilized in engagement photography?

    Dappled lighting refers to the light that filters through trees and creates patches of light and shadow. By placing the couple in this type of lighting, it can create a natural and dramatic effect in the photos.

  4. How can flash be used to enhance engagement photos?

    Flash can be used to amplify existing natural light, particularly in backlit situations. By placing a flash behind the couple and using a gel to match the temperature of the sun, it can add drama and depth to the images.

  5. How can an ND filter be used in engagement photography?

    An ND filter can be used to control the amount of light entering the camera, allowing for more control over exposure. It can also be used to create a soft and blooming effect, particularly when combined with sun flare.

  6. Is it safe to spray water on the camera lens?

    Yes, it is safe to spray water on the front element of the lens. Lenses are designed to breathe and can handle a minimal amount of water. However, it is important to use filtered water and avoid soaking the lens.

  7. How can spot metering be used in engagement photography?

    Spot metering can be used to measure the ambient light in a specific area, allowing the photographer to adjust the flash power independently to achieve the desired exposure.

  8. How can flash power be adjusted to achieve the desired effect?

    Flash power can be adjusted up or down to control the amount of light emitted by the flash. This allows the photographer to create the desired lighting and mood in the photos.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Posing Guidance for Him


Posing Guidance for Her


Foundational Posing


Posing Touch Points


Couples Body Language


Posing Three Point Check


Posing Tips with Demo


Lesson Info

Daylight + Flash

Let's go to number two. We have an amazing scene here, guys. This is something that is so attainable to everybody. Finding a tree that's, Guys, trees? Very attainable. (audience laughs) You can find trees anywhere. Be sure to point and do selfies. Back lit. Now the thing is, is that trees and other elements that are back lit are gonna create amazing bouquet, okay? Bouquet, okay? Bouquet okay. The thing is that when you're shooting wide open sometimes you look at the frame and you're like, why don't I have that really crazy, sparkly, beautiful bouquet effects? It's because oftentimes we're not shooting back lit. So if you wanna have that look we need to have the twinkles and the sparkles and that could come from water. It can come from little pieces of leaves and grass and stuff that's back lit. It can come from sand. It can come from anything. We just need those back lit elements, because we want them to. Here's a really cool thing to try out. I want you guys to all try this. If yo...

u're at the beach, I need to pause that at better moments. That's terrible. Okay, let me just, Nope, Nope, that's better. Okay, so when you're at the beach, do this, Get into a back lit scene where the sun is behind the couple, so you're shooting into the light, right? Get low on the sand, super low, especially over the area where the water washes over. And what's gonna happen is, the sun is gonna hit the sand and sparkle off the sand. And you zoom in with a 8500, 7200, zoom all the way in and shoot it very shallow. And the little pieces of sand that are in that foreground are gonna sparkle up. It looks really cool. You can get that effect, that bouquet effect just comes with something that's back lit. That's what I mean by sand, it could be sand, it could be water, it could be anything. As long as there's a highlight on it, and you're zooming through it, it's gonna create that look and effect. That light, into the lens, and that's what creates those bright sparkles and beautiful effect. So what we're going to be doing in this frame, is we're going to utilize the existing light. We have this freckled lighting, speckled, freckled, somewhere in between there. Dappled lighting. (audience laughing) I got so annoyed after doing this, that I went back, and I went, what the freak was the word I was trying to say? Dappled lighting people. Any one of those words work nicely. We're going to place them inside of that light, so that we can use that light and if we want to we can pump it up with a little bit of extra flash. So we're going to start natural, and we're going to do some natural light shots here to show you how we're going to frame them against the darker tree, how we can make the pop out of the background. We're going to add in maybe some other props and elements, and then we're going to do some flash and other work as we get a nice variety of shots, just within this one single scene. Okay guys, so what we're going to do, is let's come on in. And Neil you hold onto the flash for a second, I'm gonna go after this. I'm just gonna shot natural for now. What I want you guys to do, is I want you guys to be right at the edge of this light. So as this light comes through, I want it to hit you guys. Right here. Okay. Perfect. And let's flip your guys' sides, there you go, beautiful. And I want to start this off with, let's do, (chuckling) Let's do a, you guys already did the dip, you like dipping, you love dip. Let's start this off with something, nice, soft and sweet. Kind of, that V-up is actually kind of really cute. So step into her, and then I wanna get both of you guys in the light a little more, so step a little bit this way. Perfect. I wanna get that backlight, just nice and even on you guys. And I got like, grass already on me. Oh no, I would stay in the shadow, we can-- I taught her the trick of like, watch your head in the shadow, earlier at the train station. So she was pointing down at that, and I'm like, I know, I got dirt on this, I'm sorry. I thought she was talking about my pants. But she was actually following, the previous, so-- This is why I like to instruct, because they'll actually keep doing things through the entire shoot. Oh there you go, there you go. See, we have production people here, which makes it so nice. 'Cos I can say hey, I just want you to be back lit, and they're like, Okay, we'll just edge into the light. So, my dear, what I want you to do is just lean onto his chest. I can call you my dear too, if you feel a little left out at some point. Yeah. - You like that? Okay, I thought you would. And I want you to look down and towards his right pec. There you go, nice flex dude. Yeah, don't cup it though, that's not very man, that's emasculating, we don't like that. Alright, so what we're going to do is I'm gonna work my way up and down in this frame guys. So we can utilize this little flare. And I want you to look down towards her, there you go. Beautiful, perfect. Right there. (clicking) That is gorgeous. And then we're gonna just check our histogram, I wanna make sure I'm not blowing out too much. So I'm gonna go a little bit darker. And then we're gonna kind of work our way, up and down. This is not a flattering pose for me. All right. There you go, I love that, hold that right there. (clicking) Oh, that is freaking gorgeous, gorgeous. (clicking) Go for a little kiss guys. Okay so the important part for this, is notice the pose, so their shadow is all in this highlight. We can actually, shooting these shadows is actually pretty cool, when the shadows are really defined you can actually shoot down on a shadow. Makes for a really great compositional thing. But the reason that, that hair light is just so defined, is that they're placed over a dark background. We just pose them in the scene, to take advantage of the natural highlights and shadows in the scene. (shutter clicking) Perfect, kiss her on the forehead. Beautiful, look at each other, smile, laugh a little bit. (laughing) (laughing) Did she just flip you off? That was awesome. See, you guys are my kinda peeps. I would love to come to England, and photograph the wedding. I love that laugh, so fantastic. Cute! Okay perfect. Now, go for a little kiss guys. I'm going to shoot wide on this one. And put your hand around his arm. (shutter clicking) Beautiful. (clicking) I'm getting low as well, because we have all these cars in the background. And I wanna get them framed out. Perfect. Can you actually, someone bring me the, Neil, can you grab the spray bottle? Some people are worried about this kind of stuff? (water spritzing) I'm gonna spray it right across the top of the lens. And then when we get that sun flare, it's gonna create this really soft and blooming effect across the top of the frame. Go for that kiss guys. And then her nose in front. (shutter clicking) See the difference in the flare on that? So, there's a lot of things that change the look of a flare. One of them is the actual lens itself, the lens itself that you use. Every lens has it's own characteristics for a flare. But oftentimes what I like to do is take, you have your water right? We kind of showed this, in that foundational piece. But we used it a little bit differently. If you guys remember that in that, actually, I don't think we did this in that foundational piece, we sprayed it over the subjects right? Okay. So, this is literally what I do. Filtered water, so that there's no hard water inside of it, open up to a mist. And you mist while this is attached to the camera, just right over, (spritzing) where you want the blur or that effect to be. So I'll usually mist it, right at the top of the lens. If the light is coming in from the top of the lens. You take the hood off, you generally take the hood off before you mist it, but take the hood off, because what you're aiming for, is a flare. These are designed to prevent flares, right? You want the light to come in, hit that. And what did we talk about? We did this, with our couple, we talked about how the shape of your aperture and the size of the aperture, controls the shape of the sparkle. If I'm shooting wide open, that front lens sparkle, becomes big pieces of blur. So you'll actually see there's multiple water droplets in these different rings that are going around the frame, right? As we go to a tighter aperture, close down the aperture, they'll shrink up, and they'll turn to smaller and smaller beads. So control that artistic component, how you want it to look, using that. And, I know, people, I'm sure people at home are-- Are you seriously? You're spraying your lens with water? Is there any of that comment yet? Yes? (audience laughing) Yes, I spray my lenses, guys it's not gonna hurt it. Like, these are lenses that are generally-- And with the whole weather proofing thing, generally no lens is really weather proof. They do some sealing, and certain things around them. But, lenses are actually designed to breathe. Your lenses have to breathe. Have you guys ever noticed that when you take a lens from a cold area inside, or a warm area inside to a cold area outside. If you take it from one place to the other with opposite temperature, it'll fog up, right? What's happening is the moisture is being created, that condensation is being created when it's trying to equalize temperature. And it's getting humidity and all that kind of stuff. If it couldn't breathe, it would just stay in the lens. So lenses are designed to actually breathe, and filtered water like this, is not going to hurt them. I mean, you don't go and soak this thing in your sink. But, spraying a little bit of water over the front element is totally fine. I've never had a single issue doing it. I know people tend to freak out though. Alex, look towards, and Alexandra I want you to laugh at your goofy husband-to-be. (clicking) And look down while you're-- So I still have the water at the top of the lens, you'll see that it's evaporating a little bit, and the shape is constantly changing as it kinda does that. I love that randomness to it. It creates a really cool look and pattern, that's a little bit different each time. But, when you have moments like that, where he does that, or she does something goofy, and they're just laughing, I like to play into it. So right after they do that, I'm gonna, if they are laughing so hard, that I can't get a great shot, then fine, so be it. But if they're laughing, and you say, now go into this shot, and just go into this pose. They're gonna keep the natural smiles on their face for like another five, ten seconds, and you're gonna pop off several very nice shots. So if you see that, don't stop and laugh with them, and be like, oh fantastic, that was so funny, awesome, awesome, awesome, play into it, and actually just put them into another pose real quick. Laughing, there you go, beautiful. All right. Any questions? No questions. Grab a mic please. Okay, so, if you spray your lens, does that pretty much, are you stuck shooting landscape, or being able to switch the camera back? No, you can do it however you want to, but, the only thing is that if you are spraying the lens on one section, then, yeah, until you wipe it off, then, you would shoot that way, and then can just wipe it, with something real quick and then, you know, spray it on the top if you wanna change the composition or whatever. But yeah, when it's sprayed and wet, you would stick to a horizontal, or stick to maybe portraits for at least a few shots. Yeah. Yes. Just quickly, what was the lens, that you were using here? That was the 35. It was the Sigma art 35, the same, actually I was holding the 24 a second ago, but yeah, it was the 35 that I was holding. It looks like that. Thank you. Before we get into the picnic shots. What I wanna do real fast, is I'm gonna place a flash behind them. Once again, if we want flash to look natural, we need to kind of mirror natural light in the sand. So what we're doing actually, is we're popping a flash behind them, with an orange gel on it. So that way, the temperature kind of matches the sun. I'm gonna pull it behind, and you'll notice that it's coming from the same direction as base to that backlight. We're gonna lower it down a little bit, and then we're gonna fire this shot, so that way we get this amplified backlight over them. All we're doing basically, is we're pumping up the existing light in this scene, to get a little bit more of a dramatic back lit shot here. Okay, let's go ahead and get this. And I think the flash is actually placed in a good spot. If you guys close, like close up against each other, and touch foreheads, and then, Alex, brush Alexandra's hair all the way behind her. Now, I'm being lazy right now. And I want to shoot quick, and so I have this little square ND in my hand, I'm just going to hold it over the lens. Sometimes if you're going quick and you just want to get the shot, this is a good way to do that. So I'm just gonna bring it right over. All right guys, close up. Close the foreheads against each other. Perfect, just like that, hold that. (shutter clicking) Make sure it's sharp, ooh I love that. Do you all see how much more vibrant this image becomes? Just from the other stuff we're comparing. We've maintained that, just all the tonal value throughout the entire scene, it still looks natural. It still looks like we haven't really done anything to it. But we just pump up the backlight. If we didn't have that, and I think there's a shot in here without the-- I actually demonstrate what it looks like without it. You'll see the backlight on their hair, just falls away. It doesn't look like they're being etched out. Alexandra, let's put your hand onto his chest though, so we're not doing the same thing as each other. Now, touch the foreheads again, love that, close the eyes, perfect, hold it. (clicking) Beautiful. That's fantastic guys. There's a tiny bit of a flare, that's landing on his arm right there. It's super easy to just twist the camera a little bit, you slightly adjust your angle just a bit. So that doesn't fall over them. We usually try to make sure that doesn't happen. If it does, that's something that we'll generally retouch out, at no charge, like tech thing, that's a mistake of ours. If we make a mistake, we'll fix it, type thing. And I'm gonna go ahead, and just pop two shots so the audience can see what the difference is between those two. So let's go ahead and just take one more, touch foreheads one more time. (clicking) Okay. That's the backlight, without that light. See how different that is, compared to the previous ones. I think they showed it real quick. (clicking) There's the first, second. You see that disappear? Like they just fall into the background, you know what I mean? All we've done in that case, is just use that flash, to kind of maintain a natural look and feel to the image, but still bring out the subjects in the scene. Okay so we just pop one without and one with. Perfect, fantastic. I'm going to work in a little bit closer guys. So can I get onto the 50? I wanna get this shot, where we kinda let the some of the flash, maybe even bleed in, or at least work off to the side a little bit. So, nice thing about working quickly like this, is with the square filter, we don't have to screw on anything. This is just a Tiffen square filter. We'll talk about this later, we'll talk about it later. All right. Guys I'm gonna get a super tight shot of that kind of closed pose. So kinda of close in to each other again like that. Beautiful, just like that. And then, Alexandra, I want you to look down to the left side a little bit, perfect right there. The natural light is great. Bring me a drop on the toe, so I can see in your body-- There you go, perfect. Look down, and towards your ring finger, beautiful. Right like that. What do we see? Watch in the details, like we just concealed her whole profile, with her own fly aways in the hair. That is fantastic. And what I'm gonna have you do. That is fantastic, I'm like, oh that sucks! That's not what I'm trying to do. That is fantastic. Is there's a little too many fly aways on your backside, okay? So just brush all the hair behind you, and kind of close it up on top, perfect. Perfect, now do that same thing again. Lean into him a little bit, kind of bring your head up against his chest, there you go. Beautiful right there, hold that. That is fantastic. Right there, go for a peck on her forehead as she's kinda looking down softly to that spot. Beautiful. They didn't leave this in, but we like tried to clear it out five times. I was like freaking golden hair, golden hair is so, If this goes into a blown up canvas, or if it does anything, we will remove this, like, that's not pleasing. I don't, it's like the goat beard. Have you ever had a client have, want like, she's like, can you give me a goat beard? No, that's weird, I wonder why that doesn't happen. Sometimes with an ND filter you just gotta double check. That's fantastic. And then the last thing we're gonna do, is we're gonna bring that thing into you guys. I wanna get this blooming effect, okay? So your shirt is actually white and blue, so it's gonna kind of cast this same toned light off of you. So we're gonna actually bring this down a little bit. Oh, how lovely. (meowing) Ooh, wonderful. I wish I had your accent. You can. I can? Yes, learn it. (cross talking) I feel like American I've heard that's tries to put on the accent is not very good at it. No, that's not true, it's can absolutely do it. It's really easy to learn. She does a very good, American English accent, FYI. When you're, can you pass off as English? If you're in England? I used to be better at it. Really? Yeah. They just think I've been spending time in America. Like, you've been in L.A. That's hilarious. (laughing) So they think you're... (couple commenting) (laughing) Okay, look down, brush the hair all the way to the back my dear. Your hair is so golden that it picks up light very easily. So brush it all behind you. And then I want you guys to hug into each other tight. There you go. Look down and to the left side. Bring your hand maybe around his arm a little bit. Let's switch it up a little bit, perfect. Alex, pull her, move towards her side a little bit. Keep going, right there. See what I mean with that goofy stuff? Like he got so goofy, that, I feel like if you acknowledge everything, and laugh at everything, and keep doing it, you'll get more or it, and it really starts to slow down stuff. So kind of little bits of chuckles-- (mumbles) Alex, you're like in this dancing pose so, (laughs) move back to her back side a little bit more, this way, go this way a little bit, right there. Perfect, now close up a little bit. There you go, there you go, beautiful. Just like that guys, hold that, look down to the left side a little bit, Alexandra, perfect. (clicking) Fanfreakingtastic. You guys are gonna freak out when you see this, I keep hitting the wrong buttons on my camera. Go ahead, and go for a kiss guys, beautiful. Go ahead and touch foreheads guys, actually I love that laugh. Look down the left laughing, Alex keep looking at her smiling, that's beautiful right there, hold that. I love that guys, fantastic. Cool, questions. Going back to where you were shooting a little bit wider, and you had the sun flare behind the tree there, could you have a stop down to get more of a flare out of that versus using your ND filter? So, yeah, the problem would be I guess, the look that I'm going for in the bouquet and that kind of soft, when you see that shot, it had that kind of soft feeling in the trees, and also, remember that we talked about how we want to use the lens's natural distortion, to help the composition right? That natural distortion at 1.4 is also a vignetting effect and that's why you get such rich like, tree leaves and that kind of stuff that leads down into it. So I wanted to keep it there, and that's what the ND filter allows me to do, versus stopping down, which would change the shape of the bouquet, and it would really brighten up the edge of the frame as we reduce the vignetting, and all those kinds of things about it. So, we wouldn't get the same look, or appeal. Yes. A couple more questions. One is, for (mumbles) is your reading still spot, how come their faces didn't go completely dark? Can you just maybe explain that again? Yes, so let me just quickly open this, so, they're asking why the, If you're still using spot metering and wondering, as you were shifting things around, why the skin didn't go dark? We use spot metering just to dial in where we want out ambient light, my mom's Oklahoman accent is coming, my step-mother is Oklahoman, (mumbles) Okay, so I can see your guys faces going red. How amazing is that? Trevor's like, "I feel so bad for you dude.". I'm having a great time, alright, so we spot meter just to get the ambient light, where we want it, and once you've done that, it's all about flash. So, we're controlling flash independently via our flash power, and so that really won't have an impact because that wrapping light was created by bringing the flash close, we bounce off his shirt, if I have a, if I have this kind of shirt on, I'm probably not going to bounce off of this right, because it's gonna send pink and all these blue tones around, but if I have a white shirt, a white and blue shirt like this one, it kind of sends a neutral tone. I actually had a CTO on it, so it's coming out yellow, and it's bouncing off white and blue, which kind of cools it down a little bit, so it's kinda neutralizing it. Just keep in mind that, whatever you bounce off of, is going to create that tone. So if you're wearing a red shirt, it's probably not going to bounce off of that. But the tone that's saved in the face, the kind of brightness there, is all just saved in the flash and so, we, after we've dialed in the settings in the spot meter, we're not touching that again. Until later when we've changed the scene and whatnot, we're just adjusting flash power up and down. I have a question about the metering. Are you metering it before you put that ND filter up or, Absolutely, we approach it the same way, we talk about our foundational sign, which was when we enter the scene, we choose our ambient light. What do I want my ambient light to look like. So I'll meter for that, and you can meter, you can use the live view, you can use whatever mode that you like, but set your ambient light first, to how you want the background to appear. I wanted a deep, rich kind of dark green tone, I wanted those tones in the sky, I still want it to look natural, I don't want it too dark but I just want it to be more deep and rich. So, I set it to maybe one or two stops under the earlier shots in the scene. And then, with the flash, we're just using that, and dialing in the power of that independently at that point. So once I've set my ambient light, we no longer touch that, we're good. Now we bring the flash in, and we just adjust power up and down on the flash, and that's the only thing that changes from that point, is flash power. Makes sense? We get that?

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Pre-Shoot Videos
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Presets Installation Guide
Gear Guide
Favorite Software
Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

CPR Photography

I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)

a Creativelive Student

This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!


This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.

Student Work