Demo: Defining Lights Overview


Introduction to Using Multiple Flashes


Lesson Info

Demo: Defining Lights Overview

I wanna talk conceptually about the types of lights we need to think about for photography. So, today is all about two, three, four, and five lights. So typically, we have five, actually four different types of lights in a typical photo studio. One light's called the key light. One light's called the fill. The other one's called the hair light, or we call it a kicker or a rim, and then the last light is called the background light. So I wanna show you kinda step by step what each of those lights are, what they mean, and how they're used. Alright, I needed a model, I need a model. Which of, let's get, you wanna be our model for this one? Alright, come on up. Would you like to sit on the orange chair or the posing stool? Alright, why don't you sit on the posing stool, and I will move some of the stuff out of the way so people can see, actually I'm gonna move this out back so it's out of our way, and for this, I'm going to use these ProPhotos because they have the modeling light, okay? Ac...

tually, I'm gonna have you come this way. Why don't you walk this way about three or four feet, yeah. We're talking a little bit about studio and set design today, but to have a full on studio with five lights, you really need to have about 25 to 30 feet to work with in a studio. A lot of people wanna convert a bedroom or even a garage to a studio. You can do a garage, but if your garage is 20 feet long, then you've got issues. 20 feet is the bare minimum, so I like 30 feet, and for today, I'm gonna be working in about 20 feet worth of space. So, I've got her set up about six feet away from the backdrop, and I usually measure that, just hold out my arms and kind of put the chair about there. That allows me space in the background to set up these background lights, cool? And then you can see if I bring a light out here in the front like that, well already I'm at 15 feet. Okay, so I'm gonna turn on the modeling light and show you what the key light is and how that works. Modeling light on. (beeping) Alright, so the key light, the key light is the most important light. It's the number one light you're always thinking of. Key, meaning key, like number one, first. The key light creates the look and the feel. So, the key light is what you use to design the ambiance of the photo, or the look on the face, the shadows. Where do the shadows fall? So, let's just look at how this key light impacts the image. Okay, so you go ahead and look straight ahead, just look straight up that way, and I'm gonna move this key light around, and here you can see the shadow is darkening kinda that side of the face. So, maybe this is a little bit more mysterious look. And now, I move the key light here. Okay, a little more straight on, you can see her face is fuller. If I move the key light down low, okay, see I can mess with the shadows. So, the key light's the number one light that you place. Everything else bases off of that key. When your key light goes higher, so your key light goes up here, you can get kind of deeper shadows underneath the eyes. When your key light's lower, it's more straight on. You can have your key light, and we're gonna talk about lighting modifiers. Key lights can be umbrellas, it can be soft boxes, it can be beauty dishes, they can be anything you want. They can even be a direct hard flash. That's always my first decision, the key light. Okay, next, the fill. Fill is a good guy, fill helps out the key light, okay? So, maybe I'm gonna do something like this, a little bit high, and I'm looking at her catch light in her eye, just seeing where that falls. So, I got a nice catch light in her eye, just like that. But now, pardon me as I come over here, we can see this side is in shadow, and maybe I want that. Maybe I want this kind of stark look. So, I'm gonna, or maybe I don't. Maybe I wanna add some more fill, so the fill is just as it's described. It's filling in the shadows. So, to do that, I'll bring over this ProPhoto, with the modeling light. There's no rule as to where that fill light needs to go. There's a lot of -ish, like I kinda like it here, I kinda like it there, boom! Let's go to proportional. There we go. (high-pitched beeping) Okay, and give up that. (high-pitched beeping) So you can see, as I add in the fill how I can, I can make that fill, are we about even on the front for brightness? Actually, the fill is a little bit too bright right now. Drop that down. One of the neat things about the ProPhoto gear is that you can do, as opposed to maybe like a Nikon or Canon flash, is you get to see in real time what the light looks like because they have that modeling light feature. Yeah, so fill, I just need to decide how much fill I add. I can move it farther away, I can move it in closer, I can lower it, I can raise it, 'kay? So, that's the fill. Later today, we're gonna talk about specifically where to place it, but for now at least you get the idea. The next light in our setup is the hair light. So I don't have multiple ProPhotos here today. I don't have more than two, so we're just gonna show you this with two. Hair light. A lot of times with the hair light, you want to light up the back of the hair. This works really well with people who have longer hair. For guys like me who have really short hair, the hair light's really not that significant in the overall exposure. (high-pitched beeping) but, if I add this, I don't know, are we picking that up on that camera? Are you seeing that hair light? Okay, cool. So the whole idea with the hair light, or the rim light, or the kicker, is to provide some visual separation between the subject's shoulder and the background. It's whole purpose is separation. This little rim here kinda highlights that and gives you a nice little outline, maybe over the shoulder, or just on the hair. Now, the hair light can be tighter, like this, like what I've got here, this little modifier that's on here. It can be broader, like an umbrella, or a soft box, or it can be super tight, like a snoot, and I'll show you what a snoot does later today. Maybe you only want the hair light to just be right here, and maybe don't want it to go along the whole side, okay. So, you just need to decide where you want that hair light to be. So, that hair light can be positioned up high like I just showed you, it could be directly behind her, down low, like this, pointed up. Okay, it can be up on a boom. So, again, there's no rule, it's all about the look that you want and the overall feel that you're trying to convey. The last light that I'll show today is what we call the background light. Well, the background light is designed, again, as a separation tool. Okay. So, that background light, in a typical studio, you're gonna want either one or two background lights. If you want what I would call a professional studio, you're gonna want two background lights, and here's why. Check this out, that background light you can see doesn't evenly light up the whole backdrop. So, if I have two lights, what that allows me to do is to put one, position one light over here and another light over there, and now I've got good even lighting for the whole backdrop. A typical, professional studio has got a key light, a fill, hair, and two background lights. Those are our lights, so the next segment, and then as we move into the live shooting portion of the day, I'll be piecing all those together and you'll see how it all works for a beautiful portrait. So, thank you, thank you very much. These came in kinda throughout the first segment, and so on the hook ast, is it possible to break sync speed with optical triggers, and I know we haven't really talked about sync speed yet, but. Yeah, so it depends on the camera you're using. If you're using a traditional DSLR type camera that actually has a mirror and a physical shutter that goes up and down, you're pretty much stuck at what we'll call the maximum shutter sync speed, which is anywhere from about a 200th of a second to a 250th of a second. Sometimes you can cheat that by a little bit, like to a 320th of a second, like I know specifically, in the Nikon world, a lot of my cameras, I can cheat it to the 320th, but I can't really go to a thousandth of a second or two thousandth or five thousandth. Now, I think there might be some other cameras, maybe the Sony, maybe the Fuji, I don't know that you can go much higher shutter speeds, but I'm not a Sony user and I'm not a Fuji user, so I can't talk specifically to those cameras. It's all camera body dependent. Great, thank you, and let's see. Sunrise Is asks for the number of back lights, does it matter what type of shot you're making? Like a head shot versus a full body shot, that type of thing. Yeah. It was for the background? That was the question? Yeah. Yeah, it totally matters. In fact, today I'm gonna show you that. If I'm doing a really tight head shot, then for your background light, you might want to use a snoot to really position your lighting exactly behind the head. A really neat look these days is to kind of have almost a halo of light behind the head. I'll show you how to do that today, and you do that by controlling the size of that background light. So today, for the background, I'm gonna be using umbrellas, I'm gonna be using soft boxes, I'm gonna be using these zoom heads that, I've got a zoom head on that ProPhoto, I'm gonna be using snoots and grids, just to show you how big of an impact they actually have on the look of the photo. I often say to people that, photography in general, the background is almost as important as the subject. So, whether that's macro-photography, if you're a bird photographer, if you're a portrait photographer, the background, you have to put as much mental energy into what that looks like as you do the subject itself. I have a couple of questions for you that we've given people the answers online, but just to say it on air, can you talk about what you are wearing there? Yes. Then also, people were wondering what type of batteries you use. Okay, cool, yeah so, first thing is, I'm using this Spider holster. This Spider holster is pretty awesome. I love it because it's rock solid, and what it does is it's got this little tab here, and it goes into this holster, and it just hangs on my hip. All the weight from everything I'm carrying today is on my hip, versus on my shoulders or around my neck. Shoot, working in the studio, it makes a lot of sense to have everything around here. I don't always use this when I... Like, I do a lot of outdoor and nature photography. I have a different system that I use for that, but I love the Spider holster for studio work. They also have these really cool pouches, and I can put this 70 to 200 F28 in the pouch with the lens hood extended and swap it out, maybe with my 24 to 70, so it's a really neat setup. Thanks Spider holster for making such a great product. (laughing) I don't think you mentioned this, but Tether Tools, also one of our cool partners here at Creative Live. I love Tether Tools for shooting in the studio. Their equipment, again, it's rock solid and it just works. As a working pro, you can't have your gear fail on you, like that flash did earlier. (laughing) but, their Tether Tool stuff always works. So, that's this cable here, this tether. And then, for batteries, I use rechargeable batteries and I use nickel metal hydrides, so these nickel metal hydrides, you can buy just about anywhere now. If you are buying them, I recommend what are called low discharge nickel metal hydrides, and what that means is they're stable in the case. So, a lot of the older nickel metal hydrides, you can charge 'em up, and then like seven days later or ten days later, they'd lose some of their charge, but the low discharge units, they'll hold their charge for a long time in my camera bag. So, the ones specifically that I have are called Imideon. I-M-I-D-E-O-N, Imideon. There's another company that I like, they're called Eneloop. E-N-E-L-O-O-P, Eneloop, I think they're made by Sanyo. And then, don't tell anyone this, but sometimes I use regular alkalines. (laughing) You know, buy like a big ol' case of 'em from my local Big Box retailer, and I'll just use those as backups in case, whenever, maybe I'm on location, I don't really have power, I'll just throw in those alkalines.

Class Description

If you want complete control over the image you’re taking, you need to use multiple flashes. Mike Hagen will take what appears complex and explain how to make it achievable to help get your studio lighting to an elite level.

Mike Hagen will walk through how to build your lighting setup with two, three, four and even five flashes. If you're figuring out what lighting gear to purchase, this course will help by showing you:

  • Camera settings and sync modes to capture the best exposure
  • How to use the various trigger methods
  • The different roles each light plays in creating your image
  • How to shape the light for the most control over your final image
  • How to build your knowledge comfortably from 1-5 lighting setups

Whether you’re shooting portraits, buildings, or products - controlling all the light in your image can improve your photography from good to GREAT. Mike Hagen will teach you how to light and create every shadow and highlight by using multiple flashes in your photography.


Marty Walker

This is really a fantastic class and at an even fantastic-er price. Well worth the money, and is a great help. The instructor does a very good job explaining the methods, light shapers, and effects they create. One of my favorite videos!

Jeph DeLorme

Mike Hagen does a great job of presenting what could be a complicated process in a way that makes it easy to understand and implement. Not only does he make it easy to follow along, he presents alternative solutions that don't break the budget. I have viewed several instructors and various classes at Creative Live and this would definitely be one of my favorites. I have to say, this class would be a bargain at 10x the price!

Tim Stapenhurst

What can I say about this class? Mike is great- not only does he give a thorough break down of all the equipment one could need but he also includes wide variety of price options for those just getting started. Aside from his thorough knowledge of gear, Mike provides an excellent and easy to follow bread down of how to build up the light for your subject. His lesson plan is super easy to follow and very concise as he slowly builds up from using 2 lights to 5 lights. He also demonstrate what I think is a much needed trait in a photographer and that is being cool under pressure, dealing with issues and not getting rattled and simply going back to the basics. Creative Live Nailed it with this class