Demo: Key, Fill & Background Light Setup


Introduction to Using Multiple Flashes


Lesson Info

Demo: Key, Fill & Background Light Setup

What I'd like to do next is I'd like to move to the three-light scenario. And to do that, I'm thinking we'll use the black seamless. So I'm gonna call some set folks up and we'll convert the set to the black seamless as I take my camera off of my hip. And I'll start moving some lights around. While we do that, do you guys have any specific requests for lighting for this? Soft box? Octa? And I'll just throw that out there to the folks at home, as well. We're putting up a black backdrop, and what kind of three-light scenario might you wanna see? We've got an idea over here. I'd like a- Yeah, go ahead. A rim light, both sides, and kind of a mysterious, less lighted front look. OK, cool, so rim light, both sides, and, you said more mysterious? Like a darker, or- A darker, yeah. Okay. So, more of, like, an athletic, a lot of times we use rim lights for athletes to show the muscularity, the form. Okay, I like that idea. Do you think that's gonna be tall enough? I think so. We...

unrolled it a few times. Okay, and then, before you put the sandbag on, why don't we raise it up? As we're doing this, let me talk to these backdrops a little bit. This is a backdrop stand, and as you can see, I'm raising it up to about nine or ten feet high. That's critical. You want your backdrop to be three, four feet taller, or higher, than your subject. If you don't, then you're gonna get that stand in the background. And you don't want that. I've got to tape this. Okay, good idea. So while she's gonna tape this to the floor, we're going to bring our orange chair out here for this one, just for some, just a little bit different look. You had a question? Another option for lighting would be the octabox, with the grid- OK For the keylight Okay, let's do that. We'll start out with the octa with the grid for the key light, that'll be our first. And then, we'll do a hair, and then a backdrop, and then we'll go to yours, which is the two rim lights on the side, with a third light either shining at the background, or at the subject. Sound good? Okay, cool. Then, I know in the presentation, for my three-light set ups, I've got some other bullet points here that I want to show, and, in fact, to your point, the side lights with the background? Already on the bullet points, so you're covered. So this is a black backdrop, and as I mentioned earlier, the black backdrops can oftentimes, they fade away, so you have to think through black backdrops a lot of times, because if your subject is wearing a black shirt, like yours, oh, man, your whole shirt just disappears. That's where rim lights are very important, or backdrop lights are very important. So for this first example, we'll do an octa with a grid. That'll be our key light, okay? And to do that, octa with a grid, I'll show you the Rembrandt feel, what that Rembrandt lighting looks like. Then we'll do a hair light, and then we'll also throw something on the background. So, we'll pull over our octa. Alrighty, are you feeling octa-ish today? All right, you look like an octa. Come on over, grab a seat in the chair. Specifically, a low-slung chair. So a few things, just real quick before I set the lights. A few things about this, when we're posing people, a lot of times you need to think through the personality of the person. You kinda look like a laid back guy. So he could probably pull this off, probably. But I don't really care for this pose a whole lot, right? So a lot of times with these low chairs, either we really emphasize the look, like, way back, oh yeah, Arms crossed, you know, something like that. The Dude. Or, alternatively, sit on the very front, on the edge, yeah, exactly. So, see the difference in the feel? And so, as I'm lighting the photo, I'm also thinking about, here he's a little bit more aggressive, a little bit more coming forward. Maybe I want a little bit of a harsher look to the light, a little more aggressive look. Back there, maybe he's laying in the couch, he's watching TV, yeah, go ahead and do it, so now maybe I'm gonna use a softer light, overall. Alright, so we'll do a little bit more of the aggressive light. Because I've got the octa with the grid on it. So, positioning that, about there, you know what, I just realized I need a little more- I need to move it this way a little bit. Right there. Cool. And I need to think of- I'm gonna light this. Am I gonna let this side fade away to darkness? Or am I gonna illuminate this side? And just to make this easier for the studio, I'm going to swap everything by about 90 degrees. So, I'm gonna have you go like that. Yep, cool. Good, now we can see everything a little bit mo'bettah. Cool beans. So, there's the key. Why don't we build this light, by light, by light, and you can see how this all pieces together. So I'm at 1/32 power, I'm gonna bring that up to about a sixteenth, just like we had earlier, and I'm gonna turn this guy off. And it is off. Where's my other one that was firing? This guy. Turn this one off, and that one is off, okay. So, first shot is just the key light. So you all can see how this works together. Go ahead and look right here at the camera. One, two, three. Oh, cool, very, very heavy, very dark. You know, darker background, I like it. I think the look is feeling, feeling good, overall. It is a little bit bright. The key light's a little bit hot, would you say? So we'll drop down the power. I'm at a sixteenth, I'm gonna drop that down by maybe 2/3 of a stop. Two clicks down. And I'm gonna move it slightly off, because it was in-camera. There we go. And just one more test shot to make sure it's all looking okay. One, two, three. Good job. Thank you very much. Okay, that feels ... That feels good. You can see we haven't spilled light all around the scene. We've got good control over the direction of the light. Makes me happy. Okay, now let's bring in a fill, so we're gonna bring in a fill flash. To do this, we could use a softbox, we could use an umbrella, anything we want, just to keep it simple. And because it's already set up, why don't we use a little umbrella, a small umbrella, just to show you we can do good work with small stuff. Okay, a little bit higher. What I'm doing is I'm just getting a feel, a feel for its position. Great. Turn it on. And this one was at about a sixteenth, that was a sixteenth minus 2/3, so this is fill, it should be lower, so why don't we put this one at about 32nd power. 'K, and I'm at 1/32, actually 1/32 and minus a third. So here's the second light. Mm-hmm, here we go, one, two, three. Okay, not as mysterious, for sure. Let me show you those two things together, those two photos together. Oops. I think the fill was too bright. I really like the look with him being darker on that shadow side. So I'm gonna reduce fill. I'm gonna go down to, like, a hundred-twenty-eighth power. This is the way I like to work in the studio, by the way, piecing things together, step by step. Because if you don't, you're like, well, where's that light coming from? Here, at least, you know, each step of the way, what happened, what the change was. 1/128 power 1/16 power, minus 2/3. Okay, one, two, three. Sweet. Yeah, so there's the 1/128 power on the right, and then the 1/32 power on the left. I think it looks better with a darker fill flash. So now what we're thinking is, is now we need to separate, at least, I think we do, we need to separate him from the background. He's wearing a darker colored shirt, and so, let's do some separation. We're going to do two examples, here. One is a rim light off of his shoulders, and the other will be a background light on the black backdrop. Well, lots of options available to us. Why don't we use ... Let's see here, gotta get the whole kit and kaboodle with me. I'm gonna use an umbrella for that background. I'm sorry, for the rim light. And I'll set that up here. And the reason why I'm gonna use an umbrella is because it's so flexible. And the light's going to be going forward, towards him, so I'm not worried too much about light spilling off into the background. This is another reason to use a reflect-off umbrella, versus a shoot-through umbrella. If you use a shoot-through umbrella, light would be going that way, as well as towards the subject. Okay, and obviously I need to rotate it. I can rotate either just the head, or the whole body. I'll just rotate the head. Lock this thing down so it doesn't fall off. And about there, I'm gonna bring it up higher. One of the things you need to think about is that the- I'll get out of here, out of the forest. Is that if the subject you're photographing is bald, the hair light, or rim light, can cause a big reflection right on top. So it's just something to think through. Sometimes, the best solution isn't a rim light, rather, we just move it off to the background and we light up the background. Too many things to think about in studio lighting, huh? Okay, oh, and I forgot to check what the power is. But let's just take a picture and see how that one turns out. Okay, one, two, three. Okay, I think the power was zero. (laughs) Let's see where we were at. The power was at zero. It wasn't turned on. (audience chuckles) I love photography. So, let's set that power at 1/8 power. You guys getting a feel for power settings today? You know, I'm typically at eighth, sixteen, thirty-second, just somewhere in that range. The more you do this, the more you'll realize that that's kind of your happy zone, 1/8 power, 32nd power, somewhere in that range. Oooh, okay, now we're in. And we'll take that photo. Camera's connected, life is good, One, two, three. It's kind of like your look. What do we call that, the Blue Steel? The Magnum? (laughs) Okay, cool, now we see the shoulders. Can you make out the rim light off the shoulders? Let's make that one full screen. Oop, did I get that one full screen? Nope. Two fingers ... letter F. Okay, cool. Hmm, that looks really nice. Really, a very, very nice look. Three lights, right, three lights: key, fill, and then the rim light off of his shoulders. I just want to look at it a little bit more. (woman in audience laughs) It's fantastic, and it's so simple! So let's do one more with this set up, and let's turn that light so it shines on the background. And for this example, for this background light, I want to lower it down low to the ground, and I'm gonna have it shine up against the backdrop. Try to wash the whole backdrop in light. To do that, I want to show you a different light stand. Get this thing out of the way, make some space. I've got a bunch of these small light stands, and they're very useful. I generally recommend photographers- Where should I be, here? You cool with this? Okay, cool. I've got these two different light stands. One, this guy, and it's got a little bit of an extension, here. So it basically goes from, I'll call this 18 inches high, up to about two-and-a-half-feet high. That's pretty cool. And then the other is very low to the ground, right here. So basically just put the flash onto that, and then that's gonna be positioned right behind his chair. Oftentimes just right there. I know that might be out of the way. I think we got it with that camera. And then, what should we do with diffusion? Well, in this case, I'm gonna pull the diffusion dome off. And because I want a little bit of a harder, more direct light on the backdrop. Let's just see how that works. And the power on that one, I'm currently at 1/8 power, but I'm shooting into black! And it's going to absorb a ton of light, so I'm gonna ramp this guy up. I'm gonna go up to 1/2 power. Just because I feel like it. I am the artist, I get to decide! Okay, here we go. See how that one turns out. And, I'm doing radio control so I don't have to worry about line of sight issues. Okay, here we go. I'm gonna move this guy a little bit. He's been bothering me. There we go, one, two, three.

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