When to Use the White Translucent Collapsible Reflector
I like the way these mount. There's a lot of different brands of lights, and there's a lot of different ways of mounting soft boxes onto your lights. What ProPhoto has done is, which is kind of ingenious, as John showed yesterday, is color coded, the rods are all color coded, and you can see the colors on the speed ring. And what they've also done is their mounting method is not Bayonet mount that's kind of tricky or anything, it's just a big rubber gasket that's huge, and it's just a clamp, so you just put it on the head and clamp it down, and it just holds. So, it's real fast. It's the only soft box I know that I can remove and replace with one hand. So. Now, these are brand new and they're a little bit stiff. But it'll loosen up just a little bit. So. Thank you, sir. OK. We might, just so you don't have to hold it, why don't we try? Nah, you can hold it. You can hold it. All right, let me get this right about here. And we're gonna take this up. Maybe about like that. OK. Did I turn ...
off the modeling lamp? You did. Thank you, sir. There we go. There's two positions on the modeling light. You can get the proportional or the full, full power, so. For focusing and stuff, I like the full power. Interesting thing, too, about this. Think about the way the human eye works. You know how when you go outside on a bright sunny day, how the iris automatically shuts down? It's an auto iris thing, right? In the studio, if you've got a dark environment, your subject's eyes are gonna dilate and get bigger. And as their eye dilates and gets bigger, you're starting to lose some of the color in their eyes. If you've got somebody with really clear, nice ice blue eyes you might want some bright lights in your studio somehow so that their eyes close down so you can get the best color. OK? OK, Mr. John. Let's. (humming) Let me grab the remote and I'll come do that.
I might be able to do that.
No, no. We don't want you to get hurt. No, you're gonna be out of position. Let's put, I'm gonna put this diffuser, this is not just a cute way to work, this is a smart way to work. If you can work in the studio, if you don't have any soft boxes, and you've got one pop up translucent fabric, there's some pretty cool things we can do with it here. So, a soft box, there's a fixed distance from the strobe head to the front of the box. And they travel together, right? The distance stays the same. I can move it closer to her, move it further away. But from here to here, it stays. Working with a panel, I've got the distance of the panel to her, this distance, and I've also got the distance from the strobe to the panel. So I've got a little bit more control by working with a diffusion panel, as opposed to an enclosed box. Cinematography people, video people, they get this, they see this all the time, and they know that they've got a little bit more control. Specular control, right? So, if John puts this right close to there, I haven't changed anything. It's still harsh and I've got hard edge shadows and high specularity. It's diffused. But it's not helping me. I didn't make the light source any bigger. If he moves away one foot, it changed everything on her face. Just one foot made a difference. Now go ahead and move a little closer again. Right there. Huge difference. Can you move back that way and now let's put it right, just move your body that way a bit, there you go, right there, perfect. Got it? Right like that. Got it right there, OK. So, let's take a reading, let's see what we're getting. See what kind of light's coming through this thing. Here we go, you good? You're having the time of your life, aren't ya? So right there, I'm at five, six, and two thirds. Five, six, it's 5.6.7. Five 6.7 and what's my exposure gonna be? Think about it. Think about your apertures, think about your cameras. Five six is the first one. The next one up above fix is what? 6.3. And the next one is? You missed 7.1. There's 7.1 in there. You guys gotta know your apertures. The digital aperture of five six and two thirds is 7.1. So it's one third of a step below F8, so. We'll shoot at 7.1 and we should be good. And listen, again, in the days of negative film, close was close enough. A third didn't matter. In digital, a third matters a lot. It's like shooting slides again, that's right. Well, it matters to me. Some people it doesn't matter.
Am I in the shot?
You're in the shot and I need you, yeah. Let it wink in just a little bit. There you go. There you go. Let's turn you the other way, just for a second my dear. Let me dial in this. 7.1. OK, yeah, yeah, and just turn your head a tiny bit more. John, go up a little bit higher with that? Right there. John's tired?
Nah, this is good.
Here we go, good, good, good. Great. Now, take a look at this, and this is just with a piece of, you know, white bed sheet, if that's all you have laying around the house. It diffuses light nicely. I've got that a little bit high. I will lower that because that's a little bit. That's a little high. Let's try that one. We can do that again. Exposure should be fine. Yeah, exposure looks fine. OK, let's do this again, bring your head around again, a little bit more, more, more, more, turn, turn, turn. There you go, perfect. Your eyes right at me. Look at that smile, perfect, that's nice. Nice, nice. OK, so, take a look at this one. And now, we're gonna do some other fun stuff with it. So there's a good smile. There's a good exposure. All is right with the world. Look at that. You can see our translucent in the shot. Here's the interesting part. The placement of the head relative to the panel, as we just illustrated, if the panel is very, very close to that, it's still a small source. If I move it far enough away that the strobe can evenly light the entire panel, then my light source is basically, that's what, four foot by four foot. So now I have a four foot by four foot soft source. But only if it evenly illuminates the whole thing. If I'm just lighting a part of it, it's a little bit smaller source. But I've got the choice. That's the great part about this. I get to pick. OK? Now. The one thing we haven't talked about yet is, How can we make one light look like three? So, here, let's try this next. So go ahead and put it back in position. And why don't you come on this side? Yeah, and bring the handles around this way. And I'll let you put it in position, and go ahead and come in. Probably right about like that. And go ahead and flatten it out that way. So, look at the background. You see how dark the background is? If John just flattens this panel a little bit, just changes the angle of the panel, look at this. A little bit more, John. A little bit more. Look at the background now. Now the background's being hit by raw light. She's still diffused, but the background's not diffused anymore. Not a bad idea, right? So now instead of that back, see the background on that last shot, let's do it again, and take a look at the background. I'm gonna cheat just a little bit, and I'm gonna let this rotate a little bit that way, to just make sure I get plenty of light on the background, but I'm still gonna diffuse and have a big source here. So, let's try this again. Let me get over here. Yep. And Stacy, let's just bring your head around, just a little bit, there we go. Good, good, good. A little bit more, sorry. There we go. And. John, give me, cover the background just a little bit better, there you go, right there, I got it. Good, good, good. Nobody moves. I am gonna open up a third, because I think I just knocked a third of the light off of it. Here we go, now pull that around, John. Right there. Good, good. Great, now relax just a second. OK, so here's two side by side. And the only difference is I got an added background light. So now my background goes to that. From that. She stayed the same. Nothing changed on her, but my background just got brighter. Guys, not everybody can afford several lights. Everybody has to start with one. Usually. And especially if you're just out of photo school, for those that are watching that are students. You get out of photo school, the thing that you've got plenty of is knowledge. The thing you don't have anything left anymore is money. You know? So you got to pick and choose how you're gonna spend your money. You can rent lights. So, but if you can get real clever with one light, you can get real dangerous. And nobody can catch ya. Nobody can fool ya. You can now shoot anybody in your neighborhood. So now if I can make that one light look like two lights, I can make it look like three, because I'm sending light, you're gonna get to be reflector boy, I'm sending light past the panel onto the background. If you think about it, I can tip the head very very slightly up, kind of like that, without changing, really, any look to her. I'm still gonna skim light past, and hit the background, and I'm still gonna soften her with the diffuser, but I'm gonna have Scott, I knew that. I'm gonna have Scott stand on this little box, opposite the light, over here. And Scott's gonna pick up the raw, direct light that's not going through the panel. So we're gonna send light past the panel on the left to light the background, and we're gonna send light past the top of the panel to light Scott. The reflector. Why don't you flip it around on the silver side? And we'll get it in position, we'll just wiggle it around until we get a great highlight in her hair. Get the idea? So I've got one light and it looks like the main light, a background light, hair light, all with one light. That's what collapsible reflectors are great for, and nobody knows it because nobody gets it in tests much anymore. You guys have to get in the studio and test. You gotta try stuff. And there's nothing as important as testing, testing, testing. You learn so much once you get in and just start playing with things. Trying ideas. Trying, trying, trying. Scott, can you hold that up pretty high and watch her hair, you're probably not in the right position. Let's put you, let's move your box this way a little bit. Just toward me a little bit. Right there. And then I want to, let's see, hold this. Let's turn it this way, and hold it that way. And get this really high, and then you're gonna tip it down a little bit, but it can't be in the background. So, watch your background back there. Yeah, so start wiggling it around, you can see. Just keep, John, go ahead and diffuse it right there so we can see what's happening there. Oh, there you go, right there, I've got ya, Scott. You got it, right there, you're hitting her. You just lost it. Go back, wiggle it back left and right real quick. In, in, in, more back this way. Right.
He can just stick his tongue out, right?
You got to stick your tongue out. I got him out of position, sorry. I need to move your box a little bit more. Because when I get you just right, you're gonna be in the shot. So. Let's put you right back there. Kind of like that, there you go. And John, go ahead and bring that in. Here we go. You're perfect right there, John. And Scott, you're perfect, can you just bring your head, Stacy, right there? Nobody moves, nobody moves, woo hoo. Gotcha, relax everybody. Let's just talk about this. Does this make any sense at all? Is this anything anyone would do? Look at this nice little hair light I got. Didn't cost me anything, guys. It's a piece of silver aluminum foil over a cookie sheet. You know? So there's light number one, light number two just turned on, light number three just turned on, and I did it with one light. Now, you can get real clever and you can take this to the Nth degree, as far as you want. Now first off, before you all say, "Yeah, but we don't have three people in the studio "helping hold all this junk, I'm working by myself." All of this sticks on a light stand with a clamp. So, it's easy. It's easy to do. If you want to make your own light stands, by the way, just for things like this, just to hold a reflector here and there, if you don't want to invest in light stands that are pretty overkill for the job, get one gallon paint cans, and stick like conduit pipe, like a one inch conduit or half inch, three quarter inch conduit pipe, stick it down in the bucket, and pour concrete in there. So now you've got all these things sitting around the studio that are just pieces of conduit, cemented into a can, and you grab one and move it over, and it stands right there, and you put a clamp on it, and it sits there all day long. Make sense? You can put little flags, you can hang little black panels and gobos and things all over the set. It's great, really helpful stuff. OK? This is fun stuff, you guys, I love this kind of stuff. I think this makes a lot of sense. Are we getting any questions in there? That we need to hit?
Looking at these guys.
These guys don't have, these guys aren't even here yet.
If my wife was watching this, I have like a dozen reflectors at home, and she's put an embargo on, I can't bring anymore reflectors home.
No more reflectors, yeah, question.
One thing I was gonna maybe mention. You mentioned like making the post with the concrete. If somebody's, let's say, maybe a photographer and a musician, they could always use their old mic stands and have clips on it, as well.
Absolutely, absolutely. Funny how that works with musicians, yeah. They just need to be heavy enough to hold the weight. But yeah, it's funny. Now, I did have one, maybe one time, where the conduit kind of loosened up after a while, and it came straight up out of the concrete. So, a good idea is, if you're a gadget person anyway, and a handyman anyway, drill a few holes in the bottom of the conduit, so when you stick it in the concrete, it goes in the hole and fills in. Or put some screws in it so it catches.
But otherwise you can be like Sword in the Stone.
That's it. That's right. And you can look very clever. And then, you know, people come to the studio and go, "My, that's very thick paint." But yeah, so it works, I mean, just come up with clever ways of holding this, and that's what so much, so much of commercial photography's work is coming up with clever ways of using tools. When we used to buy Polaroid film, the inside of the Polaroid film box was always highly polished, it was silver. So on a set for a still life or a commercial product, you could pull that in and use the back of a Polaroid to fill in a little bit of a shadow on a little cupcake or whatever you were shooting that's a small little widget. You know? So. Don't discount the use of these collapsible things. They're not very expensive. They're very, very useful. They're very, very helpful. And you can get, I mean, you can, you know, there's so many different brands, and you can go from very inexpensive to very expensive. You don't have to have the high end ones with handles. But they're really helpful, and you do need white and black and silver and gold and translucent, you need it all.
Sorry, Kim. Kim.
Tony, I do have a number of people asking about what light meter you use, and some of the gear stuff, so I wanted to, A, if you could say that on air, the light meter, but just wanted to remind everyone at home that we do have a gear list of everything that Tony is using in this class, and you can get that when you RSVP for the class, which is always free, and that is right there on the page where you're looking, and those free bonus materials are listed under the class materials. So, that's where you can go to get the full list.
Thank you. The meter that I'm using, I'm using the Sekonic L758 DR meter. For me, I have no choice but to use the right tool for the right job. I think, Stacy, I think I'm good for you right now, for you, thanks. I have to use the right tool for the right job. And one of the things that I've learned is that my camera, my camera's got a good meter. All my cameras have good meters. We've got evaluative, we've got center weighted, we've got spot, we have all the different modes and functionality of our meters in our cameras. But what they can't do is they can't read flash. There's only one camera that I know of that can read flash through the camera, and that's a very high end Hasselblad. 645 styled digital camera. I have to be able to read flash. And if you think about it, think about being a construction worker, contractor. And you've got to build a cabinet. Somebody hired you to make a cabinet that's gonna be 33 and a quarter inches this way, it's gonna be 28 and five eights high, and you need the shelf to be 12 and a quarter, because your plates are 12, right? So, you get your plywood out and you're about to make a cut on the saw, and you can't just look at that and go, "Ah, that looks like "it's about 28 and three eighths." You gotta measure it. You gotta pull out your tape measure and do an exact measurement. This is my tool for that. This is, I'm a contractor. And this goes on my hip just like my tape measure. And I can't go to work without it. I think it's the most important tool I have, and I'm using it a little bit less often when I'm shooting out on location now, but I'm using it in the studio every single time I take a picture. Without question. And I do exactly what it says. I don't try to second guess it. What did the meter say? Ah, I'm gonna shoot such and such. No, do what the meter says. It's calibrated to be accurate. On location, I'm using the ProPhoto B one lights more and more and more, and I'm learning to rely on their TTL ability. These lights are very accurate. And so I'm starting to use that more and more. So I'm using my meter a little bit less on location. I'll still take like, I'll take an ambient reading through my camera to get the ambient overall exposure, then I'll turn on my TTL and I'll base my exposure for my flash based off of that. Either equal to, brighter than, or less than the ambiance. So, for me, and I know this is sort of a life shaping tool in a studio class, but for me location lighting, for me, is all about, I separate the ambiance and my, I separate the shutter speed and the aperture by introducing flash. So that the reciprocal photography goes away. Five six at five hundredth equaling six at no longer exists, when I turn on my flash. And the reason I do that is because it's usually a matter of needing to change the brightness, background, the background brightness. Either making the background brighter or making the background darker. And I can do that so easily once I've dialed in with my flash, then it's just my shutter speed. I make my shutters faster, I make my shutter slower. Background gets brighter, background gets darker. That's it. So, for me, this is the most important tool in my bag. I shoot Canon five D mark threes, I've become a very happy Canon user. Have nothing against Nikon at all. I used Nikon for many, many years. Just ready for a change. And I think that this new Sigma 85 is about to become a new good friend of mine. I'm liking it a lot and I'm liking what I'm seeing. I've shot with it now almost two weeks. And what I'm seeing I'm liking a lot. So, my gear is pretty important. I usually have, you've got to have good insurance, and we talked about this just a little bit yesterday. If anything can go wrong when you're shooting professionally, it will. And you have to plan for it. You know? My mentor said, when you shoot weddings for example, was it you that, yeah. My mentor said, when you shoot weddings, when you're a wedding photographer, when you leave your house, with all your gear, and you're going to the church, you better allow time for two flat tires. Because it's gonna happen at some point, and you cannot be late to a bride's wedding. You just can't be late. So allow time for two flat tires. Do you have another question?
Tony, I'm just wondering because you are so dedicated to using the light meter. Why do you think there are so many photographers that don't?
Well, I think that they'll look, they'll take a picture, then they'll look at the back of the camera, then they'll make an adjustment, take another picture, look at the back of the camera, look at their Instagram, and make an adjustment, and then they might make another adjustment when they get to Photoshop later. I don't want to make any adjustments. That's all. It's just, it's a personal thing with me. I know that if I'm sitting next to my client, as I did on this one particular shoot I did recently, at the end of the shoot, we just slid all the images over to her hard drive, and we were done. I didn't have to touch these files. And for me, that makes me very, that makes me, whether in my client's eyes or not, I don't know, but in my eyes, it makes me a valuable team player on a shoot because I'm not causing anybody having to do anything else later, including myself. And you know, Dean Collins one time said right before he got sick, he said, "You know, I think I want to change "all my workshop titles to Better Light Control "to Save Your Marriage." Because he said everybody's working 'til midnight every night fixing stuff. Stop fixing stuff. There's some very good, talented photographers that are great friends of mine that say I'm an idiot for using a meter. Who shall go nameless, Joel Grimes. I love Joel Grimes. Joel and I are great friends. And we see each other all over the country doing different teaching things. Joel thinks I'm foolish to use a meter. Right, John? (laughing) John and I talk, John knows every photographer there is on the planet and there's funny little idiosyncrasies with all of us. But for me, the light meter's, it's just an important tool. It's a measurement tool. But it's gotta be calibrated properly to work properly. And mine is, and so it's a very important tool for me. Also in that bag is a couple of things that I never go without. I always have a mini Mag flashlight. Because you just never know. You're gonna get in a situation where you've got to have that flashlight. And sometimes your flashlight and your phone just ain't the right thing. And I'll do a little quick painting with light. I used to take my brides, at weddings, I would go into the coat closet during the reception, close the door, get into a pitch black room, and set up a little table display, and I would get the rings, I would get the bouquet, I would get the wedding invitation, I'd get a candle, and I would grab my mini Mag, put my camera on a tripod, go to bulb exposure, and I would paint with my mini Mag flashlight. I would paint this cool painterly looking picture, and that would be page one on the wedding album. And they never knew I did it. And I did it in the corner, somewhere in the dark. Made for a very cool conversation. And that's when you start get the tears, you know? When the bride opens her book and goes, "When did you do this?" Well, right before you danced, I stole your rings, remember? And then you're off to the corner and you make these things happen. We touched on a little bit about this shutter speed, when you're in the studio working with flash. And basically how the shutter speed really isn't that critical. If I'm at a 30th or a 60th or a 125th, it really doesn't matter much. Unless there's an awful lot of ambience. And you do have to compensate, in that case. Like, if you're a wedding photographer, you know, for the most part, you can get away with shooting at a 30th at five sixth with iso 400 all day long. Except if the reception is on the top floor of a bank building, right, and it's all windows. Then you can't shoot at a 30th anymore. You've got to go to 125, 200 even. You've got to really bring that ambient level down a bit. And then, also, John and I were just talking about the fact that, you know, I really haven't mentioned it much, but there is one thing that you have to be aware of, and everybody knows, but, let's just spend a second talking about that, and that is that you can increase that shutter speed right up to the point that you hit your sync speed for your specific camera. There is, it's a focal plane shutter. Focal plane shutter means that that curtain travels across the image, across the chip, for the sensor, and during that time, it takes a certain amount of time for it to get out of the way and clear. If you try to sync with your flash at a higher speed than your camera will sync at, you're gonna get a black line. You're gonna get partial coverage. You all know this, I'm sure. You've all seen it happen, probably. Which is a good vote for some of the newer flashes that have high speed sync mode. High speed sync mode is designed to combat that and give you the ability to, you know, in my estimation, the biggest reason for high speed sync is to overpower the sun. I can go outside with my flash and I can now overpower the sun with no problem whatsoever. And with these lights, my 500 watt second B ones, the B ones from ProPhoto, these things are 500 watt seconds of pretty serious power. And they're about 10 stops, sorry, they're about 10 times the power output of a speed light. Now, speed lights will work. They will work, and they all have a great little high speed sync mode themselves. But you'll find most people that are using high speed sync with speed lights are shooting, you know, a thousand, 2,000, but they're shooting at 1.4, F2, 2.8. Not because maybe that's what they want to do, but because they're kind of limited on how much flash they can get out, when they raise their speeds that high. If you think about it, the way the high speed sync works, there's a pulse of the light that takes place more than one time, probably two, three, maybe four times, maybe five times, as it trails down across the plane, right? If you're on full power and it took four pops to give you the exposure you're needing at that high speed, well, I'm at one fourth power. One fourth power on a five watt second head is way better than one fourth power on a speed light. And that's the point, and that's why I go to the effort and the trouble to carry these big heavy lights outside. Because I can, pretty easily, overpower the sun. So. Anything lingering or left from the last segment that we need to explain a little better or in more depth? Or anything? Yeah.
When you were talking about using the white reflector and placement of it, and to look at the shadow on the ground what about situations where your source of light is directly overhead?
Yeah, so the most, that's a great, that's a really great question, thanks a lot. The interesting thing about that is, if the light is directly overhead, you've got to knock it off. It's, you know, most photographers call it top light. If you've got a top light situation, you gotta get rid of it. If it's a bright sunny day, and it's direct sunlight overhead, you've gotta block it off. I've gotta use the, I won't use a white reflector, but I'll use a black one. A black reflector. A black absorber. A black gobo. To absorb the light, to block it off. And I'll just put it directly overhead. And I might bring it forward a bit to give me a little bit of a safe zone in front of my subject, which changes. In fact, let me see if I can define it like this. Come on up here for just a second, Scott. And let me grab, oh, we took them away, didn't we? Give me the black if you can, John, thank you so much. Sorry. I think this does make sense and I probably should talk about this for just a second. What, no, no, come on up, I didn't mean to go away. I need ya, I need ya man. Have a seat. I think what you'll notice is, the more you do stuff like this, and the more situations you find yourself in, the more you need, the more you need control over the situation. I know that, for a fact, in San Diego, California, in the month of May and June, everybody thinks they want to go to San Diego for the summer. Well, it's not any good, it's cold, the water's cold, the beach is cold, it's all overcast. It's called June gloom, that sky. Well, that downward casting light, it's soft and beautiful, except it's still a downward casting top light. So what you can do in that situation is take your black panel, take the black side, and put it over the top of you. Let's say Kenna is my camera's position. So there's your camera, you're looking over at Kenna. And so from the side of you, here's the side. Here's the side view. So when I drop my panel overhead like this, and I knock off the top light, if the side in front of you is the front edge of my panel, as I move my light, my panel forward, I'm changing the angle of the light, the ambient light that's reaching his face, right? So as I move it about to here, now my light's coming in at his face at about a 45 degree angle. I just made a lot better light quality on his face by taking it away from the top, and forcing it. It's almost being forced to come under that front lip. So as I, it's almost like if I, as I move that panel forward, that black panel forward more and more and more, it's almost like I've got a main light on a stand, I'm getting it lower and lower and lower. Does that compute OK? These things are really, really helpful to have. And they really do solve a lot of problems. And especially that top light. I'm glad you brought it up. That's a big deal. It's hard to control. But it's controllable. So, thanks. OK. Question there, Doc?
Thank you. And you may cover this in the session that's coming up, because that, what you just demonstrated to me is sort of a feathering technique. Will you be talking about that using a larger light source, also?
Feathering technique in what way?
Respect to modulating the light as you turn the light source across the face.
Yeah, I will talk about that.
And let me just hit it briefly right now. Let me just say that feathering the light is a technique that has been done for many, many years, and there's more than one reason to do it. Feathering the light, what he's referring to is if I've got a soft box and I'm lighting your face, if I turn the light a little bit this way, I'm changing the geometry a little bit here. And when I change the geometry, things change, and things happen. First and foremost, I'm sending light past you, for one reason, but I'm also knocking off a little bit of the output of the light on your face, just a bit. And there are times where maybe I can just feather it off of that shoulder a little bit, but then I need to get it off the shoulder. It's interesting in art. If you look at, if you study art at all, there's a couple of things that Da Vinci did that were kind of unique. In his studio, he had, you look at his paintings and there will be, obviously they were lit by a window, he'll have someone's hand on a prop over here like this. And the way the painting was done, the hand will be darker than the face. Well, in reality, if you think about it, that hand should be lighter than the face. It's closer to the light source, right? He didn't just paint it darker. He darkened that lower area before he painted. He made sure that everything was the way it was supposed to be before he painted it, then he painted the reality. So what he did in his studio, where the big window was that lit his portraits, he also had a moveable column, that he would bring into the scene, and he would have a big column right here that split the light, and he would position the subject to where their face is still getting the light, but their hand is in front of the column, so the hand, the light's knocked off the hand. Genius stuff, genius stuff. We are nothing. We haven't even scratched the surface as to what some of these great artists did. Oh my gosh. And feathering the light and globaling off sections was a huge thing for artists in those days. Because their light was one source usually and it was one direction, and so then, they can't add more, so they just start taking away from where they don't need it.