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Lighting 301

Lesson 14 of 26

Shooting Through the Foreground

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

Lighting 301

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

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Lesson Info

14. Shooting Through the Foreground
Foregrounds with specularity can add visual interest to a portrait while also drawing attention to the subjects. Pye explains this concept in detail with several examples captured during a wedding reception. Post-production instruction is included in this lesson.

Lesson Info

Shooting Through the Foreground

this video is all about using four grounds, particularly four grounds that have kind of speculative retty in them to shoot through to capture your subject. Now, when these four grounds are actually lit up, for example, you can use glass. You can use water, anything that has kind of speculative to it and is sort of backlit is the perfect foreground to shoot through. So what you're going to see here is we're gonna be starting off close, having our subjects lit, and we're going to actually back up to shoot some foreground images or shoot through the four grounds to add these very interesting foreground elements. So let's jump in. Perfect. I'm going to back up, guys. So just stay right there. Now you might recognize the first few images that we're shooting here. This was actually part of a pro photo tutorial that we did. What we're using here is the pro photo B two with an O. C. F. Soft box attached to it. So you can use honestly any soft box and any flash because we don't need a lot of li...

ght power in this situation. So with that light brought close, we're shooting in tight to get these nice close ups that you saw. Now this is the interesting part. If we watch in the video, I'm going to step back, back up the light a little more right there. Perfect. Sorry. I love that guys. That looks fantastic. Now, if we pause the video right here, what you're going to see is the glass that's in front is already actually backlit. So here's the thing. This is actually a two light setup. We have one light on the subject. We have one light that's actually lighting the glassware. Only in this go around that light is coming from an actual light that's placed. So it's an actual led light that the venue is using or the DJ or lighting person is using to actually light the tables. If that didn't exist, we would simply have that flash backlighting are objects. So here's how it looks. On paper, we have our subjects right here dancing with one another, and that primary light is coming from right here. So that O C F beauty is right here brought very close to our subjects. Now our camera is actually placed pretty far back, and we're shooting through. This will just say it's this, like kind of table. So there's a table with all sorts of different kind of stemware and glassware that we're shooting through. That other light is placed right here, and it's aimed almost directly into my camera. Mhm. It's lighting up this entire kind of foreground area, and it's creating that little flare that we kind of see coming into the lens. So it's a simple to lighting setup, and that foreground can be anything. You might be downtown, and there's a water fountain back. Light it and then put a light on your subject. It might be crystals like kind of a crystal stemware type thing that you're shooting through. Same thing back like that, and then let your subjects and shoot through it. It could be like what you see here. We have hanging glass. It could be flowers. It can be whatever you want, as long as there's some sort of kind of translucency or or speculative to the objects, you'll get these beautiful bouquet elements. The other trick to this is we're shooting on a so you zoom really close in and get a good compression and shooting wide open. So that's the other trick is that you generally want to be either on a 72 shooting wide open or on a prime shooting wide open so you can really amplify and exaggerate those book effects. Shooting kind of close to the glass. Here. We're shooting a little bit further away from the glass, but I'm zooming all the way in so that glasses pulled all the way up to the front of the lens. Otherwise, if you're on a prime, step into the glass or a little bit closer framing your subjects. Okay. Now look down on the right, my dear, just like you did a second ago right there. Anthony looked towards her while she's looking down. There you go. Perfect. That looks amazing. Guys. Hold that right there. I love that whisper in your ear. Give me a smile as you're looking down and back out the light a little bit more. There you go. Quick note about this shot in this scene in the final set of delivery images. I probably only want to deliver five images within this scene. This would not be one of them. I coach our photographers all the time. Sometimes your client is going to look into the lens with this type of shot once you see that coach them not to. And the reason why is because we have these foreground elements in the shot that are kind of blocking the subjects. It's designed from a competition standpoint to kind of be this stolen moment As soon as she looks into the camera and kind of has that awareness of the camera and we have these foreground elements blocking things. It ends up looking like a Peeping Tom kind of photograph where she sort of captures this person that's awkwardly photographing them, whereas it's supposed to be that stolen moments. So I would mix this from the deliverable, and we'd really only deliver kind of a few sets of images from this. So just a little note here is when shooting through foreground objects and you're kind of shooting to get that candid capture like a stolen moment. Don't have them look into the camera. Otherwise it'll have a Peeping Tom type of effect. Perfect. Look down as he's There you go. Mhm. Okay, so as far as our deliverables, we're going to do post on a couple of these shots will really just one. But this is what I would probably deliver to my clients is a little set like this. So we're looking for five, maybe six images in the scene, and really, that's it. Okay, so let's go ahead and just work on one of these and really, the settings would be sync across all of them. So let's grab this guy, because we do notice a couple issues with this particular shot. So let's grab this one. Um, I love the expressions. I love everything about this, but you will notice that one. We have to light stands actually showing up. One is the videographers. One is ours. So the first thing I'm gonna do is just adjust my crop in, Um, actually told my light assistant to step out a little bit further, but to be honest, this was still my favorite shot from this little sequence. So I'm just gonna pull this in a little bit to right about here. Now, For those of you that are very detail oriented, you will notice that some guest came in here and place their jacket on a chair. I absolutely hate that, and any time I noticed that which I usually do notice it in my photographs, I'll have them remove that first thing I'm gonna do is take a quick white balance reading on the dress itself, and it's not necessarily exact, but it's close. So let's do this. Let's bring our exposure up just a bit. And, uh, it really kills our our tent, but I don't want to go down that much. I do agree that this is way too pink, but right about here is where I feel like it's about right on, and that's that Negative eight. So I'm gonna bring the warmth back up because I like these scenes to be a little bit more warm. And then I'm gonna go ahead and just add in a bit more shadow while pulling down a little bit of blacks. Okay, if you want Press J, because this is definitely a scene where I don't want to crush my blacks too much because we're shooting wide. It's one of those things where I will add a little bit of extra clarity to it. I might do a bit of contrast, but the problem is any bit of contrast, kind of really affecting the skin tones a lot. I have a trick for that, though, So let's do this. Let's do that. And then let's go ahead and add a burn to kind of pull our attention into our subjects. This is that kind of final last step that I love doing in a shot like this and press J. Now this looks really nice. Overall, the only issue is skin tones are just a little bit nuclear. So I have this little brush preset that I use, and it's reduced contrast. D hdr. Okay, so basically what this is is it's a general preset that I used to paint over images that have kind of like an HDR effect over skin. But all it's doing is lightening up the tones. It's kind of pulling a little of the saturation and reducing kind of some of that nuclear color in the skin tone, and it actually makes really quick work of that issue that we kind of just explained, and I can from here adding a little bit more contrast and it looks really, really nice. Uh, and I love that overall look to the image. Okay, so If I press backslash, you can see that before and after. Let's go ahead and go shift tab. Let's go lights out So you can see Here's the before. Here's that final image with just a couple quick tweets inside of light room. Okay, so in summary, remember that this is at minimum, a too light setup. You can use as many lights as you want the You want to put a third light behind them to create rim lights on them. You want to use whatever you want. Go ahead. I've done shots like this where we light the foreground with two lights coming from each side to make the water super bright and to shoot through it. It's your kind of choice creatively. How you want to go about lighting a scene like this? Just remember that your foreground elements need a light on them. That light is going to be coming into the camera, and your subjects need to light on them to make them pop from the scene. Otherwise, they're gonna get lost. Now let's keep going

Class Description


  • Master multiple off-camera flash setups for dramatic portraits.
  • Control light with flash modifiers such as softboxes, grids, and gels.
  • Master creative techniques like creating silhouettes anywhere, pin lighting. your subjects, backlighting rain, creating starbursts with diffraction, and much more.
  • Use various tools in Adobe Lightroom Classic to enhance the images created using the lighting techniques taught in this course.


This workshop is all about using multi-point lighting setups to consistently make any location look great and help you capture dramatic, creative portraits that will wow your clients every time.

Building on the skills learned in Flash Photography Crash Course, Lighting 101 and Lighting 201, we’re going to explore a variety of multi-point lighting techniques and look at different ways to further refine the way we light a scene. We’ll start with light stacking to create depth in our portraits before introducing rim lighting, backlighting, and other creative effects and applications. Then, we’ll incorporate motion into our environmental portraits via shutter drag and show you how to create composite images that would otherwise be impossible to capture. 

We’re going to demonstrate these techniques using a variety of highly portable lighting gear and modifiers. You’ll also find “power translations” with each lesson so that you can know the exact power settings used and recreate the same light using any flash or modifier that you already own. Follow along and see how we crafted all of the images featured in this course, from shoot to post, and learn how to fully realize your vision and bring it to life with your camera. 

The next class in this series is Lighting 401, where Pye teaches photographers how to create every natural light effect with flash, including golden hour, soft window light, and direct sun.


  • Photographers with a basic understanding of flash photography who want to elevate their lighting skills
  • Those looking to boost their creativity when shooting on-location
  • Any photographer who wants to stand out from the competition


Adobe Lightroom Classic 2019


Jackie Stewart

Lighting 301 is excellent! I learned so many new techniques throughout the class. Pye Jirsa is brilliant at explaining new lighting techniques in such an easy to understand way and his mastery of Lightroom is amazing!!! Loved the class and can't wait til implement the things I learned!!!!


I love the Lighting (101-201-301) courses; I have finally understood the concept of lighting and how it works. I have been referring to my notes and go back to all the courses with ease. One of the best courses I have done for myself and my biz; I am so impressed with my work and the lighting I can create.


Pye is a great presenter and is able to make understanding light easy. Now to practice and master the concepts taught. Thank you.