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Lighting 301

Lesson 9 of 26

Two-Light Pin with Ambient Shutter Drag

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

Lighting 301

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

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Lesson Info

9. Two-Light Pin with Ambient Shutter Drag
Pye expands on the two-light setup covered in previous lessons and incorporates a shutter drag to add a layer of complexity and create a more dynamic, environmental portrait. Pye then demonstrates how to create a composite in post using the images captured for this lesson.


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Lesson Info

Two-Light Pin with Ambient Shutter Drag

in this video, we're going to take that same to light setup. But this time we're going to incorporate a shutter drag to add an additional layer of complexity in creating a more dynamic environmental portraits. Environmental portraits like this one are something that our clients know us for, and honestly, it's one of those things that will make you stand out the most when it comes to your portraits. The only thing is we have another layer of complexity to kind of add in on top of our poses on top of the lighting and getting everything else right. So let's go ahead and dive in, Okay, so I want to do something that's going to incorporate that to light technique. But this time also with the shutter drag. Now here, we're actually gonna be shooting across the street towards this Cabinet of curiosity building. And the reason why is because you guys see those little led strips. So if we darken down the frame well, actually only see kind of the led lights on the background, so it should look pr...

etty cool. So part of getting you guys to this point in lighting three is really understanding in your head. How Something How a scene is gonna look when you darken it down in camera with experience. You can picture that in your mind. And that's what we've done here is kind of said, okay, this should look really cool. It provides a lot of interesting frames. We're gonna place you guys on the other side, so we'll go through the crosswalk and because we're gonna be working at a distance. I'm just gonna explain what we're doing right now. So I think I want you guys in the two doorways. So one person on one side, the other person on the other and what I'd like to do is let's aim for because that is so dark in the background, we could either go with the backlight that's gonna backlight both of them. Or we can go with that two sided light. And because it's so far, let's go with the two sided light on each side. So, Karen, those lights have to be equidistant. They're gonna be slightly behind the couple aiming towards their faces and let's go. No, no grids on it so that we get more power out of it. We're gonna shoot from this side, and we're also gonna drag the shutters. So that would be Get some motion in the cars that are going by and we'll pop a few shots depending on where the cars are at. And we'll actually be able to composite this if we need to. If we can't get in one shot, I'm not gonna sit here for 20 minutes. So you guys have a good idea? Okay, let's break. Let's go do it. Okay. So camp, I'm thinking composition first. So while they're walking over, I'm setting up and I'm framing everything so we can see this beautiful kind of lines leading right down to the couple, and we're gonna frame on each side. Now. What I'm gonna do is go ahead and get a focal point. And I want to give you guys an ambient light exposure. So, uh huh we'll go to, like, F seven for right now, The fun thing about this stuff is we're using just basically light and composition to draw attention to our couple to our subjects. Now, what I love about this is it doesn't just rely on okay as like a compositional component. Yes, we can use that later. But so far, all we're doing is just using light and our overall composition. So it doesn't matter what aperture we're working with. Okay? You guys see that sweet DHL van that wasn't supposed to be there? We're gonna have to wait a minute. Uh, Taylor step this way A little bit. BC step towards her. There you go. Hold hands over the center. So be a little bit closer. Actually, you know what? This time, let's just go separate. So no hand holding. Taylor, you're gonna look over to this side. Taylor, bring your chin this way. There you go. And then give me, like, a strong pose. And NBC, I want you to do something. Same. Kind of looking off this side, but kind of like a nice pose. Your legs kind of out 1 ft forward, maybe angle the body towards the light a little bit. There you go. Mhm and Taylor. Do one. Do your left your left hand kind of down in front a little bit. There. Right there. Up until this point, you're going to notice that Well, the light pattern is really identical to the last video. Is that same to light pin set up here. I wanted you guys to practice another element of basically incorporating in motion into the shot, which adds an additional layer of complexity as we're going to increase our aperture to basically close down the aperture more as well as slow down the shutter speed. And we're going to shoot with these cars and everything passing. So now you master the technique in the last video, we're gonna take it a step further and add another layer of complexity to create an image that your client's gonna love. Okay, So quick. Ambient shot for this scene. Perfect. Now we're gonna go ahead and get our exposure dialed in. We already have our composition. Mhm. I want to run this up quite a bit. Okay. So now what I'm gonna do is I've got my lights set up the right way. I want it. So I'm going to slow down the shutter speed to 1/30 and I'm gonna raise the aperture to, like, F 14 to compensate. So we're gonna go ahead and take the shots and we get it right about right now. Karen, step out, guys. Hold your poses. Hold your pose. Yeah, There we go now. I'm gonna go ahead and slow it down a little bit more to 1/10. Let's go. 1/15. Actually, we'll raise it up to at 18. You're gonna hold perfectly still, guys. Hold perfectly still. Okay. Mhm. Okay, now we got good blur. Now I need the right cars to come through the frame pie. Life theory for you. Good guys. Smile at babies. It's as simple as that. They just can't help it. Look at B C. Right there. Look at big grin on his face is that baby goes by? It's a good guy. That's science. Okay, Sanders, along those lines, there is such a thing as smiling too long. I mean, baby here is long past, and Dad is now looking over his shoulder at B c, who is still smiling now. It's creepy. Smile. Just not too long. Let's go back. We can actually go down to 1/10 and f 20. See, and we'll take the ISO down too low. There we go. Karen, bring both lights closer. Yes, there. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but notice that, you know, we're five minutes into this, and I'm still taking time. What I'm trying to do is really balance out the overall shutter speed and dragon motion of these different cars with the ambient exposure and the light on my subjects. But I'm getting close to exactly where I want it. And this is so critical because it's very much going to impact the quality of your final shot. So we're tweaking to get everything out in, And I'm never gonna worry about a client, you know, staying there for just a couple of minutes so that I can get the right settings because I know they're gonna appreciate when they see the final shot. Yeah, a little bit more, More and more, and then widen out the widened. The zoom. Uh huh. We almost got this. Yeah. That light goes a little closer. Yep. Back, back, back. Karen. Back with the light. A little bit right there. Angle it towards me more there, and then zoom it out all the way. All right. So, guys, we're gonna shoot one just of you guys. So look in your directions there. Perfect. Mhm. So we're good now. I just need the right motion. And if it doesn't happen, I'm just gonna do it in a couple separate shots, shooting for the right motion. Let me explain that thought right there with an image like this. We have so many variables, right? We have the couple themselves. So we have to people and their individual expressions. We have the lights that are lighting each of them. On top of that, we're now trying to incorporate motion from the cars of the street, which we have no control over whatsoever. In addition to the passer byes that we want to kind of include the shot as well. With this many moving parts, it's honestly just quicker and easier overall from the shoot itself to the post production to do this in two separate pieces. So essentially we get the camera up onto a tripod and we shoot one shot. That's really to make sure that we have the right expression, the right lighting, the right, everything for the couple. Then we're going to go ahead and we're going to do a second shot. Or it could even be a few other shots where we're trying to get the right motion into the left side, the right side of the frame and the passers by. Then at the end of the story, you're going to see us taking those images into Photoshop to complete the composite. Now, you might say, I want to do this all in camera. The problem is, trying to get this in camera can often burn a lot of time during your shoot. This is something that we can do in five minutes in post yet to try and get it in camera, you might spend 2030 minutes just waiting for the right moment. And you're gonna burn up your shoot time with your couple and also their patients and kind of the enjoyment of the overall shoot. So just understand when it's easier to actually do it in post versus trying to get all the lineup in camera. Let's go back. Mm hmm. Okay. Hold the pose. Hold the post. Yeah. Mhm. Karen removed the flashes. Mhm. It's perfect, guys. Okay, so we've got this. We got a few really great shots, um, with the motion and everything in there. But I still shot on the tripod because I wanna have the flexibility to add in a little bit more, which we're gonna do in post. So Let's go to that point now. Okay, so this is the final shot that we're gonna aim to create here, and it's actually gonna be pretty straightforward. One of the things that I love most with this kind of compositing technique is we really have a lot of artistic discretion as you're going to see in terms of painting in the motion and everything that we want into the final image. So let's go ahead and actually work from the top. We're gonna go ahead and start with that baseline image with the couple. So this is the shot right here where the couples expression is exactly the way I want it. She's kind of looking down. He's kind of looking off. I like everything about this. So we're gonna use this for our couple if we find a better one later than we might switch it out. But for right now, this will totally work. I also like the motion of the car on the right side here. Let's go ahead and jump in the develop module. And let's, uh, let's just kind of tweak this a little bit. So again, we're very close in the overall exposure in the way it looks and everything. What I might do in this shot is actually increase my highlights just a bit and as well as my whites just a little bit. The reason why is because I want to actually pull down my exposure. So I'm gonna pull the exposure down. And what this is going to do is make it so that the, uh, the L E D. S in the background are really gonna pop. Now, I want to be careful that I don't end up kind of blowing out the highlights on skin tone or anything like that. So I'm just gonna pull it down a little bit and we might beef up BCS highlight overall, just a bit in a second. So let's go ahead and yeah, right about here is good tailors. Good. I might brighten up BC in just a moment. Uh, and then what we're gonna do is go ahead and add a little more blacks again. I don't need to see all the detail in the image for this kind of a shot, so I'm gonna go ahead and bring it down, and I'm gonna turn off my highlight clipping alert now and let's see what we get to the right amount of clarity. Somewhere about here is really nice. I'm gonna just go ahead and make sure that once again, yeah, her forehead is getting a little bit nuclear with that skin. So I'm gonna pull down the highlight just a little bit about two, like, right there, raise up my shadows, But leave the blacks down, Okay? Now, let's go ahead and get our temperature. And again, this is one of those shots that you can honestly go several different ways with. I'm gonna leave it right about here about plus 18 for my tent. And overall, this is looking really nice. I might add in a little bit of extra actually. Know what I'm gonna leave the contrast for right now? I do want to brighten up the highlights on BBC and let's maybe tone down the highlights on her forehead a little bit. So here's what to do. I'm gonna go ahead and grab a Dodge brush. So this is just a five exposure dodge. I was going to paint it over kind of the his body a little bit to kind of lift him out. Just a little bit more on the scene. Now, I don't need too much on his body so much. I just want it really more where that light is actually landing on him. And if I want to, I can actually just dial out the highlights up a little bit and the white point up a little bit. And that kind of controls that and holding on altar option just minus ng off the areas that I don't want to be affected. So notice that I'm kind of painting it on just where the light is landing to sort of balance out the brightness between the two. Okay, this is gonna be a little bit of a burn. So all we're gonna do is just burn the highlight just a little bit on her. Okay? Now, what we can do that burn is is check this out. I actually have a burn here that's designed specifically for highlights, so it just burn highlights. Now, I can be a little more liberal with painting this on because it's not going to affect the shadows as much. And if I want to, I can actually do this. I can turn on range masking and put it on, illuminates and just pull the range up. So it's not really affecting anything other than those bright highlights. So right to there were going to increase the smoothness a little bit and then I can kind of tweak the overall balance of this, so I'm just gonna pull it up a little bit. And again, If you don't have these brushes, that's totally fine. Pause the video. Just dial in the settings that you see over here on the right side and you'll see exactly how those brushes are kind of operating. So there we go. That is much more balanced. Both of them are kind of balance. That same level of brightness. All I'm gonna do now is let's go ahead and go back to that radio filter and let's do a general burn over the scene. Okay, so we're gonna burn that in, and I'm going to go ahead and just kind of exaggerate that a little bit further. But there's one important thing I'm gonna do here. I don't want it to affect my highlight tones, so I have a couple different things I can do. I could actually raise highlights if I want So if I raise the highlights, notice that it kind of makes everything all the highlights around it sort of pop a little bit. And I love that. Okay, So I'm gonna make the whites and the highlights pop a little bit around everything so that we were sort of just burning down the overall shadows. Now, I'm also going to add in that luminous mask to again sort of blend this effect off the existing highlights in the shot. So right about here, we start to get a really nice kind of effect overall. And this is where we've come. It's not too crazy. Honestly, we're just balancing things out a little bit, burning things down a little bit, and that's kind of it. So from here, this is where I would go in, and I would say, Okay, now let's pick the other images that we like with good motion on them. Okay. So for example, and you know, what I might do is let's see if you want to raise that exposure just a little bit right about there. Okay, So let's say, for example, we want to use we have that image. Let's say we like this image for the car on the left side. So I'm gonna select that. I don't really like that image too much. So let's keep going. And you're going to have the final exercise files, which would just be the final images that you can use. This one. I like that passer by, but let's see if we have better ones. This is a good one right here. This is a nice one. I love that color kind of blur over there. That's nice. Okay, the people on this side are kind of cool. Let's incorporate that one. And then we have our plate shot. So let's grab one of the plates as well. So with these images selected now, I'm just gonna press control, shift as or command shift ask. I'm gonna sink everything. Everything gets sync across this. Remember, we're on a tripod for this, right? So we're gonna sink everything across these images and just make sure that we have check all synchronized. Okay. Also making sure that your key image was still the one that was primarily selected. Right? So this this was the final image, and we should see those exact same settings now applied to the others. We're gonna right click and go edit in open as layers in Photoshop. And give that just a second for your computer to pull all those raw files into Photoshop. Okay, so we're into Photoshop. The first thing I'm gonna do is just what we always do is we kind of just align those layers, right? So we're gonna select them all, go ahead and go down to edit auto line and click auto. It's going to make quick work of those, especially since we're on a tripod. And really, when you get this complex into a multi layered composite, you really do need to be on a tripod, especially with how far apart in time each of these images was captured. It's just not possible for us to handhold when there's 10 15 seconds between shots. Okay, so with that done, what I would say is gonna be the simplest thing is to kind of start from the top, um, and say, Well, I'm gonna work first by removing the light stands. Okay, So what I'm gonna do is I actually really like this shot. All I want to do is just paint in the couple So we're gonna add a layer mask onto the top shot and you notice that I brought that play image the very top. Like before. We're gonna go ahead and select our brush by pressing B hitting X will d to get to your default swatches and then X to select black. And now just painting over B C and painting over Taylor. Okay, Now you'll notice that Taylor actually has a little bit of motion blur in that shot already over her. She has that little car that's kind of going over her. Uh, we can select a different image. We want to include a couple different images for the raw files. You guys can totally pick which ones you want. So at this point, all we're gonna do is start looking at each layer and incorporating different things into the shot. So, for example, I might actually want to see what that underlying layer is with that car, because I really like the way that this car is streaking across. So I'm holding down all by the way or option and then clicking on the eyeball just to reveal it. And what I'm gonna do here is go ahead and select. Let's go ahead and select our flow and drop this to like, 15%. Now I'm gonna paint. Well, let's not actually paint that in. There we go. Let's go back to this layer up here and paint black at that 15% flow and kind of just paint in the motion of that car without completely removing the passersby behind it. Okay, that looks pretty interesting. Then we're gonna go ahead and say, Drop down to this layer. I'm gonna hold down alter option and click it. Oh, I really like the left side car. So I'm gonna pull this up to the top. I'm gonna hold down. Alter option. Click the layer mask to now put in a black mass. So now we see none of it, except whatever we maskin. So pressing. X two now reveal. I'm gonna go ahead and reveal that car that's going to be coming in across the left side. Okay, Now, I'm gonna go ahead and look at the next object. So what is the next one that we have? We have. We have some more passersby in this one. We have that nice who I like this color one a lot. So I'm gonna go ahead and pick that one. I'm gonna bring that up to the top, hold down alter option again. Click the mask. And now it's gonna paint this one in and it's okay that some of these, like, kind of layer over each other. I find that it adds a lot of interest into the frame. You know, having some of these different kind of like colors and different blends like opacity blends over each of them. By the way, if you see a light stand, we can always mix that in the final layer. Or you can just press X, uh, and then just kind of painted out of your existing one, right? So we can just kind of remove it so that that's not really showing up. Okay, let's go ahead and see the next one. Now there's one fun thing I really have most everything incorporate into this. There's one fun shot that I wanted to add in that we forgot to pour in. So let's go back to lightning for one second. I'm gonna show you how to do this. If you forget an image. This was the image that I also want to bring in because I thought would be fun. So if I select this image, what I'm gonna do is hit previous to apply our settings from that last image over to this one. Now, one important thing that I forgot to mention is when you're sinking, don't sink over that local brush adjustment. The radio filter is fine. Graduate filters are fine because those apply to everything. But you'll notice that we had that brush that was applied. And in this image, it's not gonna matter that much because we're only pulling the couple from one section. But generally we don't want to pour over these brush setting because, as you can see here, it's applying over an area that we don't want it to be applied to. So with that brush selected, I'm going to click reset. Now, with this image having the settings dialled in, I'm gonna press control E to take it into Photoshop, and it's going to come in as a new layer. So all we're gonna do is press control or command a then control. So your command c to copy that layer, and I'm gonna drop it in right at the top of our image. Okay, so, again, since everything was on a tripod, we don't need to worry about the overall alignment. It should be pretty aligned. But I'm gonna do is hold down alter option again. Click the mask so that disappears. And again, with a fairly light flow, I'm gonna paint a little bit more of this in. We're gonna paint white to kind of reveal this effect. Okay, so now we're going to kind of bring this in over different areas and kind of create this street that crosses over our couple and over other areas of the scene. And if you feel like you went too far, just press X and then start backing it off. Okay? This is how we got that effect in the final image where you kind of see that street going across the bottom of the frame. So we kind of painted it over the bottom of the frame where you still see some of their feet in there. But then you really see them clearly in the final image. So it's just going and working kind of back and forth those different layers to get to your final. I'm gonna let you guys play with this from here. But that's exactly how we went and created. Let's see, let's go back to the final image that we made this image here. Okay, so hopefully you all enjoyed. Be sure to grab the exercise files and try this technique out for yourself. I'm hoping that once you guys see this, it'll really open up the creative possibilities and what you can do with these composite shots, especially when you start incorporating all of your different lighting techniques that you are learning into them.

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.