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Lighting 401

Lesson 3 of 20

Larger Portable Window Light, Pt. 1

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

Lighting 401

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

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Lesson Info

3. Larger Portable Window Light, Pt. 1
Pye builds on the concept covered in the previous video and amplifies it to create an even larger portable window light. Post-production instructions are included in this tutorial.

Lesson Info

Larger Portable Window Light, Pt. 1

Okay, I'm stoked for this one because we're going to take that exact lighting principle that we just learned in the last video of opening up a light source. But we're going to amplify it. We're gonna increase the scale of the entire production on a location based fitness commercial shoot. So let's dive in. We like that means okay, we're only a few seconds in this video, and a lot is happening. Now, remember, this is an actual commercial production. So while we can roll behind the scenes video, we can't teach on location. What's happening here is I have my team setting up multiple lights were actually using Einstein's at this point. This was shot a few years back. Each one of these is, I believe, around a 500 watt second head. Okay, so about equivalent to a pro photo B one or maybe 2 82 100 Botox, 8200 stacked up. That's about it. We have four of them, so we're running 2000 watt seconds. In addition, you'll notice that each light has some sort of modifier on it. That modifier isn't nece...

ssarily super important. You'll notice that one of them is a strip box. The other one's a beauty dish and the beauty dish in a strip box. What's important here is that you understand what I'm trying to do. Those soft boxes are acting as the first layer of diffusion. Okay, so my first layer of opening up the light and directing it into this panel and into the sheet that's placed in front of them, that's what's happening here is that first layer. So if I didn't have that, the light would spill all over the ceiling and we'd lose a lot of power. In addition, we wouldn't end up kind of increasing the size of light source before it hits that second layer of diffusion right there. So four lights, 2000 watt seconds. You could use any stands for this because we're indoor on location in a gym. Doesn't really matter. We just used what we had. I'm shocked. So if you're if you're so you're sending up to me, so come over on this side. Now check this out. Look at the size of that diffusion panel. That's essentially, I believe, two or three pieces of cloth that we just have on C stands and rigged and going across to that little workout bar they had. It's just across two stands and using a clamps to pin it. You can't really find soft boxes that are this size. Actually, you can There. There's a company called Kimera that makes light sources that are this size they're designed to hang and to light down to basically light, large sets to do. Cars do that kind of stuff, but they are incredibly expensive to buy, very cost prohibitive to buy, and they're even expensive to rent. We're talking that you need thousands of dollars to rent them. Plus, you need a crew that's familiar and setting them up here. We have set up a garage door style soft box with just our lights and a couple cheap sheets of $5 fabric. There's no less expensive way of doing this on location than what you see here, and that's what makes it so powerful. Because of the images that will be able to create and what we're about to show you. Let's go back to the video and let's see you actually went a little bit too far. So my camera is dead center. I want your head right there. At this point, you might have noticed that I'm not actually the person standing next to the computer. That's actually Ryan. He was one of the lighting assistants who was setting up the light in the background earlier. I'm underneath the table with the camera shooting Derek from the ground, and I'm shooting perpendicular to the light source. So what have we done? We've set up this gigantic light source. That's a huge window light right here from this side. And the light is gonna be firing forward and into it. I have Derek placed right here and his again. Forgive my his feet, his arms, His body is gonna be extending out as he's doing a push up. So lovely character. Okay. Oh, he's on two balls. That's that's important. Note he's on. No, he's literally on two balls with his hands. Don't be a perv, dude. Nobody likes that. See all these photographers getting in trouble for that? Don't be one of those guys. All right, So the cameras right here from the ground, and we're gonna shoot directly towards him. So the light is coming in from the right side. What happens here with such a large light source is we end up getting this beautiful wrapping light, not only going to look natural, the light that's coming out from these sides sort of wraps around the body and kind of creates a lot of fill light to get us the images that you're about to see here. So let's go back to the video now. Right there. Okay. Now, guys, bring that fill in from that side and I wanted to go underneath. So, like, kind of scoop it underneath a little bit now to catch more of that light to fill back into our subject moving in a V flat. So it's just a B flat that's going to be sitting right here, and the white side is facing towards Derek. So what happened to this light? Any light that doesn't hit, Derek goes back, and it kind of bounces against this and it comes back and it fills the shadows on the other side of him. Now, if you want those shadows to be more dramatic, you're gonna push that B flat back. If you want the shadows to be more lifted, you're going to bring the V flat closer. So we're just balancing this out to create a nice look. That's sort of fitting where our shadows are present and visible, but not too deep and dark. Let's go back in. There we go. Hold that right there. Yeah, yeah. Perfect. Hold that right there. I want to pause on this shot just to show you kind of what all those different light sources are doing. So on the right side, we have that beautiful kind of soft window light that's coming in and we have that reflection off the wall that is coming from that light source. Now, this would be a natural reflection. Like if we had a garage door, you'd see that same thing. So there's not too much that we can do about that unless you want to flag the entire section off, which we could. But we didn't have enough flags for this, and I was okay with the way that it looked. But look at that nice soft light that comes across and with that split, you can see the fill that's being added to the other side. So check us out. The chest underneath here would be how deep and dark those shadows would be if we didn't have the fill light. What you see in all the highlights on the other side, these highlights along the muscles. These highlights here, the highlights on this side of the face. All of that is created from the fill V flat that's brought in close to our subject here. Now, once that's set up. We went through a variety of different shots, as you guys saw, and one of my favorite shots is actually one that you didn't see, So I would like to show that one. So probably my two favorite shots from this set were actually these two, Um, this one that you guys saw a second ago and also this one just with a single ball with kind of Derek going up onto that one ball. And I thought it was really nice the way it kind of brought his limbs in. You also know that you'll you'll see that from the compositions. I'm letting that bar in the background fall directly into his head just to guide the viewer directly into his head. I know there's, you know, we generally don't want to frame a tree or something behind someone's head, but in this case, there's no other place to frame that where it's not going to draw a lot of attention. So why not? If it's gonna draw attention, do it in a way that's going to lead into our subject. So you'll notice that have all the lines from left and right top to bottom going directly to Derek. And I feel like that holds a person in the composition a lot better that way than, you know, placing him off center to our different area in the frame. So that's it. These are the raw files, mind you. So if I show you guys the settings, you'll see that this is nothing has been done to this. Nothing has been done to this. Is that the right way of saying that? Uh, so let's go and develop module. This is a CR two file, Um, and it's I love showing you that because when we get a clean image into post, there's just so much that we can do with it. And if I clicked one click on my black and white conversion, I mean this image would be ready to go just right there, but we'll do an example image towards the end of this. So let's go back to the video now. Love that. Hold that. Perfect. Just like that. Okay, Come down. Down, down, down. Right there. Perfect money. Yeah. And turn the chin a little bit more into light right there. Hold that. Hold that. Okay, so same shoot. We have the exact same light set up, but I want you to see what we've done here because now I'm using the same light source. But I'm shifting my position as well as the subject's position to get a very different look. So this go around. I want to get a shot of our trainer. Kind of doing crunches, right? So maybe, like bicycle crunches or something, where it has a top down angle and we're gonna shoot down on the ground kind of creating this nice, like, kind of black tile behind her and really the focus on her using that natural light coming off that soft box. I mean, the natural looking light, I should say so let's go ahead and look into the first shots. And what you'll see from the first two shots is it's nice. But the first thing that I noticed was I can't quite get to the right angle that I want. But before we adjust that, let me just point some things out. So notice how I'm shooting from the shadow side. Once again, I want to retain shadows in my image. Even if those shadows are soft and subtle, I still want them in my shot. But I'm guiding the chin direction oftentimes into that light. So we still have these nice highlights on our subject's face here. So we're shooting from that side and you'll notice that also shooting from the shadow side gives us great definition in her core in her legs and everything. But what I need to do is actually step up onto a ladder so I can get to a position that looks a little better. Get to a crop that looks better. So I'm going to do that next. There you go. Right there. All that kind of looked down like while you're there, you go right there. Get into it, get a few reps right now. Perfect. So now I have the angle I want. I have her looking towards the light and getting the shots that I want. I'm gonna have her now do some reps to make sure that I get a natural kind of flex ation. Let's call it the flex ation on the muscles. So I'm trying to get those muscles to look natural and kind of inaction. And so we're gonna have to do a few reps. And this brings up kind of another note. One of the benefits of using more lights, even if you don't need that much power. So setting up, let's say four Einstein's but running each of them at like, let's say one quarter power is that if I'm shooting action in sports with all the lights at one quarter power, I can then shoot and recycle a lot quicker than simply one light at full power. So just another side note here when you're setting up multiple lights for a type of action shoot like this one, Um, that that's a that's a kind of important piece to to remember that can help you out. That's it. Mhm. Let me show you. Yeah. Yeah. Our next subject during the shoot was Matt. So what we did here was we pulled Matt actually into that red background in section just artistically, I thought it would look cool. Also getting them a little bit further away from the light source. Well, what does that do, right? Well, if we're shooting right here with Derek earlier, and we're also right here with Mary Beth or other trainer that we're shooting those top down shots with, we're closer. So the size of the light source in relation to our subject is dramatically larger than when we push Matt towards this side. Now, comparatively, this is quite a bit of a smaller light source, even though it's still a huge box. But we haven't changed the position. We haven't changed anything about that. But because Matt is further away and we're shooting from this side, we're gonna get a more refined edge on that light. So let's go ahead and take a look at some of the shots. Oh, here. Perfect. Okay, that's great. So step a little bit this way. Right there. Okay. Can you hold it just like that? Right? I'm serious. Okay. Flex in. Engage the core. Yeah, perfect. Perfect. But so she's okay, brother. I'm gonna get one more of you close up while you're holding your snatch. Just say holding your snatch. There had to have been a more appropriate way of saying that to a army sergeant. He's a He's not only that, he's like a drill sergeant top instructor. Hold on. Hey, listen, He understood that move is called a snatch. Uh huh. It's called a snatch. Yeah, but not how you're saying it. I believe it's called a snatch. I hope it's called a snatch. For your sake. Let's just let's just keep watching. Keep your axe outdoors. Let's just keep watching. Mata, Mata, Teddy bear that can murder people. Yeah. Is it better? Like, wider? The difference. I like it Where you got it. I'll show you. Oh, guys, Do I look sexy? You're all listened up. He just called himself sexy. Hence the teddy bear remark. Second murder people. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And then, uh, this time I'm gonna have you go this way a little bit. Scoot this way. I'm centered up now. So you sent it to me a little bit more right there. Uh, scoot back. A tiny bit. Back this way. Right there. Right there. Perfect. Yeah. Yes, sir. 2nd, 3rd. Uh huh. Yes. Hold that baby. That's sick. Okay, can you Inch this way. Holy crap. This guy is crazy. Okay, Look to your left. Look to your left. Looked so by shuffling around all I'm trying to do, and he didn't have to hold the weights up. But Matt chose to do that because he's crazy. So I'm just trying to get him to basically cover up those pins so you'll notice he's kind of centered and covering the pins directly in the centre. Um, for the composition. But there is something that I did want to show you all, which is just the difference it makes. Um, if you look at these two images, one of these shots has his core actually engage versus the other one. So you'll notice a lot of times when I do fitness and I'll say, Engage, I want you to air out or those types of things. It's to It's to actually get the muscles to flex, and you'll see two very different cores right here. Well, on the right side, we just see his crotch. You know that Zoom didn't really work the way I thought it would, but nope. But I think they'll understand. Yeah. Okay, so look right here at his core on the right side versus on the left side, and you'll see that this is it's just a dramatically different look that you're going to get when someone's muscles are engaged versus when they're relaxed. So so much of what we're doing when we shoot fitness is very technical, with not only the lighting but also the body itself. We really need to understand the body and the kind of the physique in order to get muscles and everything to show the way that we want them to. Okay, I'm done zooming in on Matt's core right now. Why don't we actually edit one of these images? And honestly, these images are so close to finish that I think any one of you could probably guess what I'm going to do. But let's take this shot of Mary Beth because I think it's one of those perfect candidates, Um, not only for black and white, so it looks beautiful in black and White also works really well in color. Um, but it's one of those shots where I might add a little bit of Phil, so I'm just gonna add a little bit of shadow and I wonder if we couldn't make a We could do a really cool dark mode edit with this, But we'll save that for you know, we got to leave some mystery, right? Hello? Let's leave the mystery. All right, so with this shot, I'm going to bring the highlights up a little bit. We're gonna bring it up a little bit higher than we normally would. And the reason is because all these skin tones, um, fall into those highlights. So what I'm gonna do is bring them up while preserving some of the white point. And so we'll bring the We'll bring the whites down, bring the shadows up a little bit, bring the blacks up a little bit. And what I would do is just deepen and darken the image. Now, what that does it creates this beautiful graduation over here from blacks over to these dark, kind of well, almost clipped blacks on the right side. So if I actually show you the before and the after on that you'll see it just has a really nice job of lifting those tones. Sorry of deepening the tones on the right side while kind of darkening the ones on the left side and lifting the highlights of the body out. So if I press j, it'll show me the areas of those blacks that are getting a little bit too deep, and I can raise that up just a little bit to bring them back. And I think that already looks kind of really cool. Just like that, I might add a tiny bit more warmth to the image. Actually, let's keep this one a little more in the neutral sign. If Lee Morris were here, he would. This is where it would be all downhill, bro. In the editing and post side, it would be all done. You can You can tell him I said that. I hope he I hope he somehow sees this. Okay, so all I'm going to do now is select that same brush that we did earlier. Um, sorry. The same technique that we did earlier and what I'm gonna do is actually dodge the shadows. Bring the feather all the way up again, die on these settings if you don't have it. Because all we're going to do now is just paint across these shadows along the edge of the body. and just lift out some of the shadows. Now you'll notice that I'm doing a very rough job of painting it in because we're going to do the exact same thing that we did earlier. So check it out. So if I actually go to my range mask and turn on luminescence, I can actually do the same thing. But pull it down from the other side. Is that not crazy, bro? Did you see that? Watch this. Watch it disappear from the highlights on her body. Okay? And then all we're gonna do is smooth it out just a little bit right there. And honestly, that's probably all I would do to this shot. It looks really nice. We kind of just soften up the tone a little bit. Got into a really nice place at these really cool shadows. It looks awesome. That's it, though. I'm sorry. I keep zooming into Mary Beth biceps. Red Flag. What are you doing that? Are you controlling? Oh, it's my mother. It's my welcome. It's the welcome Welcome. And I like biceps. Dude, listen, ladies out there, ladies who always say like, I don't want to work out because I'm gonna get big muscles. First of all, that's not gonna happen. Second of all, girls with muscles, it's attractive just saying What do you think? Hello? I'm gonna have to agree with you. See? Take it from two guys who are not single my boys next video.

Class Description


  • Use portable flashes & modifiers to simulate natural light on-location.
  • Re-create golden hour without depending on the sun.
  • Use fog and flares to create an atmosphere and enhance the existing light.
  • Use Flash for advanced in-camera dodging and burning.
  • Mimic window light with flash.
  • Use creative backlighting as the main light.
  • Create realistic sun flares with Flash.


One of the most common misconceptions about flash photography is that flash makes an image look unnatural. In this flash workshop, the fourth in the lighting series, Pye Jirsa, teaches photographers how to create every natural light effect with flash, including golden hour, soft window light, and direct sun. These techniques, combined with the knowledge you gained from Flash Photography Crash Course, Lighting 101Lighting 201, and Lighting 301, give you full mastery of flash photography and full control of the light in any scene.

Photographers are constantly faced with unexpected lighting challenges. A client may want the golden hour look after the sun has already set. Weather conditions can delay or move your shoots. You may want a natural window light look in a room without windows. The list of potential challenges goes on and on, and being able to adapt to unexpected changes in lighting is a critical skill set for a professional photographer.

The workshop works through nearly 20 scenes from start to finish, showing you how to set up and light each scene. We also provide you with over 50 exercise files so that you can work alongside us in post to achieve the final look. In addition to learning how to light and capture the images featured in this workshop, you’ll also learn how to post-produce the images in Lightroom and Photoshop to get to the final look.

Just like Lighting 301, this workshop includes “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.


  • Photographers with a basic understanding of flash photography who want to elevate their lighting skills.
  • Those who prefer the look of natural light but don’t want to limit their shoots to certain hours of the day or depend on specific weather conditions.


Adobe Lightroom Classic 2019
Adobe Photoshop 2019


Nev Steer

Jye is an exceptional teacher and these videos really breakdown the construction of great lighting techniques. Enjoy the dry humour throughout. Well worth watching for even experienced photographers as there are lots of tips and tricks here.


Kyle made Pye's work look simple. I learned a lot of new ideas and was reminded of some that I had forgotten about. I'll be reviewing 201-401 again with the practice images.