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Lighting 401

Lesson 16 of 20

Late Afternoon Indoor Backlight

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

Lighting 401

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

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Lesson Info

16. Late Afternoon Indoor Backlight
Pye uses a backlight to enhance existing light in the scene and give it a bright and airy boost. Post-production instructions are included in this tutorial.

Lesson Info

Late Afternoon Indoor Backlight

in this video, we're going to do another midday sort of back life, but this time we're going to bring it indoors on a wedding couple session again. I want you to see how these same techniques are applicable to anything that you're shooting, whether you're inside, outside shooting, maternity shooting, lifestyle, fashion, fitness. Whatever it is, the same techniques apply. So let's dive in and begin watching the scene. Okay, so here we're in the Rotunda now, having shot there before in the ST Regis or what's now the Monarch Beach Resort. When the sunlight comes through those windows, which there are times a day that it does, it kind of creates this beautiful gobo pattern as it goes through the rails, and it creates this really nice backlighting. But at the time of day that we're shooting, and on a day that you might be shooting, maybe there's overcast. Or maybe it's the wrong time of day. So what we're doing here is I have my assistant, Shawn actually stepping up, and he's going right up...

onto the stairs with a flash and placing it in the sort of top arch of the window and angling it down to kind of come through the rails and land on our subjects. So that light is coming straight through there and see how it creates the shadow around you guys. So you guys are just nicely lit up right there? Yes, that's cool. Hold that right there, guys. I want to see what this looks like. Okay, so here's what we're gonna do, because we have this beautiful simulated daylight right now. It looks fantastic, actually. Let me just see if we can let me just draw that out So you guys can see. So here, my couple is right here in the middle. Okay, My camera position is right here. And here you have this rotunda stairway that kind of extends up and all the way around to this side. So if this is the rotunda stairway, he's placing the flash right here. This is important because I want to show you another camera angle in just a moment. So once that flashes place, I have the choice of whether I want to use a CTO gel or nothing. If I want to get more of that midday sunlight, that's kind of more bright and more kind of 5500. Kelvin, I'm not going to do a gel at all. I'm just going to let it be daylight balanced If I wanted to have more of a golden hour. Look, I'm gonna add the CTO, but let's go back and take a look at the sequence of shots that we get with that flash placed. See if we can see that flash. Yeah, it's barely even visible. So let's keep you guys right there. And I love that right there. Look down And actually, let's see. So I want to see you transform a little bit more. So hold her from that side, Derek. So just around the one arm and then put this hand in your pocket. There you go, Neon. Relax your hand and maybe open it up on his chest a little bit. There you go. Yes. Touch the man. Boob. It's good. That's good. He likes it. He likes it. It's a full backup. Okay. And then let go of the lapel on the other side. So that's not opened up. And then put your hand around. Maybe his back. There you go. Perfect. Perfect. Beautiful neon from right there. Look up to the camera. Perfect. Oh, wow. Now look down towards his side and then stand up tall. Yeah. There you go. Kick the hip away from me. There you go. Look down and towards his side. And maybe, like, maybe you hold on to his tie a little bit. Derek, go chin up a little bit. There you go. Smiling down behind. There you go. There you go. Right there. Beautiful. And smile at each other. Guys, I love that love that so good. Fantastic. I love that Smile both you guys. That's perfect. Yes. Beautiful. Pull each other in look toward each other. Guys love that right there. Hold that. I love that. Go for a kiss, guys. Lean her back. Lean her back. There you go. Right there. Got it? Got it. Go for a kiss, guys. Lean her back a little bit right there. Perfect. Beautiful. Relax. Smile at each other. Pull each other up a little bit right there. Pull each other up. Stand up tall. There you go. And maybe bring your hand now neon around his arm. There you go. Right there. Perfect. Just like that. Hold that right there. Smiling. Fantastic. We check these out I kind of want to do. Let's see here. Yeah, that's kind of Well, that was cute. Good face. Okay. I want to do one shot where we just kind of focus on you guys, and, uh, I want this to be Let's do this. Let's go. Let's reverse you. So, Derek, you're gonna face that way. You're gonna hug onto his arm. Perfect. Okay, Derek, you're looking over towards her, Mahan, you're looking down and towards his shoulder. There you go. Right there. There you go. Left hand in the pocket. Perfect. And step in a little bit closer to her right there. Neon softly smile towards his shoulder. Nice shoulder. It's a pretty shoulder. It's okay. You can You can bring a smile. You have to bring the chin back to me a little bit right there and from right there, and you have to look towards the camera. Tilt the top of the head towards him. Derek, Look towards her. Smiling. There you go. Right there. Perfect. I love that. And then now look towards Derek. Derek, Go for a peck on the forehead. Neon chin down. Eyes closed. Right there, guys, And bring the chin back. to me little bit more. So I get there You go right there. A little bit less. Go more towards Derek. There you go. Right there and hugging him tight. There it is. Perfect, guys. Good job. I love it. Okay, you guys look awesome. Pretty beautiful. Now let's take a look at this wider image because there's a few things that I want to point out. Number one notice that the flash and the stand are both in the frame yet we don't really see the stand. This is because I want you to know that whenever you're shooting into a backlit scenes like this that's already backlit and you're using a thin stand, Usually that stand is going to kind of fade out anyway. Especially when you're shooting with a wide open aperture like we are here. So that's number one. We have this nice flair. We have the stand blocked out and it would be blocked out by the rail and also kind of be bleeding into that white in the background. It looks great. We don't do any retouch there. The second thing is not only we have this nice highlight. That kind of chisels them out of the frame. But we also get this beautiful gobo pattern right on the floor right here. That kind of adds a lot of interest to what would have been a relatively boring shot. So once that's set up, you're gonna of course, step in a little bit. And when we step in, we're going to get a different set of shots. What you're going to see here now we're not done yet. There's one last thing I want you guys to do whenever you set up lighting like this. Whenever you set up a scene after you get your first few shots, take a moment just to walk the scene and see if you find anything else. What I did was actually went up the stairs and you'll notice that the flash is actually placed still in the same spot. In fact, we can see it from the top right of this frame. Then, from this top side angle, I'm shooting through the rails and having the couple looked down and towards the side of the light. And let's go to the video to see the image that we capture from the top. So what? I want guys is that lights coming from that side. I want to make sure your faces are kind of open to that side. But I want to put you in, like, almost a dancing pose. Or what if yes. So what if you're looking now to your left and down to the left side. There you go. And Derek, you're looking towards her. Perfect. Just like that. Just like that, Neon. You're gonna open up. So, yeah, you're gonna go chin up a little bit, and then eyes to that side. The chin up, chin up, chin up. And then look towards the wall down to the ground. Your chin is coming up so I can see your face. But you're looking down toward your shoulder. There it is. Perfect. Yeah. Okay. Open that up and guys stand right on the sun. So gonna center up. There you go. Perfect. Beautiful. Beautiful. Yeah, you're totally good. Bye, Alex. Fantastic. Perfect, guys. Hold that right there. Beautiful. Gorgeous. And then from right there, neon, Look up to the camera. All right, so let's jump into post. And before we do that, I just want to show you guys the difference that that singular light makes. So if we take a look at these shots and I'm gonna include a few of these in your exercise files just so you can see look at you can actually see the flash place. So this is the exact same image. If we look at our actual, um, develop, not develop settings. These are both the raw files. If we look at the actual exit data, we can see that both files are identical. Okay, The only difference between these is just whether the flashes firing. So when the flash fires, we get this wonderful pattern as it fires through the rails just like sunlight would and it lands on the floor outlining our couple just adding a lot of extra shape and dimension to our shot. It also adds quite a bit of flare, so we reduce contrast in the image. Now, take a look at the second shot to so I'm gonna go ahead and jump over to the exercise files. And let's look at this shot as well. Take a look at this one. Look at how much more interesting this shot above is when we have that light place right there, and it's firing through again, casting that pattern, highlighting our couple. And once again, we're just looking at the raw file here. So there's so much potential knee shots that you can take beyond this. But even at that, we have a really nice and and finished image, even from the raw file. So let's go ahead and grab one of these. I'm gonna go ahead and just take this shot right here, because it can be fun. We'll do a little edit on this one. You guys can do an edit on on anything that you want. We're gonna follow the same kind of techniques that we use. So remember, whenever we have a flare like this, so I'm gonna go ahead and bring my exposure up. I like the highlights in the shot. Kind of being a little bit on the brighter side. Um, I want to make sure that kind of the windows retain their bright, you know, blown out kind of. Look, I want to make sure that the floor has a kind of bit of whiteness to it, so I'm gonna add actually whites to this shot. In addition to highlights, what I might do is pull the highlights down a little bit and keep the whites up, We're gonna go ahead and add shadows. But keep me in mind that we do need to drop the black point a bit to make sure that we can retain contrast. And now I'm going to add contrast. It's kind of that final little step and tweak. So at this point, what I'm gonna do is go ahead and bring my temperature to a place where I kind of like it a little more neutral. So I like that warmth, but probably about right here is a nice place where it's somewhat neutral. And what I'm gonna do is add in that same without vignette, uh, profile correction without any form of vetting. Right? So all we did was basically turn on profile correction down here, but you'll notice that when that's on the edges get too bright now. So now I'm gonna go ahead and drop in a radio burn. If you don't have the presets, just grab the radio, burned brush and drop one in this just kind of shortcuts it a little bit. We're gonna put it right over our couple. And now I'm gonna add the vignette in a controlled manner to kind of drop in and go right over the couple in this little area, I'm expand the the kind of frame with that vineyard just a little bit. Right now, it's at a 0.9. What I'm gonna do is press new and we're gonna do one more. So this time we're gonna change the shape bit, and I'm actually gonna decrease the feather, so it kind of just drops out on the edges. And actually about 0.5 point six is pretty solid, okay? And I'm going to add a little bit of clarity, actually to the shot, too. Okay, we'll put a little more contrast in the image, and this looks good. We could do a little bit of split toning this one. We could leave it without. So let's just go ahead and leave it without I think it looks really nice as is. What I might do is shift my tent just down a little bit and then bring the temperature down a tiny bit too. Okay, so here's that original. And here is the after very simple edit. And honestly, the only difference being that edit versus say, for example, one like this or with this shot is we have a lot of contrast in this image already, so we don't really need to add a lot of extra contrast. So what I might do is I might do the same thing where I'm actually going to bring the highlight point up. What I'm doing this for is because I want to use the natural light that we've already added in to kind of bring my couple out from the scene. So by brightening up the highlights, it's really brightening the couple. I'm gonna reduce whites a little bit because we don't want their skin tones of blood or anything like that. I'm also going to add just a little bit of blacks. And this is gonna be a fun technique to kind of show you guys, because what I'm gonna do is kind of flatten out the black little bit. By lifting it up, I'm gonna use a radio burn to really add the contrast back in exactly where I wanted. I'm gonna go ahead and add clarity to it, and this is looking really nice right now. Now I'm gonna go ahead and grab that same radial burn. So press shift em, Grab your radio burn, place it right over the couple and all we're doing right now. Look at this. The lighting pattern already lends itself to this shape. So part of really post producing an image to kind of have a natural yet dramatic look is to follow the existing light pattern that you've set up. So this light pattern is designed to simulate natural light, which is falling directly onto the couple and creating a pattern. And we're going to emphasize that by really pulling in a radio burn, that's gonna be pretty deep and dark. Okay, So I can bring this down almost as far as I want, and it's still gonna look nice. It's still gonna look natural. And it's because it follows that existing light pattern. So it's at 1.31 now, and what I'm gonna do now is just grab it, graduated, burn and burn a little bit more from the top down, and that's really it. Now you guys know basic clone stamping and that kind of stuff. So all I would do at this point is just jump into Photoshop and remove the light stand um, by just cloning it out Essentially, we'd probably want to clone as opposed to healing. Just because we do have a rail behind this. So it'll be simpler just to grab this and kind of clone all of it up versus trying to heal it out. Okay, tweak my temperature to get it kind of where I want it. And that's really it for this shot. So if we want, we can actually lift the black a little bit more and you have that subtle, almost kind of nice fade to it, which looks really cool, and I really dig that by, But this is the original. This would be the after in that time. That's it, guys, let's keep going.

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



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.