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Lighting 401

Lesson 6 of 20

Perfect In-Camera Flares with Compositing

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

Lighting 401

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

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Lesson Info

6. Perfect In-Camera Flares with Compositing
Pye follows the natural light direction in the scene and adds a flare to enhance the existing light. Then he shows how to create a composite in post to get to a perfect balance of light in the image.

Lesson Info

Perfect In-Camera Flares with Compositing

this is going to be fun. As if the other videos weren't funny. Okay, There were tons of fun, bro. So what we're gonna do here is actually enhance the existing lighting a scene, namely, we're going to kind of add a little extra umph to our subject following the direction of sunlight, but then also add in a flare in camera that didn't exist there in the actual shot. But on top of that will be teaching you how to use compositing with your flares to get to the perfect balance in post. So let's dive in depth is created by having shadows by having bright highlights. And so incorporating the sun in a way that's a little bit different is going to create a very unique look to your images. And then we're gonna do in this scene. So I have Seth here posed against the the pump, and we brought the bike in on this side just to kind of fill a little bit of frame and add a little of interest. I'm gonna go ahead and set up my frame now. So remembering camp first we're gonna choose where exactly were in ...

a place. Our camera and composition. So what I like about this is I don't like my tripod leg. That's closing up. Okay, I like this kind of lower angle and having that overhang kind of coming directly over him and showing a little bit of that blue sky up in the top, left of the frame. So I really dig where this is that right now I'm gonna lock everything in so it doesn't move. All right, let's go ahead and take a shot Natural. And let's just do a maximized exposure. So Okay, so this is the natural look to the shot, and it's a cool look. I actually like the way that it looks with the sun coming in the side, but I want you to notice a few things. We have this nice highlight on his body here, and I want to play into that highlight. So what we're gonna do is go ahead and darken the composition. So again, ambient exposure. Right. So here, we're gonna say ambient exposure, and we're gonna go at 1 1000. I'm actually going to We're on low iso 1 1000 and F four right now. And let's go ahead and take a quick shot and see where we're at. In terms of our exposure, we're about to stop and a half two stops under, which gives this great shadow depth. Everything looks fantastic. So this is where I want to start adding in light. So here's what to do. Once again, I'm gonna place this guy now, but notice what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna add to the existing light that's coming into the scene. Right? So if Seth was kind of bringing his chin off to this side, show me, Seth, If you were to turn them a little bit more right there, Yeah, I'm gonna raise this up. I'm gonna be careful not to cast shadows from the light source onto his body. Mhm. Mhm. Yeah. Okay. And if I look at that light, it should be going right in his face, which it is. We're still at watt seconds of power. So this is full power. We've got our first light set up. Now. We're gonna take our shot and modify as we need to Seth, for this shot. Yeah, I kind of want you looking down into this side like a kind of a profile shot. Yeah. So we've clearly pumped in way too much light into the shot. And that's what you can see here. I didn't adjust it from 400 watt seconds. So when we're shooting, like, bright day sun, oftentimes I'll just leave things at full power and adjust as I kind of need to go. So here, we're gonna go ahead and bring the overall power down. I'm gonna go to one quarter and do another quick test. There we go. Okay. Now we are getting spill on the top and on the bottom, we're gonna go down even further. So let's see if we're at 1 400 of a second or sorry, 1 400 watt seconds of power. Half is 200. A quarter is 100 and eight is 50. We're down to the 16th, which is around watt seconds. Or half power on a standard flash. And let's just see that. Ah, I also know my other issue right now. Suit. You could have just checked to see if you were an HSS. Like, uh, someone earlier in this tutorial might have said to do who knows you with longer hair? Let's just go back to the video. So I forgot to set this guy into high speed sync. So let's go ahead and do that now and let's see, because we're going to lose a lot of power. And there we go. You see that? L o I got it. Cut it right there. Yeah, five minutes. Cut out all the other stuff. First of all, it was about 20 seconds. Second, Just go back to the video. So now we've lost our power. And that's the big difference between high speed sync versus standard sink. We lose a dramatic amount of power as those flashes are strobing continuously to get that shot into the shutter speed. So now I need to power it back up. So now we're gonna go back up to probably around. I would estimate around one half power if we're at 1 1/1000 of a second. Let's take a look. That's right. Okay, so at one half power, we're getting right around to this kind of decent exposure on him and on the background. But I want to make a couple other tweaks to this again. We're kind of aiming for that painterly look. So one half power is 100 seconds. Let's take a look at this shot. I want to see what I want to modify. So here's what I like about it. I like what we're doing with the light and everything. And what I want to do is kind of bring this back a little bit to create a little more light and depth on this entire scene. So we're gonna do the same thing we're gonna light at the scene. I'm gonna make sure that I don't cast tons of crazy shadows onto Seth and onto the bike, so I'm actually gonna go from this side. Okay? Perfect. Now we're gonna bring in that second light that's gonna chisel out. Set himself. I replaced that light. How far do we need to go in? Right about here. Okay. Yeah. With that light in place, I believe b is still set up to Let's see here. There we go. Okay. So, Cardinal Sin here. One light at a time. Right, Seth? One light at a time. One hour. Start with one M, man. Okay, let's go ahead and get that. There we go. And now we're gonna pump a little bit more light into this. I'm gonna bring that back up to full power. Yeah, Okay. And then we're gonna add that second light. Mhm. Yeah. Yeah. This poll is just all sorts of eft up. Seriously, I guess supporting up the overhang is important at all. Really? Okay, There we go. This is what you guys do when you don't have enough power as you bring those lights in closer, and we're gonna have to pull them out and post if we need to. Yeah, there it is. Okay. And I'm going to pull the diffuser off of it and mix this cup from our shop. So this guy is killing too much of our light. We just don't have enough light coming in for this shot. And so we're taking it off so we can get a little more light on the face. There we go. I'm grabbing a third flash. This guy is gonna be our flair. I left some of that sky open because I want to show you guys how we would add in a flare if we wanted to. Kind of mimic the sun coming into the lens. We have a cto on. Okay, master slave. I want to go to Channel two. This is gonna be group C. All right, turn on C. So we're bringing this flash in fairly close to the camera, which means I'm gonna start around 1/16 power on this flash. We're gonna aim it directly into this left side of the lens where the sunlight would be entering. We're gonna fire if we don't see anything. One, we got to take the hood off so we can get an angle that will let the light spill into the lens. Yeah, Okay. Is it firing? It is. Let's do more power. So what's happening right now we're trying to get a flare, but the problem is that we're not getting enough output on this guy because we're shooting high speed Sync 1 1000 with me, and this guy is barely putting anything out, and it's just not registering in camera. So what do you do in that situation? Well, what we can do is actually get my shot. So I'm gonna go ahead and say, out of the frame and I'm gonna lock everything in, and I'm gonna get the shot of Seth first. So here's our shot of Seth. Great. Everything is good with the shots. Let's go ahead and look down to the ground as well. Like on that side. Perfect. Just like that. Perfect. Go ahead and adjust. The legs. Kind of like there. Yep. Perfect. Okay, I did that. So now what we need to do is basically adjust our aperture and our So we're gonna go to 1 200 a second. We're gonna go to F 11 because of what I need to do is basically get enough light. And the way I'm gonna do is take it out of high speed Sync. I'm going to use a 100 and let's just see what our baseline exposure is of that. Perfect. Okay, now I can drop this out of high speed sync, and we can see if we're gonna get a little more juice out of the light. And now we start seeing a little bit of that flare coming in. Okay? If we still don't get enough, open it up. There we go. Okay. So what happened now is I have to open up to basically 1 200 at F five and now I start seeing my flare coming through. I've turned off the other lights, so I'm just gonna go around F 71 and see if we can't get that flair to be a little more pleasing of a shape. That's nice. Better So what we did right now is we dial this back to F four. We're putting at 200 of a 2nd and 100 eyes, so I believe that lets us at least get full power of this guy. And then we're angry into the lens to get our shots were still in the tripod, which means that all we gotta do is layer the image and kind of paint in that flare. The reason I like doing this in camera versus in Post is that we get a flare. That actually kind of mimics the scene as opposed to like creating something a little bit less natural and post. But we can always do it in post as well. So this is our final image, and we'll be creating this in just a moment. But let's explain why this is really enhancing and augmenting kind of natural light, right? So here we have our motorcycle, that's that's the awesome motorcycle and here. We have that gas pump, and Seth is kind of leaning right against that gas pump right there. And his legs are extending off this way. Okay, so we're firing from this side. I know that does not make that. Doesn't look right at all. I know this. Okay, so here's our frame, and we're shooting into this. Our sunlight is coming from this side, right? I mean, everything is coming from this left side of the frame, and we have that overhang. That's kind of blocking it. So our sunlight is already coming from that direction, which means that when we added the mag box, we also lit from that direction. So we matched the direction of sunlight, and we fired it into Seth. Then when it came to the extra flash to create that flare, we did the same thing where we created that flare by firing it from the top left corner of the frame, coming down and in as if the sun were right there against this little kind of overhang going into the lens. So all the light that we're adding to this is designed to augment the existing light in the scene. Now, we can actually trace this back to lighting to where we simply used one light to just add to the existing sunlight in a scene to kind of chisel out our subject here, we're doing the same thing, but we're getting to a different layer of complexity, creating a natural looking image simulating flare on top of chiseling out our subject from the scene. Now, let's go ahead and jump into post. Now, when you get in here and you look at your exercise files, you will notice that I gave you a couple different shots here. So you have the shot with Flash. You also have a couple different versions of the flare because we're actually gonna use all of them, because I want to show you how you can blend them basically. So here's what we're gonna do. Let's go ahead and process this very first shot. I'm going to do this kind of the same way. I'm actually gonna use my loop deck. So now we've done this by hand a few times. Let's go ahead and use the loop deck. I'm gonna pull my whites down. Um, and I'm also going to go ahead and just pull down the overall exposure a bit. Let's go ahead and also add in our radio burn. And let's see, I think we actually have a a key here set up for my radios. There we go. So I can actually pull that in. Shrink this down a bit, okay? And I'm gonna exaggerate that burn a little bit more. It's looking good. Let's go ahead and raise shadows. Raise the blacks a bit. I'm sorry. Not of just the I don't want of my radio filter. Let's mix that I want of the entire image. Here we go. Okay. And I'm gonna keep dropping my exposure down a bit. Now, I like this kind of darker look to this. I think it looks really nice. And let's just make sure that my highlights are not blown. So I'm gonna go ahead and grab my white point and bring that down a bit. All right? And now we'll add a bit more clarity to our shop. Okay, this looks really nice. If you guys want to tweak your temperature and tint, you can, but I kind of like it on the slightly warmer side. And now I'm going to do is go and sink this to the other two images and do we need to sink this? Not necessarily. I really just want to grab the I want to make sure that has the same kind of tone in contrast as well as the temperature. But here's the thing. Your tone and contrast aren't really going to match anyway because they're already flaring, so you can apply it. You cannot apply it. Honestly, it's not going to make too big of a difference, But as long as it looks okay, still, I I usually just end up applying it just to be safe, and we're gonna select all three of those go edit in. We're gonna go merges layers in Photoshop. And while this is loading, I will go ahead and bring up my walk. I'm just to make this a little more simple. All right, so now that we're in, we have that top layer loaded up right here. Let's go ahead and just align all three layers by holding down shift and selecting all three and then going to auto align. That way, if there's anything that's kind of we're already on a tripod with just to be safe. It's nice because it gets it within a very precise amount. So we were a few pixels off still. Okay, so now I'm gonna go ahead and go to this top layer, and I'm going to add a layer mask. Now, here's the option. I don't have to like in this shot. We had more flair in this shot. We had less flare. Um, it honestly doesn't really matter too much how much flair I have from these. I can actually blend different parts of each shot. That's why I give you two different versions of flare because you can actually use both those flares in the same image. So, for example, I like the bottom right half of this, and I even like, kind of like this area up here, but I don't like the top left corner. We can almost see the flash head. So what I'm gonna do is actually use this layer right here, and I'm going to reduce my flow to maybe 25% and I'll go ahead and start painting. In fact, 25 years it might be a little bit high. Let's go to let's go to 5%. I'm gonna start just painting in where I kind of want that flair to appear. So I want to kind of over the bike. We want to get enough of it that it looks like a flare where it doesn't look just like we're adding a little bit of haze to the image. Right? So adding a little bit up here, even a little bit over the subject, is okay. And if you go too far, it's not really a big deal, because I can paint it in, and then I can simply press X and painted out. So that's the beauty of kind of working in these layers that if I go too far in any one area, I can very easily remove it. If you want to remove quicker hopes, just turn up your flow a little bit. Okay, so I'm liking this. I'm liking this right now. Now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go ahead, and we have a couple different ways that we can do this just to make this simple. I'm gonna put this bottom layer up on top. Okay, so now we see the top left of the frame and I'm gonna hold down alter option and click it so everything goes back to blacked out. We're gonna go on. This one is just paint in up at the top of this frame. Mhm. And we can kind of add that flair to the top side. Okay, now, I could even duplicate that bottom layer by holding, alter option and dragging up to the top. And then I can press alter option again and black it out. And I can add this just to that little corner. So now we've done is just in that little corner. We've kind of allowed it to go a little bit more white and get just a little bit more of that kind of flare effect up in the corner of that frame. What I want to do is just avoid, you know, being able to see the shape of the see if if we start seeing this down here on the left side, we start to see the shape of it. And that's not really what I like or want. So I'm just gonna paint it a little bit over here more little bit over here and now our subject is very well defined still, but we have this nice kind of flare bleeding in from the top as well as you know, kind of showing in the bottom right corner of the frame. And we end up with a more natural and it looks like an authentic flair, as opposed to If we were to just do this in post, we wouldn't get the flare that kind of enters from the top left and has the effect on the bottom, right? If we did this all on post with just a brush and legroom for, say, we might be able to add that corner flare, but we'd be missing the other piece that really sells it. So that's kind of how we do it. Now you can You can blend and mix and match to your taste. I'm gonna go ahead and close that out and let's just take a look now at the final image. Okay, so here is that shown on the left side with just the color grade. Here's the shot on the right side. Now, with that flare blended in and again, you saw as here using that composite. So really, as long as the camera's not moving, you can take your time and get that flare just right. And the beauty of shooting these two things separate so long as the camera doesn't move is that you don't have to get the perfect subject exposure or sorry, the perfect expression and pose and everything that your subject and the perfect flare in one shot. Sometimes that's difficult to do, So this way it allows you to break it up, although if you wanted to do it all in one shot as well. By all means, you can go ahead and do that. Just remember, sometimes it's a little bit quicker and easier to do them separate and then blend it, and Post also gives you a little more control. Let's go ahead and go on to the 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.