Lighting Essentials Workshop

Lesson 17/42 - Placing Exposure


Lighting Essentials Workshop


Lesson Info

Placing Exposure

let's talk about placing exposure because we're gonna get back into a little bit of science now and when I talk about placing exposure we have to talk a little bit about light meters and what they tell us and what they do the ms nomura is that a light meter tells you what to shoot at all right doesn't it just tells you a little bit of information that information you have to take it that say what am I gonna do with this information the light leader that's built into your camera is a reflected light meter measures luminant ce and that light meter is there to do one thing and one thing only to tell you what exposure it would take to turn whatever you're looking at middle grade so if you take a picture of a bridal bride and a bride's dress you put that meter up on there it's gonna tell you exactly how to make a great photograph of that bride and make her dress looked middle gray trust me your brights not gonna like it but that's ok because you're going to compensate to swing over to the g...

uy in the tux and it's gonna tell you how to make that black tux middle grey his face is gonna glow like he's you know radioactive but that tux is going to be middle gray so if you take those two extremes then you realize that all of it is a challenge we have to know what we're doing I learned a long time ago something called his own system and not a zone system uh wacko or zones it's um system nazi or anything now because his own system doesn't exist it's digital and we don't have chemistry and when I hear people sell his own system for digital no we don't have chemistry without chemistry there's those own system because it was all about the chemistry of creator of burning in highlights now we have sliders that's not the song system but understanding the zones is absolutely imperative we don't have a lot to learn and photography um I know that um like a pianist has eighty eight notes and ten fingers and they have to learn all of that we have eight or nine f stops and some shutter speeds and six or eight zones of gray toe learn so it's not that hard don't tell yourself that it is and don't accept it when people tell you that it is it isn't it you just have to go out and make do with it um I was uh always fascinated by the work of the edward weston and ansel adams and things and trying to understand what they were doing and finally after taking a zone system workshop I finally figured it out where you place the exposure the camera meter will tell you what to make something middle grey but you don't have to do that you can choose where to place what you're meeting so I could meet her your bread your orange shirt there I could say well that's zone five if I make that his own five a middle gray you're going very dark skin tones if you look at the photographs of ed weston and and adams and john paul kappa negro and some of these things you're going to see very dark skin tones imogene cunningham's people pictures their dark skin tones because in those days in those days they place the skin tones much darker they placed it it's purposeful it's deliberate where they put those skin tones we choose now more recently we've raised skin tones up a little bit brighter in many cases full stop so where zone five skin tones were good there we go to zone six a next next grade up in there in the shade we control it so I have two ways of doing it when I go out either use my meter in my camera to find something that I've chosen to be zone five so I look at my shot and I say what's in my shot okay what's in my shot I look out at this shot right here what zone five oh my probably the highlights on your jeans so if I said okay this is where I want to put zone five I'm going to read the highlights on your jeans on make a photograph at what the camera told me to do that for the highlight and jean then I look through the photograph and make sure that's exactly where his own five is which is why I shoot black and white because I'm looking for that middle gray okay what's another way of doing it with your camera how many you gonna shoot with zoom lenses how about you guys wish you shot with all primes I'm ditching assumes I'm going back to primes and the reason is zooms make us lazy make us physically lazy how's that for evocative that would get the old internet pumped and pumping out their zooms make us lazy I said we stand here and we just do this you know what standing here in eighty millimeters and standing here two hundred millimeters that's a different picture than two hundred millimeters doing this so when I take my zoom's I I lock him down felt explain that shortly walk him down the three different settings on my eighty two two hundred so what I can do is to make sure that that's my zone five reading I can really walk up and take a picture of just that part of it now what's my history I'm going to be what's going to tell me none of the rest of this right only that how many of you guys shoot with that history damn it has the red green and blue on it what does that tell you usually tells me that red's air blown out okay how are you going to fix that mostly I just look at it and think I got something really read that's my point I go okay but there's no like fix the red channel on my camera how has that ever stopped you from taking a photograph no ditch it look at the picture click the button to get the info that little thing that tells and believe me I've asked a lot of people do a lot of shooting so we're there oh it tells me what to do about it okay so what's your recommendation for setting setting your metering spotter matrix I go with this spot the tightest spot I can get because that gives me control right okay that gives me control yeah and it is funny that we're buying cameras that have mohr and mohr automation on him and we kept fighting more and more to try to take all the automation off I even turned the sharpening off my camera used to I don't know if I can even do it on the on the sixty d but I used to turn the sharpening off I'll sharpen the image I don't want some computer guy named fred you know deciding what my sharpness should be I just want just wanted a camera I think I'm just wish would it be nice of cannon icon just made a camera that had f stop shutter speeds and hey have a nice day anything nice a nice big sensor on the back no auto anything call it old school I know that would be hard for a lot of you shooting on the system but still would be a good thing so if I shoot this whole thing here I've got a history grandma's got all this stuff in it right if I come right in here and shoot that I have a history tells me just that one thing before I shoot any photograph full length types of photographs I will generally walk in and take a picture of the face the face lighting is what I need that's what I need the rest of it looks pretty good the face lighting is what I want to know so get up off my duff and move in and no I don't zoom in I actually physically do it because I treat my eighty two two hundred zoom as an eighty ah one thirty five and a two hundred I try not to shoot at one seventy to somebody that they're they're here okay do I fudge it a little bit sure we all do but that's how I think of it so I don't I mean to say that zooms make you bad photographers trust me that is not what I'm saying great for tigers you zooms all the time but when you're starting out I think sometimes grab a couple primes and make your feet do the zooming move in on your subject don't just plant yourself somewhere you know I do a lot of workshops and I used my workshops as a kind of ah a laboratory and I've seen people just kind of that they stand there they get their camera and they just start shooting they don't even they don't do this they don't do this they just do this and I think oh to be so lucky as to walk out the door and find that perfect spot so I have to run around and try to find the perfect spot but they found it you know and how on dh what are they doing this standing taking pictures right emotionally what are they doing when they're standing there taking pictures providing us a point of view of something that we've all seen before because most of the photographs and the world are taken from about here about here off the ground right little short guy down here call guy up here they're standing there taking pictures one of the reasons I bought the sixty d was that I could take the camera put it on the ground and sea food you find her that's why I bought it I want to take pictures I have seen before I want you to take pictures you haven't seen before I want you to show me something you haven't seen before so we take those meter readings get it right up front we decide where to place our exposure what I mean by that is make choice doesn't mean we have ten have stops to deal with but we've got two or three so in this particular thing placing exposure here we're gonna look at how I made some decisions and why I did that this is a semi backlit photograph the sun's coming from over the top of her head along a white wall here she's actually in the shade that's sunlight if I had based my exposure on the sunlight over here turning this part of her this color than this color here would have gone that color right with me everything would have come down dark I didn't want it to come down dark I wanted it to be here if we look up into here into the her dark hair we'll see some very bright highlights where maybe the sun has burned out burned it out okay because that's what it looks like in real life too may it looks like it's a little hot up there so this picture is is indicative of how I like my skin tones will also ask you to notice this if you're familiar with my work notice how my face is air not complex what I mean by complex is I don't use a lot of shadows on my face I don't want no shadows a cheek shadows or those types of things I try I try to always make it so that the tip of the nose isn't grabbing a little bit of light backlighting where the model stands there and she looks oh so great except that little quarter of inch of light that's hitting her nose from up there that's a complexity on the face that I don't like never have uh in the movies they call it cinematic I narrow sometimes sometimes that that happens a cinematic lighting because an actress is moving through the light so sometimes if you took a still there would be lots of complexity on her face but they're usually usually isn't any from where she started where she stops just as she moves through okay rios hair blew out good absolutely great because if I had tried to bring rios hair into the exposure here I would have darkened rios face quite a bit right now she has whites in her eyes and her teeth are white that's my exposure based on this how did I like that she's on the beach by the way is that natural light we're seeing from the back right I guess this is the sun coming in from there so it's a reflector on the market today it's a very expensive piece of foam core this is the phone cries black on the back right on the front and you pay a dollar more for that and uh my friend billy kids standing right here holding this card how close is he to her he's like right here and that's just lighting her up and I made my exposure based on this part of her face right here not this part this part that's where I made my exposure how did I do it I walked right up to her with my two hundred millimeter lens I took a face took a picture of her about this big had to take my camera making so would take the picture even though it's not in focus because that two hundred won't focus that close it's out of focus is even better give me a tone check the tone looked exactly where I wanted it made the shot right out of camera uh it's a matter of fact I think the amount of photoshopped done on that that image there I think was a curves adjustment and just a little bit of smoothing of the skin that's it I'm not bragging by the way it's not bragging it's teaching you know the difference right yeah I'm saying I want you to get that good sorry after you do that and you now you've walked up to her you took the photo of your cheek what's the next step I look at my history graham and make sure that that spike in that his because I shouldn't have a very complex system graham I should've very simple hissed a gram where is that spike that spike should be somewhere in the middle right but I mean so now you're gonna walk back and take the shop shot are you locking the exposure like you're using I use manual all the time okay yes I see yes I use manual all the time I think my camera sees um aperture priority when I'm with the kids at disneyland no I don't mean that I didn't have to I should on manual but I might I guess my question is now okay are you like setting setting your amateur after you take that photo or no it's set before this that shot was shot was two point eight yes at I believe five hundredth of a second okay so when I came up I did it so when I first came up I zeroed my meter to that to that skin tone right that said uh two point eight five hundredth of a second took the shot that verified it that I was exactly what I wanted that verified that I had chosen my zone five correctly so there's no adjustments don't know adjustment you made it all up I come back come in and and shot that and my my shot resulting shot would have shown my history ram too bright then I would say well that's not zone five I need to bring it down take another shot okay and then step back and okay thank you use your camera as a meter you know we spent a lot of money for spot meters right right we have a spot meter you have a whatever your camera is on spot just walk up with it take the picture and tryto eliminate as much clutter in the history masyuk as you have and and see where that set yes so just just to clarify this point for everyone who's watching online can you explain what you mean for largo what do you mean by zeroing the meter I think I understand when you look down on you when you look through your camera you're adjusting your f stop for your shutter speed and a little whatever you have in your camera lights lineup for the line comes into where it says exposures correct or its recommendation is correct there you have a little plus hash is to one side and little minus hash is to the other so I came in and zero that on there if it had been wrong I may have been chose to overexpose that's what we have exposure compensation right over exposed where we use explosion compensation by the way remember the bride take that thing that can't you put your camera up but you get the bride how to how bright how to bright is the bride's dress for you because the address is that the camera saying shoot this at f eleven well this this choose a different is the camera saying shooter that faa what do you instantly dio you know that dress is not faa the fates to make that dress gray right so what do you instantly do mo what's the correct exposure for that white dress if the meter says it's faa what's correct exposure trumpet back down for five point four for two stops so you say out there is that boom down to f or take the shot got your white dress because remember your meter was telling you what middle gray wass and you know that dresses and middle gray that dress certainly isn't light gray that dresses white that's two up right hit that ford make the shot swing the camera over and you put it on the tux that's what he's going to tell you the tux is to be shot at I have to it's going to save two and you're gonna go no I have to make it middle grey I'm gonna shoot it at four two two point eight four so not to belabor the point but had you not used to spot meet around this particular shot it looks like it's fairly high key so if we were doing exposure compensation for the overall shot because you've got what appears to be water in the background and backlight you would use the exposure compensation by uh taking it down a little bit to compensate for the for the amount of light that's in the shot um no I probably take it up because she's in the shadow no matter what I do she's in the shadows and that this camera's gonna want to make this shot darker because it's going to see all this is gonna want to make a darker so I would go the other way you go on now the other question is why didn't I just walk over there with my meter and taken incident reading because an incident readings going to tell me exactly what the exposure is it doesn't matter what the subject is and the reason is I left it back at the party that's the total technical reason where's my meter oh that's all right but would the the point of that is of course you don't need a meter if you really think it through if you really really think it through you don't need a meter um you just have to have some common sense and practice I took I took bree and leaned up against the wall this is the sun coming from over here if I had just shot that picture with what I had all of this would go dark because she was backlit so I had to open this up a little bit so I have a stroke coming over here I used an open strobe so I had a hard shadow why did I choose a open strove hard shadow exactly so it looked like sunlight looked like something like a naturally lit photograph and yet if you take it apart analyze it really isn't but where did I based my exposure on her and let the sun be bright go ahead and let it burn out where it burns out that gives a feeling of warmth I don't care about trying to pull everything in to a certain range because it makes photographs boring if everything is just not it doesn't have a sense of reality same with this we talked about this we shot yesterday where did I base the exposure why didn't base it on this side of face didn't base it on I'm sorry I didn't base it on the shadow side of his face or hear I base it on that side of his face that's my correctly exposed part let the front of it go deep going into shadow because it gives me a a shot that is the kind of photograph that I'm looking for it's an emotional photograph this is the big six foot doctor that I like to use uh this is rachelle and she's standing in front of the octa and this as you khun barely make it out but this is a v card just like our big v card over there this is a v card so she's facing the v card I based my exposure on the v card and I let the light back here just blow out yeah it's kind of blown out in here it's a little blown out right on the edge of your hair right on the edge of her hip it's blown out that's the shot I want that's the look I want I want her to be expelled I don't care about that that other life I placed the exposure what else did I do on this exposure I opened it up again she's actually overexposed so bright up her her skin tones are I've placed her skin tones brighter than her normal skin tones because I wanted that look to it that's your choice now some would say we could do that in photo shop way bring the whole thing up photo shop it's global I like to do this and I can play with it and photo shop later I can always go darker and photo shop can't pull up one light the exposure's based on her forehead and I opened up another stop I said I know briana has a medium olive skin I wanted her to have a very pastel skin tone so I just simply overexposed I placed the exposure where I wanted it to bay there's nothing wrong about any photograph you do there's no right or wrong to this stuff folks there's just yours we wanted to do what do you want the photograph to say and this gave me I mean her hair is not that bright no she's not a redhead but overexposed brunette hair kind of looks that way that's the look that I wanted and she has the makeup artist very heavy make up on it because we knew going in this is what I was going to do I tested as before I want this kind of alabaster skin look okay uh caitlyn on the docks one of my favorite places in the world is cortez florida just down by sarasota oughta marie island man I love that place it's like time stopped about nineteen sixty never progressed a little bitty rhodes was great sunlight uh two strobes and placing the exposure to find out this took a little bit of work to find out where I wanted my sky to be in relationship to everything else here I knew I had some sun coming in I knew I wanted this guy to go dark so I had to actually strobe her face to bring her up into the deeper exposure that I made to get that sky to come in the way itwas there and and then they use the second stroke back here toe like those those units up back there just to give it some depth but I placed the exposure on her face after I had found my ambient light and made the shot that I want it to be there's no way to do this shot with her without stroke I couldn't have bounced the silver card or anything because the sun is kind of not being very cooperative moment you get to fill card out it goes behind enough the cloud right and even then I couldn't have matched it this particular one eye basis the image on the skin tone made it a little bit brighter and I kept my back lights a stop brighter than my chosen exposure so that it would have a feeling of brightness to it but not so bright that we would lose the skin texture there's texture in her skin right along those edges they're and that gives me a sense of of the warmth of the of the lighting that I wanted it to do I can place the exposures where I want but I deliberately then worked with the other lights to make them fit what I've seen in my head he's home saying I see these shots in my head first and then work with it this is this is kind of a real world example I love tto find shadowed areas that have really bright areas across the street so have we found this little this was shot just last weekend I believe we found this little alley which was kind of fun is a little little mining town in phoenix that's the correct exposure for the alley that texture in the wall texture in shadow really not gonna work for bree is it so we said okay I want to get a shot for breathe not in here this is really bright down in here then we find out which of those exposures work then when I eliminate the light source I end up with just the shot and then I opened her up just a little bit so that's just natural light bouncing off the wall right next to her how soft is the light look at the shadow pretty soft you saw big light source in close pretty soft and we can tell that we have a light source because we have a shadow if you're in a shadow area where you don't have a light source you won't have a shot behind your subject he's just is what it is first I find my ambient light what am I gonna expose this image at I forgot was called so I called it a cow thing it's just something where they put cows um what ah corral that's what it is you have you can tell him a real arizona boy uh corral thing over here I got the exposure of what I wanted then I put bree in it that's the sunlight well that's not gonna work so I brought the pro photo in and let her too the scene that I had I just matched the sun so I ended up with a shot that looks like she's lit by the sun with a natural exposure of the sky and the mountain we're not trying to overexpose or under exposed or do anything like that and she looks like she's lit by the sun when she's actually that by the pro photo in same angle as the sun so all the highlights say on your face all the highlights match this is how I scout a scene remember I said I don't walk right out and start taking pictures I don't go out and I put my camera up to my face because it's digital it's not like we're shooting a roll of film and have to go back to the walgreens to get it processed we can just take him brazilian pictures go at school and racism right I just walk around to try to find the angle and the exposures that are going to work for me when I finally decided I said okay stand over there decided that's what we're gonna do that a couple of test shots came in close for the face embrace that do that came in close for the face kind of worked it through put her where I wanted her which would have liked to have had a tripod at the time but I didn't so I was just trying to match the shots tried different exposures and finally got to the place I wanted which is right in here and made the shot so work it out to make the shot your cameras like a sketch tool it's playing playing play with it is the rio again I placed the exposure on rio's skin and let the hair blowout because that was the feeling of light I don't wanna have to worry about all of this and and I know that they're people out there all of the hairs burned out okay it's fine um I take my cues from the great names in photography that I follow arthur elgort patrick peter they don't care if they don't care I don't care I like the look of the shots I don't want to have to try to bring it in yes right so I have a question from a come a couple folks including tom s who says donna think my camera does one third stops when you say you opened up by half a stop what do you mean one third two third they did say half stop tonight old habits die like john's laughing over there old habits die hard is probably a third or two thirds of the stop however if you're down two tenths of a stop and you go a third over that would be a half so I'm not saying that I did that I'm probably talking a third or two thirds yes and that's just newer cameras or newer cameras yes yes and you think I'm even though I've been using it for ten years for me it's still a new camera yeah yeah in the camera meter yes absolutely so what the point is that when you and we're going to after break do cem placing of exposures see what we're talking about you you place it to where you want to bay you like your shots there's ah photographers out there who constantly over exposed constantly under exposed I could mention matt maher in as a a big influence on my work um uh it was a shin soo gato is that said it john's shin's see gato all of his work was done very overexposed loved it um so I just place it is a real this is real tiny beauty dish homemade beauty dish and just fabs watching she's laughing justfab thank you for my little homemade beauty dish she made it for me uh and it's in really really close with speed light in it literally right here so the speed light was down and like a sixty fourth power and I got to shoot a headshot of two point eight which I love it was a little beauty dish you can see how it is it's out of focus right back you hear even and it just it is the slight lookout falls off just falls off beautifully through there I love it it's always there there's a light against the background in the back

Class Description

Learn how to light in any situation. This special 3-day workshop will introduce you to lighting by learning the basics. Don helps you start evaluating light from a subject centric approach — teaching you to identify how your light will react to your subject. Don Giannatti’s workshop is perfect for photographers working to find their vision and their own perspective. You'll learn to use this knowledge of light to create perfect photographs. This workshop is a non-stop, hands-on weekend.



I just finished watching this course, and with teary eyes can say, without reserve, this class has been fantastic! Don's last session would be great to watch in the beginning and the end because it helps to understand his thoughts on being a photographer. The rest of the class is full of great information on lighting and Don is able to explain his thoughts and his processes with ease. I hope I will always think ahead and plan how I want my final results and how I want my subject to reflect light. Learning this was one of my "aha" moments during this class. I own over 30 Creative Live photography courses and this class is one of the top classes I own. I already plan on rewatching the whole class. Well worth the investment! I feel it is not a beginner course, but a intermediate to advanced one. Don has set a high standard in lighting...a goal to reach for...a goal that is possible for each person willing to take the time to learn and practice. Thanks Don and thanks CreativeLive!

Joao Alexandre Paulo

Great class, amazing instructor. Don's able to explain it so good that he makes it all look like very simple. I just have one comment and one request for the CreativeLive staff: When Don's commenting and analysing the pictures or explaining some features of them please keep the camera shooting at what he's commenting :) It would also be great if the way how the umbrellas and soft boxes are set up were disclosed, Ex: how the strobes and lights are mounted. Overall an amazing value for the price.