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Lesson 13 from: The Portrait Lighting Challenge: Natural vs Studio

Sue Bryce, Felix Kunze

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Lesson Info

13. Review

Lesson Info


so I have some questions for felix to start off before we go into the natural light segment that questions that I wrote lying in bed at five o'clock this morning um and I think for me one of the most profound things that I took home yesterday was I'm going to buy this grim and they strive because I want to explore is much off how I can't extend my style through using this trove I'm going to show you the images that we took yesterday natural life and the strobe vision but there was this was my list I did it on my phone on notes the face one is there is no letter so when felix said that that has really such a profound impact on may because I felt on dh when he talks about insecurity you know it's so easy to look at people that are standing up here and think we're so full of ourselves or we're so we think we're so awesome and everybody feels exactly the same way everybody out there and the people that are normally the most full of themselves also most filled with insecurity and for someon...

e to believe in you is one thing but if you don't when you realize it when you realize that your own insecurity and you embrace it it's such an incredible self realization and it's such an incredible journey so just for one moment consider that we stand up here sharing what we know not knowing if it's going to help now these people then were right things that say I preferred so other people say I preferred felix other people said I just loved you both other people didn't watch it all but the truth is is whatever you lynn you know it's here for you to learn and we're only showing you what we do I didn't know what I was capable off until I started to teach it and so if you're feeling that you don't know something you don't believe in yourself were you feeling remember felix there is no letter there is no letter that you have to climb up to be a top you're already exist as a perfect human being that can have whatever you want and just go forward and just get lost in that not in the insecurity of not having what you want or who you think you are who you think you are so multi dimensional anyway that it's only your idea and you know it's so interesting when somebody says I believe in you and then suddenly they give you permission to live your own life isn't that just crazy and it's not about someone saying you're awesome because these days when you sack you know I mean in your impatient and you know this is days where I don't like who I am as a person and then there's days where I validate myself but I no longer need other people to validate me at all because they just enjoying I just enjoy it and felix enjoys what he does and that's what I loved about that there no letter especially when you look at how young felix is so just a couple more things about that other thing is to you I am old enough to be felix his mother you know in some countries so when I see an people with all this openness is and you know lacking in their ego and just finding their own self belief it just it thrills me like its a new language I think that we're all speaking that we should empower our children with self belief not looking for validation from others but the belief and yes please talk about the no letter because you know at his age to work with the people he's worked with and now his future career to me it was just so light and wonderful because he embraced that I was I think we were talking about this a bit this morning but I was I think I was brought up just to think let me say in a different way at the beginning of my career I always thought if I keep to my own integrity and I just do what I like not what other people like and I was young and arrogant so I could kind of get away with doing that it'll work out and you know what for years it didn't I spent years just no money I was I sold my motorbike that I you know I came from a nine to five job I quit and I start doing photography I sold my motorbike I moved back in with my parents you know every purchase I made was utterly painful and I thought but I was still arrogant as how not arrogant maybe that's the wrong way but knuckleheaded lee keeping to what I want so if someone's like do you want to shoot this and I didn't like it I kind of went no or if they're paying me then maybe maybe on dh for years that's what I did and I was like this isn't gonna work but something still told me like just keep doing your own thing keep pushing what you want you know how do I develop a style I just I don't know how that happened I just kind of followed what do I like you know and so when it came to kind of those opportunities that you talked about where when the guy said to me there is no ladder well I can go right to the top and I had already had some experience but I wasn't going right I'm going to assist this person then I'm going to assist this person and then I'm going to assist this person because you actually work for the guys at the top there's so much more professional actually is easier then all the people in between with all their egos and all the weird stuff that goes on so that's what I mean about there is no lad I was I think I was in the right place and then it just went like that you know but I had to get it in my head first that I could go to that place up there okay so my question my next question to you wass we've got a lot of feedback last night on polly boards and deflects they don't sell reflect in my country they don't sell polystyrene in my country they make polystyrene and deflects in every country in the world trust me they do you can find it you can buy cardboard you can buy foam core gate a phone you can buy sheets off white board white paper what you need to do is and you can buy a little one so if you can find little ones you confined on cat ones all you have to do is be persistent I know that that is really frustrating and I know that we've got hundreds of comments are we can't buy those in my country well they don't ban them in the country there's not there's not a ben now listen there is every photography studio every commercial studio has walls of polystyrene boards all around the world that I've ever been in every movie studio has walls of polystyrene you just need to find them I know it's hard but I thought to myself let's just do me one thing if we pull the scream out I just want teo pull the scream out and and show this it's good for you and I think hardware stores in the home insulation section they always have giant sheets of something and you just paint it the color you need paint it white painted black you know I'm sure gonna get questions what kind of paint do we need to use anything the end the one thing when you do paint polly boards they tackle if you don't like them fled to dry and then you do have to lie them push them up against the wall with some pressure against them are they back off but they um back or when they're out of the heat so try and keep them as flat as possible but then it occurred to me that we showed you how to make a scrim out of fabric so you don't have to spend four hundred dollars on the scream when you're starting out we looked up yesterday it's actually only three hundred well train headed I don't own a scrim but I can make a scream out of police to silk and it's four dollars a yard don't tell me they don't sell police to soak in your country because they do and you know macgyver it if I could only by a thirty forty sheet of gator farm I would buy twenty off them and I would get tape them together with white tape until I made a frame around there that had a hole in it or the window size that I want don't tell me what you can't teo tell me ok I can't seem to find any polly boards so I'm going to try and think of some creative ways or I will contact as many photographers in my area until one of them answers and says I live in your area and I buy them from so in seattle I buy those leaflets from glazer's you know and it's so amazing I haven't found a place to buy them in l a but I haven't looked yet but I know it won't take me long to find them anywhere in the photographic industry sell them it's not something we made up I've been in the studio for twenty five years twenty five years ago we had palestine reflectors same size forty mill date thick you know teen feet high that's what we work with so I know they're out there I just remembered I set up a studio in the uk in an old bond that I bought off my friend and I remember I couldn't find a black backing for it so I bought that could find like a ten foot tall white insulation you know in the insulation area of the hardware store and then I taped about twenty sheets off black small foam core onto this thing at my house and then I had to transfer it to the bond which I did by strapping it on top of the car with the bungee whacked me in the face and had a black eye for three days but yeah completely makes it way I know what makes it work after six months I came back and those those boards were all like peeling off so I put them back on but anything to make a black sheet on a white sheet that's what yeah I would do anything I would paint I would wallpaper it's a sign shops also carry yes party supplies stores you could see the four by eight foam cores in there too so it doesn't have to be at a photo supply store yeah art art supply stores frame is the art supply stores tend to have maybe six foot instead of eight foot ones but they could probably order the eight foot once yeah I think the six foot ones would work really well how often do you need to reflect shoes you don't if you get six foot put them up on a chair like you know you can make this work there were too many comic that was off nose last night what's another one which is how do I do this in a small room and I immediately said you've gotta shoot advantage to be in a small room because you don't need to block million you know we have to block such a large area if you're in a small room just figure out a way to make that line it's bounced back a couple of times in that area and you know what if your wallace here your subject is here on the subject of squished against that wall so is showing you how to do that you need a room I need a society like one on one by one and a half meters to shoot and so if I push them over in order to get amazing light and they're just in a little I'm out cove of shooting they feel safer and you get better shot so don't worry about space because three by three meters is all you need is a shooting space all we have here is four by four meters on the floor and we'll be pulling away but when we were working on my section we never went past two meters never wins so you know if you need another meter for the light bounce and that's it three by three minutes it's very doable so my next question wass polly boards beef let's light scrim anything that blocks light I could think of a million ways to make a scrim um because my greater brain instantly says I can so I can hand stitch I can you know I can make that I can make that in this always weigh how do other people use tribes so one of the christians that I considered wass our people using strobes let you bounced and blocked the light like I did but other using strobes directly onto the clients never well the good ones I don't have never seen the point of light at the person that's usually feathered ok so it's but my question was is the strobe is tuned away on the umbrella and the umbrella is bouncing back I've seen that a million times with people shooting with umbrellas into the umbrella yeah into the umbrella impact to the client was no diffusion whatsoever but I've never seen you do that I don't like that look no so interesting so that was my question because now remember but that doesn't mean it's wrong no it just means I don't like it and I'm talking about that like well style because it's not stuffed okay so I've always hated any looked like that and then I see the umbrella and that's why when I said to felix I don't use any strobes and he was like why not and I was like uh cause I don't like the look of it it wasn't until he put something between the strobe and the client I've never seen anybody do that and you refuse it yeah now they might be hundreds of people out there like do that's what we do but it's not what I know it's not what I've ever seen and I see thousands of photographers and I don't see anybody do what he did yesterday and so I want to show you what it looks like so on our keynote I don't actually have the remote sorry the left image is electrolyte the right image is stroke now interestingly enough gonna be o only took three shots of each look going on which is which left his natural that's natural yeah I thought this was natural and it's interesting because the right source is higher so it looks more like a higher light and there's more background in this drive then they're wass in the natural light even though she was the same distance from the backdrop are these the ones who were touched yesterday night and so I recorded a video off us retouching these so that you can have them so amazingly we only actually took three shots off each one so we could have head felix head this up and more time I think he could have nailed it within you know probably five minutes just wrapping a little bit more changing direction a little bit more like he did that so you know quickly really and it's such a beautiful example off I could shoot that at eight o'clock at night and I've never been able to get anything like that in natural light you could shoot that if you had children and you couldn't work when they will awaken running around like that's one of the things actually roman told me yesterday I've got kids I can finally shoot when there in bed I confined shoot you know around them and play and you know night shoots can be found you can make it fun species we have a crew and you know I just like that idea the second image was katie natural light on the left stroke on the right there is so much more detail in these images then you can say on the screen I opened them and roy and I enlarge them on the video for the very touching I figured that this tribe was going to beat me in one great area and that was at one hundred twenty five shadow spade it was going to be sharper it was going to get more detail in the eyes sharp on each eyelash I was at thirty to forty on my shutter speed down is low airs I got down to thirty one forty and fifty and I also was it six forty so so a shooting high I so with more grain when you see the enlargement on the eyes the strobe does beat me in detail and it was really quite interesting there was that's dr images were softer than the natural light images there was more detail in the background and all of the strive images and I feel very confident that I can create stripe images that looked like my style of natural light after seeing this do you think it's because we you know that light bouncing on back made actually softer than even what was coming from outside yeah softer than what I was getting but then we also had the really high stud and so we're getting up a little bit of bounce over the top which the natural lights only coming from here if we'd had a light leak at the top we may have got a similar softness in their background or if I'd put more of a reflector on my back but the truth is is when this come up you that catch like that almost identical and only through the numbering system could you really instantly tell which were mine in which ones were felix is which I really loved and yeah really awesome the next one wass this this is the only time we're the strobe outdid the natural light I feel like it wass better on the background there was too much light I could have put a little bit more of a blocker on the background oh pulled the background away from the light a little bit more but then I couldn't because my lights or started here and my background can't go back any further so I am limited because he can move his light but I can't move the window I can I can move away from the window but only as far as there's a wall there and if I'm in a small room I can't sew this drove outperformed the natural light here beautifully and the catch light is stronger in felix's image but look at the shadow on her chest look at the shadow under her nose and left cheek and chin exists exactly the same direction and still very marginal but a much sharper image in the natural light the next image this is where the natural light outperformed the strobe again I only took two shots off this guy in the strobe I feel like a little bit more jimmy ing and we could have nailed it and we're left natural yes always yes so there is definitely a natural sort of leak coming into that image on the left side which has such a beautiful quality and there's definitely more of a strobe look through his face on the right but again you know we were time time crunch so I feel like it's good I'm definitely more attracted to the left image here just because it has such a beautiful moved on to the body in the bronze nous more contrast in it isn't in the face and this wass natural versus tribe this a spade the natural and strope outclassed the spade so the speed light's on the right yes very right in the middle of the stroke yes so the natural light and the strove compete very strongly the middle image had a lot more detail in the background the natural light image was beautiful this dr image was very beautiful there's a very subtle difference that exists in the shadows underneath katie's chin that makes the strobe give it more of a fashion commercial quality than the natural light does and the speed like definitely performed it doesn't quite compere but it definitely if that's what you're starting with it that's what you're learning with if that's what you're trying with if you could pull off a shoot in a speed light with what you have and then afford with that first sail to go on by yourself a strobe you've already upgraded your career instantaneously with one job now when I was working my way up to actually having no credit card in some savings in the bank I looked at every future purchase as a future shoot when I want to stroke I'm going to have to do an extra shoot this month if I do I do to you so if I do an extra shoot if I do two extra shoots then I can pay for that caped monstrous and I can buy that strobe light this month without affecting both my sales and and I will actively seek to paid shoots more than what I am doing this month in order to get that and I transfer my goals and my needs two units like a transfer it toe work because I know howto work but I don't know how to manifest money from nothing so I put my energy into finding work and then I'm not looking for money or writing on facebook I wish I could afford a stroke right well I wish I could get in on the phone backdrop yeah you can so what I say is I want three more shoots this month on top of my steven that I've already booked I'm going to go for a living sh ots and then put it on the wall and every day look at it eleven shoots this month living paycheck this month and then when you're out there and seeing opportunities like oh I'd like to photograph you I've got a space this month if you'd like you know come on it's about turning it into a goal a unit and they're making it really achievable take that money buy what you want it's with that you don't tell yourself that you can't have something that's the that's the first step like you can have this if you wanted to buy this light you could do it you don't have to but if you said I want it I just wish that I sold stripes today that's all you want if I stalled stripes today me oh the natural light image performs better in the here but then we didn't talk anything about here lighting I don't like the back here like that you see I hate it it's gross s so I wouldn't have allowed him to do that on one of the images anyway because it's not something I want to have even composed it but I could have photoshopped more detail into her here but it definitely natural light had a different I feel like the neck troll like picked up the blue of her eyes are a lot better than the stroke did but then felix did talk about putting a catch light light just for the eyes that exists outside of the phone call straight to the eyes which I thought was really good this is again where the natural light outperformed this drug that again I only took two images so we didn't change the light match we could have changed it around more this was at the end of our I'll seek a lot did fourth segment I mean would you be too upset if you only had the image on the right um no but I would think it looked like flesh life instead of just and I look at the light and on the left I look at him and the truth is is on the right when I cancel out the left I see to me I see a beautiful image that is lit well but on the lift I just go well you know him yeah and that's what felix said when you look at any limits when you look at mario testino zwick you don't look at them and go nicely let good shot you just are so overawed by the beauty of the image or by not seeing the light in this such a subtle difference and not seeing light and that's what he does which I think is so beautiful this was a film knew our image which I shot low two stops under and then you'll see this photo shop video I bring it up into finish up and then I bring up the highlights using the dodge tolson has that painted ly effect that videos on there is why you're going to play the video is there going to be in the download well we've got I'll play some at the first opposition titian three your beauty images are commercial beauty images are often backlit mostly backlit species the beauty face images and there's something about the way nick to light shoot then and the back lights I'm really can't wait to see that but my next question was this so how do photographers normally used robes they point them straight it scrim umbrella on the second shot the second series when we did this slit of light when we did the bodywork you took the umbrella off yeah why because I want to show how you could do it with just just the justice drive just for the sake of reducing equipment making a simpler you could do it with an umbrella and would just end up being a little more soft okay so the umbrella made it softer yeah all right but I didn't I wanted to show two scenarios and no one can say but I don't have an umbrella so the fleur oh lights that in your studio one of you had flora lights in your studio and it picks up a green hue on the here for and yeah the flora so what you're saying wass you have to have the flowers on in order to see and focus on dh you said make your shutter speed faster no so that's another advantage you get from higher and strokes they have a powerful modeling light which is used for focus and that turns itself off when the flash fires but how does she eliminate the green from the floor oh right so if you're starting out keep it simple turn your studio lights off that's what I would say otherwise it just gets really and use a torch to the face yeah use a torch to yeah it's not always strong enough I guess okay so if it is dark out and I don't have any light coming in I have to use something she has to have it on you said make you shudder speed past you would need more power in that life to overpower it yeah because if that was really bright it would be that wouldn't even matter the lights you could see all your lights on they were there in the ball yeah exactly on the ball yeah if you have a christmas ornament you can just see if it's in your shop or not and the other thing is take a shot with your setting set up for the flash and but don't trigger the flash and you'll see if you're getting any other light in there and some in alaska was life one of my most favorite images from this month came from a shoot that I did last week where I took the backdrop and my only faint gold backdrop and I turned it this way and I was in a studio that had big windows all the way along like this and I always shoot side onto the light because they always need its match light is possible but the l a studio that you came to have lots of natural light so I turned my client that way and just like the natural light image from that siri's with the strobe outperformed it was leaking onto the backdrop and was bright on her face so I turned it around so that the backdrop was here I was with felix is and I was shooting my model here and the light was coming from behind and it was coming from behind me all the way around me and I put two black tunnels okay made a black tunnel on either side and had my model sitting in the front of it with the nisa and she's wearing gold all right guys let's show that here because I think so the lights there yeah you're shooting there so protectively shooting me on the model yeah right and you put two panels time that blocked the light that was coming into the gold ali font and it just looked like strobes like it just made her glow and fabulous so I thought to myself I wish I'd done that sit up so I thought if I get the scream now and get felix to show me how to create that love tunnel yeah no this way you would put the light behind me with the screen behind me and if yeah actually on my commercial jobs that's do that yeah so question is would you put this drove turn it around and put the backdrop over here and bounce the strobe off the white wall what would you have this drug bouncing back with the umbrella and it can stay over here you could do actually I would say both work but if you put it if you have let's say the backdrops here so let's get this crimen so john come in I want you to see that out like I'm I'm here you be my model and I've got a black tunnel on either side you know what why don't we just do the backlit set up and I can switch that around in a second place and show it all right that's ok because I really want to know how today we did a lot of side lighting but I really want to see this drug in the scream go behind me just to see that directional light so if we will do that right now then do you want to just set that up now because we've got katie and she's really to go do you want to shoot your backlight and then we'll switch it over okay wait I got one more question why are you so fabulous it's the genetics okay that was my note writing at five o'clock this morning thank you susan deep end there so I've got a couple of things that I drew up last night I had a couple questions my ipad I use paper I use a stylist and I draw up you know all my scenarios like this and it works like a little book like that and then I can go to the next page and I drew up what felix was doing so I could remember in which direction the light was in and where my phone call wass eccentric cetera so I brought my ipad out just to show you how you know I just sit there and worked out my lighting maps which we're creating for you so I wanted to bring this out so I knew where to do that window should reference yeah I I sketched out my lighting beforehand let's get to my opposing out because you forget posing otherwise it's really really important I have a couple questions for you from yesterday so you wanted you are convinced enough that you may buy a stroke I will buy it yeah how do you think you'll use it well what what situation will what will it solve for you it will solve the fact that I can shoot I interestingly enough I I feel like it's going to be for my creative play shooting more than my clients because my clients come for a certain look that I can you know bang out really quickly and I have my studio set up to shoot a sitting time of day and I know it so well and I can do it so you know quickly but they're just afternoons and evenings where I would like to shoot some beautiful creative work and make it look a little bit more fashion and do it for may so for me it's going to be for what I want to do next but when one of one of you asked me last night one of your students for like why do you want to use strobes and I was like I've seen a photographer for so long that if I don't try and get better um I'm not going to go anywhere like I believe that you evolve or you die and you know evolution is one of the most incredible things I want to learn I want to be better and I want to take pictures that blow people away and I want to create beautiful work that makes me happy but I'm ice drive every year to learn something that makes me better better than I am and yeah I do never want to start being better like until it bores me and I'm going to go and do something else I want to be better and so I went to master this now and I want teo you know create beautiful wigs do you think you could have used this twenty four years ago um I'm glad I went through the life that I went through like I don't regret my photographic evolution because I feel like you know film teo hand painting photographs will die taught me so much and so I feel like you know growing up in this industry for me has bean amazing okay let's see your back alicia I think if I'd started with dr touma's younger I probably would have ended up as a fashion photographer and I don't feel like that is my power as an older woman because a twenty two year old I just wanted to be cold and as a failure out I just wanted to be paid um and then when by the time I got to forty I just wanted to help women so and get paid so I feel like I followed my true calling and that was to make all women beautiful so I don't think strokes would have helped me it would've might have diverted me for a while

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Lighting Challenge Workshop Guide Part 1
Lighting Challenge Workshop Guide Part 2
Sue Bryce & Felix Kunze - Gear Guide
The Lighting Challenge Syllabus

Ratings and Reviews

Aliah Husain

I loved this course! I purchased it as a beginner photographer, unsure of whether to shoot natural or studio light and how to get the best results. After watching the course, I am fully confident in my ability to use both natural and studio lighting in my photography. And most importantly, I feel I have the knowledge base to be able to experiment with lighting in any situation. I am both grateful and inspired by these two amazing teachers sharing their technical knowledge and a personal piece of themselves. It is clear that they genuinely care about making their students better photographers. Thank you, Sue and Felix!!!


This is the best lighting class I've done, including several in-person ones. Covers so much, and the contrast between and dialogue about the two styles (natural vs studio) was so helpful. I didn't think there was anything at all negative about how Sue spoke with Felix, which a few reviewers said. Clearly she has great respect for him, which she sincerely says at one point, and explains why. Wonderful to see specifically how they both shape light. So many topics are covered. Loved Felix's clear and specific explanations about studio lighting. This class is worth every penny.

Wasabi Ben Kenobi

This was a fantastic introduction to studio lighting, and one of the best courses I've watched on Creative Live. I've only ever done natural light photos, but I want to learn more about studio lights because I'm creating a basement studio. I'm already a big fan of Sue's approach to portraiture. Now I'm a fan of Felix's soft lighting approach, too. In this course, he demonstrates how to replicate natural light portraits with a simple lighting setup. With a big scrim, a strobe or constant lamp, and v-flats, you can do so much! I'll be watching this course again.

Student Work