Combining Light Sources Overview


Lighting with Gels


Lesson Info

Combining Light Sources Overview

You know, I think teaching people how to light is a dubious thing because what is gonna work for you is not gonna work for you, you know we're all gonna have our own thing. I don't think everybody in this room wants the light the way I do, but the thing I think I can show you is an approach of how to build the shot. I think that's what we saw in the last one. How to look at options, how to look at possibilities, how to dial things forward, how to dial things back, and that's what we're gonna do all day. So we're gonna get way more aggressive in approach to color, be a little bit more. As I say, sometimes I'm aggressive lighting and sometimes I'm very subtly lighting. It's just the way I tend to phrase that sort of stuff. We're gonna 'splore the more supernatural side of color, look at that. Gonna use gobos, which are called go-betweens. I don't know if you guys have heard that before, but something that goes between your light and your subject that modifies the light, create little sha...

rds and shapes of light. And always, always, always, what we've been seeing is real-time problem solving, which I think as opposed to just setting everything up and it looking great, I hope it looks like doody for a while and we bring it to somewhere good 'cause I think that's what we're about, and we're gonna continue to develop in our playbook or our thought life or our approach to how we can light. So this is a shot I do at college of a lot of people up there, it's, you know... It's taught me a lot about photography. I never really shot this sort of picture, but we have this day of photography where kids come into the school, and there, we're courting them to go to the Rochester Institute of Technology. So I thought, "What better way to do it than to give them "the most crazy picture of themselves "that they couldn't possibly get anywhere else, right?" So that's why I designed this sort of shot, and it's one of my former students in this sort of approach where we're really kind of, I'm dealing with a small area of the head. Could apply to a still life, could apply to other things too, but I kinda keep it simple on the head for these shots and look at how the light falls in there because I get really, I don't know, I just, tends to where I wanna roll is a picture right up in here. I was looking at this picture and I was thinking about... This is just the sort of sidebar story. You asked me how I make my subject comfortable. Thought, "Yeah, it's a good question, and how do I do that?" But this story came to mind, so Rick Ross came to this church and we were gonna shoot his album cover, and he's a man of little words, right? But before we started, we both sat down in some church pews. I said, "Would you just sit here for a second with me?" And he's like, "Yeah," and I was like, I pointed to JC up there on the cross, and I said, "Look at that man. "He sacrificed a lot for his people." And he's like, "Yeah." And I'm like, "And I'm sure you sacrificed a lot "to get this moment of your life and career," and he was like, "Yeah," right? (crowd laughs) And I said, "You know what, I did too." I said, "You know, why don't we just sit here "and think about how hard we've worked to get here," and he was like, "Yeah." And this is probably the only conversation I had with him all day, right? Other than that, it was like, "Could you stand here? "Could you flex a little bit? Could you..." But that was, and it's all the only conversation that needed to happen. He connected, we understood each other, we were like, we both worked hard to get where we are, just a couple professionals. But when I saw this picture, and I was thinking about our light theory, and I was thinking about yellow, and it says "sunshine, gold, cheerfulness, "intellect, energy, attention. "Orange, warm, stimulation, "enthusiasm, happiness, success." Mmm, success! Yeah, success, all right, there's some success in that picture, and there's also just some gold and regal quality that I think is super seductive in this picture. Yeah, just how I use gels, how I think about gels, and we're just gonna get right into it. Not a big lecture right now. We're gonna first talk about this, uh... Could we get hot light plugged in, Chris? Sure. Right. Yep, I'm right here. Right around. So this is a continuous light source, like all these are continuous light source, like the sun, it's a hot light. It's gonna be tungsten-balanced. Back towards me just a bit. Okay. Oh, that's too far, okay. So it's 3200K on the color balance thing. It's a small spot, and it's super hard, super focused. It has a lens in it, it's called a Fresnel, and you can flood it and spot it in the back here usually. This one doesn't seem to be cooperating. (crowd laughs) But I hope it's right where it should be. Usually in the back here, you can flood the spot. You see what's happening on that wall over there? Right, so it's very hard. And you would think if I spotted that light, right? Chris, I'm gonna have you turn that, right? Mm-hmm. We're just looking at the shadow. Did you just-- Oh, I just kicked it, huh? Just a bit. (crowd laughs) Damn you, Clay! Right, so we're just looking at that shadow, and flood it out. As we flood it out, actually the shadow gets harder. You'd think if you spotted it, it gets harder, but-- And this is what I want, I want a really crisp shadow. And I experimented with-- I wanted to do it another way, so I tried speed lights. I tried all this stuff in preparing this little lighting lesson. This one just seemed to work the best, and it works the best because it has a lens and because it's taking that lens and it's straightening. Just taking the straightest rays of light, creating the hardest shadow. We're gonna play with this today. People, when they wanna cast shadows, what they really need to realize is it's all about-- (squeak) It's-- (squeak) (laughs) It's all about your distance of your light source to your subject, so this is my go-between, this'll be my-- I'm gonna use these blinds here in a minute, and we're gonna put some blinds up, and we're gonna create some shards of light. So the thing you wanna play with in this situation is this distance. If you want really hard shadows, your light's gonna need to be pretty far away. And if you could just turn that off, 'cause it's so nasty.

Class Description

Color has a way of making the ordinary extraordinary. In this course, Clay Patrick McBride will explore the power of gels. He’ll show how to light and create dynamic images by balancing and accentuating color.


Vitamin Dee

Great class if you're wanting to learn how to work with gels! This class will take you through the process step by step as you build your shooting playbook. I enjoyed Clay's honest and simple approach. Clay and his assistant, Chris, make a great team as they show how gels work and show you what not to do. They make learning fun!


Enjoying every minute of this class.

Doug Richardson

I found Clay's classes and teaching style worked very well for me. For example, Clay's method of first testing one light in a multiple light set-up and the adding the other lights one-by-one was great. I recommend this class for anyone working to add different lighting styles to their work.