Lighting with Gels

Lesson 17/17 - Critique


Lighting with Gels


Lesson Info


Could you give us a little bit of an idea, in general, what kind of criteria you're thinking about for this critique and a little bit about what you're looking for? From your students and online as well. Uh huh. I guess... I guess I'm gonna look at portraits, and I'm always gonna think of like, if I'm really experiencing the person in that picture. You know? And how light's operating there and if it's, if it feels forced or it feels, if it feels genuine or if it feels like it's working with the sort of attitude and the flavor of the person. If they're kind of coming together in a good way, you know? I guess that's gonna be one of the things I'm looking for. You mentioned earlier too, that it needs to make you feel, I forget what phrase you used, but-- It needs to seduce you. Seduce. Thank you. Seduce, yeah. I think in an advertising picture I wanna be seduced. I don't know if that's always... in a portrait. I'm not exactly 100% sure, it's what I'm gonna be looking at but, you...

know, I always wanna see a picture that I haven't seen before. Right? Or one that doesn't feel played out or, you know, I think in my best work, the thing I like about is, I like when there's something real. You know when it feels real that there's a real connection. Because it's a hard thing to do when you've got this black box in front of your eyes, to really connect with somebody, right? So, I guess that's some of it. And I guess, some of it, I'll get into, right? Animated, funny for sure. I dig some stuff about, I like the crop off the top of the head. I think, when I look at the other monitor, it looks much richer, you know? I would just encourage the audience to look at this guy's-- [Male Audience Member] This image is from our cameras, so over here is where you're gonna see it best. I like the contrast that I'm seeing over here. I also like this claw-like weird quality of his thumb in his face and, I dunno, it's got a lot of sense of humor to it and, it's loud and outrageous, and I think this is a thing that's a little bit hard to make happen, is to create moment in the studio. You know, something that seems, although this seems very outrageous and very like, pose for the camera, I think it works for this guy. Looks like his head's gonna explode or something, so it holds me. I went the wrong way. Two bald guys in a row, though? That's interesting. Right on. One light. (female audience member speaks off mic) This is you, it is one light. I do like, I like the composition. I like the way she rolls in the frame. I like how she rolls through it, right? The light's soft and fits her very well. I think the smoke and how it operates around her head is really cool. It kind of becomes more, it feels, it's funny you know, like what's fashion, what's beauty, what's a portrait? Like, where do those worlds meet, you know? And I think it does a cool thing where it's drawing from a fashion sort of vocabulary, but looking at it more like a portrait. You know but I do like, I like the lines through it and those triangles and the negative space, and I think some people forget that this is an important part, like architecture to your picture, like using the actual scene less for that as a container for your subject and how you can draw those lines around people really matters so, I dig those parts about it. It looks positively retouched. Retouched? Yeah it looks a little Retouched (murmurs) yes. retouched, which is not something I wanna see in a picture, right? I was going for that fashiony portrait thing. Yeah and I think when it's too much retouching, it starts to take me away from the portrait and goes more to fashion. So it's just a personal thing for me. But I like a lot of things going on. It seems like, I don't know, it seems like you know her very well. Right? [Female Photographer] She's a good friend. Yeah, so that's like, awesome to photograph your friends, but you know, photograph a lot of strangers and people you don't know, and try to get that same connection from them, 'cause it's a lot harder. You know what I mean? But I can tell, I can tell you know her and she's comfortable with you, you know? Which was just a good guess by me. Right on. Right on. This is definitely, is this one light? Do we think this is one light? Yeah? [Male Audience Member] This is one light, coming from slightly in front of the subject. You can see the shadows of his hands on the top of his neck. Yeah. Yeah, if it is one light it's a great use of one light. Right? Like, whatever's happening here with one light, I wouldn't think that's possible with one light. You know? I dig how abstract this is, you know? I dig how, there's something very tortured and emotional about this picture. Something very angsty and it's a lot of things coming together. It's the model, the bones, the pose, the hard light. The sort of triangular shape of it, which I think is like just a great, strong composition to work from. Yeah, I like a lot of things in this picture. It feels... it feels. It makes me feel and I think that's what, you know, one of my favorite photography instructors, this guy Eddie Adams, he said a good picture is when it, you know, it just touched his heart, that's all he did and you know a good picture gets you here. Anything that makes me feel something, I connect with. I love emotion in work, so. And I like that it's haunted and, I don't know. I've not seen this picture before, right? This really goes into that area of something I haven't seen. Online submission. Right on. I love this stuff, right? This is like Home Depot. This giant silver board, right? It's a great, giant silver card for your studio, your home studio. I think that's what it is. It's got styrofoam on one side and silver on the other and it's like an insulation board. You can buy it at Home Depot and it, it makes a good b board or bounce board. They're, has anybody used 'em before? I saw somebody. You have? Okay. I think the fashion, it's fitting light for fashion and it's pretty broad, soft lighting. I think the part that I'm most interested in is kind of like what's happening in here with the shadow and the reflection. I wish that were pushed a little bit more. Or, I don't know if it were explored a little bit more, but I do like that simplification and that abstraction in the picture, and how it kind of relates, these dots relate to her, her clothing, you know? So whenever I see a fashion picture I ask myself, its' about clothes, right? You know fashion's always about clothes, right? So I start to think, and I'm no fashionista but, like, I like what's happening here, I'm just not sure about those shoes. (laughter) Anybody with me there? Yeah? Okay. I mean, I'm not a fashion guy, I mean look at me, right? Not a fashion guy, but. I just wonder about those shoes and I think, you know, I think the model's on point. The expression, you know a little bit sad, I'm in a corner, you know. (audience laughs) I think it works, right? Like, I really like this picture to here, right? If I had my croppers, right Chris? My croppers, my magic croppers, I just would take it, I'd chop it off right about there. 'Cause I think it's a great portrait, up into here and I even like this, the bend of her and the bend of that more. But it just falls apart down there from the shoes. But I like the quality of light in it. And I like that sort of, how this person is exploring like a set with very simple Home Depot sort of solutions there. So that's cool for me. Right on, this is gels. This, I dig. Holly, you in the audience? Right on. I think this has got some good, you know, she looks definitely like witchy, pagan, burner person, right? Is that what she is? I don't know, I hate to generalize, but. She's a musician. She sings in a metal band, and Okay. Does some solo stuff. Right on. Yeah, well there's nothing more witchy than metal, right? I mean, heavy metal, witchcraft. I think the red gel's fitting for her, right? I like how the reds are laying there. You know, I'm sort of particular about. I don't know about the edges of the frame and what's goin' on there, you know? If I wanna see more of her shoulders or a little bit less. Like I think I'd wanna dance my croppers around here a little bit, you know? It's just a lot down here and a lot up there. I don't know if I wanna prioritize a little bit? Right? Like I kinda get stuck. If I wanna see more of it or less of it, right? But like I'm drawn to this person on the surface, right? Like, I look at the surface of this person. I don't really get too far into who she is as a person, right? I don't know if that's 'cause she's lookin' off frame. But I like the fashion, that's in it, right? Her fashion sense is pretty. Chicken bones, right? Those look like chicken bones. Or some sort of bones, right? She might have made that. She makes things like that. I dig that about it, right? I dig that about, I just like how, the production value of it, or how that person comes out of the box, right? And I like the use of the red gel on her. I think it's very fitting color for, you know black and red, that's metal, right? That's pretty metal colors. I dig them. Good job. You have successful use of light. And I think like, when you go to the studio, the better your subject is, the easier it is to get a good picture, right? You know what I mean? Studios, like, levels the playing field in a way, right? Where if your subject isn't outrageous, you really gotta go outrageous. But I thought, you know, you're not an outrageous guy, Douglas, but you gave us some outrageous pictures. You know what I mean? You really knew how to put it out and you did a great job there. So you have to kinda go with expression, go with other things, you know? And that's one thing that's kind of funny about this pretty outrageous person, pretty conservative sort of look, and feel to her. You know which, I kinda like that so you know there's something sweet about her gaze and something very devilish about how she looks. Alright. This is looking great over there, right? Yeah. This has got a lot of good stuff going for it. This is an anonymous entry, right? I dig it, you know? And this is a little bit what I was talking about in your picture. It's hard to say the two things but just, how the person comes into this box, right? In the studio? And just knowing that this element, and how it moves around your subject, is just as important, you know? It's a hard thing to get. Right, Chris? Yeah. Mmhm. (chuckles) (audience laughs) But I mean, this person's getting it, right? And when I look over here, I just like, there's so much movement in this picture and there's nothing moving in this picture, right? It's something asymmetrical, how the shape kind of surrounds her. Her the lines come up from her neck and her gaze, you know? It's just got some great diagonals for it. Her chin line, her neck is outrageously long. It's gorgeous. Gorgeous. And I like the warm and the cool lights coming together from opposite directions, you know? Yeah, fantastic image. More power to ya. Keep it up, right? Retouch this shit, whatever that is. You know what I mean? That's just like, I don't, it's such a perfect image and then there's something... (audience member speaks off mic) Yeah, a little stuff on the shoulder. 'Cause there's, something so immaculate, so perfect about this image, it's just gotta go all the way there, but sweet job and. You know, heroic, powerful, graceful. You know? Strong. Right on. Doug, in the audience! Right on. Looks like crap. Does it? Look at it here, though. I'm lookin' here. Yeah. Okay. We won't, we won't get bothered by that. Right on. I like genuine moment. Laughter. I do think he could separate from his background a little bit more. I think he's gettin' a little bit lost in the top right. Just in the lighting sense. I kinda want those blacks to separate a little bit. And I do want you to, you know, kind of. When everything looks too pristine and too right, when the perfect's like centered and everything's centered and everything's right, it kinda gets to me a little bit. I like a little bit more off-center, a little bit more grace, a little bit more movement to the picture. Well this was for a-- Yeah. a business website. Yeah, he feels like I wanna do business with this guy. Like, he's a very likable person, right? Like, I don't know this guy but like, I trust him. I wanna give him my money or something, you know like, just seems like that kinda picture, like it has that sort of destination to it, right? Like, even in an actor's headshot, it's like you want that person to look easy to work with, right? That's a challenging thing. You don't want 'em to look off-putting and stuff. I've done a lot of actor's head shots. I still do 'em right? They're, you know they're kinda challenging in their own way. But I trust this guy, I believe in him. I just wonder like, you know, how big this picture's gonna run, right? Where I'm gonna see this picture. Yeah, yeah. Okay? And so something like the separation between him and the background, really starts to matter to me, because I wanna see the dude. You know I wanna see him separate. Because it gets really small and just becomes this like, line and this head, right? Well that's a four foot background. Okay four foot background. Looks like there's separation here and there's none there so I'm confused right? It's one light. Camera right. So, that's why you get the separation on. On, yeah. Okay I got you. Right on. So you know. This is not the kind of. I mean, I love this guy. Don't know him but, (laughter in audience) this is kind of stuff I shoot. You know portraits and some head shots and that kind of thing, and I'm gettin' tired of that, so. I would have loved to have done this with gels and him not smiling. (Instructor laughs hard) I'm not sure if that's right for his business. What kind of business is he? Landscape design and installation. No, no not mow, blow and go. Okay. No big stuff. Big stuff. Good stuff, okay. Right on. Yeah and I think I don't know, like. I always ask Chris, what's the question I always ask you every time you go in the studio? Why the studio? Yeah why go in the studio? Is the studio the right place? Is the studio the right place for the picture? You know? Yeah. It's definitely a place we work. It's definitely a place to experiment with light, but I always wonder like if this guys' a landscaper, it makes sense to put him outside, or makes sense to, I don't know, if the studio's the smartest place. Right on. Alright. Online submission. Wow. (audience member speaks off mic) I like this picture. I like the freckles, I like the kid, right? I like this sort of slice of light? I don't know if this is a furry hat, or a wig or hair or if he's like, I don't know what's going on there but it seems like, Lord of the Rings, movie poster. I don't know, it seems to have some mysterious, cinematic quality to it. It seems like a movie still in a way. There's something very curious about it. There's something very precious about the subject matter and mysterious. Yeah, I dig it. I don't know what else to say about it. I like the slice of light you know. I think it's a creative, I don't know if that's Photoshop, or if that's lighting or what's going on there. I don't know if that was done in camera or in posts. I don't know if I really care, right? What you think of this one, Chris? I like it. I think it's interesting too that this seems to be the first image so far that's square, because it's an interesting aspect ratio. I think it really makes you think about composition in a different way. Yeah. Because one of the things Clay brings up too is, when you think about being a photographer and bringing that camera up to your eye, you have control over the rectangle. Like I know you don't always like two by three. You don't like the typical sensor on a full-frame camera right? Yeah which we'll see in the next picture. That long rectangle there. I just don't like the shape of. I feel like it's very hard to compose a 35 millimeter rectangle. You know I like something that's a little bit more eight by ten. That's generally how I crop my stuff. Yep. Yeah and I like this one eye sort of piece coming in here. You know. The engagement there and how that one's falling off. I don't know it seems like mythic or mysterious, in a strange way. Alright this is you. Warren, right? Right on. Wow, check out that black lipstick. Right on. You're definitely using a little bit of gel, right? A little bit of warming gel or something there? Or is that just color in your post? No, her hair is colored. Her hair is colored? Yeah it didn't-- Her skin's not colored? Her skin seems so orange. Seems, yeah. Maybe my wipe downs. Okay. I didn't do any coloring. Right on. Crazy blue lipstick. Strange, right? Just bizarre, right? Seems like a bizarre choice. It seems outrageous. I want it to be a little bit more outrageous, I think, right? Is this a one light picture? There's one light coming behind-- Yeah it seems like an edge light from the back and one from the front, right? I definitely like how the hair and everything's framing her face, right? I dig that part of the picture, right? Yeah, it's. I feel like such a weird thing to do is critique people's work. I just don't know if I can get past the blue lipstick for fashion right? For me, fashion when I look at fashion and I look at high fashion and stuff like that. I look at W magazine or, and then there's other stuff. I don't know is this fashion? Is this a portrait? I'm trying to place it. Like, why was this picture taken? Is this just for fun? Can you talk about it. This was more fun. I just got a beauty dish and, I was basically trying the beauty dish. Yep. And she likes to wear different color. I didn't really pick the lipstick. Yeah. I definitely feel like it's a good use of a beauty dish to kind of get in there, do a nice beauty light. Flat, soft light, covers her face well, right? I think as a portrait? Not so much. It seems very forced and contrived and as fashion it doesn't really go there either for me. So it kind of straddles some strange worlds, um. But I do like the shape of how her hair is. Everything's moving around her face. Again, I want everyone to look at like Irving Penn for composition. I know he's always in a square, but like, how he used the lines in the frame. And I kinda wanna get across away from this idea of everything needing to be centered and in the middle of the picture. I just find that like, as somebody who looks at a lot of people's pictures who do this because it looks right, it looks right at the expense of having anything unique, right? It just looks right to me. You know? If we go back to that picture with that black girl's neck that was out. It was all off-center. There was something that was so radical about that composition that I think, you just could explore a little bit more. Left right of the frame, rule of, you know I guess this might be falling perfectly. Her eyes falling perfectly with the rule of thirds. And I think the other thing that could help this picture a little bit is maybe, maybe a brighter background or a little bit more silhouetting. A little bit more contrast and shape around it. A little bit more graphic, 'cause there's something very graphic about this picture that I want to go further, right? The hat and the lines. And maybe bring that out in the background. But I do think for beauty light, you're right there, you're on it. You know, you've definitely got that beauty light on lock. Right on. Alright. Something very weird and crazy and eighties about that line that sort of color that composition. So I like the composition here. I like the weirdness of it. This triangular shape. I wish this red light were just coming a little bit more into this part of the photograph. It seems like it just stops. Her pose looks a little bit deer in the headlights and forced for me. She looks a little bit startled and scared and I don't know if that's part of a narrative or something like that. I don't think when I see this word boudoir, right? I don't know. I think there needs to, there's something not. I think it needs to be more seductive, right? That's the word I'm going to use here. And there's something very maddening about her expression. You guys with me on that? Am I all alone? You know, I do like the use of gel and light and color and I do like this triangular. This weird pose this like angular pose coming out of her head. I just think her expression needs a little work and it's probably there. You probably shot a different frame that I like more than you. And what I say, you know, to everybody in this class, it's just one guy's opinion. And at the end of the day, you're the author of your work. I don't know, like don't take anyone's opinion too seriously. Take it all. Listen to it. Let it go. Take a lot of opinions but um. There was a question or something? No? I was just gonna say, a lot of women that I do portraits of; they like this look. They like this look? They love the way they look in it. Uh huh. That sort of startled weird, wide-eyed. What would you call it? Well, I don't think she's startled. But I don't know why they love it, but they love it. What would you call that look? He's got something. What she's trying to do is smeyes. She's trying to smile with her eyes and it's just kind of not. Uh huh. Right on. Yeah, I mean that's why I'm definitely no expert at boudoir photography. I mean I would, you know. I could talk about the light composition, shape, design of the picture. I think it's got some good stuff going for it though. You know? I almost wish though, like, if it's boudoir, and it's this pose, that she were lying down on something? Right? It seems a little wacked. It seems like it's a great pose for her to be lying down and someone to be shooting down on her. Which would give me different experience of the person and a sense of place but that's the last time I'm gonna say there. What's going on here? Yeah. Right on, so. I like this picture a lot. I think it's got a lot of good things going for it. The use of light. Shining light through things is pretty radical right? Like I dig that part of it. I dig that light, dark, light, dark, light, dark. Right? That's a one light picture? One light picture? Yeah? Right on. So I dig that part of it, right? Like how you're doing so many things with one light. It's really rad. I like the place. That's like a my kind of place to shoot. You know what I mean? Like, I like texture. I work in the studio, but I'd much rather be somewhere gritty with you know, with a wall that's not white to photograph in front of, right? Yeah, I don't know when you were shooting it. I might have just moved them over here, moved them back. Right? Just to check it out, to see how it's going. See how they feel this dark part of the shadow there. I like how you're using light there. I like the person's look, their gaze and how they're feeling at you. I don't know if it's a dude or a woman, right? I like that part of it, there's something. I think it's a woman, right? [Male Photographer] It's a dude. It's a dude, okay. Right on. [Male Photographer] He's wearing his girlfriend's clothes though. Right on, yeah. So, I like that androgynous quality with it. I feel like it's working with the mystery of it. I like the warmth of the light. You know.? I think this is curious. Like this is information here and I don't know like, the opportunity to like, put something else in this part of the picture was there for you like, not that it has to happen, just, that pool of light there is just really um, is really working for me. And I like this picture because it lends itself to like a magazine spread, like I could put a gutter right down the middle. I could throw some copy over here. I could throw some copy up there. I could write a little type about that person there, you know. It would work well for layout and design with the magazines. So that really works for me. And what is this? Right? (laughter from audience) yeah, um. I even think that's a fake brick wall. Do ya? (audience agrees with yeah) (woman speaks off mic) Jagger. And, I don't know if Jagger's the submission and Jagger's also the dog, so. I don't know if the dog's doing selfies but, um. I've seen some great dog pictures today. And this being one of them. Yeah, I mean. You know. Dogs and kids. They just go to people's hearts right? They just like get you, right? I like the sort of hard, punky light with the hard dog and one thing I really like is how the light's going dark here, silhouetting him nicely, or her. I don't know if it's a, what the sex of the dog is. But just this contract here and then falling off and the whole shape of it, you know. I do totally wanna crop the top of it off a whole bunch right? Just I don't need any of that stuff. And this is where I get into the thing where this, this 35 millimeter rectangle becomes very hard to compose, right?

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.