Shoot: Light Shaping Tools


Lighting with Gels


Lesson Info

Shoot: Light Shaping Tools

So here I have these lovely Home Depot blinds that traveled with me from New York and I spray painted them black. Why are they black? So they're gonna absorb light. If they were white they wouldn't create as dark a shadow so I've spray painted them black. We're gonna turn that bad boy on and ooh, they're magic. Now we have these shafts of light, this sort of film noir approach. If I use a softer light over here, softbox, anything like that, I'm not gonna get those crisp shadows. So choosing the right modifier for this situation, gonna be the right choice. And we're probably gonna need to lower those a little bit, I think they might contaminate my set a little bit. That'll be great. Right on. But let's get Godfrey over here, and let's get my camera on a tripod, Chris, it's there. Normally I've been shooting-- most of the day I've been shooting 100 ISO because I've been working with the strobe. For this shot I'm gonna go to-- I'm gonna have to get you lower. Right there. I'm gonna go to ...

400 ISO, if you can set that up, Chris. So I work with a continuous light a little bit more. And let me see you look out that window there, Godfrey? And just slide over a little bit closer. Yeah, perfect. You can even throw your foot up there if it helps it. So whenever I build lights I look at them one at a time and I'm looking at the shadows right now. And look at what's happening. Back here they're really hard, and then they kinda get softer as they go away. Look at how my light's angled. I'm not in love with any of it right now so I'm gonna get Chris on that hotlight. Sometimes just having the assistant is so key. It's hard for me to see the light and move the light at the same time. So if he just moves with it, noodles it, changes it around a little bit. Bring it back again, Chris. Really far away. Yep. Put it on the floor. Yep. Raise it, lower it. Too high, go down lower. I'm just kind of looking at what it's doing on his face, you know, checking it out, looking at Godfrey. Look at how nice it falls across him. It's also got these barn doors on it so we can kind of cut it down and bring it away. And they get wicked hot, they're called hotlights for a reason. Usually when you handle these, use some construction gloves or something, 'cause they'll burn you. In about 15 minutes this thing will sear. You know, burn, it'll burn me, blister burn. Like ow. Nothing burns like a burn. (laughs) Burns burn, right? Burny burn burn burn. Yeah, I guess... Just looking. Move it around, Chris. Just checking it on his face. Yeah, I think it could be crisper shadow. Maybe it moves away a little bit? No, move it a littler closer, Chris. And lower. Sure. I kinda like that. I like what's happening here, how it's getting a little bit brighter over here too. I could also adjust the-- I have the ability here to play with my lines and blinds. Cool. So let's get your light meter, Chris. And we're at 400 ISO? Yeah. Cool. I think it needs to be opened a little bit more than it is. Yeah, cool. We're probably gonna have to go to a little bit slower shutter speed because... Like a 60th? Yeah like a 60th. What do you get for a 60th? That's four. f4? What do you get for a 30th? 56. There we go, that makes sense. So we have our... Right. Always this thing, right? The exposure triangle. Let's finish our words here. Shutter speed. So when we talk about continuous light, that's the happy sun. We're gonna deal with our shutter speed. Our shutter speed is how we're gonna use, when we start mixing electronic flash plus our happy sun, we're gonna have to play with our shutter speeds and slow them down, make them slower. We're gonna do this a couple times today. We'll take a look at that. Because our shutter speed is constant when we shoot with flash, we're always at 125th of a second, we're always getting rid of everything. We're getting rid of all the ambient light here, we're gonna use it. This feels crazy, feels like it's broken. I need a wrench in here. Do you wanna keep with the 2047 or the 100? Am I set to where I wanna be? You are. Oh I got some flashes popping. I don't know what happened. Ooh, look at that weird experiment we got. Okay, I don't know how that happened. Can we get that on the big screen? That's not what we're looking for right now, but something weird happened. All of our flashes are off? Yep. Okay, right on. So always, when I'm working with multiple lights, I'm gonna look at them one at a time. This should just be our available light. And I'm going to, even though it's... Even though it's a tungsten light, I'm gonna shoot it with my color balance on electronic flash because I want it to be pretty warm. I want it to go to that warm place. A lot of this light is affecting us right now, I don't know what to do. A lot of the ambient light in the studio? Yeah, there's a lot of ambient right now because I really know how this situation should look. Let me just stop down a little bit and see what happens. Yeah, let's go with the 100 millimeter lens. Yeah, you got it. I'm gonna go to here a bit, and to here. Let me just do a little bracket until I get it where I want it. Yeah, let's use the 100. The 100? Yeah. I want a little bit maybe shallower depth of field so everything is not so hard and focused. The f-stop on the 2047 is at 2.8? 2.8, yeah. So the 100 millimeters at... What is that, Chris? 1.4? What is the question, one more time? What's the f-stop on the 100 millimeter? I think that's max is 2.8. Yeah, I'm not even sure. And you never find yourself shooting under that, or the need to? Not in this situation. In this situation where I'm in the studio and I'm using my own light. Like if I was shooting available light, yeah, I might want a 1.2, you know, a much brighter lens. But yeah, I'm not so attached to that in the studio. 1.4 is not something I look for in the studio. Gonna generally shoot in the middle of the lens so more around f8. Clay, if you wanna get even tighter we also have a 70 to 200. Oh yeah, we do. There's something weird with this tripod though, I'm sorry, I've gotta figure out what's happening here. I just don't want my camera to come toppling over. Yeah, it's this right here. It's needs an Allen wrench or...? Yeah, that'd be useful. Looks like it's missing a screw, doesn't it? It is, yeah. If those could be tightened that'd be nicer. I don't know what to do about that right now. CreativeLive, help me. Allen wrenches, if that's possible. It's a small one. I'll try to roll with it for the time being. I don't think it's gonna fall apart, but you don't want your tripod wiggling. (laughs) It's not something you want in a tripod. Let's see what's going on here. Oh, we're getting so much spilly spill spill light. I'm just shaping a little bit with these barn doors. I think it's a little too bright here on this left side of the shot, so I'm just shaping with the barn door. How we looking over there? Okay, right on. I'm trying to take a little bit of that away. So you can just compare these two, Chris. See how that barn door, closing that barn door just kind of took it away a bit on the left, which I think it works a little bit better because it's like, I don't know, I'm just everywhere here, lines. I understand I need to focus the camera but I'm not even concerned about that now because I'm looking at my lines, but now I have little darkness lines here. I'm gonna start kissing him in with some other sources. You focused for me? Mhm. Thank you so much. Focus McBride, tighten up. That's right, Godfrey. Look out that window, think dubious thoughts. I love that the eyes went wide for you. All right, great. Now we're gonna start to kiss it in with-- Allen wrenches are here? Oh my god, you guys are awesome. CreativeLive rules. Tiny tiny Allen wrench. Yeah I'll just continue to build the shot. All right, much better contrast over here. We're a live audience, make sure you guys come over here and see what's happening here before our break. Gonna bring in a little blue edge light from the back, gonna kiss it in here. So this would be good, because you were asking about dark colors. Couldn't be anything darker than this man's dreadlocks. So we're gonna kiss that in with some blue light, you're gonna see how it operates. And it's really the angle of incidence, that raking light, that's gonna add a lot of contrast there that we're gonna do. I'm gonna start with my monolight on, just 'til I get it set, and make sure it's where I want it. What's the camera set to right now? F4.5 and 1/80 of a second. Okay, coolness. All right Clay, it's nice and tight for you. All right, thank you. (beeping) Before I stick this light really high up in the air and I can't reach it, even though I have that remote control deal. This is on-- What channel is this on? You can look on the back, it will say... You have it there though? This is 1A. Okay, great. In case we need to adjust it. So I'm gonna actually turn the monolight off right now. It's gonna make it a little bit tricky to position. And I'm gonna bring this guy from the back, and high up. And I'm gonna raise him up. That monolight is off right now, Chris? Yes it is. Could you tighten me here? I can. Thanks. Could you maybe angle that light a little bit for me? Yeah, right down on him? Wait. Just needs to tilt down. I'm just eyeballing it right from here, making sure it's hitting our man Godfrey. And when I shoot it, I can kind of see it like-- I don't know if you guys can see that but there's a moment where, 'cause it's so blue, it just kinda grabs his head right there. Let's just read what that's doing. Sure. Ready. That's 562. 5.62. So it's a stop over my main light right now. My main light is at 4.5. And it's 5.6 and a half? Is that what you said it was? Yeah, 5.62, so it's about 1/7 of a stop, somewhere around there. 1/7 of a stop over. Right on. Go back to one before that. We just see how all that blue is coming in there, kissing in the side of his head. Kind of improvising on him. Now I want more color in there, I wanna even go harder. So we got some warm colors, cool colors. I'm gonna add some greens in there. One thing I like on black dude's skin is green, it operates in a completely different way. Green is a color that can get weird quick. To me it starts to look like The Matrix, or like Halloween, or like toxic waste, or just weird science fiction. But I dig it, so. We have a green gel somewhere around here Chris. We've got teal in the softbox. Hard green in that one? Right here. So let's trade that out on that orange light. So Chris is throwing on this green gel. Can I just show how I did these? (crinkling) This one I just took the grid spot and put it right over and into the gel here. So I'm certain to cover the whole gel, and certain to cover the whole light. And again I'm using really, really saturated colors, and even though they're very saturated, this is overexposed, the stop, so it's got that brightness to it, which we saw in the bracket. Thanks Chris. And where do you wanna walk this into the set? It's gonna come right next to camera, and I wanna come right into this part of his face with it. Got it. From the left or the right? That's perfect, yep. But a little bit more kinda here, Chris. I'm gonna turn that mono on, take a look at what brightness is. We're gonna bring it way down. Let's mute it though. So Clay, what's your thought process when adding a color to the scene there? This red and green? I mean this red and green is total Christmas, but I wanna try to make it not look forcey like that. I kinda want these blues and greens to come together. And sometimes it's just trial and error. I know that teal and that magenta are just gonna look gorgeous together later. Those two colors I know. Right now I'm kind of unscripted. Is this a very tight grid, or what is it? It's a tight grid, yeah. The tightest? Five is the tightest, yes. Okay. What is this right now? 5.6, so that's the same as this one up here. Yep, it's too bright. I'm gonna bottom this one out, way to minimum, and I think it might be too much light. Chris is gonna read it. That's 4. All right, we're gonna check that. Boom. So I knew it was gonna be way too much light. So what are my options here? What are my options here. I'm bottomed out on this light. What else can I do? Anybody, anybody? Bring the other lights up. Bring the other lights up would be awesome, but a lot of work, so... Just gonna brack this one off a little bit. Walking the light away can always be in your favor. The screen thing, cutter in between. Cutter in between, right. It's also casting kind of a weird shadow, it's still too strong. Can you go back to when we had no green light? Two back. We have to ask ourselves, are things getting better right now, are things getting worse. And side-by-side comparison here? Right on, yeah, cool. We gotta ask ourself if we like what's happening. No, don't like what's happening. Let's look at it on this screen. I kinda like what's happening here though. So for the people outside it's like-- We're getting different contrast on this monitor than we do this one, so we're kinda gonna go off this. But thank God the people online are seeing this, because this looks diesel. I'm gonna change the angle of this light a little bit, bring it up a little bit high. We definitely gotta turn this monolight off, because I don't like how it's casting that shadow straight back over here, you guys see that. So I'm gonna try to rake it up and down. My focus is crazy. Perfect, perfect. All right, that's looking good to me. Now we just gotta get kinda myopic, like I would have Chris really-- We get a shot of Godfrey. I'd have Chris really shape this back and forth on his eye a little bit. So if you wouldn't mind doing that. Yeah, you got it. Because you want his eye falling in light. I want his eye falling in the light, yep. And I wanna just watch this barn door and take it off that back little bit. Is it hot? It's damn hot. It's so hot. Pan it back now a little bit. No, just pan left to right. Yes, yes. Now go high and low. Yep. And Godfrey looks at me. Perfect. Lower. Yes, perfect. Perfect, perfect. Yes, yes. All right, cool. Are you guys seeing this, the color that's happening here? I'm feeling that the green's pretty subtle, how it's being kissed in there. I think it could even go a little bit higher on that green. So let's go like a half stop up on that green. Sure. This looks like the string from the side of it, which we can get rid of really easy. Go ahead and hit that, Chris. And now just a quick thing, because a lot of gels are-- Certain gels are used to balance light. so right now we're getting a lot of warmth from our tungsten light, 3200K, and our electronic flash, which is what, 64? About there. About there. So if I wanted to balance them out I'm just gonna throw this up in front of my 1K for a second, it should make it really neutral, but we're probably gonna have to take a stop away. That looks like maybe two stops away. Just slow my shutter down, Chris. Sure. You're at an 80th, what do you want to go to? Let's go to, what do you think, 15? A 15th. Just hit one there. So that's kind of correcting it, making it black. Just go side-by-side. It might be a little bit blue there. Many times gels are used to balance light, that's how they can be used. So we can balance the light in this situation, it still looks a little bit blue on the left. Let's go with half of it, and a little bit of a slower shutter speed. Or a faster shutter speed. Let's try this. Try somewhere in the middle. Look out this window. Look out the window this way, Godfrey turn your head. So let's compare that to that, two up, one up. Yeah, all three of those, boom boom boom. You got all three? Right on. And this is our last one? This last one looks pretty balanced. This looks balanced with the electronic flash, now it's taken all the warmth. But I dig the warmth. Do you guys see why I'm going with the warmth? I thought if I just correct it you'd understand why the warmth is working. I think the warmth is really working.

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.