Creating Your Own Window Light


Lightweight Location Lighting


Lesson Info

Creating Your Own Window Light

so let's talk about the three essential lighting styles everything we're going to do kind of comes into one of these categories and that's what's kind of meat is if you know how even if you take one technique from each of these we're talking about it's okay I know how to make this technique I know how to do this and that you've got the three major styles of lighting covered and you can use those in just about any situation so are three styles are essentially a window esque or large diffused light source it's still directional it's not shadow this it doesn't mean that you're going to this flat boring light it just means it's very large very soft and rapping and very chiaroscuro stay with me guys so mama mia papa you know now that we want shaped feet shapely like okay soft shapely shadows this is when we step down to something an octa box or we have ah quick box which is a square box from being h that pops up quickly for a little soft box so anything that's a smaller not tiny but smaller...

and yet defused like very directional soft shadows still but mohr direction more um more shapely shadows and then there's the edge which is are crisp and directly like we're using the cred the road grid or just a bare flash that's edgy light or crisp light all right so between these three there's variations of course for every other style lighting ever seen but they pretty much all fit into one of these categories and if you khun again pull something out of each category at any time and use that then that's really all you need to know you don't need to know every single style of lighting out there you don't need to have every single piece of equipment just be able to create the big three so starting with the big window ask my favorite and again this is something that I learned years ago in my commercial photography days um from a studio photographer down in southern california when I assisted for learns a studio lighting and basically it's a scrim a large scrim that when lit from behind creates this beautiful gorgeous large shapely window light the nice thing about the screams that you set him up anywhere there light packable I've got a bag here which will pull out in a minute that's got six or eight six of them all in one little bag that collapse pop up instantly through your fabric over it white reflector or you can put silver diffusion and gang them together even we've done lights were a car in my studio and we needed to light it all even least I put six or eight panels side by side but the flash heads behind it and you have the strip long soft even light although across so super versatile and you can buy them photo flex makes a great one that's aluminum frame but you could also make your own and actually in a little bit I've got a uh I'll show you how to make your own this is using this window light outside blending it with natural light and you can see the sun on the shot coming up over her right shoulder is illuminating giving her an edge light and a hair light but the main light on her face that beautiful soft shapely light is coming from the scrim right off the cameras right with speed lights popping through it balanced with the natural day life here's the set up looks like right there so single scrim to flash heads back here I can't see the other ones on the side here there's one two heads getting together on a pocket wizard tt five um wide angle lens so if we think about the angle of view we talked about that earlier like where do you place this reflector it's right on the outside of my angle of view right there from her ear if you see where her ears like on this shadow lines up with that ear to hear so exact same technique we're talking about has put that kind of backward her here would be bringing along the angle of the lens right towards me which is here by the way here means where you are and there you go panel hovered directly above boudoir don't anybody read they did a blogged thing like last night or the day before and she asked me to talk about one of the funniest things that ever happened on a shoot and this is actually one of those chutes where we decided we're gonna have food wa portrait in an underground lava cave why why not my friend was acting my friend benjamin he's like I want to see the bride in a cave like that's awesome let's do it so we set up the shots and while we're at it let's do a boudoir portrait in a cave underground why because I don't know so so we planted so shoot and alicia is there and we got at least props in a bear skin rug and the little tiny candles were started lighting candles so again the cave is like forty degrees it's dark pitch black we had flashlights and we had her lying out there to do a little testing were lighting candles she was kind of covered a little bit but she's basically half naked lying there were lighting candles and also in this whole family comes hiking out of the back of the cave and I see his all sitting there lighting candles around a half naked woman on a bear skin in the middle of a case hi no we're photographers really late grabs her kid's hand like come on honey let's go and uh really was not much we can explain that one away but also I recommend if you're if you're working around fire um don't light anything on fire just saying good sit not that I let anything on fire because I would never do that but okay so this right here single scrim over the top this is a speed light in the back of the cave shooting right into the lens and that's something I also want to encourage you guys to think about and try why not shoot the speed light right to the lens why not flare it you can tell it doesn't diffuse the image at all there's no loss of contrast but it is this beautiful steckler almost like a setting sun for something going on back there is a lot of a lot of times I'll try putting a speed light right where it'll flare to the camera just to see because it adds kind of speculators energy or something that I like the most important thing that we want to learn this week is that what you like is the right way to light it it doesn't matter what the ratios are doesn't matter ifyou're exposure's right or wrong whatever that means if you like it if your client likes it it's right it's good and I think that was a really hard thing for me to get over was like trying to technically perfect in my lighting and then I'm looking at it going but it doesn't have any energy there's no randomness there's no something needs to be wrong to make it feel right to me sometimes that makes sense I read the years ago I was just starting I was reading this book from this japanese commercial photographer here there's a great book and one of the things that he said is that was his signature style when he's doing it still lives was that he would always have something sort of off like he would be shooting this mouse but instead of putting it perfectly on the table he would have it kind of like almost falling off the table so you're looking at it with this kind of tension like is that right you know or something on or do you have a bit of a plant that was just right here but maybe one branch has been broken you nose here is not a perfect plan it was slightly off there's always something that was made you think or have tension or something and I really liked that ideas like I don't want a picture perfect I wanted to be interesting or to make people think or have that that off the cuff feel that only comes from not getting it perfect you know what I mean like everything's perfect then it's like well they spent forever they got it just right anybody could do that but if it's slightly off like wow they caught a moment they caught it was almost perfect but man they just they must have been spontaneous because it's not quite perfect you know it's kinda hard to explain and some people say you're full of whatever that's fine that's just kind of what I like so maybe flaring into lance's good here's our set up so single scrim hovering above hooded man with speed light shooting into the back of the scrim making this beautiful soft illumination across the length of her body and speed light in the back of the cave that was about thirty feet back in the cave so just enough and it really wasn't very high power just enough to create that boom you can put almost on minimum power and it creates a little flare have it's on to higher power than it's gonna adversely affect the contrast and also the lighting in the back of the cave so very simple notice how we have warm clothes on and she doesn't so nice we are okay so here's your virtual window and uh again you can buy it or make your own from pvc pipe and go to the hardware store buy this stuff put it together actually made a little d I y video on how to make one of these yourself and maybe maybe that's run that we'll just say it it happens I don't mind gadgets and yet so sometimes I can't really afford all yet is there get so I'll make it myself like a good example of that these air rate devices using your studio location and I have store bought versions of here's a bowflex like right here that I've had for many years and I love him I use them all the time way have this project come up once where we had a bunch of photographers got charity shoot down part we needed like ten of these lights sounds we couldn't afford tto order get them all at times we just decided to make our own so we did a do it yourself and went down to local hardware store made one several actually for pushing their chief they're not quite as good as the store bob once as far as being lightweight portable for example this photo flex bird here is made from aluminum pulls apart collapses it's easy tio very easy put that together very story and wind and come to these diffusion or reflector fabrics different types of fabrics gold surface silver service and they're very very useful but it's also not anything everybody's budget so if you're on a budget maybe you want to try out some like camels to see if you like and use them then maybe invest in better calling you want like motorplex then that's why do yourself the way you like another great for using the sun you can use him out of the water you can use it in a studio or on location could fire speed by two studio strode mixes beautiful gorgeous window light soft wrapping one of my favorite most versatile lady tools so the photo flex burton is here I mean you are yourself version to match the size of the photo flex exactly the same so that we can interchange the fabrics if we need to so you don't know how to sew a border on or you can't find the fabric a little fabric store you could just buy batteries and photo flex and use your own brain to make you friends that spirited combining together I love they used them sometimes together combine several frames big lighting source or if you have other people you're working for give them each a frame to use for landing situation works great so we could make one of these in just a little bit of time and money so let's go shopping shopping here's a list of the things you're gonna need to buy three ten foot sections of three quarter inch pvc pipe has cost about six fifty need for elbow joints look seventy two t fittings that's gonna be cents and you probably gonna need some ripstop nylon sixty inches by two yards forward perfect an elastic cord to run through the pipe buck eighty grand total twenty bucks eighty five cents this here's the last of the tools you're going to need you need a small hacksaw you need a marker again we're probably gonna want a tape measure some instant glue and a sewing machine but if you don't have one then you need a body that has a mission quick trip to the hardware stores where you want to get it started check this out we're gonna get a three quarter inch diameter pipe and I want the one that it's a little thicker around the edges here it's a higher rating of about four hundred eighty five hundred p s I rating so the walls are thicker makes it just a little stiffer and they're coming ten foot links interested three quarter diameter outside dander it's ten foot length that probably need about three of these make a frame around the edges as well as a cross for to support the froth we also need some elbow joints so just need these press on three quarter inch to match the tubing and ninety degree elbows on so we're going to get four of these for each corner ok bose way also going to get some of these t fittings three quarter inch press on t fittings and this will be in the middle with the option to put across bar for support so this kind of break up our long six foot sections into three foot sections so get to the beans supposed to goofy music alright you have like eight toolboxes already honey this is different right here battery power blowers friend vicky gave the idea of using this studio to blow people love their hair but dress make kids laugh who battery powered goes anywhere great tool e wayne don't they'll use justice you about one inch wide last get about three feet this way one inch elastic this is a nice way last for about twenty feet this is just a run through that light inside like help older pieces together so if you find a little thicker one that would work too but it's really just meant to hold the pieces from getting lost and separated easier to simple old then stop wait wait wait good stress booth why which is why you must stay long if you want to wait too long because I sleep to the same so we want double diffusion for extra softness you could actually later two together one of top of the other way okay we've gathered all of our supplies here first thing we're going to make and basically what I want to do is make out of each ten foot section a thirty four section another thirty four section and thirty six and a half inch section that they're all right and that you two verticals and one more is awful curtains put section we have two burgers on the left right or not are part of one board of bar but little forays portrays is optional people will make a stand now so this will make about half of the brain so we need to cut each section just like this one have a leftover single thirty six and a half from where they started I know where all that noise came from there was not laid out a whole lot like for our teo finish frames all right you don't really have to glue them because when you first these joints in together here they are pretty sticky they're hard to get a part I like to just glue one side of the joint because you really don't need to separate all of it all the time and that way you only pull up one side and far after you glue that joints on it's a nice little handy tip to mark which side is not glued a little arrow like that or something that just helps you remember which side to actually pull out which part separates you don't end up pulling on the glued in forever and realizing exclude it's helpful just to make a little area and you could make a little happy face if you want or you see a hole okay our last step is to run our elastic through the middle of the pipe again this is not absolutely necessary but I don't want to get a lot of cases together following questions when you're a sibling it on scene much quicker because everything has already located a little joins together we're good to go from plastic through all the edges of the surrounding my audio is not like that I don't know what's going on bullet rather fight and tie it off do that just in here hopefully what you got your elastic calls for you guys you don't matter attention on it so it helps to keep the pieces connected so pull it rather tight so there's some tension uh and all the joints are actually touching each other and then tie it off you got your elastic tied off the friend usually collapses when you're ready to go just pulling all the pieces up just like that and into your camera bag and the nice thing again about the elastic is that keeps everything in the right spot so that when you're ready to disable it lay it out on a flat surface helps you to get your joint square and just lightly press fit the pieces into the tubes and your frame is ready to go ready for fabric so once you have your nylon fabric cut out you're gonna take your elastic pieces and just sew them across the corner right here little stitch there will still be there if you just wanted bagnall and that holding on to the frame you can wrap this on to your frame so one elastic on each corner so I need to do if you're not a handy so earth and needed a friend here's your completed panel ready diffuse your light and create beautiful soft wrapping window light just about anywhere have fun with it go create beautiful light all right so he gets inspired to go make your own stuff now okay let's go let's go shopping okay so when you're using your frame whether it's your d I y here's our ears are actually making a cameo appearance this movie star right here so again very very simple sturdy and the cross bar is not hundred necessary but it is nice to actually keep it from tweaking out on us and uh we'll use that in addition to our homemade one are store bought ones later on one of the things when you put your speed light behind it is to make sure you've zoomed ahead talked about zooming it so that it fills as much of this is possible you can see if it's that twenty eight millimeters it actually illuminates pretty nicely the whole panel but if you're at thirty five you're only getting about that much then you're really not taking advantage of the full window it's not going to be soft and that's easy to overlook and then you're like wow my things not very soft and your head zoom tow hundred millimeters you're getting a little tiny circle like this of light then it sort of defeats the purpose of having this big window so easy to test you just set your flash and take a picture of the back of your frame and you'll see that flash pattern right there and you can tell if it's wide enough or not okay so here we have that yummy window light in place very simple setup but put right next to your subject as close as possible just had a camera view and in itself will wrap and give you a nice shadow there's still detail in the shadows but a very shapely beautiful light and I've used this for again head shots kids the nice thing about larger light sources is that say you have children on the ground playing with a larger light source they can actually move about say they crawl they lean over they fall over there playing on top of each other it covers more of that area so you don't have to worry about moving your light source if you have just like a little soft box and the kid moves half a foot over your light changes considerably right the larger light source they could move around and it's really not that big a deal it's gonna look good simple little addition of a little soft reflector creates you know just absolute perfect portrait light if you want a dead reflector again that's just fine it's very dramatic as a lot of character to it you want to open it up a little bit just add a little tiny bit of soft reflector and you'll notice here this reflector that I use is the soft diffusion material a lot of people throw in a white or silver totally fine if that's what you're looking for but I found that to keep the light looking natural so that it doesn't look like you've got additional lights the soft works better with soft creates that phil it's just right without being overwhelming same setup here used for a little head shot dealio in the studio all we have on here is that one panel just to the edge little speed light up there you can see a little flare from that that lights up her hair and a little edge light that's what the road grid on it so this is really just to speed lights one with road grid one speed light behind the panel right here and you've got this really what looks like three or four lights going on but it's just a very simple very simple set up and that's just a chandelier behind her when I saw that in like uh look little subliminal message that's mayor night may not be true let's take that outside so this is a family portrait in central oregon very typical people want the mountains with these gorgeous mountain range but I have to get the mountains exposed and somehow get decent light on the people and that can be tricky but this is simply that same diffusion frame but held horizontally with a triple flash head behind it to give me enough power and recycle time to then balance my exposure that I had for the sky in the mountains so it's pretty simple I exposed for the background drop it one stop so said my ambient minus one that's how I get the saturated colors and more the blue sky and have this andean light becomes my fill light I understand that so if I if I bring the ambient one stop down that could be my fill light in the shadows and then the flashes the main light so I don't need a second fill light because the ambience the phil when it's at least one stop under what the main line's gonna be so that's why I reduced exposure at least one stop saturated colors and the phil panels over here with triple speed light boom and the sun is actually backlighting that's what this edge light is from the sun so having them backlit by the sun is very simple to do just out of curiosity do you um sort of a set of the scene and get all of your lighting where you want and then bring the people in or you have them come in and then try to balance everything yeah that's a great question and actually I've got a whole little piece here coming up about my thought process of building a scene and answer that question exactly um couple quick questions does the crossbar cast a shadow no if you're if you're lights uh far enough back um we're not too far back brother where I've shown you about her arm's length behind it there's enough wrapping around with the light and everything else that you just don't see it if the subject was like right up next to with the cross bar right there you might see a little of that soft thing but a normal distance where you're going to use this I've never seen any effect on the crossbar and actually the that leads nicely into my second question sorry that first question was from peter peter underscore s and this new question is from says row and j b can you talk about the brackets that are holding the panel I noticed in that image that you had a couple bar's going back to alight on a stand yeah yeah let's actually pull it up right quick night alicia grab our panel there are these other crossbars you just pull up just the crossbars and there's a there's a single wait pull in there so what I've taken is the you can buy these cross bars of suppose you could make one yourself but this is the photo flex one and these they're made to go across the middle of the frame so what I've done is taken a couple of extra ones and put them angled back like a triangle and then white bar should be in one of those two bags I get one more of these arms here don't need thio client clank leg all right get out of people thing yes thanks for that matter so alicia's my frame and uh this I just this is a scrap piece of pvc from our little d I y so that becomes my vertical cross bar which these innit just clip right into that that's your your leg hold the standup so there she is light panel girl or it could be like a rickshaw let's go you look so you hold on to that if you would so those going to the edge of the frame and then here you can also clamp on I've got little clamps to hold uh speed light sorry for my blood on your face everybody but uh one of my older you could do something like this uh this is something I bought from one of those helmet cams have these helmet cams and this is made to clamp onto handlebars your bike it's got like a little mini ball head thing on the top so you can put that right on here lock it down and then attach your flash onto that so you could use a super clamp there's other kind of clamps you can figure out a way to do it but again using lightweight stuff that I already have touch your flash and now you don't need a light stand the whole thing supports itself and just light waves pick it up where you want cool setup that's right thank you ok anything else okay good right frank through almost almost ready have little brick uh this is again using one panel mixed with natural light uh brian a pool early morning natural light was the fill one panel of above to create just a little bit of soft shaping across there our second type of light the soft shapely shadows shipley shadows comes from a medium sized diffusion light source so an octa box this is a photo flex product that I love there's ah quick box or easy box this is an instant pop up soft boxes for speed lights um I've got one from being h quick clocks that I'll show you guys or this using our disk and firing your speed light through the disk that creates soft shapely shadows example of that and you juice little bridal portrait to lights soft bucks little octo up here and a speed like directly behind her for the backlight edge light I'm like thiss know who's all blurry I use one of my actions thea edge blur action and photoshopped our dashboard and uh kind of simulated till shift and well when we start shooting images pull him in and I'll show you that that particular tool and use photo shop if you like boys but you're like voice hey again actor model head shot kind of delio same thing of one little edge box are soft box up here with speed light the road grid shooting the edge light the kicker on the side of his face here also hitting the background that's really important is that kicker does double duty ej is his face gives a nice hole snap more depth and it also gets this cool pattern and illuminates the metal behind him for that contrast so using one light as to I have my sometimes I'll say that one light is two means you're gonna feather or use one light to do one purpose as well as another so it could be it could be a fill light plus part of a background light so simple set up two lights but one of them's acting is too is an edge light and a background light by feathering it here's a great uh classic example of how you love to do bridal portrait when I don't have much to work with I got a short amount of time and then a reception and I said ok let's sit down at the table we'll create a quick portrait of you one of my favorite techniques as faras compositionally is to have crap in front of my lens stuff in the front shooting through you know it could be even bringing a plant in could be holding something that's going to give a little depth so we always have a foreground a middle and back whenever possible not always but sometimes you can't do it and uh the foreground middle back ground single disc right here with a speed light firing through it speed light in the back in the fireplace flaring into the lens again and then once be light up here with a blue sticky filter gel to create the look of evening moonlight coming through a window skipping across the fireplace in the back and you'll notice um and a lot of my images I really like this color play of warm and cool the blue and the warm a lot of times actually really gel to create contrast where is really warm there and really cool here or vice versa and I like that feeling like that play there might be colors that you like or some sort of a signature feel that you may find you gravitate to and that's great so for me it's the warm kool the blue in the warm wanted I can combine those I feel like it creates a kind of richness that I like so there's a set up amber sticky filter jill slapped in the front of that speed light illuminating this disk evenly you can see that and uh that's all that's lighting her edition there's a little phil popping off the tablecloth obviously hoping to fill her face and then lights in the background and then we have our crispin direct which could be a beaut dish she could be a road grid which we're going to play with or just the flash by itself so crisp in direct is when we want something mohr edgy more like sunlight but with control that's the things that you want a sunlight feel but you want to control it more than the sunlight compositionally same thing kind of my style is to have something in the foreground something in the middle of something in the back and create a little depth to help create depth and story which is really important is that there you get a sense of something going on and one of things we're going to try to work on is we go through the day maybe not today but the rest of our show it does create little stories and I think that when you're doing portraiture that had so much value to your portrait when you can create a story based on the person's personality or if it's an engagement shoot finding something they loved to do and building a story about it story here was we're going to create a shoot and I imagine in my head okay you guys were runaways you kind of have this fifties look to your style so let's pretend you're runaways you want to take your love to a higher level but your families don't approve so you're gonna grab your luggage grab the dad's truck and head out on the highway and the truck breaks down the middle of nowhere so you jump out you grab your luggage you make out a little while here then you grab your luggage then you're running down the street together and you're happy that truck's broken but you don't care because you're together and you're in love and it's just wonderful right you know honey hold me hold me okay so that's the whole story I laid it on them like this is what this is what I'm thinking you guys into it's like yeah okay so this is like all right we need a poodle skirt thinks she would online is gonna fly find poodle skirt and we ended up making one or something how do we get a little scared um so had a poodle skirt of the fifties thing we borrowed this luggage from antique store free again this is something that I want to talk about more toys in the today but when you're creating projects that involve chickens roosters ok especially with roosters no other rooster part you could do just about anything is a photographer if you ask huh there's a guy there wonder what's going on on the real world here there's a rooster crowing right buying these somewhere like perfect timing is they actually accenting my comments but a lot of the shoes we did uh involved just asking for props goingto antique store is going to jewelers going to places we have props for a shoot we're gonna do this weekend we got some really cool jewelry and I just went to the jeweler and said hey love your stuff I'd love to use in a photo shoot I'll give you free prints can I can I take this and he's like yeah I walked out the store earlier with like ten thousand dollars worth of jewellery nothing for a shoot and that's happened over and over again and it's all because you asked and of course you you know might have a business card that's not hand written would be nice you know but ugh it's so important for you to create projects that help you show what you can do what you want to do with your photography and push it you could do it and you can make it happen by just asking the right people are asking enough uh huh and the rooster agrees they all right so here is our set up a little beauty dish boom main light coming down on them the ambient light becomes my fill light here's another shot uh do this engagement shoot in a bookstore and as we're getting ready for the shoot uh he's helping me clean up and I'm like porn for women right there he's vacuuming she's sitting there reading a book like this is this is awesome like stand right there so he's like dude come on don't make me do this and like no no no we've got to do this and she was just like loving it just like this is what I want to see you know him vacuuming while I sit here and read a book so we uh it was actually not even plan we're doing some other things and we things just evolved and happen and we just played off of that but it's really a crisp light coming across here to look more like a an old style direct light that emulate the lamp light coming down from a beauty dish right across that way this is a ah single speed light with the road grid held right above straight down dial the ambient down at least two stops this is shot the middle of the day like that to make it look moody like an evening and a lounge we just dial the ambient light down to two and half stops and you get a monkey toed assistant they can hang on and held your speed light right above us like that

Class Description

Learn to create studio quality lighting under almost any condition! With lightweight, affordable, and portable lighting tools, Kevin Kubota will teach you to create beautiful portrait lighting in a variety of environments from typical urban locations to more challenging situations. He'll teach you how to do it using speedlights and smaller, battery-powered lights with simple and affordable accessories to modify and control the light. And after every shoot, Kevin will download and show how he quickly processes and enhances his images in Lightroom and Photoshop before even leaving the scene!


Karen Witter

I LOVED this class and I don't hesitate to recommend it! Kevin did a great job explaining how to incorporate additional lighting for on-location shoots and what those items would be. Then he illustrated those ideas for the class in various types of shoots. I loved the gear he recommended and especially his DIY suggestions. He has a great sense of humor and I felt like I was right there in the class. I would highly recommend this class to anyone who shoots on location and wants to make sure they're not only using the best lighting options but also the best lightweight lighting options.