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Compressing the Scene

Lesson 4 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Compressing the Scene

Lesson 4 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

4. Compressing the Scene


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Principles of Light


Speedlights vs Strobes


Compressing the Scene


Location Lenses and Lenshoods


Metering Modes and Back Button Focus


Natural Light Reflectors


Lesson Info

Compressing the Scene

that intensity alike figuring out okay so when do you want to improve the quality we talked about quality so if it's harsher soft is it doesn't look nice on their skin does it fit the mood of your photograph like maybe you're going for super drama and they have this really soft light doesn't doesn't work but intensity how break how much that is what we're going to talk about right now and you can use a meter to decide if it's too much you can use your eye and then you make the decision so we're going to kind of break that down here all right so if you want to my skin wanna one class I did a brief segment where I talked about compressing the exposure compressing the scene I'm not talking about using a long lens that's one that's compressing a scene I'm talking about exposures what you do when you have something that's really really bright and really really dark to be able to capture that in one image because that's a problem that we run into quite a bit okay so let's take a good look at...

what this means okay dynamic range so I know was dynamic range from hdr right like you shoot a couple pictures you put it together you get detailed underexposed won you over exposed the other you put not talking about that uh this is something totally different I don't know if eren did any of that in yesterday's class aaron ace did a class compositing wise what dynamic range basically means this is my simplified version but I like to do why do we actually care versions versus technical because that's all I wanna know okay how much information do you actually catch and the brightest highlights in the dark of shadows what kind of so when you say high dynamic range like those images that you photoshopped together you took a picture over exposing under exposed so you got a lot of detail in the highly eyes and a lot of detail in the shadows and you photoshopped it together so dynamic range just really means how much information can you get from the highlights to the shadows and some cameras are better than others and there are certainly limitations these numbers are rough it depends on who you talk to our eyes can capture a lot remember what I said about stops okay remember how each one is double so twenty stops is not is not going to be in this case eight steps more it's exponential like twenty stopped is a massive range that our eyes can see two super bright highlights to really really dark shadows but let's go down to medium format cameras and d s lars keeping in mind that this is exponentially smaller that's piney and something great some cameras there are more than that some are less but that is not much information at all um okay so I wanted to give a shout out to digital transitions they're based in new york and they let me a phase one camera with the I q two fifty okay so this is a medium format camera and I'm looking at the pictures and I'm like holy crap the's are awesome why is that and so much what I thought and I guess I'm just not super educated in this like I didn't quite realize I thought that the whole reason you do meeting format is resolution right because you've got like you know sixty megapixels there's a leaf back that has eighty like insane um and so I thought it was resolution you can blow the pictures up huge but then there's a phone that does ford is not a phone that is forty megapixels or something stupid okay those pictures do not look like the pictures coming out of a phase camera for example so why is that one of the huge reasons is dynamic range a medium format like buffets can capture a great deal of information in the highlights and shadows resolution just how many mega pixels it's not the same as how much information so let me give you my my illustration of this my my bucket example okay you got your compact camera here your dslr in your meeting format I you'll hear me talk about this without a doubt I always compare lights toe water I'll talk about my buckets of water like you'll hear it if you haven't heard me say this already uh because ready for my nerdy thing light is particles and photons okay I listen anyone listen to radio lab I was just listening to that and like that makes me sound smarter because I get to learn about these things long story short light actually behaves a lot like particles and it actually behaves often like water all right so let's take a look at this bucket example the bottom of the bucket is shadow detail the top will be highlight ok if a bucket is full it's overexposed ok when you're working with a medium format camera we're at it let's say any camera you have on your sense or little photo sites right basically the things that collect your light you have all these different little cells that make up your picture they collect the light to decide if it's dark or if it's light if it's under exposure is over exposed on that specific pixel when you move up from a compact camera to a dslr to a medium format camera those sites get bigger and so they collect more information so for example when we move up to the big bucket it takes a lot more light for it to spill over so you can hold a lot more detail on the highlights before it becomes overexposed and also the difference between the bucket full and the bucket empty it's a big guys where's over here there's not really much difference between the the full and empty bucket this would be like your stop range so you have more stops of light you can capture so when I've looked at a phase picture and I've seen somewhere looking at and I'm like it looks like almost kind of hdr ish but not and I can't quite figure out why it's because they had all this information in the shadows all this information the highlights and everything in between so when they process it they've got all that information versus if you're working with less when it over exposes when it flows over it's gone and there's only a little bit of information in the shadows versus a lot more information you can capture in the shadows so that's where having a sixty thousand dollar camera helps you out and honestly when this is not not just pitching it like when you look at a lot of this working just it looks a little different can't quite tell why sometimes it's that sometimes it's that dynamic range thing right there so there's lars it's like five six some of them go to nine medium format twelve or fourteen like I said our eyes are still at twenty plus but that lead at least gets us closer and by the way internet nerds uh I'm injured too so it's okay um there's certain high definition video cameras that are getting close to once it's processed actually having close to what our eyes can see crazy those go way up in price so that's not really applicable especially for a one on one class I'm thinking we're not going to do that okay so here's the deal we have got are five to six range for most of us when you've got someone standing against a bright sky in a son and then their face is not lit there is way more than a five or six stop difference between the light on their face and the light on their hair for it simple this is just my base example so what you've got to do is you've got to find a way to even that out and so that is what I call compressing the scene it's what it is that you're controlling thie exposure range because there's no way that your camera can get it all so you've got to do it when you're lighting on location and you khun do this in a variety of ways so let's take the backlit hair example yet again one thing that I could dio is I could go ahead put a diffuser behind the subject we're going to talk about this basically that darkened down the hair now when exposed for the face it's pretty similar to the hair you could do that but if the background still bright case no kind of running in circles there alright so well that may be what I could d'oh is I could darken down my exposure so the hairs correctly exposed but now because I darkened on exposure there face it has no light whatsoever then I had a speed light where I had a strobe and populate in so when I talk about compressing exposure controlling the intensity that's kind of what I'm talking about is if there's something way too right and way too dark and it's it's not pleasing you're trying to bring it closer together but it is all to taste like it is all based on what you like there are definitely fashion photographers that every picture is totally overexposed and then really dark shadows and that's their gritty look and okay but we're talking about portrait's where you usually don't want tohave extremely bono highlights extremely dark shadows so you get the detail on the highlights in the shadows you can see what I usually do as I say what can I do to control the bright spots doe eyed darken it with my exposure or do I darken it with the diffuser or scream what what can I do to control those highlights and the ones I do that fill in the dark areas so that's kind of in the intensity realm that I'm talking about so let's see couple things related to vent all right so you know for example here's one way to compress the dynamic range the exposure range of the seen this is what it looks like in general if I go ahead and I just let my camera tell me what it thinks is the correct exposure this is what it's giving me she's still really dark that's still really bright I said okay well the backgrounds really bright so I'm going to control my highlights by darkening it down and I will actually when we get into this in the next couple of days I'll actually tell you how to right now I'm just going to tell you the concept that you can so go all right all right so I got to control this exposure range because my camera cannot capture all of this all right so I underexposed now I got that nice detail on this guy I've got the exposure there you know and this is this is probably like this is going to be way over ten eleven twelve stops that that sunlight it's probably closer to even what are I can see all right so I went ahead I darkened it down now she doesn't even exist you can't see her so in order to bring detail back into her face into the shadows I gotta pop the light in so that is what I'm thinking when I'm looking at a scene as well what can I do to make it so my camera can capture it in a pleasing way in a way that looks nice this scene I know that with a reflector I'm not going to get anything even close to this I could however get her lit nice with natural light but I'm not going to get this detail on this guy so I don't have enough light to illuminate her face so basically when you talk about compressing dynamic range you're talking about making the difference between the brightest part of the scene and the darkest part of the scene as close together as possible so either making everything really bright we're making everything really dark or somewhere in the middle where ever happens to fall yeah and I used to do somewhere in the middle and so that's basically what I would have you had that's beautifully worded you're trying to move the highlights and in the shadows up or you can shift it but I also don't want them to be exactly the same like if I have a hair late I don't want it to be exactly the same as the face because then you don't see it so all of this is like in general but yeah you're trying to make us your camera can capture everything which usually means highlights get over here get in control okay shadows only pump some light and trying to capture more of it not only like yeah if I had a meeting for my camera helps but still not necessarily pleasing to have that dynamic range I'm kind of pulling everything in and another term is controlling the exposure range dynamic range is helmet information your camera can capture your here controlling the exposure range so here's one other example here you know so here's compressing the exposure she got really bright highlights on her face is that cause some dark shadows in her hair if I defused the light and well I'll show you how this is done now it just kind of evens about it brings it into the camera can capture the highlights and the shadows this of course is slightly misleading because this one also changes the quality and kind of the direction because it wraps which is why I started with this one because this is literally what I'm trying to say like this is the definition of what I'm trying to say control those highlights control the shadows as well okay so I would like to pop over there and give a quick demo of this inaction so I'm going to walk over that direction and guys I'd like to have my camera please all right um and for my lovely audience um you might have to show your eyes slightly I'm gonna turn on the sun thank you and yes even for a second um just even you will be my model for a second you my lovely model thank you oh yeah I'll take that okay cool myself disappear all right guys so I am going to turn on the sun we rented a to k lite so if you know what that means you will be looking away right now okay the reason I have this pointed at the cameras that this is probably not ideal for filming but we're going to go for a back hair light okay so all right so I warned us I uh okay so this is this is like sunset at the end of the day right sun's getting low behind him it's very very bright let's take a couple meter readings here I will talk about this tomorrow let's turn this on I have a sick connick late master pro um the numbers l force of an a d r it's the it's the touch screen one okay all right so I'm going to put my I s so um let's just pick four hundred for right now I'm going to do my shutter speed at one two hundredth of a second I'm just meeting for like if I'm taking a picture no flash whatever so let's see what it gives me for power here okay so that is eight oh okay so that's how bright this latest let's take a look at the light on his face off there are some lights on in this room if there weren't any this would be even more drastic let me just take a quick read one point oh that's not eight like that's exponential it's not like eight steps up its one point oh then you go to one point two two point oh two point eight four point oh five point six eight point I mean that's your camera can't capture that way too much even if it did it's not pleasing so I've got to go in my head all right what do I have to try to bring this in so I can actually capture and actually look good can you put the camera can you grab the diffuser real quick all right so and it's just oh just that one on top that that one you know you want the ambient light down here our studio lights oh no it's still really bad so it's great perfect okay can you go ahead and defuse this so what the diffuser is going to dio is it cuts down on light and we're going to have a huge section on diffusers talk about how you use them which ones you might use distance how that makes a difference also the stop amount but if I go ahead and I take another reading three point two it dropped it down from eight point oh by three to three point too so now maybe it's still going to be a bit of a different on this difference on his face but now maybe I could okay not so much hair light exposed for his face and even out that way or have you dropped that I could go ahead and take a reflector uh maybe I'll go this way okay and I could go ahead catch some of that light on his face so take a reading of what that is now two point eight two eight us so I still would have to do something to manage this light maybe it's defusing it maybe I've gotto underexposed and add a flash so this is the type of thing that I'm talking about you run into these scenes in reality where you can't possibly capture how bright the face and the hair would be or how much the highlight on the top of the forehead and underneath the chin would be so you do something to balance it out so think of controlling then immigrant controlling the exposures so it's not super bright and super dark uh in this instance you could also put that overhead you could also combine everything three point two two point two so this is a little bit brighter suit a little bit of hair light yeah would that make a difference depending on where you place that diffuser closer or further away from the light it does make a difference but I'm gonna hold it only because I do it later okay but like I just find it better later like that I can't hear but it does make a bit of a difference in how much the light wraps as well as how intense it is but the other thing as well is this makes a difference the amount of diffusion there's different amounts there's quarter stops three quarters full stop one half stop two stops literally how much light does it cut out and so on the big on the huge production movie scenes I was watching um behind this okay now if this were a little behind the scenes of the django like django the movie and they had like a plantation house and they had a zoomed back view and it was a forty foot by forty foot giant diffuser over the scene really far away and when you looked at the pictures of them it was just really soft light and that's how they were trying to control that because it was the middle of the day really really bright not only is improving the quality softening it but also in that case the intensity you know they would have really bright highlights which would be distracting in the in the film it was cool that behind the scenes of the movie is really good all right so um let me see if there's a question on that real quick I don't think I need to take a picture of got examples but I'm just telling you super dark super bright may get me in the middle a little bit more absolutely I think one of things that I want to do really quick before we get into too many questions is just ferment remind everybody that while this is a one o one class we're going to go into a lot of detail over the three days so desert flower was asking if this is if this is a one o one basis class quiet you explaining what the equipment isn't showing it we don't know what it is well over the next three days that's exactly what we're going to do we're going to go in great detail on everything so this is an introduction talking about some of the concepts of light that you need to know before you really get started using all this equipment and we will be getting into those details throughout the three days so just want to give that a little bit of a disclaimer on that and also just a reminder for everybody I see your questions coming in about speed lights about strobes about all these things gear and just a reminder that kind of as lindsay set up today we're kind of focusing more on natural light and the introductory concepts tomorrow we'll be talking about strobes and then on dave three will be talking about speed lights and then wrapping it up and talking about putting it all together so just while you're asking your questions today let's focus on natural light and save those other questions for the next two days but question for you from fashion tv if you don't mind when outdoors in the absence of a light meter do you have any tips on measuring the amount of ambient light how do you decide introducing artificial light via strobes verse is opening up a few stops in terms of aperture eso when you don't have a meter to two actually meter so there's two answers to this question uh the first answer is if you don't want to use a meter at that point you can also just go with I'm say this lightly what looks good and but what I mean by that is you can go ahead and first trying to set your exposure so that hair light looks good like shooting manual go ahead dial it in so everything looks nice and then see what you can do to get this main light to illuminate correctly you can also use your camera and try to point roughly at the light source in order to get in that case you're going tohave incident readings I get into that as well which is why I'm kind of bounced around it without quite getting into it what I'm going to do is I'm going to kind of blast through a few more of these essential concepts because after this then I go step by step to this is this reflector this is this diffuser this is how you use it this is the angle but you'll hear me say compressed the exposure range no hear me say these things so I'm goingto introduced that and I'm going to just wait a little bit more as soon as as soon as we're done with this then you're home free like step by step

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class was amazing. Lindsay Adler is a great presenter...I learned so much.....I love that she spoke about natural light..strobes and speedlites. Wonderful information. I purchased this and I am glad I did. Great job Lindsay. Jean


Lindsey Adler is one of the best and most engaging photography instructors in the USA. I highly recommend this lighting course. It felt more like a 101 and a 102 course than just a basic course. She teaches in a way that makes learning alot of fun and the amount of time & effort that she puts into her video and class presentations are second to none. Her classes are well worth their weight in gold and you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge!


Lindsay is amazing , I love the way she explains everything!! This course is filled with GREAT information and helps you better understand natural lighting,strobe and flash. Thank You Lindsay, please keep your classes coming!

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