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Types of Shade and Window Light

Lesson 13 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Types of Shade and Window Light

Lesson 13 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

13. Types of Shade and Window Light

Next Lesson: Shooting at Noon


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

Types of Shade and Window Light

and we're going to talk a little bit about shade thiss could be overcast but right now we're going to talk about shade that exists on a sunny day in particular and there are two types of shade which it took me a really long like I knew this kind of intrinsically like I kind of figured it out but I couldn't quite put it into words there's two types of shade there's covered shade and open shade generally covered shade is better than open shade for flattering a face generally so let's look at what that means okay so this is open shade it's like middle ok eso open shade means the person is in shade without something over their head which would be like if you're walking past a building in the middle of the day there's nothing above your head but you can be in the shade cast by the sun from the building which is the case here so nothing above their head so before I said what you want to look for is to figure out what the actual light source is in the scene well the sun's hidden so it's not t...

here and in this case the actual source of light is this the open sky above your head so the problem that you will see with open shade is most of the time you'll see highlights in the forehead and the nose a little bit on the cheeks and deep set shadows in the eyes or deep dish set shadows in the eyes it's not uh it's not really bright it's not really glowing it's not exactly ideal shape covered shade on the other hand is something over there head like uh with another word for this is porch light you could even call it garage light which means they're in the shade there's something blocking off over their head and in this case if it's not the light from above cause that can't reach hurts it's blocking off then it's gotta be the light from the head and the light from straight ahead is going to be much flatter and it will fill in the eyes it's not as much from above which gives you that the shadows in the eyes it's more from straight ahead so when I shoot men this is exaggerating I'm kind of ah generalizing here what I shoot men sometimes I'm okay with open shade you know they get a little bit darker shadows and your eyes and I go for a little bit more carved out jawline but that just doesn't usually work well with women I'll shoot both men and women this way it's a little bit flatter light a lot more sparkle to the eyes so I can show you a couple examples of that and here's a video on a bright and sunny day one of the easiest ways to improve the quality of life on the subject's face is to get them in the shade you get them out of that direct harsh sunlight but the thing is that what people don't realize is not all shade the same there is some shade that's better than others I remember when I first started shooting so on the bright and sunny day I'd put the person underneath the tree and then that was it and I would think all the light was good but later on I realized there's a big difference between open and covered shade so let's take a look at this particular example right now my lovely model is standing in open shade and what that means is if you look directly above her head there's nothing but open sky so it's it's open shape this might also be if someone were under the shape casted by a tree but there was no tree or no building or anything over overhead basically it's just there in the shade usually what this would be is if someone's in the shade of the side of a building the top of the building is in extending but the building is casting a shadow and they're standing in that shadow okay covered shade it was when someone has something over top of their head this would be like porch or a doorway or an overhang of a building something where there's a canopy or something directly over their head the reason this makes a big difference is where the light is coming from in these two instances in the example of open shade the main light source is from directly overhead the difference between the quality of open shade and covered shade is where the light is coming from in open shade the lightest coming basically from directly above the subject because the light source in that instance is the open sky that open shade so in general when you look at the subject's face in this instance and I'm going to stop you in the shade this way just a little bit more right the back up a little on watching for the dashes and shade okay good well you'll see it you'll see highlight center knows on her forehead and then shadows in her eyes this is what open chain does because that light source is directly overhead as soon as you put the covered shade over there head you put something over top that means that the light source is coming from straight ahead so it's much flatter but it tends to be much more flattering because it fills in those shadows in the eyes there's no more highlight on the nose nor highlight on the forehead so I try really hard to look for porch light garage light if you have a garage if you turn off the light inside and step the subject back a couple steps into that garage now basically it's like a giant soft box of big light source from all the light outside that garage so when I take a shot here and we're going to take a look at that light on her face how the light source is coming from a head and all these mics lighting situations and then when I step her back it flattens out becomes much more flattering all right let me take a couple shots I'm just going to make sure she really is in the shade and doesn't accidentally step out into the sunlight which is also here right there okay perfect so this is typically what you see with open shade okay so it's a little bit makes a little bit shadows in her eyes face me this way one more time great this is great and chin down one more a little bit all right good okay so there's just kind of mixed light all around like theirs late on her nose shadows in her eyes like her forehead it's kind of just bouncing from all around from coming up from the sky so what we're gonna try to do is just step her back and ideally you don't want to pick something that has a light source from above you just want an overhang something to block off over their head so here's another instance right there and look at me so this is still pretty much open sky all right I'm gonna step you back into the doorway so keep going back just a little bit all right and feel no light on your face perfect right there something step up great and look right at me and won more now if you look the light is very flat but in a good way it's very glowing there's no more weird mixed directions of light it's just all coming from the front all right so this is that's definitely one approach that I use all the time if I confined covered shade if you shoot weddings this is a huge one if you're trying to do a portrait of the couple and you don't want to have to have them looking a specific way tohave nice light just if you find an overhang our porch do that and I remember there was a book that was called something like it's okay it sounded kind of sketchy was called like garage glamour photography which is like but grodd your light is gorgeous and the book there's just beautiful glowing light because what it is it's basically a giant window right just a huge window it's blocked off overhead that's just a big soft box on dh this is not five it's three um it so there's there's five variations but it's like three main ways um and uh I'm a preface for this real quick is we're talking about window light and you're probably thinking like well window lights not location like my point is when you go somewhere if the light where you are is just bad find a window like you can make beautiful light if you can find any window at any location but a garage door that's pretty similar to your window even a big porch it's kind of similar quality of light shooting on location doesn't always mean you're actually shooting outdoors you might be shooting at a venue with big beautiful windows you might be shooting at night so right now I want to give you three tips for utilizing window like wherever you are to create beautiful images so the set up that I have right now it looks like you'd have to be in a studio to have right I've got these big white v flats but what you're actually looking for is you're going to look for a large window across from a white wall and what this does is it creates a lot of really beautiful light trap so this is going to be lighting setup using a window number one you've got the light coming through the window and what it does is it bounces off of the white wall and basically this white wall becomes a big white reflector really soft and flattering light that light bounces back hits the model and now it's blowing from every angle and what you'll actually see if you look at her catch lights or these this big beautiful big huge flat catch late actually from the wall you can actually see me in that catch light now of course but you could also do let's say that you're on location and you look and you see a window and there's no white wall behind it two things you might dio is actually take the diffuser or take the scream that you have in your kit and set it up behind you so now that becomes a big white wall anywhere you go all you'll need to create this gorgeous light is a window and it shouldn't have direct like if you noticed this isn't sunlight coming through it's actually indirect light and then you have that big diffuser the other thing that you want to look for is a hallway any kind of narrow hallway that is has white walls without a lot of color on the walls that's what you're looking for because it'll have the same effect so let's take a couple pictures you can see what this first window lights set up looks like this is one of my favorites particularly for photographing women this is one of my go to for photographing brides alright look right at me perfect thiss that's beautiful right there your eyes look beautiful right there yeah great let's take a look at those pictures so what you're going to see is it is just flat and glowing light and I used to think that flat light was bad light but if you're doing beauty shots it's great now when I look at this image definitely the light behind her is blown out it is bright white there's no detail in it and that's okay if you're going for a really high key picture it actually contributes to the mood so window lighting setup number one the window to the subject's back and a white surface either a scrim or a wall to your back and you have a nice beautiful light trap let's do window lighting set up number two the next lighting setup that you're looking for it would be be exactly opposite off that window and so that's going to do it's going to give nice glowing light typically it's a little bit harsher light than our first letting set up our first letting setup is bouncing off a large white surface so it's going to be really soft and really glowing here you have the light coming directly from the window it's still soft just has a little bit more speculative highlights it's not quite as gentle to the skin but I'm going to make a little bit of a variation first of all if you have the window directly at your back and you're photographing straight onto the model that is going to be when the light is its flattest especially if you're photographing women that's probably a good angle it's glowing from every direction but the problem is is sometimes it kind of washes people out kind of flattens out their features there really isn't much shape in that particular set up so I have a couple tips for how you might vary that right now what we did is we actually put a black of e flat behind her um okay so it's totally not practical for a location lighting course to bring a giant black v flat okay that's not what I'm recommending instead what you would do is he would take your five and one reflector if you have two of these you could have an assistant or perhaps if she's the bride maybe to the bridesmaids hold this behind her and what you want to do is you actually wantto box your subject in with this negative fill this black reflector because what it does is it actually creates shadows on either side of the cheekbone and the jaw into it comes carves their face out so now the light is flat and glowing but their face still has shape this is one of my favorite lighting setups and as a fashion photographer everytime I photograph a model this is the first setup that we do we take the black v flats or are too negative phil reflectors put one on either side of her head and making sure that it's boxing in on the side of the job and I shoot flat towards the window it's going to have nice big catch lights they're sparkling because of the window that is here and then it's gonna have really beautiful shape for joe and you can actually see that so what I'm going to do is going to take a few photos that you can see with the v flats around and then we're going to remove it so you can see a couple when there aren't that negative field there aren't the v flats on either side of her face or the negative phil so let's take a look at what that looks like great and I'm ten straight on to me for one moving just a little take a look beautiful little bit more good and do one more roll your shoulder for it and then look back at me good well that would be perfect great do you mind if I just put this right here perfect great and elbow back just a little bit great perfect right there and then head straight to may get into one were straight on so we can see whether without the flats and not keep your hair behind your shoulders for a second so guys what you're gonna want to do is watch the jaw in the before and after good so stick it to you just a little there you get this point okay and would you remove the v flats and just pull all the way back for me great cool good luck oh yes so there's a big difference between those two in one there's a lot more definition to her job which is using that negative film and what you want to be careful of is if there's a lot of windows on either side of your subject or maybe on the left or right there's a white wall that will also feel in the shadows which might not be what you like or it might be perfect but you just want to be aware of how it's affecting your photograph so lighting set up number two for using window wherever you are find that big window put that window to your back put your subject on the other side of you and consider using negative phil to give definition to the subject's cheek and jaw line so let's do lighting for window light set up number three it's no I wanted to share with you the window lighting setup number three first we have the window lighting her from behind that really soft glowing light then we had the window lighting her from the front with that negative filled to give her a little bit more shape to her cheeks into her john line and now we're going to have a little bit of side light but I wanted to give you a couple tips for this first of all if you pull the model far away step this way for me okay and have her face towards the window depending on where I stand I control the shadows so if I want more shadows on her face I would stand more this way and she'd have to turn her head towards may look towards me and so her face will fall more to shadow if I want flatter light I come around this direction she has to turn her face more towards the window and it will be flatter light so this direction I would get what you call shortly the shadow side of the face towards the camera and then the more that I come over towards this window I get flatter like kind of like the setup we did before so this is nice because you're actually controlling the shadows on the face I'm going to actually try to model the face meaning it's not totally flat like I really had in both of the other shots here we're going to get shadow save a little bit of drama so what have you stand right over here perfect and so now actually pay attention to light on her face I get a little bit of light there you bring your chin just so a tiny bit and then come back towards me so I want more less rembrandt light on her face in other words if you're using a window from the sign pay attention to what the lights doing I see what people make a mistake we will do something to the effect of you looked right at me okay when she did that if you pay attention she has a highlight on her nose and a shadow on her I cast by her hair so you had the right idea because you were going for that shadow and shaping the face yet you weren't really controlling the window light a lot of it has to do with posing ok the other thing you can do is you can use that reflector that you'd use outside that you use on location control how dark and dramatic those shadows are so what we're going to do I'm going to bring you in I'm going to get a picture real quick connection back just a tiny bit and then looked right back at me great and chin down a little good and I can use reflector one of two ways first I'm gonna have you bring the silver up to the front actually the white to the front for me flip it great and all that does is it softens the shadows opens them up a little bit so they aren't as dark because I'm not going for a dark and dramatic picture but I still want a little shadow to her face so that just softens it just it's a tiny bit rate their great great at me and turn back that way just a little bit I'm still washing carefully to make sure she doesn't have too much shadow on her face and eyes back here and then there's one other variety that I can do when a flip that reflect over behind and so right now but say that I'm shooting on location I found this beautiful window but a really dark background behind her and perhaps her hair's blending in well I can actually treat this window light kind of like it's bouncing and I can have it bouncing hit her hit this reflector and catch it to give me a little bit of hair like so using a reflector doesn't just have to be for phil on the subject's face we've actually done this on location often where we would diffuse the light and then kick a little bit of light to separate the subject from the background on their hair exactly what we're doing here wherever you are in location you could do something like this with window light so that will be perfect and come back this way one more time great look right there perfect great and so just gave me a little bit more separation from the background soon notice each one of these has drastically different look the very first set up is high key the second set up is a little bit more dramatic but still flat light and here's when we're able to introduce shadow for more dramatic shot I'm gonna grab one more shot going really dramatic was have you look out the window and you can step out and I'm actually going to shoot from far short like over here I'm really shooting the shadow side of her face good and can you bring your eyes right here just your your chin there but your eyes here great and shin down good and like her eyes here rate they're incheon this way great great they're doing more great perfect all right guys so I wanted to show the picture that I liked best out of the segment because I wanted to mention that every picture in this presentation that was taken as part of the demo like step by step or before after wasn't retouched it's what it looked like out a camera so you see the exposure that exactly what it looks like but I retouch this one so that I could show you kind of what I would go for on then you can see me right there taking a picture you see my red dress and everything was really funny because when I first looked at the shot I like wine her hi slick red and then realized it was my red dress so it's really funny but that was my kind of favorite of the lighting setups and every time that I have a bride I try to do this I tried if I have a scream I try to pop it up behind me and sandwich it in between the window cause this light for brides is just glowing and heavenly and lovely also before we continue on I know rest passed on to me that there are a bunch of questions about the holster that I'm wearing and the pictures and this particular one is a spider holster and it closed me to free my hands it locks and quickly could move around whatever I need also has another thing that you can buy for the side to attach a flash so if you really want to be able to have your hands free or you could put a lens on the side but this is how it's built yes it's spider holster melanie meyer is wondering if this is a dream shoot rental dress because it is thank you it is s o I started a business of beginning ish of this year for right now it's for the united states and we rent haven't guard headpieces and dresses and amazing cool pieces two photographers to do photo shoots so the drew all the clothing that you see in this presentation is from my business so this one I just bought and it's very like the one that she was wearing here it's very like gatsby well so pretty so I bought recently purchased that's awesome because I just get to go shopping for school clothes all the time I bought like flapper outfit to the little head pieces and then I go through another phase where I get like big black spiky thing so I get to play dress up and pick out cool clothes so it's dream shoe rentals dot com the new site launches september first but you can still go there and check stuff out and then the facebook page to list all of our new stuff I remember the first time you were here you we're definitely in a spiky phase there was a lot of spiky I had huge spike rings yeah and people keep asking about my rings those great can I ask a couple questions about this yeah great let's go for thompson world wants to know when lindsey goes from open shade to covered shade what exposure settings issue changing is she just jacking up the so to compensate for the overall darker but more evenly lit area okay so the point is when you go from open changing back into coverage it gets significantly darker um if I am shooting africa priority you have to just be aware that you're sort of speed doesn't go too slow because if you're shooting and you should let your shooting outside it's the summer you're shooting I s so one hundred and you're shooting at like you know two point eight and they back up in slants really dark you could definitely go to a shutter speed that you can't hand hold that gets possibly go to maybe a thirtieth of a second and it goes out of focus I'm orjust aware of it and usually I'll just adjust my shutter speed as long as I'm not shooting longer than I feel like in hand hold if that's the case I bump up my eyes so just to compensate for that and just to answer this question what I feel I can hand hold depends on the lens this is from me personally way back when I learned a rule that you supposed to take the focal length and do one over that focal legs is the longest you should hand hold that lens so let's say you're shooting a two hundred millimeter lens you shouldn't hand hold it one over two hundred so one two hundredth of a second or slower I know I can hand hold more than that especially with an optical stabilized lens its image stabilization vibration reduction whatever you have for your lens I know I could do that it kind of depends with like my fifty one four I know it can handhold comfortably to a sixteenth of the second no problem I've pushed it to our thirtieth but that's not guaranteed so yeah you just have to be aware of what you feel comfortable getting in focus having nice steady hand a sick liro says is there a way to recreate those three window lighting setups outdoors love the look but I had never shoot inside okay so what you're looking for outdoors like for this one in particular you definitely need some kind of covered area overhead like and so even though it's not outdoors that that goes back to that if there's a porch or a garage or like if you go to a picnic area and you have one don't picnic areas or international but of patio and that goes over top something like that you could do something similar on you would have them kind of in far enough that the light from behind doesn't wrap around so what I mean by that is let's say that this is the patio okay this is the edge of it if they're standing here the way that it would be a problem is if the patty was open on either side because now the light crosses part of why this light looks so great it's one hundred percent frontal just from the front so if I have light coming in from either side it loses that really flat glow so it has to be something that's blocked off if you really wanted this you could put up a black you know negative still here negative field there put the opening of the patio behind them and then the white behind you like you just got to kind of look for light behind no phil on the side and something where you can put your your reflector behind you you can do this with a silver reflector it just has more contrast like it just looks a little crunch here it's hard to really describe it this is just soft and glowing that looks just a little bit crisper martino coons does the distance of the subject from the window influenced the quality of light exactly as for reflectors and diffusers okay good question so if the subject is too far away from that window the light isn't going to be strong enough to go ahead and bounce off that reflector and hit them what it means is if you're just let's say I turn this way okay wait sydney well yeah can I borrow you it's easier to not be the model and the photographer all once I'm gonna have you stand right here that's the window behind okay the window is going to be the tv screen okay if I bring her all the way up here and the reflectors right here what will happen is that window is going to look way over exposed because I had to open up so much because the light traveled all the way from the window to the reflector and hit her I've got open up so much for her to be lit that it'll get later this wrap around it be the same look so it's more about come back this way in general I try to shoot everything in a kind of confined space so the distance between the window and the model and the model and the reflector is not that different like it shouldn't be drastically different so I would say usually it's about model tow window is probably three feet for how this is my style three feet and then maybe five feet to the reflector on this side thank you thank you very much uh let's see going back a little bit to the cover shade h d sb wonders if they can get the same cover shade effect with just using a black blocher over the hood that is an awesome question and we do have that in the next section which is shooting at noon so yes in certain situations when I am there's open shade no covered shade available I just hold a black negative phil like a black reflector over their head and block it out what you have to be careful of is if you hold the reflector back over their head it doesn't actually black block out the shadow you have to actually watch on the face that you're casting a shadow on their face um but yeah you can do that and I do that in the next section great question that I think is great does it matter if the camera is in the shadow if the lighting on your subject is good we talk about the where the camera itself is does it matter whether the camera is in shadow as well as the the subject perfect thank you for clarifying as long as thie sunlight like sunlight around isn't hitting the front of the lens you're fine it doesn't really matter the biggest issue there is if something is hitting it then it just muddies up your image becomes really flat so you mean you can actually see when the sun is hitting your lens which is why I try to keep a lens it on even though it's not andre no but it's in my bag and one more before we move on eyes a diffuser recommended in open shade to recommend defusing in addition to the open shade that's already being defused okay so I don't usually defuse in open shade already because in open shade it's not changing the direction it'll soften it a little bit and it will for example if you go ahead you take the diffuser you put over their head and keep it nice and low it will wrap it out around a little bit and fill in the shadows a little bit more but you're much better off using a reflector underneath the chin in open shade then you would be to diffuse because you're making it so much darker there's not enough light to really fill because your main source of illumination on the face is not the reflector in that case it's okay to have it fill in under the chin it's just a little bit of phil so over that whole thing's it's the main source of light it's got to go over their head it's just fill it can go underneath so I would say you're better off just uh just using a reflector and said you guys wanna ask you a question especially use in reflectors there's kind of a fine line sometimes where you really not blowing out the highlights but the speculum retty it's you know what I mean it doesn't really kind of match what what is the what is an appropriate way to tell that you're not crossing the line but you know what I mean so it doesn't look too fake to reflect too crunchy almost um so that is an interesting question and what I actually do to be honest is I just tried different amounts of feathering and then I picked like I think I will chimp that I'm okay with that like all looks in my camera off further just a little bit like you know what I like the christmas here I'm goingto keep it without full power so there's not the balancing it's to taste I my personal effect is I either like toe look like it's heavily reflected on purpose were really really natural versus the in between like make it look like you intended it or make it not really noticeable

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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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