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Foreground studio set up

Lesson 10 from: Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

Foreground studio set up

Lesson 10 from: Masters of Photography

Albert Watson

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Lesson Info

10. Foreground studio set up

You will learn how Albert moves out from behind the camera while setting up for a shoot. He shows you how to look at your light from a variety of perspectives.


Class Trailer

Meet your Master


Learn from the journey


Using inspirations


Photography is stopping time


Albert's library of ideas


Tips on preparing for a portrait shoot


Setting up the studio


Understanding studio collaboration


The importance of casting and hair & make-up


Foreground studio set up


Studio session with a model - set up 1


Studio session with a model - set up 2


Studio session with a model - set up 3


Picking the best shot


Working with photoshop


Creating a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock


The gigantic question... Colour or black and white?


One day with Kate Moss


Learn to have your ideas ready


Using Polariods


Creating beautiful photographs of hands


Controlling natural light


Shooting a monkey with a gun


Choosing your format


Composition and lens


Shooting landscapes. The Isle of Skye


Planning and ideas for a landscape shoot


Creating still life images


Photographing the Lost Diary


Shooting album covers


The Strip Search Project


Shooting Las Vegas landscapes


Photographing Breaunna


Balancing daylight, God bless America


Creating the Maroc Project


Creating the Maroc shoot


Photographing sand dunes


Photographing Moroccan children


Advice on making portraits


How to be alert to finding photographs


Making a portrait of Mike Tyson


Creating intense colour in a photograph


Portraits of rap stars and a Golden Boy


Photographing Jack Nicholson


Creating a portrait of David Cronenberg


How to light only using two $10 bulbs


Studio fashion set up 4


Studio session with a model. The geography of a face


Look inside the picture


Creating memorability in an image


Combining nudes and landscapes


A perfect print


The business side of things


Conclusion and farewell


Lesson Info

Foreground studio set up

(dramatic music) I'm here in front of what's called the posing table. And a posing table is on a small stand here. And it's a very simple thing. You can make, you can alter the height. So it could be used for a child or an adult. It can be elevated to cause their shoulders to go higher. You can use it to work with hands. Or sometimes even if you're cropping this tight and you don't see the table. Preferably you don't want to see too much of the table. And once again it's your choice what you put on the table. We've got black here. But you could for example if you wanted this, you could put a gray piece of fabric on here, a white piece of fabric on it. Or it could be a rug, it's your choice about creatively what you want to do with the surface here. And how much you show. I wouldn't show too much of the table. It should be about the girl or the guy that you're photographing. So this table you could make really for a very small amount of money. It's a good little tool to have in your s...

tudio. Because if you say well I could do that with a table. Yes but your table's only one height. This can be high, it can be low. So you can use it for different things. And sometimes I've used this table where you don't see it at all. And it's something comfortable for people to rest their hands on when you're working. Because basically my focus here is portraiture and fashion. Beauty. Fashion with a beauty slant on it. The positioning of this because of the cut out here. This will also turn so. So it's a very flexible little piece of equipment that you can really put togeher for $20, $30, it's nothing. So moving on to the light. We're going to use a bounce light on the front. And a crucial thing for deciding the bounce is the distance from the subject to the bounce. How far is now, the further back it goes, the softer it becomes. I've actually done this shot where I'd simply just bounce it off of a white wall at the back there. And you can actually get a beautiful, soft, natural, almost daylight look to your shot. So the crucial thing is here is distance. So we're going to start a mid-distance here. But you can do anything. If you want to make the light more dramatic, then bring the whole system closer, much closer. And at some point if the bounce system comes too close, you might as well if you wanted that contrast, then you might as well switch the main, the key light around and do the key light direct. But with that you have to be more careful. The light becomes quite strong and quite aggressive. Remembering distance is a crucial thing in all lighting. How far is that light from your subject? And a very good thing sometime photographers forget to do is you should come in and sit in the table before your subject arrives. And you see the positioning of the light from the subject's perspective. Don't do it from behind the camera. Do it from the subject's perspective. So you look back and you see what the subject, and that's a very important thing to do. Because you look back and then you see. It's always very nice when you're on a camera and you look and you just see the subject. Get back there and see what the subject sees. See how distracting all of the things that are going on in a studio. Hairdressers, makeup artists, the assistants. All of these things going on. Is that distracting for the subject there? So how do you make that a little more private? How do you make it simple and so on. I quite like a private set. So consider what they're seeing. And then you can go to camera and then you see what you're going to be seeing. So just keep all of these things in mind. Until they become a natural part of your putting together a setup. So for the front, as for the back I'm going to use a bounce. But here the positioning of this light is far more crucial. The positioning of the light in the bounce. The light essentially ceases to be the light. The bounce board becomes the light. The light's transmitted on to the bounce board. The crucial thing is the distance from the subject to the bounce board. The further back, the softer it becomes. You don't want to have your light block light from your bounce board. Because the bounce board becomes the light. So if I'm looking at this right now. Ed if you can just a little bit move this, the key light to my left a little bit. That's it. And a little bit down. Bring it down in height. And dip it back to the ceiling. Now at this point I'm looking at a four foot by four feet board. It's completely lit. It's lit top to bottom. If I bring this light higher, then it's going to block some of that light that's coming in. So it's fairly snappy the light. It's not soft soft. So I'm putting a little bit of contrast in it. And I'm trying to split this difference on our model Clara between being a beauty shot and a portrait. The final decision of where this goes. The distance from the light to the board and the board to the subject. The final decision has to be made when she's in front of the camera. Not with me sitting here. But the good thing about me sitting here is I can see what she's going to be getting in her face here. A lot of time photographer is just looking from the front. That's important too. But you should come in here and see what they're seeing. The same ways you look at your canvas. And you then look back towards camera. You see what the canvas sees. Come in here you see what the subject seeing. So at this point as I look back. I'm really only aware of the white on this board. I don't see anything else. There's no white bouncing off of a side wall. There's no light coming from anywhere else here. Except what I put in. So I'm determining the light. Not just an arbitrary wall that happens to be there. That's what is kind of crucial here. When you're setting this up. So one thing I'll go when I set up the camera here. And one thing I can see already, I'll need to get some protection for flare off of this light for my camera. So that's the next thing that I would request from assistant. When you're building a set like this and you see me working, over the years I've gotten really used to working with assistant. And assistants, good assistant, to a working professional, someone who is doing a lot of work shooting every day. A good assistant is absolutely, a good assistant are invaluable. They make your life much much easier. And an assistant that you develop an understanding with can make you move much quicker. And take away some of the pressure of certain technical aspects. Not the creative but the technical aspects. They can make your life easier. A good assistant is invaluable. And you know you should surround yourself with good people. And if you have a friend that's a photographer, then maybe you can do a job where you assist him and vice versa. Then he can assist you. So it's that you pay back each other as it were. At this point in my career, I'm working of course with assistant. Now in the beginning you might end up doing this on your own. Which is more laborious, more difficult, whatever. But I think that developing a good relationship with an assistant is a crucial thing. You should be working like a surgeon. Where you just put out your hand and he's anticipating your needs. Now that's a certain level. Not everybody can afford two, three assistants. So sometimes you have to work up to that. I've got to a point in my career right now where I've gotten used to working with assistants. So there are good things and bad things about that. But assistants now enable me to be much more efficient. And much more effective. And I can shift some of the technical burden onto the assistants. Not all of it. 'Cause in the end it your responsibility. In setting this up, you should be aware of what the assistants are doing for you, that they're following your instructions. And you let them you know keep going and putting the set together. But you should be aware of all of these things. You glance, you should be, the more you do it, the better you get. It's that simple.

Ratings and Reviews

Richard A. Heckler

"Unless you're Mozart"...this course is an invaluable asset. I'm a pro, humanitarian/documentary photographer, & wilderness...and I've learned much from the 40+ sessions here. This is truly a Master best thing to being with Albert. And although I could watch studio sessions forever, this course offered a very balanced curriculum of technical information, artistic encouragement and guidance, and a open, generous window into the thinking of a gifted artist and photographer, sifted from decades of first class experience. Kudos to all involved. Excellent!

a Creativelive Student

I purchased my first CreativeLive class in 2011 and have continued to purchase many classes over the years. I have learned so much from the many great instructors. This one is not a technical class that will tell you to set your camera at f4, 1/60, ISO 400 and you can get this shot. If you are looking for that, there are many other options. If you have a solid working knowledge of photography, this class is so much more. The way it was filmed is like you are there with him in conversation or in the room with him watching him shoot. To see and understand the how and why he does what he does. Not to take anything away from other classes that have helped to give me a strong understanding of photography, this is my favorite CreativeLive class so far.

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