Indoor Light Shoot Part 1


Natural Light Control


Lesson Info

Indoor Light Shoot Part 1

Once again, the web has proven that we've made the world smaller, yet again, you know more now, photographic community is worldwide, and we've got viewers from all over the world many who have met in some places that that's just fun for me, but there's no other way that people can reach that many people, that many countries on that many different disciplines and photography, commercial portrait, wedding photojournalism, whatever it is that you don't find artwork so it's pretty great this this is a pretty great place that's been created here, and this is kind of like it's, I think seattle, and especially this building, is going to rapidly be the center of the photographic universe. You guys have access to the best of the best in the world, and you've proven that now already since you started so it's pretty great, it's and it's and it's humbling to think about who always been here, and I get here, you know, like, wait a minute, they they don't know anything about me, but, you know, it's,...

it's fun for me, what this is all about and what what we've spent today doing, and what I've spent most of my career doing is is trying to gain understanding in control of my craft, nothing more than that really it's a matter of it's not good enough to hit one every once in while we were shooting film it was like you know you get your film back from the lab you're looking through and you're like no no no crap no no no there is one way I'm pretty good you're not that good if you miss that many before you get to a keeper you're doing something wrong and I think that what I identified early on was I wasn't a very high impact shooter I didn't have time not gonna have work that's going to be remembered for generations you know, but what I gained was because I just kept digging so much into it was the ability to understand how it all works and how it all fits together pretty well on dh that's for me what it's all about is is making people smile you know? We're fortunate we were told that during the break that were also fortunate we get to deal with people when they're in good moods you know, in photography think about being think about being yeah yeah especially especially the crew they're in really good moods think about think about being a surgeon or think about being a funeral director or think about people that have to deal with people in horrible situations in their lives we don't we get to make them smile, we get to make him feel good and so you know well you don't yeah then our forensic guys shaking he said like no you don't know what I do but for the most part we do get to deal with people their best and it's really gratifying when they like what you're up to so I wanted to spend a little bit of time and talk about windows and you know window window light is really something that a lot of people worked with and it's a great source because it's soft it's it's directional but yet still soft and pleasing it's available to everybody you confined window light everywhere you can find it in your home you can find it in your car you can find it everywhere you just have to understand a few little things about it and so what I wanted to spend this last segment talking about a little bit and let's just shoot some before and after that we'll shoot some examples here in this room I don't know if you can get a shot that shows all of that wall of light of windows but we've got some very large windows and what that what that means is I can have soft light and still be this far away from that wall in people's homes with a smaller window toe have this kind of a soft light I've got to be right next to them I mean right next to that wall I've gotta move closer and closer and closer and closer that light source unbeknownst to the people that built this building, those windows air almost perfectly suited for photographic lighting because they start up there instead of going all the way to the ground. So, you know, for example, there is so much about the the painter's early painters and some of the work that they did in their studios and how they painted portrait of people and one of the things that rembrandt, a good friend of mine tim mayer in santa barbara talks about rembrandt so much and he went to his studio and he came back and he said, you know, this guy in his wall ceiling is wall to wall ceiling to floor windows, he had the ability to drape off the bottom third when he wanted his life to appear to come downward more instead of being flat, even coming in, he had the ability he had one wide post, if you will that was a couple of, you know, like probably a couple of feet wide if you think about it in photography and in painting, if I'm turned at an angle like this and my face is here, my shoulder is closer to the light source than my faces by a good distance, so if I'm wearing a short sleeved shirt or if I'm wearing sleeveless, my skin on my shoulder is going to be considerably brighter than skin on my face and it's a small thing but it's something to be really, really aware of it doesn't look right and if you properly exposed the face you've got a really bright shoulder if you properly exposed the shoulder, you got a little bit of a dark face that needs some adjusting or it needs to at least be addressed and talked about in disgust and at least identified. So what rembrandt did to fix that in his paintings if you look at rembrandts work, you'll find that his shoulders are always a half stop darker than the faces and the reason he did it and the way he did it in his studio he had one wide pillar that would split the window in half and he would post a subject like this pillar right here. But this is not a very good example because it's so skinny, but he would position his client in such a way that that shoulder was blocked by that pillar and then he would bring him with the face just ahead of it and as a good it was a go go it was a little go between for the shoulder and yet it allowed that direct light to come right in on the face and be go, but off the shoulder brilliance, these guys were giants and I don't know that we spend that much effort and time tto learn our craft that well any more I think we're in a world where there's some awfully great pictures being taken I think there's an awful lot of really really great people there's there I've never known a time where they have been better great photographers alive at one time there are right now some of the best guitar from the world are alive right now and they're friendly and they're nice and I'll talk to you no answer their phone and they're available you can go do a workshop with him half of my teaching here more than half of our teaching here and so we have to hone our skills I do it all the time I learned from roberto yesterday and I'm going alone from turkey turkey tomorrow you know you guys are gonna love check on this guy this guy's on fire I thought next to him in new england a couple years ago and he was he did some great work you know you're going to find that everybody has rights to exist everybody's doing something pretty well and we can all learn from each other but what I learned from those paintings and I learn from people like tim mark is being aware of those old school artists the artisans the true craftsman if we are truly craftsman of our domain here then we have to begin with the digging pretty deep and understand all the little subtleties of what makes this picture better than the other picture and what separates us from the guy down the street and part of that is understanding how to deal with this window now it seems kind of funny, but the window is all it's one side right now, my backdrop is set up in such a way that it is against that wall, my windows here. So I'm going to be able to do some portrait of my models over here in just a second and there's, no way we're gonna be able to miss this is going to be a gorgeous picture, but it's, what more we can do with it that we're gonna have to discuss and that's what I want to spend some time talking about there there's other things. There are other things that we can do to add quality to what's already a great source of light what's already gonna be a great picture so let's, take it and take it one step further and that's the key don't ever stop taking it one step further if you could take it one step further all the time you're gonna always win yeah, it's, a lot of trouble, man it's a lot of trouble, but most of all, because I don't want to add more zeros to their bottom line, you want to add more zeros, you've got to get better you can't you can't just add and make more money because you think you deserve it. You've gotta work harder for it. So that's what it's called work. Okay, let's get let me get one of our models up here. I'll say, what will this backdrop? You know what? Hannah? Let me grab bethany first. I got another idea for what you guys are wearing with your neutral hope she is not here. Okay, great. So? So let me grab hannah let's use hannah let's bring you in here. I want to put you in fact, I'm gonna I'm gonna move this dark stool out and I'm gonna use this still first and let's put you right about here. Have a seat right there and just kind of comfortable there for a second. Now, one of the things that's interesting about these windows is I noticed that we've got control. We got these shades and we've got these windows no head low. Yeah. Let me swab let's put her up first because the tonality here, yeah, yeah, yeah, good. And I want you to kind of sit up there and turn to me just a bit that's it, in fact, that has turned this tool this way so you can have your feet in front of you kind of like that there you go so I noticed that I've got some adjustments I've got these shades that we can pop up and down, so what I want to do is take this first shade that's closest to her, and I want to close this shade off, so if you'll notice, I've got these three big shades here, and I'm assuming you can just kind of roll this down. Yeah, I'm not gonna break anything is going to make the room a little bit darker, but what it is going to do is force my light to come in at a little bit of a better angle on the face. So now my life to reach her has to come from a forty five makes sense over here that light is coming in from the side. Now I have four cell. I've just taken my main life that's on a life stand. All I did was just moving forward by closing that off. I've got to be in charge of all that stuff you guys write, so and I'm forcing it to come from the proper direction. Well, now, it's just a cakewalk. Now to take a picture, it's pretty simple. You'll know how I feel about wide open, so I'm gonna put my eyes so I think I'm gonna go to four hundred just because now that we're inside I kind of think sometimes in four hundred so it worked pretty good for me, so I'm just going again put the meter the dome of the meat and put it right under her chin and it goes right at the main light source just like that think and it says, hey, tone you want to shoot it for then you've gotta shoot at a thirtieth of a second thirty at four I s o four hundred is going to nail this picture so let's try it thirty f or so let me get my associate boy got quiet in here outside there was jack hammers and airplanes and helicopters and all sorts of stuff going on and out here it's just a little different. So I s o four a manual uh, thirtieth and four. Okay. Oh, and color balance wise let's talk about that. So in reality here, shooting at daylight is the thing that most people would choose to do. I choose toe like my pictures a tiny bit warm so I'm gonna put it on flash that's going to give me a little bit warmer totality and my kelvin temperature? Not a lot, but a little bit so that's what I'm gonna go for, okay, so we're plugged in we got our lot room working and let me just zoom into this face a little bit let's do this for me I want to just a lean forward over your waist just a little bit that way yeah yeah yeah now bring your head to me just a little bit right there right there can you see that catch your eyes is that gorgeous or what? It's kind of hard to miss with a model like this holy toledo look at this like quality when it pops and ready said okay, well what oh, that looks pretty hot that's a little hotter than I'm looking at here so maybe that monitor is a little hot so I'll pull this exposure down just a little I mean just look at my info to make sure there's not me okay there's my history and amy so you see my say my if you look at the back of my camera if you can zoom in and see that little history gram you can see that great depth and detail there but on there it looks like we've lost her face just a little bit so I'll pull it back, pull it back a little bit to compensate a little bit for that so give me just maybe two thirds okay, here we go good, good, good great turn your head just a little bit further there you go ten down a little bit don't look quite so scared you're ok, we're good get good so that's pretty good right there and you'll notice at four what's fun about this is that f four I've blown her background completely out of focus it's just a nebulous shape. Traditionally, I liketo work as far away from a background as I can for that reason I like it to go into non descript if you will I'm not I'm not a big fan of sharp backgrounds wrinkles appear wrinkles show but there are some designs and some shapes that do look pretty good when they're sharp so it's kind of a personal taste yeah, so let me just come up on the catch lights since we've been talking about catch lights oh sure, I'm not sure you do that flag room, guys the booth if it's possible to do that, I could do it here. Yeah, if we could just zoom in if we could just zoom in on the rise you guys in the booth if that's possible here we go. So look at the catch line now you see that little hot but a little catch light on the far right that little small one that's it that's all that's left of my life that's on in the studio and I can't get rid of that without turn off all the lights in the studio, but in traditionally I would not have that on the interesting thing about that? Those speculum highlights the way they appear. You know, it's always it's always an issue trying to figure out worth when things were going wrong. We had a portion we photographed a black porsche, sorry, we photographed a black course one year and we had this beautiful smooth highlight from this gorgeous, gigantic light source that we had, and we had one weird little speculum highlight that we couldn't figure out what it wass we made us crazy for an hour, trying to find out where that highlights coming from. What is that? Finally, one of our assistants who was really sharp, we were shooting on a four by five view camera and the system says, I'll tell you how to find it, and he walked over the view camera, took the film holder off, got a a laser pointer, aimed it through the back of the camera through the lens and aimed it right at the highlight and then just followed it and he went to a wife star, foam cup and that's how he found it, he chased it from the back way. Brilliant! So, you know, yeah, it makes you feel real dumb when your assistant pulls that off, you're like, yeah, I was going to think of that sure, you're bucko I have a question about your settings on different modes do you shoot like in standard or portrait standard standard I live instead I live in standard and never changes for me the thing about most modern cameras they have a lot of great features that I never use you know there's an awful lot of controls and things that we have that are minute, subtle adjustments that I don't need and I'm not going to take the time to learn sadly, but I'm just not going to, you know, so they're in there and they're great and they're helpful for some people but not for me so much so let me do this I want to back up just a little bit and I want to bring you forward toward me about another foot or so bethany I think I think we can get a little nicer quality of light on the face yep that's just like that. Perfect there you go, then I just bring the head around again and then down right there. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Okay, so what's interesting about this is you know, in terms of contrast, which is what we're primarily dealing with here we go. Good, good, good, great. In terms of contrast from from bright too dark, you know everything is relevant to your relative I like big to small, soft, hard all this is what we have to consider is I can make that highlights softer I can make this portrait appear softer if I can get her closer to the window so if I could move her here while it's getting lighter, you might be thinking it's getting blown out it's getting blown us thinking blown I'll take care of that with exposure but the quality of the light is changing so now I want the same thing I want to get her a little bit closer so let me move you a little bit closer to the window about like that and I'm gonna put me right in here and we're just going to see what the difference is and see if you like the difference or if it's so subtle you didn't even notice it bring your knees back to me just a little bit that's it right there that's it good, good, good and bring your head around right in there so it's a little bit flatter here on a face, but you guys will get the idea what you're going to see is I think you're gonna like this a little bit better good, good, good so really she the distance I should pull that down just a little bit because we did increase are just I mean diminished our distance just a bit close that down a little bit, I'm going to close it down two thirds from the shutter speed because I like to keep my forehead f or self stood against good right there so take a look at this one and I think what you're going to see is again uh when this next one pops in if we can zoom in and look at the eyes again now we'll see a little bit of a different a situation can you see how in this case the natural vignette off of her arm from the main light? If that's uncomfortable for you, we can lighten that up a bit by having her move back away from the light source she's pretty close to it now and that shelf is there can they can they guys in both just just pop in on that just zoom into that those eyes just for one more time here there you go there you go and you can start to see there we go that's my little f for seventy two hundred to four linds I think it's playing sharp it before don't you? I'm so dig in these lands I'm telling you that's f four wide open and look at that sharpness that's crazy sharp that's crazy! So anyway, so yeah so we got this people don't say you need the craziest lens possible, so I'm sure that everyone out there is very happy to hear well, I just you know it's like so much of what we all have to understand and try to take on board is that it's it's and I've said this over and over it's not sometimes it's, not the tools, but it's the knowledge behind the tools that makes all the difference. There's, a great great photographer that sadly passed away in about eighty four named ernst haas, and a lot of guys don't remember a lot of newer photographers and last ten years and never heard of him. But ernst haas shot almost all of his body of work with a fifty millimeter normal lens, and he never changed. And at a lecture in santa barbara one night, one of the students said, mr haas, how can you shoot with a fifteen? He goes well, he said, I call it zooming with my feet if I needed to be bigger, I'll get closer, and if I needed to be smaller all back up and he says, this is zooming with my feet. So you know, pretty funny guy and, you know, pretty pretty bright character and did some great work with one lens and then expensive it was an inexpensive fifty millimeter lands.

Class Description

Natural Light Control is part of our special week-long event Lighting Toolkit.

Join award-winning photographer Tony Corbell for an in-depth exploration of how light works and how it can be controlled to create dramatic images.

After decades of shooting prominent figures — including three presidents — on location, Tony has developed a set of tools that will help you shoot confidently in any setting. Many photographers test light as they work; Tony’s methods will allow you to understand and plan light before you even begin.

Tony will guide you through the basics of light quality, quantity, and direction. Tony’s unique methods will resonate with amateurs, seasoned professionals, and everyone in between.


Dave Humphries

Tony keeps it simple and gives good examples, although occasionally I had to pause the video to study them well enough - because the editor was keeping the timing overly tight in a few places. In some cases it would also have been nice to have two shots side by side for comparison, but Tony was great.