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Lesson 13 from: Natural Light Control

Tony Corbell

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Lesson Info

13. Q&A

Lesson Info


Some of the questions that you we weren't asking up there that you were waiting for us to ask tell us what that well why would I be on the roof that was one of questions not one person said why would you go up on the roof to do this why not? Well yeah why not? My reason for doing it was I was just trying to show you that it doesn't really matter where you are we can control the light anywhere and make a picture you know it really doesn't matter and I think what that gave me up there was first off it gave us the ability to move around we could move around three, sixty degrees without having to worry about hitting anything and that was a big part of it but plus size like roof was making that up no, but I just think again if you can control it up there you can control anything you know the game I resent movie dodgeball oh yeah so when they got one guy on the wheelchair pulls out the crescent wrench and throws it family it's a kind of head if you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball wel...

l if I can shoot in the worst place there is then I can make a gorgeous part comes a life better than anybody I know because I understand how to how to make a bad place look good and so that's that's why? And you know, back to the comment earlier from one of the questions online about you know, why don't you just go to a place where there's really great lighting a really great park? I did that for twelve years, and I didn't learn anything. I got great pictures and they all look exactly the same and I didn't learn anything. And for me, if I'm if I'm not learned something got problem, so okay, absolutely so gold dust wants to know, how do I get useful? Light and contrast, if there is no sun on ly clouds, very low contrast and no flashes with only one reflector you had said it's important to get the right light, but what if there is almost none? Yes, so so you know, I lived in san diego, california, where sadly, in san diego, everybody goes to san diego for the for the summer. They think may and june is going to be nice in the beach in san diego, california, as my friends will attest, it's the time of year they calm a grey or june gloom because the marine layer that rolls in from the coast and what happens is it's so dark and it's so heavy and it's so soft that you can't get much in terms of contrast it's pretty flat and that's, where I first started learning about understanding the use of subtracted, I conduct my eyes so up, guys, and I can take that black panel and drop it overhead like we did with sean on the ceiling on the on the ceiling, on the roof, I can drop that panel overhead and I can knock off that top light that's the first thing you've got to do and then if you have another one during another black women on one side, so you've got a black one overhead and black one on the side and light appears to come from a forty five and it's soft and it's gorgeous, but you need to be able to bump your eye so up and don't be afraid to go to eight hundred sixteen hundred that's goingto have that's going to be the success for you, but you can do it it's gonna look gorgeous and I'm building the contrast is great, creating contrast from nothing you have to sometimes zen cat on. Many others were wondering, does tony use a polarizer to prevent reflection room glasses? How do you deal with glasses in general? So I never use polarizer for several reasons I would use would use polarizer if I was in a boat shooting stuff on a boat on the water a lot kill the reflections in the water but a polarizer for me is its first off. They take off a minimum to stop and a half of light and it's hard to work with that kind of loss first off and the second is the way I deal with glare and glasses. Glasses are speculative. I mean, the glaring glasses eyes nothing more than a speculum highlight specter highlight will only appear when you are on what's called an incident angle to the light and the way the rule reads, the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. So if I am, if I'm going, if I'm gonna photograph this direction and that light is right here at this forty five and my subject is turned this way a little bit, I'm going to have a reflection and I cannot get rid of it, but I can broad like that face and I can broad light and have that light opposite that reflection by just turning the head this way a quarter of an inch and that reflection goes away on the instances where I can't get rid of reflection, I'll control it by increasing the size of it and making it so big that it will be such a soft reflection you won't even be bothered by it, so thank you. I'm tony mike gonzalez and danielle nicole asked a similar question could you tell us what you would do with an interracial interracial couple a light skinned in a dark skinned so you know it's it's it's funny we are when I first started, I was always told that when you photograph someone of really dark dark color that you should open up a little bit extra and your exposures and if you photograph someone who really really likes color, you should close down a little bit because you know they're so bright. Well, the problem is what happens when they get married and you're supposed to you know, the responses I'm sorry, folks, I I can't do your wedding because I can't technically figure this out, but you know the kids are gonna be eighteen percent no problem way got those. The bottom line here is that if you're going to use artificial life even or even a window directional window light in a situation where you've got different tonalities just keep in mind that with light skin you have to deal with the world of shadows and with dark skin you have to deal in the world of highlights so I would probably choose to place the darker skin further well, I would choose to put the dark skin further away from the light where that would be the opposite of what most the tartars would say because I don't care about the exposure's exposure doesn't matter exposure is going to be fine but smaller by moving further away I'm minimizing the size relative to them I'm increasing my highlights does that make any sense at all? Okay definitely does yeah that's a eighty ninety nine a white balance question if you do custom white balance under the light from a gold reflector will it neutralize the golden light color told it would yeah so what's the point is in the gold so which is why I don't use customer advancing it's also I don't put gold on the face I did use custom my balance when we first made this transition and I happen to own every single piece of custom white balance tool that's ever been made I've got them all I have them all I've got the expletives going I've got the passport and I've got everything that there is and I know how you them all and I don't use any of the presets in this camera are great and I trust him and I know and my files don't require any work sony not globally anyway. Yeah um danielle likes to know do you always expos for the subject? I'm not sure how to answer that I always expose with my meter at my subjects chin with the meter aimed at the light and it always do it the meter tells me always think about this again I talked about this this morning that incident meter only has one brain the incident meter has one brain reality and if I want true representation of someone's face I have to baste exposure off of what that meter tells me there's no way else that I can get that if you do a reflective reading on someone's face you don't know how close are far away their face is from eighteen percent great somebody with a really dark tan might have a pretty close to eighteen percent great face but most people don't most its brighter are darker and that's gonna alter what your meter gives you if you're using a reflective reader but if I'm using my incident meter reading you kidding me that incident meter knows reality and if I do what it tells me I can go home and my exposures are dead on and that's why I do it that way so daniel hope that helps but it's pretty clear for me and I've done this enough to know that I can't afford to miss any more you know I don't I don't want to shoot and look and shooting look and shooting looking shooting looking by the way that's where sixty percent of your battery drain comes from previewing your images you want your batteries to last all day in a wedding quit looking just stop looking and they'll last all day turned that preview off you know it's hard I know it's a crutch and it's hard for me too I know wei have time for maybe one more question that's kind of a more general question eric from ballot is wondering how do you stay inspired with your work other photographers you draw inspiration from and do you have any suggestions on finding and developing personal style? You know I uh there was a moment in my life where I taught studio lighting at brooks institute down in santa barbara for a few years and and for me it was it was a very interesting time because I could walk down the halls of brooks institute and look at the student work and I would be blown away thinking how can I teach these kids when what I'm seeing is far better than stuff I was ever done and so for me I do draw inspiration from around me a lot I see more movies than anybody I know I grew up at the in the bottom of an apartment in a move a drive in movie theater in fort worth, texas from from the time I was born till I was seven called the cowtown drive in theater and every night I would put on my pajamas and my mother and dad would let me go out the back door and go sit on the merry go round and watch the movies so I grew up watching movies every night of my life literally and I know more things about movies that I'm it's ridiculous you want me on your team for trivial pursuit? I'm just saying but what? But what I do I came away with that from what is that I understand and inspired so much by cinematographers especially by what they can do if you guys saw warhurst warhorse warhorse this year janusz kaminski who did the lighting on that he let every scene in that movie and a couple of scenes I think he overdid lit but for the most part this movie is so exquisitely done and he also let lincoln you know and then there's cinematographers like like vilmos zsigmond, who did close encounters for spielberg and gordon wills who did all the three godfather movies he lit every scene in all these gone from them and the lighting is extraordinary that inspires me uh some photographers but for me it's mostly I want to live and think more cinematically and so to do that I've got a spent time in the cinema and I've gotta stare at the work of these great lighting technicians you know, I'm just I'm at all sometimes I just shake my head and say I'm nothing compared to these guys they're just so good you know, it has been an amazing day do you have any final thoughts that you want? You know, I just for me I don't think that there's anything that any photographers khun do that's as important as testing, you've got to spend, you've got you've got to screw up a lot of pictures to get good, you just do, you know, and there's, not a nisi way around that, you know, I have one of my favorite photo stories, I mean, I've got lost or sit, we could spend all day talking about stories and, you know, shooting at the u, n and watching presidents do things they shouldn't do, but one of my best stories that I shot a group of shell oil company executives one year and I was a young photographer, and I had my two umbrellas and my power pack and my last test shot, I burned out my state cord, I didn't have a wireless system, I had had to sing commit limbs to my camera, and it burned out the same court, and I was just about to pass out because I got him in the room and I've got imposed. I've got four rows of fifteen on bleachers, sixty executives, and it was for an annual report for shell oil, and my same court just burned out, and I know it's the same court, and I'm like, I don't know what I was going to do, so I started trying to buy myself time to think and so I walked up to the first row, and I'm like, how you guys doing here? Let me just let me straighten your tie for you here. Yeah, who who dressed you this morning? Look, that crooked tie and this guy and I pull his cuff at, you know, the man you're going to an executive, the cuff should be one quarter inch. So says gentlemen's quarterly magazine and I and I pay attention, all that stuff, this guy didn't bring a cuff, so I got a kleenex and made him a cuff, and I just went down the whole row and all the time, and I'm being very cool and very calm while my hard driving here spinning, trying to access, what do you do? Full? And it finally dawned on me. Oh yeah, I saw a lecture one time, and I was probably twenty five or six when this happened to me, and I remember seeing a photo lecture where the guy said he talked about open flash open flash meaning set your lands to bulb fire while the lenses open, hit the test button and then released them close the lens, and I remembered that it was like, okay, I'll use open flash, so I dragged that power pack over well, that couldn't get close enough to me to reach it but I could get close enough to me to hold the cable release in this hand and I could reach the test button with my foot so here I am in front of sixty executives I turned off the model and lamps in my two strobes because the model that would overexpose the picture so now I'm in a darkened room with my lens with my hand on the cable and I would go ready okay here we go and I would hit it open the land's fam hit the test button and clotheslines let's do it again here we go ready open bam closed and I did that twelve times had a role of twelve in my hospital I got one frame that was sharp and it was good it was great but the best part of this and the best story here in the part that's great is that as I finish shooting that and I'm done the lights come back on and the guys were leaving the room one of the executives walked by anyone same court troubles on he walked by and he kept walking he knew that I was dying he knew I was in trouble he knew exactly what went wrong he knew photography but because I had paid attention somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered oh yeah that open flash thing and I didn't have a backup state court so you can bet that in my bag I have backups in cords I shot a very large job at the u n the millennial summit meeting one hundred eighty five world leaders the biggest job in the world for me biggest job of my life and underneath I had three tripods we have three camera set up and underneath all three tripods were three extra state courts just just laying there just in case you need him you know, we had three we had three messengers from three different states standing by and we shot three rolls of film and roll one went to new jersey role to went to philadelphia. Roll three was processed in new york just in case and I think my final thought here is is you have to think of everything that can go wrong and you gotta prep for it because it's gonna just when you just when you're you're cooking along and this is the biggest job of your life your meter is going to have a little conversation with you and your meter's going to say so britt pretty important job today. Yes, it is mr meter I'm out of gas and your battery's gonna die. Do you have a backup battery for your meter that you get your hands on right now? Most of us don't you gotta because you've gotta be able to pull it off and so so for me I think the day is about that whether we're doing lighting, whether we don't admit a lot, whether we don't studio like portrait, creative craziness tomorrow with chucky arland, who I'm a big fan of chucky, uh, doesn't matter what you're doing. Be prepared, be a professional, and don't miss professional doesn't mean you're making money at your craft. Professional comes from the word proficient. Be proficient at your craft. If you're proficient, you can't lose, don't guess it anything just nailed that's, my that's, my final thought, don't guess, just nail it.

Ratings and Reviews


A great course for a photographer at any level wanting to learn about shooting in natural light while adding some flash. Tony's hands on approach is extremely effective showing that a simple alley or even a roof top can be successfully used to obtain great portraits. Definitely worth the very cheap price and very inspiring, two thumbs up.


Tony's course was brilliant..he makes the tech stuff so simple and MEMORABLE! this is a great foundation course that everyone should have. what can you do with a light source and a diffuser/reflectors? make some magic happen by understanding light and the way you can control it. I am excited to "learn my craft!" thanks creative live for having him on and thanks to Tony for doing such a great job...with humour!

a Creativelive Student

Absolutely love Tony, it makes you feel comfortable and confident. Tony you are a fabulous teacher, and mentor. Thanks a million for your laid back, caring attitude that helps me believe I can do this.

Student Work