The Power of Light Part 3


Natural Light Control


Lesson Info

The Power of Light Part 3

What percentage of your shots to use? Light meter? Um, eighty, probably eighty per cent. The only time I really don't and especially the flash is involved is if I'm using my speed lights and I'm using the health system on my speed lines, which is now fabulous, and we're going, we're going to start with that when we were outside of it. And what and there's, nothing, I'm going to teach you there that is of value other than turn this button on and let me show you how good it can be, then we'll do some other things with that, but but primarily the exposure is ridiculously accurate it's really, really accurate for that, but certainly in the studio and with any just direct ambient light without flash, I would never shoot without my light meter, and I used to contact the l seven fifty eight d our meter, which I think the smartest meter in the world until you drop it, andi quickly becomes a stupidest meter problem is an issue photo maker. When you're talking about the disney shot, well, the ad...

ditive effect of a flash like on the disney model do the same thing as putting her in the shade and then shooting her, yeah, except I lose the contrast, just like I like the drama it does and it's a great point but you lose the drama and for me that drama is you know it's hollywood we still got ways still gotta create drama sometimes and just make a picture that just sings I think our goal is this I listen to a guy sam able from national geographic I listen to sam lecture in santa fe one summer and sam said you know he said I was said I had a picture in one of the geographic issues and I was watching a guy across the aisle and and I know he said I know he's about to come up to one of my pictures and he's just watching to see what the guy does and when you're reading a magazine even just not as a doctor but as a magazine reader you're sitting there and you're just turning the page right now we're just turning the page what your pictures have to do is in some way make people stop turning the page and just go wow oh even for a second if you could do that then you succeeded and if I had put her in the shade and studies in the flash it wouldn't make you stop turning a page so love that s so just a quick follow up and then we know we've got a question here in the audience crackers are says so in what situations will you use flash in addition to the natural light I'm a little different than most photographers there are three ways to use a flash outside and that is as a fill light as a main light and is a life that is exactly balanced to be the same output as the ambient light does the only three ways you can use the flash outdoors I use a flash different than all of that my goal for a flash is to do one thing and one thing only give me control over the brightness of my ambience I can't separate my subject and my ambience ever until I introduced flash once I separate those two with my flash, then I can control my ambient brightness levels that's only reason I use it if I don't use it because of trying to get great light on the face I could come up with other ways to do that, but I do use it because it gives me that extra little control over my backgrounds that I otherwise would not have that's amazing yeah e had a question about the soft box you had on the girl by the motorcycle so you're feathering the light coming off of that so I assume there's nothing in the soft box to stop the light from following the shape of the soft boxes at how you do them correct yeah and I mean ideally I would have had a grid, a set of soft grids or honeycombs or there's all kinds of different name from but a soft grid on the soft box then I wouldn't have the issue, but it didn't have one with me that day, so that could been easily corrected if I just had a grid but I didn't so I had to keep it I had to feather it off of the ground a little bit that was the whole point, so yeah good point it's attractive lighter again it's one of the four applications along with additive and so attractive means in this case this is me shooting from standing out in my driveway on a bright sunny day she is inside the garage and my my backdrop is hanging behind her. This is that is one of my back drives a ton of backdrops from white house and this is basically here's the set up well was here's a couple more examples I'm all about this backdrop, but here's what here's, how this is lit not everybody has a studio you don't have to have a studio, you need a big source of light and that's what I was saying earlier I don't care where I get the light from ijust need light, you know and so here's what's happening there's my there's, my set shot right so on the on the left side, the picture up on the top I'm sitting I'm standing inside the garage shooting across and she split lip so she's let half her face is let see that the one on the bottom the bigger one is when I'm shooting straight into the garage and you can see I've got my backdrop back there in a bit of an angle and I end up kind of moving around I moved my self around again I can't move that soft box it's not a soft bucks it's a garage door I can't change that I have to change her and me relative to that makes sense this is this is this is a way that a lot of people can work and you can work here around this way I don't doesn't really matter where you live there's there's some really great pictures to be taken with a garage door you want him inside the garage far enough that if you think about subtracting light let's let's, think about having something overhead well think about think about here's the here's, the edge of my garage and here I'm outside and here's the top of my garage door right here if I'm here my life sources coming straight down this way if I backed up a foot now my life source is coming in at this kind of an angle if I back up another step now my life source is coming in a different angle get that here so you can place your subject anywhere underneath that garage door opening relative to what you want, those highlights in the eyes to look like and what kind of quality on the face and where you want the shadows to fall and it's big, soft source and you khun if they're if I'm like in the bottom picture, if I'm shooting from out shooting straight in it's a pretty flat let face but if I move over to the side and I'm shooting out of forty five shooting into the garage now I've got rembrandt light I've got three to one ratio light I've got forty five degree main light makes sense I was just going to ask so in this lower picture here, she's set back in the shade to keep the direct sunlight off over you're using the garage floor and the wall is big reflector absolutely light into absolutely and you've probably raised your s o too compensate for her being in that dark area it's not nearly as dark as you think, okay, I've kept my eye so probably a two hundred here and the reason for that as I like to work wide open so I'm probably at, you know, at least that for I would guess I've sort of taken about seventy, two hundred four lands more than the seven, two hundred to eight, and the reason is it's less than half the weight less than half the weight and it's thirteen hundred dollars less I'm just saying andi only reason for meat for the two eight versus the four was for the speed and the fall office still fall off and there's great boca and out of focus depth of depth of field but but the four nowadays with our ability to bump our aya so where everyone I'm not I'm not in a loss for speed so the force line and I find it to be my favorite new lens in the whole line I'll use that lends everyday and it weighs nothing nothing nothing I don't mind taking anywhere my hand doesn't hurt at the end of the day can you repeat the focal length yet so it's a seventy two hundred f four canyonlands for instead as opposed to two eight which is very heavy it's great lens but it's really heavy just so you know tony there's a lot of people out there who think that that must be a set because there's no garage that that's that's that clean congratulations for your fool you think I'm going to leave all that junk in there and show you the junk yeah that's alright so yeah so there's some of the results of that came from that little job and it just it just worked out pretty great no extra work no assistance needed no power, no electricity you just need to open the door you know and make it happen transmission light when light goes through an interruption so think about this think about here's our scenario it's noon in san diego and I'm at the beach it's screaming bright sunlight on the beach in fact, it looks a lot like that, right? I can't have that I need that late afternoon warmth that late afternoon softness but I don't have it and I've got to shoot at this time of day so we got to fix that so when my students a lot back said well, how'd you retouch at this eagle rock throw a rock retouched himself right out of the sun that's pretty touching this's kidding you screaming you wave your arms in the retesting takes place magically but here's what's happening here she hears tiffany and she's staring with camera got the light of a forty five degree angle but look how harsh the shadow is, how sharp the edges shadow is look at the highlight on her bottom lip it's really right? She can't get arise open because she's squinting so much it's just a miserable picture so here's what I'm gonna take a pop up translucent diffuser left of camera and place it directly between her and the sun and it's going to change to things like quality and quantity like quality is going to get would you think softer absolutely what about, like, quantity and my losing light? You bet and that depends on the density if you get the you know, those six and ones from westcott those those have different densities that you can buy and those diffusers you could get three quarter stop one stop stop and a half I like a stop and a half of diffusion because it's just something I'm real comfortable and I know that look and I know it I can make it happen fast, so I placed that between the sun and her open up plus one and a half and I got a great shot of her. What just happened to my background? They just got brighter by a stop and a half so here's the rule if you're going to use a transmission technique if you're going to use a diffuser with your subject to start with a medium or a dark background if you start with a light background and then it gets brighter, you're gonna have a problem with your history. You'll be white without detail, you'll have blink ease on your camera, we don't want that so a cz you'll notice here as I go forward, watch what happens to the background and noticed the difference all of a sudden that blue becomes a light blue pastel and it's out of focus get that makes sense same thing here listen get this maternity portrait this was direct I couldn't find a place in this woman's home that I really like to do this this picture and I saw this direct sunlight coming through a window that didn't have a covering over it I went in her shower and took down the white frosted shower such are curtain and I taped it over the window and that became my soft light source she's like this guy's a knucklehead and then she saw this and what who that's a knucklehead that knows knew what he was doing you have to do whatever it takes to get the shot I tried it in fact I did a food shoot in seattle years ago and I needed the background to be read and I didn't have a red gel with me I was like how can I get this red how can I get this red and there was a little mini mark seven eleven kind of a gas station place nearby and I want phones those little those little those little mini bluebell not bluebell those little many cheeses the bell something baby bells they all have red cellophane right and I remember that that's like yeah yeah yeah give me some cheese and so we open all those packages way open those packages and I said I'd take it over my flash tube and I got my red background you gotta do what it takes to get the job done right she's light so here it is again transmission life you know here's nicole uh bright sunny day in my backyard you get yourself a couple of voice activated like stands you know paul ernest they're brilliant photographer brilliant photographer um that backdrop went opened up two stops looks like that on the left on the right this was just a test to see what that background color would do and it shifted beautifully but you can see the light quality on the face I didn't have anything to start with and everybody's like yeah but we don't have ten assistance I know you don't I didn't either but you do have a couple of life stands in a couple of clamps and you can make it work all these tools are out there to help you get the pictures that you want so now I'm back let nam in the reflective mode where I'm completely backlit if you open up and exposed the face boy do you blow out the hair you guys have all seen this because the range of contrast just cannot be held right so here's what we have to do we've got we've got add life to the face right now my range of contrast is from here to here I've got my highlight here and I've got my subject here and she's properly exposed actually it's kind of like this so she's right here where she's supposed to be I've gotta add life to the face so I bring in a white reflector from bringing up the level, the face, and then I'm bringing exposure down because I've added the face and it brings down the hair light with the totality on her, which results in that I've got to find a way to bring those two closer together. It doesn't matter how I do it, I can either add light to her and then bring them both down or aiken defuse the sun behind her and drop it down, or I can add flash to her, I can do five different things. It doesn't matter, I've got to get the brightest and the darkest closer together. That's my job then goes back to the first three slides, the white thought the black dot on the great dot that's all I have is those tonalities, and I got to bring them all and make them all fit on the printed page. People always ask, how do you what do you know where to place the reflector? So so think about being on a bright, sunny day and backless on photograph and lee and the lights coming from right back there so it's coming sort of this direction, I'm just gonna look at the ground and find your shadow where ever your shadow is that's, where I'm going to stand by and standing holding my reflector her body's like how do you find? Sometimes you can't see that when you're reflecting you can't see stand in the shadow you will if I stand in the shadow on holdup reflector you're going to get bright so much so you're gonna go so yeah make sense any questions about that reflector thing? Its job is to oh handle my contrast and smooth out the contours of the face a little bit smoothes up ready skin can gets moved up real quick if you properly use a reflector it's all about control thomas one of the great one great great guy right there, great model, great cowboy he's been a ton of movies just a quick clarification for be jail photo did you say you bring in a reflector and then lower shutter speed? I'll bring it by bringing the reflector and I have to change my exposure based on the ad. So so think about this if I'm photographing lee and I've taken incident reading of her face, it reads let's say sixty eight f ate and I shoot and then I've got a great exposure for face, but I've got this great strong lighting that's just blowing out her hair now I bring in my handy dandy white reflected on bring it in and okay, good, I like that right there now take a new reading of her face and it doesn't really matter if I increase the shutter speed or if I closed down the aperture. I've just got to change and adjust exposure so that the exposure is now based off of the reflector doesn't matter which I use because I'm not using flash if I'm using flash, all bets are off, but with andy like doesn't matter, it don't it? Don't. It dipped the only the only deciding factor there is. Are you tied to a certain shutter speed for a certain reason? Are certain aperture for a certain reason? Maybe it's based on what you need in the background or don't need in the background. So something like that? I just wanted to talk a little bit about the importance of of personal work, one of the things that I, you know, I am a little bit of a different guy I'm a little bit different than most I never photography for me was never ah ha be my first picture that ever took other than one that we found in my family pictures when I was about seven where I had a camera and I should have shot our family other than that, I never wasn't ah, hobbyist I started the photography as a probe, my first picture was taken on a house of blood, it was for a paying client first picture I ever took I was trained for three months my my brother in law and I watched him every single day and then he turned me loose with a client, so if it took years before photography was was before really loved photography was just a job and when the studio close, I would go home it took probably ten or twelve years before I went I love this and this is what I'm going to every day the rest of my life, so it took a long time, so therefore I never experience the desire or need of self expression or wanting to do personal work or have a project in my head, but I've been following the beatles for so many years, and so I've got this project that I'm working on that's a non stop ever it's an ongoing thing now where I am, where I'm photographing things that the beatles referenced in songs so I found in liverpool I found the graveside of eleanor rigby across the street from where john and paul met and I photographed my head shot that was up earlier that was taken at strawberry fields in liverpool the real one, not the one in new york but the one in liverpool and so I find that I'm doing that and that's a project that's just ongoing and I've got an opportunity maybe doing exhibit in liverpool in that but other than that since I moved back to texas in san diego for more than twenty years and I moved back to texas not long ago and which is where my family is from and that's where I started my career my first studio was in texas and I found pretty quickly that texans are nuts about their flag there's not a state in this country that they have more pride in their flag in the state of texas they're maniacs about their flag and they put it on everything and I thought I kept seeing it used in some unusual ways and I thought all right there's a project here there's a story here so in the last year I've started work on this project that's called lone star legacy a celebration of texans and their beloved flag I've already talked to a publisher about this and this thing this this project is going to see the light of day pretty soon but I'm not through shooting and yet but let me just show you some of the funky things that I'm talking about here and then they're all outdoor they're all ambient light they're all available light and then we'll dig back into this after I come back tomorrow break so you know you're out driving across the country and you see things like this it's like what does this mean you know but they will pop up in the most unusual places and for me it was just fun driving around these back roads and I didn't start out looking for that just it was just some guy just started noticing well, as I've told a few my texas friends that I'm working on this project well, now they're all calling me and sending me texts and e mails saying go down route tool four dash three go with cattle garden look to your right you know you'll see a water tower, you know? I mean, the flag is everywhere and it's just it's not just that it's the flag but it's how it's been used to me and it's funny it's very fine there's a few things I can't show you that I'm not going to say I believe this was a meth lab, but I'm not going to talk about that I was a little scared on that picture this is my favorite this airstream trailer it's just fun it's just fun stuff and I think that's part of this and that for me was was fun would just look at all these unusual things that happened and I know that so many photographers and somebody fine art people that I have a voice and they have things to tell they work on these self projects and I never understood that I never got why would you care? You know, why would why would I care about what you like and then I got passionate about something and it's like you mean you don't like what I like you know, they're also not changed and became a different guy but it's everywhere and it's on mailboxes it's on trucks it's on it's logo's it's windmills it's very fun cowboy boots every everything so I won't bore you with much more this but I'm just I throw that out there because I really do think that we as as photographer here the whole side of the building was the entire the entire thing on here of truck the whole truck is the flag, you know? So uh I guess what I'm mostly I'm saying is I mean, I'm encouraging you guys too to dig out a project this is the texas motor speedway, by the way, I was fortunate I recently got to get on that track at texas motor speedway and get in an ass car car and go one hundred sixty five miles an hour on a track I got two speeding tickets right after that I loved to go fast I never I didn't know this about me until I got on s car with a driver holy moly at about one hundred sixty hundred sixty five all of a sudden you start tingling all over on it it's a it's a it's, a religious experience boy, I'll tell you that's a cool thing but as you can see, I mean, you know, like I say, I've got hundreds of these things already and I haven't even been looking very hard but it's everywhere this taxidermy shop and look at the look of the deer in the window staring at me you know, I think this old gate on the farm, you know, so anyway I I you know, I'm about that, but I want to wrap that part up kid at his high school prom, you know? I just thought it was fun and I was going to break touched off his pimples, but I thought now he's a high school kid and his problem he needs the pimples cuff links, everything so it's pretty funny I do want I wantto make sure we don't have any questions left, but I do want to I'm pretty big with quote on the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory sat down to wait and waiting died if there's something you need to do and if something you want to say and if there's something you really need to work on, go do it starting tomorrow start this afternoon but started don't wait and that's the message that I got when I finally found something that I was passionate about, what it's my beatles collection of pictures or my beatles memorabilia collection, which is enormous now whatever it is, if you've gotta find passion and it's. Funny, I was telling my daughter, my daughter is twenty three and in college. Get a masters in art history. And and I said, you know, you've gotta find passion every day. And I think inspiration every day. And I think that you need to either be inspired every day or find a way to inspire someone every day. But I think the world, the word inspiration, needs to exist in all of us, as as image makers, because we have something to say. And people want to hear what we have to say. I think.

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.