Shoot: Distance From Background


The Starter Portrait Studio: One Light, One Reflector


Lesson Info

Shoot: Distance From Background

Alright so, let's take a look back here. And we're gonna talk about the inverse-square law, or the distance from the background. Okay now, without getting too much into the science of this, basically that light moves exponentially and loses power exponentially, so when you are very close to the light source, you have a very quick fall off from light to dark. As you get further away from the light source, the falloff is much more gradual. But, if we take the subject and we take the light and we move them together off the background. We can change what that background looks like. And whether they are very close to the background, or medium, or far, you can make your background do some things for you. So, what we're gonna do, we'll leave this on. Now, we're gonna put you really close to the background. You can come up a little bit for me please. Great. And so, lighting her and the background together, Let's meter that. (beep) Okay, lets actually take that down, Two stops. Yeah, take i...

t down two stops for me. Okay, alright, lets try this again. Should be nine would be my guess. Alright so, couple things about shooting this close to the background, what you end up with is usually a bit of a distracting shadow on the background. And, you've got a little bit of uneven light on the background. I don't love this. So, we're going to bring everything up a few feet. Not really changing the angle, and I want you to stay about as close as you were. Is that about right? Should be about nine. (beep) Nine. Great. How about that. One more time. (shutter) Background is a bit darker. And, if you were to do this with like a white background, come on up for me please, you would see this very exaggerated. (beep) Nine. Great. I've made a white background black before. Cause, I had a whole room to work with, like, a deep deep room. So, I like gray a lot, even like light-gray, Because, it give you a whole lot of flexibility, in what those lights look like. Now, this is like a medium-gray, so it gets dark relatively quickly. But, you can see, right on background, a little bit off, and very far away, You can make medium-gray black pretty quickly, not a whole lot of space. We don't always have that kind of space. So, it does make it a little bit easier to change the paper if you wanna put someone on a black background. But, if you don't, if you have the ability to really bring them off a wall, within a few feet you can turn medium-gray black pretty quickly.

Class Description

Masterful light isn’t necessarily about being complicated or having huge setups…it’s about control. In this class, Chris Knight shares some of his favorite ways to shape one light to achieve stunning results from some classic techniques as well as some surprising new ones. Learn to make light work for you to create your vision in the simplest ways possible and make your images come to life.



You can never learn enough about light. I loved this class! I recently downsized from a huge studio with multiple strobes and every kind of modifier, to a small home space with one large window and a few reflectors. This class was very informative and helpful with that transition. Chris Knight is an interesting and very knowledgeable instructor, and he was a joy to watch. I highly recommend this course!

a Creativelive Student

Chris's style was excellent straight to the point, I picked up what he was putting down and at the end, I loved seeing all of the different looks I could get from one light. This is my kind of tuition. To the point, full of great info, rehashed at the end. More like this, please.

Sébastien Nunes

Very instructive and the teacher explains very well and very clearly his point. Short course and perfect to have the hands-on quickly.