Softbox Set Up #1: Overhead Drama


One Light Wonder


Lesson Info

Softbox Set Up #1: Overhead Drama

Let's start it with this light. That light? Yeah, but we'll leave it on the stand for now, because we're gonna use it from this side. And then we'll bring it overhead, I think. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, actually, let's use that stand. You wanna use this one? Yeah, I'm gonna get rid of this one. Sorry. It's all good. And then we'll just have to stage it once. All right. I don't know. Sometimes I like to just look in here and see what's going on. You know? I need to set this thing up. So, huge light source, couple layers of diffusion, more layers of diffusion, gonna make it softer and softer. Right? They're in here, you think you have to use 'em, but you could rip 'em all off and not use any of those layers of diffusion. Right? I don't think there's right, wrong, good or bad, there's just stuff to look at. We're gonna use it with all of them on, but they're there. It's white on the inside, it's gonna make it soft too. Sometimes there's silver on the inside. It's gonna change your spe...

cular highlights, or how the light reflects a little bit. Right? We'll get into this. All right. So one light modifier, a couple of different ways. I think I'm gonna start, I think I'll start with the way that feels most me, and then work kind of away from me, with how I would light. And not that I expect people to light the way I light, I just think, it just happens to be the way it works and feels for me. I think that's what everyone wants to investigate and find out. And it's definitely, Doug, not gonna be the most flattering light in the world. You know? I like a lot of texture and mood. Yeah, we'll work towards that. All right, so let's bring this over to the side. Do you want to throw some weight on that side of it? Yeah. So we're just gonna throw some, we're getting a little bit of, this boom's getting a little bit heavy, and boom's work with physics, so it's a little bit like a seesaw. We want to throw some weight on this end of the boom stand, so that the physics is working with us. Right? It's not too heavy one way or too heavy the other. Cool. So yeah, we're gonna leave it right here. Let's tilt this a little bit. All right. And tilt it this way a little bit. And is it on? Could you just get an Apple box, look up there-- Yeah sure. Make sure it's on? Okay. Just talk about this a little bit while he noodles. I like attitudey sort of overhead light. It's just dramatic. Feels a little bit sinister. Fits my subject matter well. You know? A lot of badass guys. Right? Then there's sort of beauty light, which you've asked for. Right? The real secret of beauty photography, is what, Chris? Good skin. Good skin, right? That's the real secret. Start with good skin. You're gonna get there a lot quicker. Right? But beauty light's gonna come less texture. Right? More from the front, straight on, less shadows. And then we're gonna talk about sort of directional painterly light, and then backlight. So that's what we're gonna work with right now. Something dark and sinister. Something a little bit painterly, and shall we say, Annie Leibovitz-ish. Right? She always has that modeled soft light from the side. Looks beautiful. Annie? Yeah, she's a popular photographer for many years. You know? But I think her best work was done with her friend, the White Umbrella. You know? John and Yoko picture. Such an amazing picture. White Umbrella. You know, that's why I say it's not the arrow, it's the Indian. You know? He who does the most of the least wins, if you have it going on. Okay, great. We've filled in that space. Let's go up really high with that. Is our model light on? It can be in a moment. Yeah, let's turn that model light on please. Okay. And we're gonna use something. I heard this phrase, subtractive lighting. Anybody heard of subtractive lighting? What does it mean? Just tell me. Anybody? Yes? No? Removing light from the subject. What's that? Removing light from the subject. Removing light from the subject, yeah. So it's what it sounds like, right? Removing light from the subject. Subtractive light. When I heard it, I was like, "What is that black magic subtractive lighting?" I never heard that phrase before. But we're gonna use black card to soak up light to create a lot of mood in this shot. I just want to make sure I'm not hitting everything. Yeah, very high. Yeah, great. All right. A little bit even higher. Yeah? Yeah. All right. Wait. Do you feel all right there? I'm good. Yeah? Okay. I want it even higher. Yeah? Yeah. Let me come down a little bit here. All right. And when we have a big heavy light like this, you want to be careful, 'cause they can fall, and I've seen grips in LA who've lost this part of their thumb from the light standing on. So I try to teach good practices in the way of, safety's no accident. Safety third. Right, Chris? Safety third. All right, great. We're tight, tight? Cool, let's lock the wheels down. Let's throw in maybe a sandbag or two on that guy, would be helpful to me. I'd feel better. So why don't you come over here, Doug? Thank you. Right on. And I think this gets into, yeah you can come right in a little bit back. We're gonna bring that other card over here too, Chris. Slide over a little bit. Sure, that's good. Good to make a little tunnel for him. So I got the overhead light, which I like. We talked about that. We could see how it's coming down on him. We want to use the black side. Let's maybe do this over here. And these are enormous cards. I don't know if you have these in your studio. But you could have smaller ones that get you there the same way. These are just enormous ones. And they certainly don't travel well to locations. You can't bring them everywhere you want. They don't work well outdoors. But they're great to have in the studio, if you can have them. Right on. All right, great. Feeling this. All right. Make sure nothing falls on him. Let's read the light on our guy. Okay. (device beeps) 28.3. All right, let me come up. 11.3. 11.3. That's F13. Okay, so 11.3, you're gonna call that F13. Stutter speed at 200th of a second, which is my sync speed for the Canon. F13, yes, yes, yes. Head kind of straight. Great. We're tethered. We're all good there, Chris? Ready to go. All right. Cool. Right on. All right. How's the contrast there. It's looking a little bit hot on top of his head, huh? Let's step back just a little bit. It's because I don't have any hair. (Clay laughs) Right on. All right. How're we looking? Definitely no catch light in the eye, which, another thing people are like, "Oh, if there's no catch light it's a bad picture." I don't know if I always agree with that. I don't think you need it all the time. It's what it is. Let's zoom out, Chris. Okay. All right. So if I want to deal with that hot spot on his head-- I could wear a hat. Yeah, you could wear a hat. But I think I'm just gonna live with it. I'm gonna move you back a little bit. All right? I'm gonna move these guys back a little bit. Our camera's here. Great. Let's stop down at a third of the stop, head sort of, actually, turn your shoulders out just a little bit. Yeah. Drop your head down a little bit. Eyes over here. Drop your head down. Just relax your head. Yeah, perfect. Yeah, okay. And then bring it out a little bit for me. (Clay laughs) All right, how about we drop your head back like this. Look at me. Give me a good look right there. Yeah, step a little forward. Yes, this is what I want. Okay. You got this? This is good. This is so full. This is intense. Chin a little bit turns to me. Yeah, beautiful. Uh-huh, great. Give me some good eyes there, Doug. Model for me. Oh yeah. Yes. Uh-huh, yeah. Keep the head up and back. I like how that light's falling on you. I want gangster. I want it hard. Mm-hmm, yeah, that's great. Like a wise guy. A little bit less staring in there. Tone it down a little bit. (audience laughs) Less animated? Great. Your head a little bit straighter on me. Chin down. Yeah, that's great. Right there is great. Beautiful. Great, Doug. He's a natural. Natural. Okay, great. All right, so let's take a look at some of them. You want to come over just for a second while we cruise through them? We'll talk about you. Right on. I think I want to, definitely a little bit darker, Chris. A little bit more mood, a little bit more contrast. Cool. All right. You're already adding that sauce to him? Cool, let's just cruise through and see what we got. I like this with his head's really far back, and it's all awkward and strange. This I like. This is kind of going somewhere. You're really doing it. But the soft box, even though it's wicked soft, it's kind of adding a lot of texture. It's overhead. It's kind of coming down on his face. It's kind of adding a lot of drama and shape to it. It's looking the way it is. And these black cards, sucking up some light, subtracting it, adding a richer bit of shadow to the sides of his face, subtracting some light, just a wee bit. Most obvious in here. Right? See how we're getting that shadow. Right? Let's just take him out and shoot one, so we could see what it would look like without them. Just bring him out. Come back up here, Doug. Just for a little bit of a comparison. And you give me that same, with the head back kind of pose. Eyes to me. Yeah. So these two you're gonna compare. Right on. Thanks, Doug. Have a seat. All right. This is the first one. This is the second. Bingo. Yeah. And if we look at it online here. Big difference. There's a big difference. This TV for us, for our audience, is not calibrated 100%. Kind of a bigger difference over here. Want me to move it over a bit? Yeah, can we just roll it over, and show it to these guys. They're seeing it perfectly online. Can you see that? Can you see that a little bit of a difference? Right? So just a lot more shape and shadow from those black cards, that subtractive lighting, which, we're gonna use the opposite way now. So here we're kind of emphasizing a lot texture in his face. Using that top light. Just scroll through again. Let me see this one right here. That one? Sure. Really good job modeling. Good job giving me a variety of expressions. You could tell you're (mumbles). Yeah, you could tell. You could tell 'cause you know what you want. Right? So beautiful job there. But what we want to do is the opposite. Doug asked for me to make him look a little bit younger. Right?

Class Description

We only have one sun, so why should we need more than one light? In this course, celebrity portrait photographer Clay Patrick McBride will dive into lighting with intention. Through a variety of live shoots, he’ll demonstrate how to incorporate lighting diagrams into your workflow so you can create setups that you can use again and again.

He’ll cover:

  • How to control your light
  • Creating hard or soft light
  • The importance of documenting your setups
  • Sculpting with Light
  • Removing and creating shadows with intention

By the end of this class, you will be able to create incredible images with confidence and the use of only one light.


KIS Photography

WOW! I was getting ready to go to bed, when I saw this class last night as I was perusing the classes available. Got the notification that it was playing, so I thought I'd check it out for a minute or two. Well, once I turned it on, I couldn't turn it off! As someone who has shot musicians on stage since I was 16, I've recently been interested in shooting portraits of them, so Clay instantly intrigued me! The more I watched, the more I couldn't shut it off, and I stayed up til 5:30 in the morning to finish the course (financial issues, so I can't afford the class right now) This class is amazing! I love Clay's teaching style, his willingness to step outside the box and play by his own rules, and his lighting is awesome! As soon as it is possible, I WILL be purchasing this class! Loved it! Thanks again CreativeLive for introducing me to yet another outstanding photographer to learn from!

Jason Darr

I absolutely loved this. Great instruction, great content and very inspiring demonstrations. I'd highly recommend this course

Gene Tolan

Awesome intro to lighting. I love Clay's teaching style and his personality infused presentation was a pleasure. I highly recommend this course.