One Light Wonder

Lesson 2/21 - The Inverse Square Law


One Light Wonder


Lesson Info

The Inverse Square Law

Find the light, find the photograph, and I think, with working with electronic flash, working with strobe photography, we can find that we can make that moment happen. We don't have to look for it, like I don't know, maybe you've been in a situation when you've been walking around something, and then you get in the right spot and the light is right where you want it, right, and you're like, damn, there it is, right? That a-ha moment. So that's awesome. It's a great thing when that happens, but if you can make that happen more, you know, it's a recipe for success. And I found this, in my career, I found that there was a lot of photographers who could go, maybe shoot a live show, maybe get an epic picture like this, right, but when I took a picture like this, it was like a whole different pay scale. So the guy who was shooting like a live concert, you know maybe he was making a couple hundred bucks, and then when I started to work for the record label and do some work for Kid Rock, you k...

now, and I was like lighting the pictures, there was like a different, the decimal point swung over, you know, and there was like a whole different pay scale there, and it was thousands of dollars. I don't want to be obnoxious with what it cost, but there was like a whole different amount of money there because I was lighting the pictures more, and that's true for a lot of sports photographers. They can go and shoot the games, and they can make a decent amount of money there, but if they can do the sportraits too, those like diesel portraits with all the edge lights, and the guy looks really powerful, right, and they can shoot the cover of the magazine and the inside, there's a different sort of pay scale, so I think light is a great way to empower you, to separate yourself from the competition, you know. Like when you look at a photographer's work, I'm sure you're always thinking like, does this guy know how to light, does she know how to light? That's one of the first things we connect with, you know, like oh, that lighting's phenomenal. So this is it people, right? We've seen this diagram before. You'll get this download and everything, but you know, the inverse square law, which, what is this? I got a C in my Photo Techniques course in college, so I was not the guy who got this and it all fit into, and I think there's something to learning stuff and knowing stuff. And there's a knowing that comes through practice. Like, we can learn this, we can memorize this, we can look at this diagram and see that if we have a point source, and it shines, as the light gets further away, it gets lower in power, and that's what this says. An object that is twice the distance from the point source of the light will receive a quarter of the illumination. And if it doesn't make sense, it will. In a couple of minutes, it will. We're gonna demo it, it will. So as it moves away it gets lower in power, and we know this, like, like we all know that if light's here, it's very strong, and as it goes away, it gets less powerful. We want our light to be more powerful, we're gonna move it closer, right? We get that, right? That is lighting control and manipulation. That's it, right? It's really this simple premise that we'll break down. We'll look at it for three days. We'll talk about it all the time, because you can't talk about, look at light and not talk about it, so it's this simple theory. It looks like this too. It looks like how light falls off, so light falls off, the distance doubles, it's a quarter of the power. The distance doubles again, it's a ninth of the power, it's a sixteenth of the power, right? It falls off, and we'll demonstrate this in a minute, so lots of demonstrations. See these diagrams, they're like hieroglyphics to me. I'm like, I know what that means, but when I see like, we'll set up a light and we'll do it, right, you'll get it, right? All right, ooh. So surreal being here. So this is my dumbed down version of the inverse square law, so you want to slide that over here, Chris? All right, so the inverse square law. Is this a good spot for this, cameraman? Yeah, okay, all right. It behaves a lot like, I don't know, vandalism. No, it behaves a lot like spray paint, right, your light behaves like this, so I just show you this because I'm a visual person. I like the visual, the visual things. When the light's very close, it's gonna be very strong. It's gonna cover kind of a small area. As I move the light farther away, it covers a bigger area, but it certainly doesn't cover it as intensely, right? That's light, that's how light's gonna work for you. That's how we're gonna light groups. That's how we're gonna throw some really hard, close light to create contour and shadow, right? But it's right there, you know? Close, strong, farther away, gonna cover a bigger area but not gonna be as intense and as powerful. Pretty genius, kind of, right? I don't know, it helps me. And now, it smells like the 80s in here. You guys out there, you don't know this, but it smells just like an 80s nightclub bathroom or something. So this is the thing I can't encourage enough. You can sit in on a million of these classes, but it's a little bit like going to Yale, and just hanging out in the cafeteria, and not going to the classroom, you know, not going to school, right? Like, you gotta get dirty, you gotta practice it. You gotta do this stuff, right? So I've been lucky to see like a lot of dudes, you know, training in the gym, working out, you know, these athletes, and I've seen their commitment to their body, and I've questioned my commitment to photography, like am I not serious? What's my commitment like? So I've had to look at that. Basically, quality of light can be affected in two ways. Everyone talks about quality of light. What does that mean? So it's a couple things. It's the size of the light source, and the distance of the light source from the subject. So, you know, we have a lot of different modifiers. There's a lot of stuff going on over there. We're gonna look at them. We're gonna break them down, and we're gonna talk about this. We're gonna talk about the quality of light.

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.