Lighting Critique


Photo Week 2017 Lighting Critique


Lesson Info

Lighting Critique

Alright, hi, welcome to Photo Week 2017 Critique, and I'm Scott and this is Dan, and this is sponsored by the SLR Lounge. Okay, we'd love to see your photos. And so, we're primarily gonna be kinda critiquing on lighting, but let's say we're starting there. We could talk about a whole bunch of stuff, and let's just get it rolling. How's that? Okay. Let's get going here. Oh okay. I like the idea here where you're doing that kinda slit lighting in the shadows. I love it. I just think the slit across the eyes are a bit small. And so, I would like that to be a little bit larger. I don't mind the other ones per se. But if that lighting could be a little bit wider across the eyes, I think that your eye would go directly there. So right now is those slits are about the same kinda width. And so, you look at it, you go, "Oh, where am I supposed to look at? "Oh yeah, there, the eyes." Because if you make it a little bit more obvious of where you wanna go, I think that would help out. Dan, is ther...

e any other things that you see? I fully agree with what you say about that, and I also think... I don't know if these slits, if this is natural sunlight or if it's strobe. Either way, I feel like where the slits are lightest, it's a little bit hot. So maybe a little bit over exposed. I think if there were a way to diffuse the light that's coming through the slits, it might bring up a little bit more detail, in the highlights that is, it would bring it down, and I definitely agree with Scott on having a wider band of light across the eye. It will make it a little more purposeful. Great idea though, right? I like that idea, Yeah, great job. that mystery. Okay, um, I think they're using natural light here. I like how she's a lot brighter than the background and there's some nice light on her. The thing that's drawing my eyes away from this photo is that her face is darker than her body and so, I don't know by posing you could've got that light a little bit higher and had it fade off, off her body, so her face is a little bit more prominent and she's standing straight up and so if she kinda leans more into the light, that will give it, it kinda feels a tad stagnant because she's kinda like this, but if she's kind of leaning forward and arching her back, maybe against that little, I don't know what that is, doorway or whatever, instead of that back perpendicular. Leaning back a little bit, leaning forward, put that light a little bit more on her face, I think that would translate a little bit better. What do you think Dan? Yeah, no, I also agree with the lighting. I think, you know, I like photos that evoke some sort of mood from the viewer and this one definitely does it. Between the light, the color toning, and her pose, it has this tense feeling, which I think is purposeful from the photographer. The one thing that keeps catching my eye though, there's a frame directly behind her head where there's this reflection or glare from some sort of light. I think, as I look at the image, my eye keeps struggling to bounce back and forth between her face and that reflection or glare, so I think if you could tone that down, it would really bring the center of interest onto her. And then, again, like Scott said, bring in the focus of that light onto her face and not so much on her lighter colored clothing, will bring focus clearly to her face. But good mood lighting. Yeah, love the tones. Okay, this, from a lighting point of view, I think this would look better if there was actually more side light created. I think because if you use more side light then you would get more of an outline around her body, and I think that's what you're trying to stress here. Although, it is, you know, dark, and then background in the back, but since this is kind of a lighting critique, I would love to see actually more side light that has that edge lighting around her, whether, you know, you're bringing in, you're underexposing the image a bit more and then you're bringing maybe two side lights in and then just get that shape to come out a little stronger. I feel that that would make this photo just a little bit better. What about you? Yeah. And along those same lines, knowing that this is a photo that's obviously based around yoga or some sort of athletic maneuver, I think focusing on muscle and shape we using the light Scott said will really bring out muscles and accentuate those parts. I think it's a really great image, I love ... You know, overall, I love that soft tone and I think the lighting fits the background, but I think for the content of the image, you know, depending on the goal here, I think the lighting Scott described would really bring out the shape and accentuate her. I think actually they're kinda caught between what to do here and so I think they didn't choose-- I think you gotta go one way or the other. Yeah, either full soft, You know what I mean? Or more ... Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, anyways, but nice try, I love the interesting shape that you created there, the background, it pops out, but good try. Okay, this one too, also, I like it. I like the side angle, where you're showing, you know, the baby bump, and I love what she's wearing. I just think that the light is actually a little bit bright. I would like it-- I think this would be really nice if it's more of a dark tone, a lower key image where there was some contrast. I see a hot spot right on the bump, if that could be reduced a bit, and then the colors could be richer coming out of that. I think, actually, if you would have done the same lighting, brought it down a bit, and used a black background, I think it would be even more impressive. What do you think Dan? Yeah, I love the idea of a black background and with that hot spot, this might be just a lesson in trying to feather that light a little more to reduce the hot spot coming from the softbox or umbrella, whatever light source/modifier they used. It could also be an area where the light source is a little small and if you used a larger, you know, something like a large soft umbrella with a lot of bounce and diffusion, you could really soften that up and get rid of the hot spot. But I love the idea that Scott mentioned of the dark background. I feel like that would really bring the attention to the subject and not, you know, have your eye get lost in that light colored background. I think this has excellent potential with this photo. Okay. Oh, hey, let's see. Let's look at it this way. I kinda like that background, how you have it blurred out and you've got an interesting effect here, and you're trying to use some gels, which I really like, his expression is interesting. Just depending on where I can see the image. Let me look at it directly on. I just think because of his white shirt here, his face is getting a little bit lost because of the highlights there and so I love the feeling of his face, so maybe even if he was wearing a darker colored shirt, and then you had more of the colors, it's kinda taking away from his face. Depends on-- Maybe I'm not seeing it right. On that screen it looks pretty good. It does, it looks different on each monitor based on our angle and, you know, this is one of those ones where you can definitely tell that they did sort of long exposure and then popped the flash somewhere in the middle to create that blur effect. I do love the use of the gels, it creates a lot of mood. The styling is definitely interesting. It catches my attention between the hair, beard, and the accessories, but, yeah, I think that collar is just a little bit hot. That might be what keeps distracting me because there's something there, looking on the monitor ahead of us the shirt's much darker, but that collar is just a little bright, so maybe being able to tone that down a little. It's like the photographer used either some sort of grid or flag to block off the white light to get those gels, but I think moving that up just a little bit to get the collar to pick up some of the color and less of the highlights would be better. Maybe even darken the hair a little bit, but yeah, I like the texture on the hair and everything. I think it just needs to be a little bit more moodier and there's excellent potential-- Yeah, I love this image. I'm pretty much just nit picking at this one. Yeah, yeah. (laughs) Because we're supposed to be critiquing, but I think it's great. Right, if I shot it I'd take it. Yeah, yep. (laughs) Okay, good, like it's got a nice expression there, got some nice catch lights in the eyes. I would take down a lot of the light around the face because right now if you squint at it, the bright part goes to the arm area, right? And so your eyes are drawn more to where the arms are, where I think that light needs to be kinda finessed a bit more. Yeah, no I agree. And I think, yeah, finessing that light, or even bringing in, for me, the left side of the image gets a little lost into the background. There's almost no separation between the baby's shoulder and background. I think dropping in a white piece of foam core camera left just to add that softness to the light to such an innocent image might bring everything up and create that separation of the baby's shoulder from the background as well. Good idea. All right. Okay. This photo, the lighting, I think it's great. The thing would about this photo though is the background kind of distracts away from the subject. If you had this exact same shot, but with a cleaner backdrop, I think it would fly a lot better. The lighting on the right-- It depends on what monitor you're looking at. It looks like where the hat is, it looks a little bit closed off, but on this monitor, it looks like it's there. Also, if the eyes looked a bit strained, too off to the side, so I can't see some beautiful catch lights in the eyes. Yeah, I think ... I actually think the light is a little bit low. I feel like that, how we're lighting the underside of the nose here, the catch light are pretty low in the eye, I wouldn't mind seeing the light itself being raised up a little bit. And I definitely agree with Scott that the eyes seem strained. It looks like he's looking way off camera right and you just get this odd look. I can't tell if it's catch light or the whites of the eyes, but it's something that's not quite all there, and I definitely agree with the background being a little distracting. I feel like if it were one way or the other, either all white or all dark with leaves, but I definitely like the tones and I feel like the pose and everything is a genuine moment that's captured, but I think the light could use just a little bit of work. If he just actually turned his face a little bit more towards where he was looking, I think the pose would even look better, and then his eyes would be less strained looking at that area, Yeah, I agree. it would be really good. All right, great. Okay, all right, so this has got a nice happy feel to it. I really kind of like the feel and even the tone kind of matches the feel of it. Although, I would-- Now when you look at this and you squint, right, where do your eyes go to? You don't go to her eyes and so, I know it's tough to get light underneath that hat, but I just feel like there's more light on her face versus her body. Yeah, and there's something about the crop or something here that just feels a little bit awkward. You know, the light is nice and soft, it fits the mood, but there's something with that hand that's just sticking out of the frame. Pokes out of it. Yeah. It's almost like-- There's not much you can do with the crop because you wouldn't bring it in too much tighter. I think it had to be-- You know, knowing that this is a caught moment, sometimes those things are beyond your control, but I think just giving the initial direction of, I don't know if her arm is leaning on a railing or the back of her chair or what, but it kinda has that feel, but it's taken out of context, so it just has this awkward placement that I think could be improved with a wider frame or a little different pose. Maybe even if her arm was around her waist, like just so I could see it. Yeah, yep, I agree. Because it looks like the hand is just, "Boop!" Popping out there. Kind of a mystery hand there. But I like the emotion in this photo. Trying to capture that. Okay. Oooh! So, this is what I was thinking about when I saw the first photo of the yoga thing is-- You know, when you're trying to accentuate shape, this is definitely side lights. I love this! But I believe we can't even say too much bad about this. Just other than kinda perhaps smoothing out that butt cheek a little bit, but I don't know about that, but uh, I don't know, what do you think Dan? Yeah, I love the light. The only thing I can think of is one of the things, I know her left hand is reaching up towards the light and it gets a little bit bright towards the top I think. If they were able to move the light further away, you could still get the falloff they want to light the lower portion of the body without overexposing that hand as much. So just moving your light slightly further away, which will take off some of the falloff and you'll still get that bright hand, but it'll make a more even exposure from the bottom of the feet and to, you know, her top of her head to the hand and you won't have that bright spot. But other than that it looks awesome. Love it. Okay, this photo, I like the dramatic, the red against the dark and everything. It looks though a tad-- I know when you're in this situation when you have one subject darker than the other, you have to kind of position the light where there's more light on the darker subject because he's kind of a little bit getting lost behind here. She's popping up! It almost looks like, if you took him out of there and you just had her, then I'd really like it because she would just like pop out, but if you're trying to kinda capture both of them, he's kinda getting lost because he's wearing dark, so it just looks like the-- It's a little bit closed up too much, and maybe if the light was a little bit more off to the side, it would kind of create a little bit moodier feel to it. Yeah, I agree. He definitely gets lost between wearing the black tuxedo and then the dark background. I think this could be an instance-- I love his expression, by the way, it's like, she's up in front, he's tightening up his tie or adjusting something, and he just has that kinda scowl on his face. I like the mood that it brings. I think this could be one of those images that might call for a secondary light because I do love the quality of the light falling on them, but I think some sort of accent light off camera left out of frame that maybe gives him a little separation from the background or something that just move it that next little bump to bring it all together. I love the mood. I love the use of depth with the leaves on the left and the framing, but I think just an extra light or something in there to fill it in a little bit. I think if you had a back light would give them a little bit of rim and this would pop. Yep, I agree. So, one light away. (laughs) Yeah, so close. Oh, okay. Um, the snow and the running and the lighting and it gives that kind of, when you're using back light and you're using snow, it has a nice effect to it. I like it, I just think it's a little bit on the crop. There needs to be a little bit more room above his head and I think I would even take down the snow on the bottom because he looks awesome, but then there's that white on the bottom that just draws your eye down there. Yep, I totally agree on the crop. I feel like it's just a little too tight. It makes, I don't know, causes some sort of weird reaction with me too. I want to see more, especially with how much snow, you know, is in the air. The highlights are definitely too bright on the snow. I think this is something where either feathering the light upwards or using some sort of grid or barn doors or something to keep the light off of that snow will still give you the same effect, but it'll bring more of the focus back to his face, shoulders, and hand, which is where our eye should be going. It's almost like, yeah, you could just crop it right at the knee there and bring it in, it would be better. Yeah, and that would make the entire background dark, which would really make the emphasis on him. That could be kind of a cool alternative crop to what we have here. Right. Okay. Oooh, nice. I like the mood here of how that baby is being highlighted and it's darker than the mom, right? Looking back and forth, at the monitors is a bit different. Maybe I would just take down a little bit of the hand right here. I'm not sure how it's actually looking. And so, I could just kind of focus a little bit more on the eyes. I just want to see a little bit more eyes lit up by the baby. It looks a little bit too much-- I know she might be casting a shadow on him a tad and so, if I could see those eyes a little bit better I think that would be great. Yeah, and I fully agree. I think the moment caught is the most important thing, but I think I just wish that baby were down like one inch further down the mother's chest because I feel like the light is so close to being perfect in those eyes that I can almost see it. But other than that, I love the moment, I love the tones, you know, even with her purple shirt and the baby's eyes and lips, it's bringing in those warm reds and purples and things like that, uh, but I love the moment. Just one of those things where you look at it, you catch that moment and sometimes, you know, the mom might have leaned her head forward and blocked just enough of that light, but again, a great image. Even I think, what do you think, black and white would look good too. I was thinking the same thing when I was looking at it originally. You know, even though the tones work, a black and white, it would be pretty timeless with this image. Right. Okay. All right, she's kind of in a relaxed pose, she's kind of down, but the problem that I see with this photo, even though I like the colors and everything, it's so hot coming in from the right side and so her foot's-- When you see it you're looking straight at that foot back there, and so this is a case where you want more light on the face than anywhere else, and that's not the case here. So the nose is not towards the light and so that's why it's creating an imbalance here. Yep, my first thought when I saw the image was I wish her face was turned off to camera right instead of left because the way that you can illuminate the face as a whole, which would bring down the feet. It would bring down everything else because right now, as I'm looking at her eyes, my eyes either want to drift up to her feet or down to her forearm because they're so much brighter. The other thing that I noticed is cutting off the fingertips within the crop, is just something that, it bothers me a little bit. I wish her hand was either curved around her elbow or the frame was a little larger to just not chop off the end of those fingers. And I also think that having her turn her head towards the light. Camera right there's a little bit of mixed light going on with some sort of ambient-- It would bring that down a little bit so you could use a little-- I don't know, it's a little warm, and I feel like it's-- The mixed lighting, it's a warm light mixed with some sort of natural light and I feel like being able to embrace one or the other, preferably the natural light, would help the image as well. Okay, I think this would be excellent. What do you think Dan? Turn off the ambient light in the room, put her nose towards the light, and just forget about those feet in the back and just crop it a lot tighter. Yeah, yeah. Because the feet aren't adding anything, just because they're so bright. Unless you can flag that light off of her feet, I would just get them out of there too. I agree. Yeah, you're real close of getting a great image here. Okay, nice. I like kind of the mood of this. I don't know, yeah, mirrors and everything ... Um, I just think that again, that the light is more on the bottom of the photo than on the top. It needs to be faded off a little bit. What do you think Dan? Yeah, I agree, and it's hard working with mirrors because you try and have directional light and it flattens itself out by all the bounce, but I agree, the overall feel of the lighting seems like it's coming from about knee or shin height, where I'd like to see it angled downward more because of her reflective clothing. My eye keeps going right to her right shin and ankle area, when, you know, we should be looking over the whole image and end up at her face, so ... I feel like her face is-- The lighting's great as far as the overall quality, but I just feel like having it start from a higher position will let the falloff hit her clothing. It's still gonna have all the reflection with everything going on, but I agree, I think the lighting is just a little low. I think it could be amazing. You can even finesse it in Photoshop. You can definitely do that, yeah. This has amazing potential with the-- Maybe a little bit more room at the top of the head, what do you think? Yeah, even letting that triangle or whatever is up there, just breathe a little bit, but I think the potential is there between the whole concept is pretty cool. Okay, oooh. Something different. Yeah, I like it. I love that interesting light going through there, showing the different-- That's a good way to use lighting with your food. I kinda like it. Yeah, this is one of those shots that pops up where I'm like, "Oh, I wish I took that." (laughs) I don't know, I'm not a food photographer, but it just-- I wanna eat that! There's something about it that is just pleasing to the eye. I don't have much to critique, but I have some things to say. I appreciate the layout of turning-- You know, the way the cup is turned at the top, towards the top of the frame, the way the knife, you know, mimics the angle of the cutting board, but it's out just enough to oppose the pan of-- I don't know what that is on the right. Something with garlic or something in there. But just the placement of everything has such a purpose and is so pleasing to the eye. I just don't mind staring at this image because there's so much going on that I appreciate, from the tones to the light to the control, yeah, I don't have a job. Hate to say it. I love it. Boom, it's great. Okay, this here, I think I like the pose and I like how she looks and everything. I don't know, I'm kinda torn. I think I would like um-- I know it's evenly lit, but I think it would be a little bit more dynamic if the light was faded and it was a little bit just more on her upper half of the body versus the lower half. So it would just kind of create a little bit more focus on her face. But that's just my kind of preference of it. I don't know, what do you think? Yeah, with this, what I see going on is there's definite contrast within the light that's hitting the face, but whether it's the fill or something to do with the falloff, by the time it gets down to her hands and especially her feet, it just is so flat, and I'm sure that has to do with the light bouncing off the floor and coming back up. So I think using two lights, from a little bit further away, and coming in at the general same angle, maybe one up high and one a little lower, to get rid of some of that flat lighting happening down below. This might even be, I mean, shot on white, on a reason, but I would like to see this image on dark too. I think she would really pop. But, you know, you can't shoot everything on black background, but I um-- I think at least if they show some shadow and highlight, Yeah, I agree. It would create a little more interest on the photo. It's a little bit in that in-between mode where I think the brightest spot is the background, which is normal on a white background shot, but I think her skin tones are in that murky category, where they're not quite there, but there's not enough contrast to have like that true blacks, other than her shirt and her hair, so I don't know. It's almost there. Go back, mess around with the lighting and get some more highlight and shadow on it. Awesome. Okay, so dramatic, right. I'm gonna look at this one because it's a little bit brighter where I can see the tones. I like that soft light coming in fading over to the other light. You know, personally, I would just like-- Because the lightness is a lot on the left part of the frame, I want to see just a tad more light on the other side, perhaps, if there was a second light, just give me a little bit of a rim there on the right-hand side would balance it off for me a bit more and I guess the strain of the eyes all the way across there too. If I could just have her eyes a little more straight there, I think that would do it for me too. Yeah, upon first glance, the first thing I thought were that there's so much white in her eyes that are showing that I think if she were looking-- She doesn't need to be making contact with the camera, but maybe somewhere looking just off right, camera right, would bring her eyes a little more centered and be a little less distracting. And I definitely agree with Scott on there being some sort of whether it's a silver card or a gelled something or other off to the camera right, just a subtle separation-- On one monitor, you can definitely see her shoulder blades and things like that, but I think having a tiny bit, just a little bit more, I think just like a fill card or a show card or something to bring that up a little bit because that would really accentuate the droplets on her and make those kind of have a little extra sheen on her back and neck, and her left cheek as well. It just looks unbalanced light ways. Like all the lights over here on this side and they just need to open it up just to create a little bit more balance on it. Yeah, but I love the mood. Yeah, great. It's a great moment. Great mood, the little beads of water on her face looks great with that lighting that you're doing. Okay, good. A. This is interesting with the light, long exposure there and having him there. I think on this photo if you can eliminate a little more in the background on the bottom too, that would kind of create a better image where you would just kind of see him. And so, I would like to see him featured a little bit more, and so you kind of eliminate some of that background and bring him in. I see that you-- It just depends on what (laughs) photo you're looking at, but what do you think Dan? Yeah, I agree. You know, if you're gonna have the background, there's something-- I get having this tilted frame, you know, and off angle, but I think by showing the floor-- He's also wearing wrestling clothes and it kind of looks like he's on a basketball court, so it's a little bit confusing there, and I think having those lines, knowing it's a basketball court, I mean, they're crooked, throws me off a little bit, so I think, you know, fixing that part or else getting rid of the background altogether, like Scott said. And then there's also these real sharp highlights on the tips of his fingers, I think, whether they're getting a little too close to the light or something you could re-touch out, but they just keep distracting me towards looking at his fingernails on that lower hand because there's these hot spots. Yeah, if you squint, right, what do you see? Fingertips. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So, anyways, but it's a good image. Yeah, yeah, I love the concept and the exposure. Well, thank you very much for coming to this and submitting your photos. All right, thanks.

Class Description

Join us as we welcome award winning photographers Scott Robert Lim and Dan Brouillette for a LIVE critique on in-studio or on-location lighting! In this free event, Scott and Dan will review and discuss your lighting techniques — be it portraits, product or fine art. You’ll get expert insights into improving your work and looking at new approaches to lighting.

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