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Reception Lighting Setup

Lesson 39 from: Picture Perfect Lighting

Roberto Valenzuela

Reception Lighting Setup

Lesson 39 from: Picture Perfect Lighting

Roberto Valenzuela

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Lesson Info

39. Reception Lighting Setup


Class Trailer



Intro and Who This Class is For


3 Groups for All Lighting Scenarios


My Progress in Lighting


Analyzing Circumstantial Lighting


Circumstantial Lighting Q & A


Using a Reflector the Right Way


5 Behaviors of Light: Overview and Angle


5 Behaviors of Light: Inverse Square Law of Light


5 Behaviors of Light: Relative Size


5 Behaviors of Light: Relative Size Continued


5 Behaviors of Light: Color


5 Behaviors of Light: Reflective Surfaces


5 Behaviors of Light: Q & A


Location SWOT Analysis and 10 Things to Look For


Location SWOT Analysis: Examples and Exercises


Overview Q & A




Speedlites: The Basics and TTL


Speedlites: Manual Flash


Speedlites: Zoom Flash


Speedlites: Zoom and Rotating Flash Head and Reflectors


Speedlites: First Curtain vs. Second Curtain Sync


Speedlites: High Speed Sync


Speedlites: Optical vs. Radio Systems


Speedlites: Groups and Channels


Location Lighting Upgrade Examples


Indoor Lighting: Building on Ambient Light


Outdoor Lighting : Speedlights in Direct Sunlight


Outdoor Lighting: Using Speedlites in Shade


Outdoor Lighting: Romantic Look and Patterns with Speedlites


Indoor Lighting: Creating a Window with Strobes and a Curtain


Indoor Lighting: Moody Light with Speedlites and Gels


Indoor Lighting: Reflective Surfaces


Indoor Lighting: Shooting Against a Window


Indoor Lighting: Adding a Reference Point and Ambience


Indoor Lighting: Shooting into a Mirror and Creating Separation




Why You Need to Learn to Get it Right In Camera


Location Photo Review and Analysis


Intro to Reception Lighting SWOT Analysis


Reception Lighting Setup


Image Critique: Lighting Problems and Solutions


Don't Limit Yourself As A Photographer


Lesson Info

Reception Lighting Setup

Okay here's where it gets really juicy here um I have tried I have worked very hard throughout the years to come up with the ultimate lighting set up for four receptions by the ultimate means it's going to give you the best pictures with the least amount of crap you have to carry best kind of that was kind of like my my my my go to it's like okay I am tired of carrying a trailer off stuff to jobs no matter if he should weddings that cost five hundred dollars or if you weddings that cost two million dollars I needed a set up is going to give me a good result ninety percent of the time it's never going to give you perfect results one hundred percent but it will give you ninety percent here's the set up is very simple you put two lights dance okay if the let me see how I'm gonna do this if the you guys are right there so if the band is there uh how the camera's gonna work with this? Okay let's see alright you put two light stance you see for the cameras if I pull this way one here and one...

here the key to this light stand situation are receptions is to put them next to the band you put the band is here you put him next to the band stage but the biggest and most important thing is you may know wanna carry a lot of stuff for you want to carry this sand bags on you want to carry a least twenty five pound sandbag? I don't care I know that's a lot of weight if you don't you're going to get sued because one time I can hit my life stand on the light fell on him, mr grandma by about three inches okay, so if you put this here on the kid hits it is going to stay so you have to take the extra effort to light stands two sandbags, twenty five pounds each has all the equipment you need. Okay, you put this here on turned us on slave zoom ok, then grab these things your point is down at a forty five degree angle don't point them up and don't point them straight at the people forty five degree angle then this goes down like that that's the setup right there forty five degree flash down a little bit and that's it any questions on this? The reason is you don't want to have to go, you're light and keep changing it so this is not going to give you perfect result every time but he will give you perfect results eighty ninety percent of the time and that's good enough for me okay, then you raise this you see here you you want us to be at about ten feet up in the air. Okay? Are twelve feet something like that? You want us to be about that and that's? Why you need this? Because when I didn't bring the sand bag, this whole thing who and he missed the grandma by just a little bit, okay, and trust me, my client's love to sue because their whole lawyers it's like that is like, I don't know why you deal with people you see here. Yeah, uh, no to self turn it on before you do that. This is gonna go down forty five degrees on. I'm going to turn this toe slave on. This is going to go to manual it's not doing the little things goes up and this goes up. Is that about the same distance? Haif okay, with this here about there, cool. So then when you fire, you kind of want the sweet spot to be kind of in the middle of the floor. Okay, so this one is mr b, something like that. Okay. Okay, now you grab years on. Now, let me explain. Actually, them explain before I do this. Ah, love. Ah, this has to be in group a this has to be in group b. The reason is if you put both in group a when they both fire it becomes a little flat because they're they're hearing people from both light intensities are exactly the same if you put one in a and one in b the light in density on won is a lot stronger than the other giving you that realistic feel off like having a nightclub with a spotlight kind of hitting them okay, so um I'm gonna make this one a ok when I make this one a very nice and I'm gonna make this one be basically this is what you get from it this is the result what's on the television that okay, this one is going to be group b beautiful is that pointing at the floor guys, can you tell me is that good? Okay, while I do this you wanted to ask you something joshua used for that photo? Yes ok, I'll just carry it if you ever use ah fill from the front or if they're ever too dark from now on never unless that's the thing you can't you you can't do that it depending this works I would say eighty percent of the time sometimes the venue doesn't work for this very well and I do use fail but I will say I've done that once in the last two years, okay, okay, so now you grab your flash and your camera on you very simply return we talked about yesterday english chinese and all this stuff we want both to speak english right so both are going to be on channel one so they both talk to each other we can communicate like the same language okay if you have a second shooter that second shooter can put his own life you basically by a bracket with two to call choose you put your your flashing your culture the other flash and the other called shoe the other flash is on channel two so the other flies is speaking chinese then your second shooters other flash on the other side it's also speaking chinese my english doesn't communicate with his chinese so when I fire it doesn't fire hiss when he's fires he doesn't fire mine is that cool so I'm gonna go to master on I'm going to go to my flash channing's here experience will I control flash function settings I'm gonna goto groups I know I'm just going to say group a is gonna go on manual and I want to choose my starting point of one over sixteen one sixteenth powers always like my starting point okay when I stick to that then I'm going to go toe my flash being I'm gonna put that on manual and I'm gonna put this one I guess what one sixty fourth one sixty four or one thirty two just a little difference those two trick and it looks well, doesn't look like that. Okay, one sixty fourth, next, I'm going to push put my camera on second curtain sink. The reason is because I'm shooting receptions. I am having people move on. I want to still keep the ambience. If I slow down my shutter speed to thirtieth or forty eighth or fiftieth or sixty eighth of a second it's going to be so slow that when people are moving is going to blur all of them. But if the flash fires at the last split second, then they will freeze right before the shutter closest and then you get both you get the ambience on, you get the frozen people dancing in the in the floor. So what? Oh, yeah, I was just testing it. Ok, I want to note that I just turned this off. Um, this flash here, this flash isn't I don't want this flash to fire. I just want this flash to communicate. Okay, so here we go. So my my usual reception eso is eight hundred because it's dark and moody, this is not gonna work at the studio. Too much light, but eight hundred eso my usual shutter speed when people are kind of dancing in the floor or first dancers or something like this is usually forty fifth of a second two sixty eighth of a second that allows me to capture the entire mood of the place but they will always be frozen because the flash so there's a flash hits them he freezes them okay so if you stand here I do point your subjects are there so if you're standing in the same plane as your lights you're going to sort off flatten them a little bit cool that's not a bad thing if you want a nice exposure under face with no we're shadows you stand here and you think a picture remember this setup is so simple on purpose it's simple so I don't have to bring tons of equipment and I can still get amazing pictures okay so you stand here on this is what changes the light this will be more flat light cool if you stand here one side of his face will be on their face will be lit the other side will be back late on the hair it would look really cool this is a good option for you seventy percent of the time no sixty percent of the time this is a good angle for you this flash illuminates her face the other flash illuminates the pack of their hair at a weaker light that's really cool and I used that so many times and I look at my form like we'll make are just beautiful because their faces are lit. Well, but the back is a little separation too. Okay, the next one is you stand there. Um you're gonna kill me and you stand here. You stand this way on you, you you're going to get split lighting on their face and when they're doing this is my favorite spot. When people are doing toasts were there toasting the bride and groom. You stand here, the light illuminate this side of the face illuminates the side of their face. It looks really nice if the middle of their faces a little dark change your s o to one thousand. Andi will fix that middle spot. Okay, if you go here, you're going to get the same effect as that one. Except you remember, this one is more powerful than that one. So if you stand here and they're usually talking in this direction, then you say, okay, I want this like to limit his face better on if they're facing this way, then because remember, one light is weaker than the other, right? Light a stronger than light be so you remember if like, they stronger on their speaking this way they're speaking sorry if they're speaking this way. Because you don't know where the bridegroom we're going you don't know where they're going to stand if they stand this way you say ok that light's gonna hit them in the face pretty strong this that's going to be a little bit of a hair light you can then tone down that flash accordingly if you if they're talking to the bride and groom doing toasting and they're speaking in this direction you just reverse it you put more power on that one and less power on that one depends what you want okay you don't want the hair light to be stronger than the face light so wherever you stand you choose what power you want to to make sure that the face is brighter than they're in their hair uh let me go back to the kino uh so let's see here can we put up on security? This is the result now people ask me roberto what's up with this ugly thing I say who cares it's not ugly it looks moody on if you really care that much here is the best solution shoot with a wide angle lens on then crop it up that makes sense. I've had one client in my entire time doing this I said I don't like those hearts but I just had no problem I shot everything with a wide angle lens and I just corrupt the light up because that light is that light is usually put by the you see this lights actually put a little too forward it should be put more towards the stage there it's so far back that when that light stand shows up it's actually on the very edge of the photo that allows you to just crop it in and now check this out if you were to block that I'm crop it this way look actually you can see it here this side of his face is brighter on there is the hair light right there you see that it looks really really nice let me repeat this doesn't work one hundred percent of the time this will give you good results for the majority of the time okay so if you have a client that cares about the hot light they just crop it out otherwise leaving I think it looks very moody any questions and this is this helping is this helpful stuff like this to flash up yes with they toast say facing the light it's like totally like right where I am and you know it probably won't happen if the stage is here because the band is here and the microphones are where the band is so there usually the people given toast dad you and mother whatever they stand here I'm those lights spill enough light to illuminate them on each other face let me show you here's another first dance if you look at the flash, you notice how it goes bright. It goes bright on any kind of kind of goes dark on the edges a little bit haseko it has bright and in darker that's all I'm saying it's not bright and bright or flat and flat it has dimension to it. Okay, doesn't that look totally dimensional? Three dimensional that's the two lights hitting this way if I was doing this, if I was doing this and I was taking a photo with the flash, point it at the clients and I was pointing at that you would not have any of those beautiful shadows that create the boot of the image. Okay, here's, another example of that. Another example. You see the beautiful light hitting their arms and the back of their heads and so forth. Um there's another one or the first dance of the reading group? Look, I'm moody that looks and remember this television's a little bright, but if you look on my computer screen later it's a lot moodier than that television, it looks absolutely gorgeous. Look, here's, that this light here it's a luminary in there this side of their face on this life is giving them that separation lies between them in the background, okay, um here are the speeches so this light the light on the right side is illuminating him here on the line on the left side is just barely spilling into this sort of of the month, but no, it is they're both illuminated I noticed that the band is a little darker because the flashes were kind of hearing them but not the band begged me steak when people stand in front of the people giving toasts and they direct the flash at at the band at the stage and now the people being photographed are at the same brightness level as the band and you don't know who's important and who's not it's like a terrible choice a very bad choice yesterday uh, so it's great when people can stand like exactly where you're wanting it, but a lot of times we find that eating dinner and like, okay, we're going to toast and then like the couple is just sitting at their table and they're like not standing up and somebody that would you suggest beforehand just saying, hey, we're doing toasts right here during toast just move have move over yes, I usually have I usually know where the first dance what time does the first dance is going to start on where the toasts goingto happen and where is the kid going to be? I need to know those things, but you're right sometimes people say they get up out of the chair I want to say something I'm like oh my goodness like they're told that's when you you grabbed if you have this are you guys familiar with of course you are gary fung's thinks if you put this on your flash carry fung's life fear you put this in your flash if you put this with a little roof on it it will flatten it will fly and the light it is the best choice for you if you do it bare ball might be a little hard to be a little harsh if you don't have a gary fung lights fear thing point point to flash this point forget the card out real quickly and then just bend the card like a ninja forward and it's going to solve the problems shoot and just bend the card a little bit okay but that's rare that I don't know where if you come to one of my weddings rachel you will laugh a stack of paperwork for planning like where's every table what's gonna happen at this time what's going to happen what what candles going to go where it's one time I was shooting a wedding I had to memorize them they had to they gave me a list of the names I had to memorize I had to look up in google who which person wass and had to memorize the face in google tow the name they gave me so when I called them I would call them by their names and there was like a hundred guests that's the kind of wedding is like not not cool they didn't want me saying hey you can you come over here because it was a wedding off like really powerful people type of people very influential people in the in the government in entertainment and they're like hey you can you come here that doesn't sound good and so they're like you know and you say hey you know whatever her name is are you call her by her name I'm mr photographer you know what's funny though I wasn't mr photographer in that wedding they all knew my name that was really interesting everybody knew my name too because they just there's only you're the photographer for the job they probably know with photographer you know you just say hey who's the photographer look at the lighting there you see the light in the back one lights pointing at them but look how great the hair light looks on again guys remember if a client complaints oh I don't like the spotlight crop it out that's why you always shoot with a spotlight on the edges of your photos that gives you the best option okay, so look if a client gets angry which they want to cut stones every complaint get rid off, get rid of this on this is the result you get looks really beautiful right? Okay, now what happens when you're giving toasts and they're they're giving toasts you have the two lights set off perfectly on then the bride starts to cry and she said the opposite side right this is the trick you have your flash on and you have your flash on on thes two flashes firing right what you doing in the kincannon you quickly turn you push menu you quickly turned the button to turn this life back on that makes sense so you disco poom and that's it and now this flash fires so if she's crime if she's doing this or she's doing one of these numbers okay you quickly go u turn this flash on you go oh I'm so sorry don't worry I'm not gonna tell her to go up alone go away not even working okay this is busy okay? Who cares? Okay boom boom right and then you turn this flash back off just one bun see off you turn around and you continue shooting the parents doing this then you turn around you push this bun quickly you turn off that u turn on this pleasurable pam pam pam and you go back and you go pam pam when when you do that these two lights are firing when you do this this like this firing and hitting you directly because I don't know where she is going to stand like what rachel was saying so I don't I cannot think that these lights are going to hit her perfectly if she's crying like this and I miss it or I put a big shadow as all of you on her face it won't look good I mean look at the ugly shot on the wood but it's better than having a big crazy thing in her face so it's one of those situations where it's the best of both evils she wouldn't mean what you don't want to do is you don't want to miss this things because this is what people pay you for is like I want to capture this emotion so if you're at home watching practice this two lights put your flash on camera keep this flash off it's only communicating is not firing then quickly turn around as your turning push the button boom boom that's it fire then turn around push the button boom boom hopes and then fire on like that see how quickly you do that it should take you a second okay here's the bend when the band happens hoops you notice I lower the lights a little bit I lower the lights so the spill off because they're so close to my flashes I lower the light and I barely pointing at them so here's what I do so if I'm the band if I'm the band I'm playing guitar here this light are going to miss me so make sense I can tell the band to move right so in that case lower this I'm just turning a little bit towards them don't turn it all the way towards them you kill it you killed the mood on lee and little bit of the flash should be looming in the band and you get this results you get a little bit of that brightness darkness brightness, darkness brightness like that and it looks like you're in a nightclub looks realistic um as soon as that's done if you do that, you can do that shot right when they're warming up that way you're not doing in the middle that dance for like lower the lights you know take care of this and then when you're done go put the lights back up on if you do it right and you zoom the flash this is what dancing shots looked like totally cool when people when those forest are printed and there in the album it just looks like people are just having a blast you know? It just looks fun and that's the key so we look at this one here remember that tv screens really bright so about a stop right? So if you look at my computer screen is very cool very moody okay um if you need to if it's if there's too much flash on your own you're too much power on your flashes what did I say yesterday? What is the fastest way to change the power of the flash without having to go climb trees and try to bring down the light stands change the aperture so you're at f four point now and too much power for five point six one turn of the wheel less power if it's two too bright toe to darhk just go from five point six two air force still to the two point eight so one click of the wheel click click you change the flash power they tow tow dark conflict you change the flash power it is the best way to deal with receptions in my opinion the best way to get you results like this or like this look at the mood of the place the mood is totally present and see every single person is frozen in the air it's frozen dancing or check out this one for example to find out what you want okay yeah in all this is still in your second curtain seek a second curtains thank you if you don't do second currents sink you're going to freeze the building which is already frozen because it's a building I didn't the people are moving you're gonna blow everyone not about idea if you want to create that blurry dancing situation okay, if you're watching online on and you're asking yourself what's up with second current saying, remember this, it has limits don't put your camera one second because one second you're not freezing anyone at one second, you're going to make them blur because it's too much you want to keep it around forty if if a second sixty eighth of a second nothing really slower than that. Ok, maybe forty fifth of a second I don't go to twenty or anything like that, it's just too much cool so a question has come in. Um, can you tell us again this is from sage g mac, calm. How do you power your off camera flashes? Do you ever use battery packs? Oh yeah, that's that's fun! I think it's good to have the battery packs that attached to the little connector in your flash. The problem with me is that I'm kind of like I cannot bring eighty batteries with me, so you bring eighty batteries twelve for six or eight go to the battery packs on, then four go to your flash it's just a lot. I find that if you buy one of those batteries called an ellipse, they're they're like pretty well known batteries that are pretty powerful for stuff like this, to be honest with you, I just used the flash I don't use any battery packs that's a good question because a lot of people those battery packs and cost you two, three hundred dollars, and I just I do weddings that are twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen hours long on if the flash dies after a while, I just replaced the batteries on the flash. I don't want dangling battery packs and stuff remember this? I designed this little setup just to simplify my life. It works for me, it may not work for you or he may work beautifully for you. I don't know it's been amazing for me, andi, I try to minimize the equipment to life stance to sandbags on three flashes, one on your camera and why don't need sight if somebody says, can you take a picture of us? You blast, you flash them with fake fake lights on you don't take the exposure, and then if somebody is giving a toast, you turned on those two lights and it gives them beautiful nightclub lighting. When people are dancing, switched to second curtain sink, slow down your shutter speed, get the ambiance and freeze them while they're dancing. If somebody says, if somebody says to cry quickly, turn on the commander becomes an actual firing flash quickly do that turn should it turn around, turn it off and continue shooting the dancing and that's how it should entire reception cake turn off the tournament I keep this on cake turn on my flash on my camera on I should because I never know where they're going to stand in the in the cake they could stand here or they couldn't understand here sometimes I say to the couple please stand here but then the cake makes a shadow when the flash fires I don't want it so I just turned on my flash on my camera anyone in the studio audience nicky when you are doing that when you turn your camera on to go wherever it is that in t t l at that point and the the sorrow of course emmanuelle but it's this one in tian thank you for reminding me it isn't the flashes on my camera, isn't it e l because the point of this flash is for me not to think it's like a reactive flash it's a flasher used just to react to moment so if somebody starts to cry grandma false or something well grandma false brother wouldn't be a good picture there's always like the child in me that wants to see that happen. Yeah, okay if, uh if somebody starts to have an emotional moment, I don't want to have to adjust my flash power so tl for that tl when the bride and groom are having their first entrance t ell, when people are walking away from me or towards me other than that manual manual, and if it's too bright change the aperture, don't change the flash power don't bring down the lights don't make your life more difficult just to just change the aperture a little bit and he fixes the problem that's on channel a that's on channel b that's brighter than that one and you can just choose where you stand if you want to make flat light, stand behind the lights like writing for another stage. If you want more like sidelining, let if there actually is happening here stand there or stand on the sides undersides give you give you face light and hair light on the back it gives you sidelight like really cool side lights on in here if you stand here and you should in this way towards the lights it's giving your flat light that's how the cookie crumbles at receptions for me whether you have this worst, whether you have receptions with ceilings or open air, if there's sky above you, this is still the light. This is still pointing at them. So when people ask me online what happens if you don't have if you're open air reception, who cares? This is designed to not depend on ceilings or not feelings it's just works just to clarify for l j bowers, based on what we learned yesterday, does that mean that when you're using tl that because the question is, does he do you always assume the flash when mountain at the venue? So are those zooming accordingly? Which one? The one that's when my camera or the ones that are the big thiss ones are usually somethin, it depends. There is really something. The flash is usually something, because even if I, when I assume that it's a pretty widespread because it's still pretty far away, so that the beam of light kind of goes like this. But if I didn't assume that beam off, like we can just open up like that, and it would flatten the image. Okay, however, the flashes on camera it's on automatic zoom like I don't want to think about anything. I just want to react. Okay, so all right has reception, lightning.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

10 Elements to Look For at a Location

Ratings and Reviews


Im sitting in my office listening to Roberto with my earplugs on and I know I have already left 2 reviews but he's so funny…. my family comes into the office asking me "whats so funny" Roberto makes me laugh out loud with his jokes but at the same time, he is SO great at teaching. Im watching for second time to make sure all his good info is ingrained. HIGHLY recommend you take his workshop on Picture Perfect Lighting if you truly want to take your photography to the next level! WOW thats 3 reviews now…can you tell I am impressed

Maureen T.

I'm taking a portrait photography course at NYIP online. one of the mentors there recommended the posing book by Roberto. I ended up ordering at the library the posing and the perfect practice book. I fell in love with both books...ended up buying them and signing up here for the year membership just so I can take all of his photos courses. I spent most of my weekend doing perfect lighting course here I am in love with the way that he teaches! He makes something so difficult and challenging for me make sense. I also like that he challenges us photographers to be true professionals. I am thrilled to have discovered Roberto and already noticed my photography is better in the short time that I've been studying him.


Roberto has the personaliyy and gift to relate to others.He is honest and shared some of rhe disaters that occurred, even with high paying and important clients when he failed to follow his proven and tested approaches. He has shared from his extensive knowledge developed by hard work and effort to master his craft. His dedication in attacking his weaknesses and making them a strength is inspiring. I have purchased many CL classes and all have worth the investment so I hesitated to purchase this course because I didn't think there was much new information. However the clear teaching and extensive knowledge shared by Roberto in his unique style caused me to purchase it gladly and believe it is an exceptional value. Roberto has shared his extensive tools, but you will never be the master of the craft without putting in the hard work and testing that roberto testified to. Thanks again CL for bringing the best to us and Thank you Roberto for taking the time and preparation to achive excellance in in this class.

Student Work