Intro to Studio Lighting
Now we are going to enter into one my favorite realms of photography, which is studio lighting: controlling light. And we're gonna talk all about light, whether it's quality of light, intensity of light, and if you can tell, I get excited. One of the reasons I get excited about this is because, like many photographers, I tend to be a control freak. I know how to control light, and I love that for creative expression but also for flattering my subjects. And for portraits, the more you know about light, no matter who comes in front of your camera, you're going to know what the right modifier is for them, where to place the light, the quality of light you want, and any mood that you want to set. So I'm very excited to jump into these essentials of light. Let's get started with that, and I think what's important is that, sure, there are times when I am shooting something that is more complicated with four, five, or six lights, but that is such the exception. Really, I usually am using one ...
light, sometimes two lights, and sometimes three. But I don't really need to get complicated. Complicated lighting isn't better. And in fact, as I look through the pages of Vogue, I look through all these high-end fashion magazines, a lot of that is done with just one light. So it's about knowing how to control that light and choosing the right modifiers and setting the right mood. So don't think that you need to have expensive gear, lots of gear, many different lights, complicated setups. It's not true. You can beautiful portraits with one, two, or three lights. So I am definitely going to keep it simple and we are going to talk about where to put your light, what to put on your light, and then also how many lights to use. And these are the questions that I, probably like you, had in the beginning. Okay, so I've got a light. What modifier do I put on it? What height does it go at? What angle does it go at? How do I use this studio lighting? So we're going to dive into all of that information. But first, I want to talk about shooting in the studio. Because as we shoot in the studio, the rules are a little bit different than shooting natural light outdoors. There are a couple things that you need to consider. So I want to talk about how to set up your camera for success. In previous segments we've talked about how to set your camera up for success by shooting raw, and also a little bit about the white balance and your metering modes. But there are some extra considerations when shooting in the studio, so I'm going to break down each of these so you can understand what your camera should be set at to be out on the right foot. So here's the first thing I'm going to start with. In the studio you kind of ignore shutter speed. Well, I mean, you don't but you do, so let me explain how this works. When you're in the studio, the exposure on your subject's face is not affected by shutter speed. The reason is your subject's being lit by a studio strobe that goes so fast that it's not going to be affected by your shutter. So I kinda mean that it doesn't matter, because whether I shoot at 1/200 of a second or at a 1/30 of a second, the exposure from that studio strobe on my subject's face will remain the same. However... You have to keep in mind something called sync speed. And this is where, once again, your camera manual is going to be of value to you, or of course you can look it up online. Your sync speed is the maximum shutter speed that you can shoot a studio strobe and not see your camera's curtains. As you are shooting, if you have ever tried to use a studio strobe, or shoot with flash, and you shoot at a very high shutter speed, you may have noticed black bars that show up when you take this photograph. What's happening is you're actually catching your shutter as you're taking the photograph. Most cameras nowadays, we're gonna talk about DSLRs in particular. DSLRs usually have a sync speed of around 1/200 of a second. If I shoot faster than 1/200 of a second, I'm going to see my shutter. Let me give you a quick illustration of how this looks in video form. What happens is your camera's first shutter goes up, and then your flash fires, and then your shutter is going to close. If, however, you end up shooting faster than your camera's sync speed, you would end up seeing the shutter. So this is why you don't want to shoot other sync speeds. Here's the first one, the one we've been talking about. The faster the shutter, you're gonna see the black bars. But the other part: a slower shutter speed. If you start shooting at 1/60, at 1/30, I already said that your studio strobe, the exposure's going to stay exactly the same. Well, I knew this when I first had a studio, so I basically ignored the shutter speed altogether and whatever it was at I left it at. I remember distinctly, I was shooting in my studio space, I had low ceilings and fluorescent lights, and I just let the shutter speed be whatever it wanted to be. I was shooting like 1/30 of a second. I remember thinking there was something wrong with my strobes or something because all my shots looked a little bit green. And I could not figure out why. I was blaming my strobes, blaming everything, blaming my printer. I thought maybe the print was ending up green. What was happening is that as I used longer shutter speeds, the longer shutter speed doesn't affect the exposure of the studio strobe, but it starts to let in ambient light. If you have a window in your space where you're shooting, some of that window light after using a long shutter speed is going to start to show up in your picture. It's going to start to fill in the shadows. Or if you have fluorescent lights or whatever ambient light there is. If you do not want ambient light to show up in your photograph, you need to make sure you use a fast enough shutter speed to cut it out. For me, in general, I end up shooting right around 1/200 of a second so that I am able to not see that ambient light. Let's take a look at what it looks like if I mess up, if I am using too slow of a shutter speed. I have an illustration of this. So I have a constant light on the left-hand side, which is tungsten. This is not firing, and I'm going to pretend it is a lamp in a studio. It's a constant light that is on. And then I have my studio strobe, which is daylight balanced firing on my subject from the right. Let's take a look. This is ambient light without my studio strobe firing at all. Not going to have my strobe firing. So you can see, if I shoot at ISO at F/8 1/200 of a second, as I slow down my shutter speed I start to see more of that orangeish-yellow color. It's starting to show up on the left-hand side of her face. Now with my studio strobe, you can actually see that difference. If you look at the left-hand side of her face in the top left, there's not really a color cast. It's just a shadow area. But as I move down, as I have a longer shutter speed, all of a sudden the shadows of her face are yellow because I let ambient light in. In that case, the ambient light was yellow. It's tungsten light. So you are going to run into problems with that if you totally ignore your shutter speed. So just think of it this way: my shutter speed is not controlling my exposure, but it is going to affect whether I see ambient light that is in the space that I'm shooting. So keep that in mind. Here again look at that yellow on the side of her face at 1/60 of a second, and then here's at 1/200. It makes a pretty drastic difference. Alright, so if I'm going to go down this list, I'm gonna start off with shutter speed and then go to aperture, ISO, white balance, all the things you want to have your camera set on. The first thing is just make sure that your shutter speed is fast enough to cut out ambient light, which is typically around 1/200 of a second, 1/125. It depends on how bright that ambient light is and what aperture you're at. So around 1/200 of a second. Let's talk about your aperture and your ISO. Your flash exposure in the studio is affected by several things. If I'm trying to change the exposure on my subject, if I'm looking at the light on my subject's face and I wanna make some changes, I can change the following. I can change the aperture of my camera. The aperture of my camera is going to change the exposure and the brightness or the darkness of light on the face. So the aperture's the first one. The second one is the ISO. How sensitive my sensor is to light. If I used a faster ISO, that light is going to get brighter. The next thing down on that list that is going to affect flash exposure is your strobe output, basically how high up I turn the power on my strobe. And then lastly is the distance of that light to my subject. If I bring the light in closer, the light will be brighter. If I pull it away, it'll be dimmer. All of these things are different ways that I can change the exposure on my subject's face in the studio. So let's take a little bit closer look at this. What does it mean? Aperture means how much light do I let in. And so if I have a wide aperture, it's basically like a big hole in the wall. Let's say that I am trying to, there's someone sitting on the other side of the wall and I'm trying to get them wet with a bucket of water. If the hole is really small and I throw the bucket of water, it's not gonna let much water, or in this case, much light in. But if I open up that hole really wide and then throw in the water, it's letting a lot more light or a lot more water in. I'm always using examples of light as buckets of water 'cause it works. They behave really similarly. Your aperture basically means how much light am I letting into my exposure. So if I'm shooting with my studio strobe and I want to let a lot of light in, I want to make that light brighter, I can open up my aperture. Go from F/8 to F/5.6. Have a bigger opening, let more light in. That's what the aperture is going to do. But then I also have ISO, how sensitive is my sensor. How sensitive is it to light, so I can bump up my ISO to make that light brighter or dial it down to make the light appear dimmer. And then my strobe output, I can change those powers. So I'm keeping all of these things in mind as I'm trying to get the right exposure on my subject. I talked about this already. Wider apertures let more light in. Narrower let less light in. ISO, the higher it is, the more sensitive to light, the brighter the light will be. The lower it is, the less sensitive to light. And the strobe output. Just a couple of things about strobes. I have an entire class on studio lighting 101, where I go through three days all about everything studio lighting. And I talk a lot more specifically and a lot more in-depth about gear and specific strobes you'd want and specific considerations. One of the things that I talk about is wattage. And I go into these things more in-depth, but wattage is basically, what is the potential strength of this light. How much light could that strobe put out. A higher wattage light, comparing, say, 500 watt seconds to 1,000 watt seconds, 1,000 watts is going to have so much more light that it can put out. That's going to effect the exposure, how strong is that light. And then just basically how many stops of light I'm kicking out from that light. These have variable output that I can change, so particularly on these, I'm shooting with Profoto D1 Airs. I can dial it all the way down, and I have six or even nine stops of power that I can vary on my strobes. It depends on what head you have in particular. Some might only have five stops of variation. Some might go much more dramatic than that. And typically, the more expensive of the pack and head system or the strobe you buy, the more output variation you can have. We talked about those essentials of exposure. The last one is distance. Going to talk a little bit about how distance affects light. I always talk about light as bucket of water. For example, if I have a bucket of water, Fallon, can I borrow you for a second? You're gonna be my bucket of water girl.
Okay, and will you just sit right there?
Alright, so distance of the light to your subject also makes a difference in exposure. If I've got a bucket of water here, and I throw it from all the way back here and try to soak Fallon, a lot of the water spreads out and she kinda gets wet, but if I take that same bucket of water and get really close and throw it right at her face, her face is going to be soaked, or it's going to be very, very bright. I lose a lot of that water when I'm far away. It spreads out and it gets lost. But when I get really close, I have a lot of concentration. So that water is actually light. Light from way back here, it falls off, it gets lost, it doesn't reach her, it's not as strong, it's not as concentrated. But take that same light closer and it's going to be a lot brighter, it's going to be a lot stronger. So think of it that way in your head. You want the light brighter? Bring it in closer, and that's what it's going to achieve. So that's why I love to think about light just like water. Distance is going to make a difference. But then you're trying to figure out, okay, I know that I want my shutter speed to be... 1/200 of a second-ish, right? Whatever your sync speed is or near it. And then you're trying to figure out what to set your aperture at. You can guess. I'm not gonna lie. There are certainly plenty of times where I guess, because nowadays with digital cameras you can kinda see if you're getting close on the back of your camera. But if you really want to know what aperture you're supposed to be setting your camera at to get the right amount of light, the right exposure, you can use something called a flash meter. You can use a light meter to actually take a reading. So what I'm going to do is in this meter, the one that I have here is the Sekonic LiteMaster Pro L-478DR. It's basically a digital touchscreen one. What I can do is I can pick what ISO I want to shoot at. I'm in the studio, I want to shoot at ISO 100. So far we know my shutter speed. I said already. We want ISO and 1/200 of a second. I already decided those two factors. And so now this light meter, when I fire my strobe, is going to tell me what I should set my aperture at. John, would you do that for me? Great. I'll move it over a little bit. Alright, and so I'm just going to fire the strobe and I'm gonna hit the Test button. You could do it here depending on what light meter system. You could actually sometimes do it from the light meter. But I'm going to hit Test.
Okay, perfect. So it gives me a reading of 5.0. What it's telling me is, Lindsay, if you want the correct exposure on this light based on the shutter speed you picked, 1/200 of a second, the ISO that I picked, ISO 100, I need to shoot at F/5. I can see if it's lying or it's telling the truth by coming over here, and I'm going to shoot tethered for a moment, and I can put my camera at 1/200 of a second, ISO 100, and 5.0. And I can see if it's telling the truth. This should give me approximately the correct exposure. If you want to use a light meter correctly, what you need to do, and there you go. You can see it's approximately the correct exposure. I could guess. Can I borrow the light meter one more time? Do you want to be my demo-er and show how you're using it? If you've never used a light meter before, if you want to take a look at how John's using it, first of all, we have the dome out so it's catching the light from this strobe. You can either point it towards camera or towards the light.
Which do you prefer?
I usually do towards the light.
Typically. What he's doing is he's holding a button on the side of the camera, or on the side of the flash meter that says, okay, give me a strobe. And then it fills in the--
Try that again.
And it fills in the variable.
If I had the flash meter away from the light, it's not going to be picking up the same light. The light's over here. Some people point it straight towards camera, 'cause it's saying, well, what light can the camera see? I usually point it right at the studio strobe itself so it's saying, how much light is coming out of that strobe and hitting my subject's face? You have to be pointed towards that light, dome out, put in the right settings, and it's going to tell you what to put your aperture at. So that being said, I could just go... Take a look at my histogram and see if I'm over/underexposed. It's technically cheating, but if you're on a budget, you don't need extra gear. You can do a great job, and you know what? I do it all the time, so I guess cheat all the time. Honestly, I know many, many photographers that don't use light meters, so I wouldn't worry about it if you don't have a light meter. Now our cameras have incredible light meters in them, and so I can make adjustments using my histogram if need be. But if you want to know how a light meter works, it gets rid of the guessing so I don't have to keep guessing up and down and trying to see if I'm overexposed. It tells you what you should be set at. That's usually what I do, is I take a look and I adjust appropriately. If my exposure's too bright, I can dial it down on the back of the strobe. If it's too bright, I could close down my aperture. If it's too bright, I could back up my light. Remember, you have all those different controls for how you can change the exposure of the light on the face. Let's keep going. I got tons to talk about. So do you need a light meter? And I said it kinda depends. So far, here's what we've got. We've got 1/200 of a second or similar. The aperture is going to depend. It depends on how bright your light is, how close it is, how far you turn it up. Typically I choose to shoot somewhere between F/8 and F/11 most of the time. And the reason that I do that is because I'm in the studio. If I shoot at F/2.0, first of all, at 2. I am going to have to worry about my subject moving. And if I mess up my focus, I'm not shooting a narrow depth of field to try to simplify the background. The background already is simple. It's just a gray seamless. So I figure I might as well shoot at F/8 or F/ to guarantee that I have a nice sharp photo, even if I'm a little bit off in my focus. If you want to save yourself some of the hassle, if I'm not trying to simplify a background, shooting in the studio, there's not too much benefit of shooting really wide open, unless you are trying to just have just the eyes in focus and everything else melt away. But if you're just doing a regular portrait with a studio strobe, try F/8, try F/11. It'll work just fine. The quality of the picture will be great. So we're moving down. 1/200 of a second. F/8 to F/11. I usually do ISO 100 in the studio, because I have control, so why shoot at a high ISO? I can have the lowest amount of noise here. And then the next one is what is my white balance. And we've already talked about white balance. How to set your white balance. I've talked about ExpoDisc, I've talked about gray cards. Depending on the studio strobe you have, get comfortable with it. Take a picture of the gray card. I have one here that I'll grab a picture of. But I have found personally for me, with these studio strobes, the Profoto D1 Airs, I prefer to shoot on the white balance preset of flash. I like what the white balance looks like with that. That's what I'm comfortable with. It gives me a solid result. Other studio strobes, you might not like that, and you're going to want to set a custom white balance. Or use your gray card. I recommend doing both. Get the gray card, try shooting with a flash white balance. So if I go through, I just set you up for what your camera should look like and you should have 1/200 of a second or similar near your sync speed for your shutter. Your aperture somewhere between F/8 and F/11. ISO? The lower the better, for minimal noise. And then your white balance? Flash or custom, just don't leave it at auto. Auto it's going to jump around. It's going to give you incorrect white balance results. You're all set up with your camera now and you're ready to shoot in the studio. Your shutter speed, your aperture, your ISO, your white balance, all set. So let's build on from that and let's talk a little bit about lights. We're gonna talk about the essentials of light. Okay. So our camera's ready to capture the studio light. But then I have to figure out what light I want. And I have good news for you and bad news. The good news is there is no right light, and the bad news is that there's no right light. It's not as simple as that. There's so many different things you can do. You can change the modifiers. You can change the direction. You can change the quality, the intensity. You can get such drastically different results in the studio. The good side of that is that there's not a wrong answer, and so there's endless possibilities. But that also means there's a lot you can learn and a lot to practice and a lot to try out. So that is what these classes are for. Again, my studio lighting goes much more in-depth into these and I have dozens of lighting setups in that course. The principles of light. When someone describes light, looking at a portrait, looking at someone's face, they're usually describing light in about three ways. The first one is the intensity or quantity of light. How bright is that light? When we were using our flash meter there, it was telling us how bright the light was. How bright is it? And if there's two lights on the subject, what are the ratios? Is one brighter than the other? How much brighter? That's one way someone could describe light. But the next way that people typically describe light is going to be the direction of light. Where is that light coming from? What type of shadows is it casting on the face? How is it sculpting the face? Lastly is going to be the quality of light. Is it hard? Is it soft? What type of feel does that light achieve? When I'm describing light, I'm thinking of all of those things. I'm thinking of how strong is it. What direction is it coming from? What qualities does it have? When you understand each of those things, and how you can achieve changes in those three elements, it's going to give you the ability to create any light that you want in so many drastically different lighting setups. Let me just expand on that and reiterate it. The intensity of light is how much light, including ratios between multiple lights. The direction of light would be: is it flat? Or maybe it's directional. Flat light would be lower and more centered, minimal shadows. Directional would be higher, further off to the side. Lots of shadows. Both are right, but totally different effects. And then the quality: is it hard? Is it soft? Is it in between? Let's look at each of these essentials of light and what they mean in an illustration. Again, this is my assistant Raquel. Intensity of light. Looking at the photos here, for example on the left. There's a ratio where that backlight is bright and the front light is pretty dim. The background is going to be stronger, whereas a quantity of light, the intensity of light on the right-hand side is just dim in general. There's just different amounts of light in these photographs. But then direction of light. Picture on the left is going to be much more flat light and flat light, you can indicate it or you can see it by minimal shadows. Not many shadows under her nose, not many shadows cast on the side of her face. It's relatively flat, and not much dimension to it. But on the extreme opposite end on the right-hand side, this is very directional light with long shadows cast by her nose. A lot more drama. This is what I would be talking about if I were talking about direction of light. The first one was intensity: how much light, ratios of light. Then the next one is direction: where is it coming from, how much shadow. And then lastly is going to be that quality of light. Is the light soft or is it hard light? Does it have gradual shadows or really crisp, defined shadows? And that's what I'm looking at in this instance. On the left, look at the shadow of her nose. The shadow of her nose fades off gradually. It's not a deep shadow. It goes from light on the side of her face and fades off slowly to darkness. Whereas on the right-hand side, that line of the shadow is crisp. It goes from highlight to shadow very immediately, very crisp. That is going to be a much harder edge. That's what you're really looking for in hard versus soft light. What is the edge, the transition between highlight and shadow? If it's a harsh transition, it's harder light. If it's a gradual transition, it's softer light. These three slides that I just talked about, take a look at them over and over again. As you look at portraits that you like or look in a magazine, you can look at it and say, okay, so that light is flat. The direction of light is frontal. You can see by maybe minimal shadows. Oh, and then that, that's really gradual fade from highlight to shadow, so it's also soft light. You can start to describe the light you see. And then when you can describe it you can start to understand where the light needs to be placed and the type of modifier that needs to be used to be able to achieve that light. Let's talk about the next step of this. I talked about the direction of light, the quality of light, and the intensity of light. But we need to talk just a little bit more about how light behaves so you can understand it a little bit better. I did talk about the bucket of light example, the bucket of water and bucket of light example. I wanna talk about this here again. Let's talk about this whole inverse square law thing. You might have heard about it before if you've been taking classes on light. My rule of thumb is don't make it complicated. Just get the gist of what the rule's trying to say. There's a formula, you can double the distance, quarter the power. You don't really need to know that, but you need to understand what it's doing so that you can control the light. Let's take a look at this. Okay, inverse square law, who cares, and what does it mean to me? In practice, what it means is that light falls off quickly. It's not going to be a linear thing. It's not like you increase the distance by two, and therefore the light cuts in half. It quarters the power. It's exponential. So light just drops of really fast. You lose a lot of light quickly. You can use this to your advantage in several ways. Here's what it means practically. I'm going to go through these points of practical inverse square law. First one is, the very practical is, if you move the light closer or further from your subject it varies the power. We already demonstrated that. We already talked about that with our bucket of light. But know that it does this in extremes. It's not just linear, it's exponential. But move the light closer to make it brighter, further away to make it dimmer, to make it lose some of its strength and some of its power. Number two. Bring the light further or closer away to vary the fall off on the background. Okay, so here's what it means. If I am going to light Fallon here, and I have a light very far away from her, if I have it back far enough, what ends up happening is, can you back up a couple feet? Okay, so something like this. If I have the light pretty far away, relative to my light, she's far away and the background's far away. They're both pretty distant. So the light on her isn't going to be that much stronger than the light on the background. By the time I throw the bucket of water, there's not that much more water that's going to reach her compared to the background. It kinda spreads out quickly. However, if I take this light, the bucket of water, really close, really up to her face, and I throw that same bucket here, she'll be really, really bright compared to the amount of water, compared to the amount of light that hits the background. These relative distances and how I move my light, it allows me to control exposure and it allows me to control the light between the foreground and background. If I want her and the background to be similarly lit, I back way up with my light and I could light them similarly. And if I want her to be lit totally differently, I bring that light nice and close. It'll make her bright, but it won't reach the background. Because there's so much light on her, I'm gonna have to close down my aperture to make her correctly exposed and the light isn't even going to be hitting the background enough to register, or register enough to be equally lit. That's kinda how I think of it in my head. Move the light further away from her to make it dimmer, closer to her to make it brighter on her, and then relative distances to the background and subject changes exposure. Do you know how you're gonna learn this and how you're gonna see it in practice and start to understand it? Is to do it. You have to just do it. Go home, put your camera on the settings that I recommended, figure out what your aperture should be, adjust it by adjusting the power on your camera, and then just move your light around. Keeping those settings the same, what happens when you move the light back? What happens when you move it forward? How about the background? Watch what happens to the background when you bring it further away from both or just closer to your subject. You'll start to see how this inverse square law works. That last part kinda summarizes what I said. Subjects that are closer together are more similarly lit, and it's going to be a pretty dramatic effect. Alright, so all things that we covered here. Taking a look at this, this is the mathematical if you care, if you want to see how it works. When you double the distance, you quarter the power. It's not just a one stop or cut in half the amount of light. It takes away and it quarters the light and it makes it fall off quickly. So light drops off exponentially. This was just an overview of inverse square law. Don't let it concern you. Don't really focus on the numbers. Just know how it behaves. And the best way to do that is to practice. But here's what I really wanna get into and make sure that you understand and that we can bring to life, is going to be the direction of light. Direction of light, it sets the mood, it helps you sculpt the face, control the light, the drama. There's so much you can do with direction of light. So far I've kind of skimmed past a lot of things. I went past quickly exposure and camera settings, but this is where I wanna slow down and make sure we understand these fundamentals, 'cause these fundamentals, although we're talking about studio light, it's true with natural light, it's true with speed lights. Let's talk about direction of light. I wanna cover some of the words, some of the terminology that you may hear when someone describes studio lighting or describes qualities and direction of light. Specifically we're going to do direction right now. Knowing terminology doesn't make you a better photographer. Trust me, I've interacted with many people that know every term, and it does not make their photography better. But it makes it easier to understand what's happening. And when you take other classes from CreativeLive or other instructors, when you hear the words that they say, like broad light and short light, now you'll know what they're talking about and you'll be able to understand and see better how they're manipulating the light. Right now let's talk about terms specifically for direction of light. The first one is going to be broad light. Broad light is when the highlight side of the face is closer to the camera, and the shadows are away from the camera. So you see in this instance there's shadows on her face on the left-hand side, but they are cast away from the camera. Broad light tends to be a little less dramatic, a little less sculpted, but it's a little bit easier. It's just a common form of light. Broad light, that's what you see here. But let's switch it up and talk about short light. Short light is when the shadow side of the face is closest to the camera. As I look at the subject here, the shadows on her face are being cast toward my camera, not away from it. Let's look at the differences again. In the first one, the shadows are going away from me, away from my camera, towards the left-hand side of the face. But then when I switch to the next example, the shadows are coming right at me. And usually short light creates more drama. This is what I want you to stick in your head: shadows equal drama. It's true. The more shadows you have the more dramatic, the more sculpted the shot. Flatter light isn't as dramatic, but of course you don't always want and need drama. But just know that shadows are a tool that you can use. Short light is going to give you more drama and more sculpting. Okay, let's go on to some other descriptive tools, descriptive words for direction of light. This is an example of flat light. If I look at her face, there are generally minimal shadows and not that much shape. Really, there's not much definition to the shadows. The light is pretty much centered. It's not as sculpting. I just said that sculpting is a good thing, but look at this photo. This is still a beautiful photo. It depends on how you're using it. So flat light can also be quite flattering. Flat light means centered light, minimal shadows. It's flat to the subject. Okay, let's go the total opposite direction of flat light. Let's do dimensional or directional light. The light is used to cast shadows, to sculpt the face, to carve out and to create depth. So if you look at flat light, there's not much depth. It is flat. Whereas dimensional light, it has dimension. The words are chosen for that reason. It's sculpted. It has more shape to the subject. She looks more three-dimensional here than she does in this flat-lit situation. She looks more 2-D here and more three-dimensional here. Broad light, highlight side of the face is towards the camera, the shadows are away. Short light, the shadow side of the face is towards the camera. Flat light, minimal shadows, more centered light. And then dimensional light: a lot more shadows. Shadows coming towards the camera. A lot of sculpting. Let's continue. Here's how I think about highlights versus shadows. Shadows I use for two main reasons: to sculpt the face and to create drama. Those are the two reasons I use shadows, because maybe I use shadows to show cheekbones and jawline, to shape that face. Or maybe I use shadows to create a split so one side of the face falls to shadow and that makes it dramatic. Those are usually why I'm using shadows. Highlights, on the other hand, I use in a different way. I use highlights usually to create definition or separate someone from the background. If I'm going to place a highlight on somebody, maybe it's so their hair doesn't blend into the dark background. But I'm not using it the same way as I use shadows. Let's take a look at direction of light. This comes back to terminology. If you read any book on lighting, there are so many different books and so many different tutorials on lighting, you will hear these words. You'll hear these words over and over again, and these are words used to describe the pattern of shadows and shape of light on the face. So you're looking at exactly how the shadows are cast on the subject, and that's what's being used to describe the light. Not the placement of light to the camera, but how it casts shadows on the face. I wanna go through these, and you're definitely going to want to go back and watch this again and again, not because it makes you a better photographer to know these words, because it's going to help you take other classes, take other classes on CreativeLive, some of mine, and understand when someone says paramount light, what do they mean? Rembrandt light, what does that mean? And you're going to start to see how the light sculpts the face, what it means, and trust me, once you start to understand these, you'll be looking at a billboard on the highway and go, oh, look, it's Rembrandt light. Oh, look, it's loop light. It's a good pastime with your photo nerd friends. So let's take a look at this. Paramount light. Paramount light is when the shadow from the light falls directly beneath the nose. It is sometimes called butterfly light. The reason it was called butterfly light is 'cause you'd see little butterfly wings of shadows underneath the nose if the light is raised up high enough. And this is often used in old Hollywood Paramount lighting, centered, dramatic shadows under the nose. If the light is high enough you'll see the big shadows. So it's pretty flat, but not totally flat. She still has a little bit of sculpting, but the light is centered. Notice: shadow goes straight down and the other way you can tell is look at the catch lights in her eyes. If you look closely at the catch lights in her eyes, they are centered in the top of her eyes. The centered light is going to help give you that paramount light. All of these examples here I'm using are going to shot with a beauty dish. We'll talk about modifiers in another segment. Just so you know, when you see those little catch lights in a circle, that's created by this modifier right here, so make sure you watch that segment as well. Let's continue. Next one is loop light. When you move the light a little bit off to the side, you are going to create a shadow from the nose on the face called loop, and it just creates just a little shadow there. It's a little bit more dramatic. There's a little bit more sculpting to the face, and you can see that loop just to the left-hand side of the nose. It makes a loop shadow. Just a bit more dramatic, but let's push it a little bit further. If you move the light even further off to the side, you create Rembrandt light. And Rembrandt light is created when that little shadow from the nose meets the shadow from the cheek. You will see a very defined triangle underneath the eye, a triangle of light. What happened if I go between these two shots and the first one, when the light was a little bit more centered, the shadow from the nose was cast just a little bit, and as I move the light off to the side more, it extends. The shadow's cast longer until it meets the cheek, and now I have Rembrandt light. And of course, named for Rembrandt and the lighting style that he used in his paintings. You will see Rembrandt light a lot. We've taken the light from centered. For where she was, it was centered. Move it off a little bit to the side to give it a little bit of loop, further off to the side to give me Rembrandt. So what's next? Even further off to the side with more shadows is going to give me split light: light on one side of the face and shadow on the other. Let's compare these all side by side. Paramount, loop, Rembrandt, split. And all you really need to take away from this is the further that you bring the light off to the side, the more shadow you are going to create. And as you're watching tutorials or as you're reading or as you're identifying light, you'll be able to know these lighting patterns on the face and then be able to recreate them yourself if you're looking for the same technique. Now, as I said, this has to do with shadows and light patterns on the face. Not where the light is compared to the camera, but actually compared to the subject, what it's doing to the face. All of these were broad light, or basic lighting patterns on the face with her facing straight towards camera. But I can actually face her to the side and do the same thing. This is going to be a little more dramatic now because the shadows are going to be falling towards the camera. Watch this. Okay. So the picture on the left, this is paramount or butterfly lighting. Not much shadow, it calls directly underneath the nose. But I move the light off a little bit to the side and it casts loop, just a little bit more shadow. I move the light even further off to the side, and I create Rembrandt. And even more gives me split light. In this particular example, if you are looking at the subject, the light is going further off to the right-hand side and back around my subject. The further off it is the more shadow it's casting back at me. This is short light, but the other example, they're the same thing. She's just facing a different direction. But the actual shape of light on her face is the same for these. She's just facing away from camera. Shadows are falling towards me. As I said, more shadows equals more shape and more drama. And if you look up online to learn a little bit about this, you might see the example of lighting an egg. It shows how you can light an egg with a flashlight, and as you raise the light up, there's more shadow cast under the egg. And as you pull the light around to the side, more shadow is created. Basically my subject's head is my egg. If you have a subject to test on, you can see how it sculpts out the face. But the further the light off is to the side, or back around, the more shadow you create, the more drama, the more sculpting. Flat on, the egg looks 2-D. There's no shape, just like the head of my subject that I showed you before. They just look flat, there's no sculpting. But I bring the light further off to the side, and more shadows and it starts to carve them out from the background. It gives more texture, more detail, and a little more dimension. Dimension, I just kinda touched on this. Usually how you create dimension is the light side to side. But also up and down. Raising the light up and down will also make a difference. The higher up you raise that light, you start to carve out the cheekbones. Because as I cast that light further up, it puts more shadows underneath, more shadows under the jaw. You can create drama left to right and create more shadow, but also by raising your light up. The higher up it goes, the longer the shadows get, the more dramatic it gets. It's all about where you place your light. It's all about direction. But it's up and down, side to side. All of it can create more drama. Let me just show you real quick. This is what you care about for your portrait clients, or one of the things you should care about. Lighting you can use to create drama, the direction to create drama, to set the mood, to create these lighting patterns that you now know about. But for we portrait photographers, what you care about is how it's affecting your subject's face. Especially if you're photographing an older subject or a subject with wrinkles or a subject with blemishes. This whole direction of light thing is gonna make a massive difference to what the light looks like on their face. It's going to do a lot, so let's take a real close look at this. Direction of light's effect on skin and wrinkles. Let's look at up and down, if I move the light higher and lower. Looking at the individual here, this individual came into my studio in New York and posed for this demo. As you can see, on the left, the beauty dish is a little bit higher than eye level, and then in the middle I raise it up. In the far right I raise it up extremely high. What I want you to pay attention is to the shadows underneath his eyes, the bags under his eyes. As the light is raised higher, the shadows it casts are more dramatic. The bags under the eyes become more noticeable. Perhaps if a subject has defined wrinkles, or maybe big bags under the eyes, raising the light up really high isn't going to be flattering. Maybe it's not a good idea. And so let's just look at that up close. See how much more dimension I get? Dimension can be great. Dimension can be sculpting. But it also can be really damaging to a portrait subject because it can bring out flaws, it can bring out texture in the skin or wrinkles or blemishes. But maybe that is exactly what you are going for. Maybe you're photographing an older individual and exactly what you want to see is all that texture and all the stories in their face. There's not a right or wrong answer, but know that raising that light up, creating more dimension by casting more shadow down, creates more definition in wrinkles and blemishes and in skin in general. Height of light makes a big difference in what it looks like on your subject. And that doesn't mean that you want your light to always be super flat. It's depending on what you're trying to do. When I photograph models, I am often photographing them with a light higher up because it carves out their cheekbones and jawline. But if I'm photographing someone older, I might lower that light down a little bit so as not to draw so much attention to the texture of the skin. Just going through this real quick, here's the lower light, a little bit higher, and much higher. You see the difference that it makes. Now let's talk about moving the light on a horizontal axis. I talked about up and down, let's talk about side to side on texture of skin. I talked about how side to side, moving the light further off the axis, further to the side, means more shadows and more drama. What does it do to the texture of the face and the skin? Well, it also casts more shadows the further you are off to the side. Which in some cases can be less than flattering to the skin. Let's take a look at him again, moving the light off to the right in each shot a little bit more. In the first photo it's loop, the second photo it's a little bit more loop, third photo it's about Rembrandt. But let's look in close at the skin. If I look at the wrinkle between his eyebrows, it becomes more defined as I pull the light off to the right. I'm giving more dimension to his face. I'm sculpting his face out more. But as I'm giving more dimension to his face, I'm giving more dimension to the wrinkles as well. More dimension can be great for drama, but maybe the more dimension isn't necessarily great for skin. Let's watch those side by side or as they come up. Here's with the light more centered. A little bit further off to the right, notice it's deeper and darker shadows between the eyes. And one more, it's even deeper the further that light goes off to the side. And of course I can do things to help me out. Maybe I want to see a little sculpting of the face from above, so I add a reflector to fill in the shadows. We have lots of different controls that we can take. Let's say you have an individual where you don't want the light to be flat. You want to see their cheekbone and their jawline a little bit, but man, when you raise that light up, the shadows underneath their, the wrinkles underneath their eyes just got really dark. You can add a reflector to just bounce a little bit light in. Fill in their shadows so they aren't so heavy. Alright, so let's pop over and look at that. First picture on the left is with no reflector. The one in the middle is with silver. You fill in a lot of those shadows, it kinda flattens it out. And the picture on the right is with white. Each one has a different effect, and this is why I recommend that you watch studio lighting if you want to understand a little bit more about the use of reflectors and fill cards and direction of light, 'cause we dive deep into that over three full days of content. You can see this even more in-depth. You'll see how each of those reflectors makes a difference. Alright, but let's talk about quality of light. Quality of light we will really bring to life in a future segment as we talk about modifiers, 'cause quality of light is controlled by a lot of different things, but one of them is your modifier choice. We talked about quality of light could be soft or hard. It's by the definition or the gradient of shadow from highlight to shadow. Okay, so let's talk about something really important, and I want this next thing ingrained in your head. I want it to stay there, I want you to repeat this over and over and over again, because you will hear me say it endlessly. This is honestly something that I'd heard said so many times, but I just didn't get it. If you can get this, you're light years ahead of where I first started. Here we go, quality of light, remember this saying. The larger the light source is relative to the subject, the softer the light is. Conversely, the smaller the light source is relative to the subject, the harsher the light. Okay, I'm gonna say it again, and then I'll put it into practice. The larger the light source is relative to the subject the softer that light is going to be. And the smaller that it is relative to the subject, the harsher it is. For example, the sun is huge. The sun is absolutely huge. But relative to my subject, because it's so far away, relatively, it's tiny. So it is really, really harsh light. If you want to make a light source appear softer on the skin, it needs to be larger relative to your subject. You could achieve that in a variety of ways. You could use a larger modifier that makes that light seem larger compared to your subject, or you can take one modifier and bring it in closer. When you bring that light in closer relative to your subject, it appears to become larger. It's softer, it wraps around more. Let's look at this in practice in a demo. What I want you to do is I want you to watch the shadows on Raquel's face here. I am using a speedlight and a Rapid Box to illustrate this demonstration. I've got my little speedlight there, and watch the gradient of the shadow on the side of her nose. It's not really soft, but it's not really harsh. Watch when I move this light back. I'm going to go back and forth between those. See how it's a little bit soft there, and as I move the light back, the shadow becomes more defined? The gradient is a little bit softer here. It fades out from shadow to highlight. Whereas when I move the light back, it becomes relatively smaller and all of a sudden that shadow is crisp. The size of the light didn't change, but the relative size did. Because I moved it away from her, it got smaller relatively. And because it got relatively smaller, our rule says it will get harsher. If I want that light to become softer, instead of moving it away, I move it even closer to her. Because as it becomes relatively bigger, it becomes softer. So we are going to use this as a control when we want to improve and change the quality of light. I do this all the time when I'm taking a photo, I'm looking at it, I'm like, oh, you know what? It needs to be a little bit softer. I move that light in a little bit. I'm like, ah, could be just a little bit harsher, just a little bit more crisp edges, and I can move the light back. And of course I can change the modifiers, but that's going to be coming later, so make sure you check that out as well. Just a couple of things: when you bring the light closer, I used to be really confused about this, because I would see that the light would come closer to my subject, and I wouldn't see the softness. I'd see the brightness and go, oh wow, that's really bright. For some reason I just overlooked the softness part. So know: yes. You bring the light closer in, it will appear to get brighter. The bucket of water is making her face wetter because it doesn't spread out as much. It's closer. But also, that bucket of water now wraps around more. It is softer. So bringing the light in closer makes the light softer and brighter. Both of those things at once. Let's just look at a couple words for describing quality of light. You may hear these as well, so become familiar with them again so that you can understand what people are talking about as they describe light. First is going to be high key. An image that is using mainly lighter tones. Not as much shadow, not as much drama, and usually it's a little bit softer and flatter light. This is what I look at and I think high key. Lots of white, not much shadow, not much sculpting. Just a brighter picture overall. But conversely, the opposite direction, we're talking more about mood here, this is low key. It uses mostly dark tones, dark qualities, throughout the whole picture, and it's usually more dramatic. Now, low key doesn't mean underexposed. And high key doesn't mean overexposed. It just means high key uses more bright tones, less shadows. Low key uses a lot of shadows, more dark tones throughout. As you hear people describe these things, this is what they're talking about. This is what you should keep in mind. If you see a competition that wants a low key image, they want darker tones, not an underexposed picture. They want a lot of shadows, a lot of drama. High key: much brighter, much more wrapping light, less shadows, less drama. All of the things we've talked about, let's take a look at the extremes. We've talked about intensity of light, we've talked about the direction of light, we've talked about the quality of light. So let's see what it looks like on someone's face when you put these extremes together. The picture on the left is one extreme. A large light source relatively close to my subject means it's soft. The larger the light source is relative to the subject, the softer the light. I made it big, I made it soft, I chose a soft modifier. We'll talk about modifiers. And I used a reflector to fill in the shadows. And I made the light flat. It is centered so it's not casting many shadows, and what shadows it was casting, I took a reflector and the light bounces and then fills those shadows. The picture on the left is flat light. It's soft light. It is not directional. It's not dramatic. It's softer. Flatter. Okay, let's go the exact opposite direction. I now switch my modifier so that it's smaller. It's further away. It's further off to the side. Now there's more shadows, and look at that sharp line between highlight and shadow. These are completely opposite ends of the spectrum. But it comes back around to, as photographers we kind of have to know everything, because both of these are right. The picture on the left would be great maybe for a picture of grandfather and child. It's a little bit more upbeat. It's a little bit gentler on his skin. But maybe the picture on the right you want something dramatic, or maybe he's playing a villain, holding a cigar and you want to show texture, you want to show drama, you want it to be cinematic. Both of these are completely fine for a portrait, but you have to ask yourself, what is the goal of the portrait? Is it meant to be brighter and happier and softer and more upbeat, or is it meant to be dramatic, more of a character portrait, more like a scene out of a movie? So those are, really, what you ask yourself is, what is the purpose of this photo? What is the light meant to be doing for me? As I describe light throughout this boot camp, I do want to cover just a couple more words that you may hear me say. Because as I am lighting my subjects for a head shot, when I'm on location, I might use a couple words to describe different lights and what are they doing, how am I using them in this portrait. Let's talk about those. First term would be main light or key light. If I say main or key light, it means that this is the primary source of light on my subject's face. This is the main light in this shot. And so in this photo, the main light I can tell is coming from the right. We've talked about some of these things. It's gotta be coming from the right because the shadows are cast to the left, and there's a pretty soft gradient from the shadow to the highlight, so it's a soft light to the right. But that's my main light. So you'll hear me say that. You'll hear me say, oh, my main light I have in paramount position. The main light in the face is centered in front of my subject. You're starting to see how I might use these terms to communicate what I'm doing. Let's look at another term. Fill light. A fill light is usually used to control shadows. Do you want to fill them in a little bit, make them a little less dark? In this instance, all I did is I added a reflector. It's my fill light, it's my secondary source of light. And it just kinda bounce light into the shadows so they aren't as dark. So if I talk about a fill light or a reflector, it's not the main light in the face, but I'm using it to control the shadows. And that affects the mood as well. Another word and the last word that I want to talk about here before I finish up with the demo is going to be kicker light. You might also hear rim light, you might hear that word. Usually what it's used is as a light to separate the subject from the background. The kicker light could be on the hair so the hair doesn't blend in, or it could be on the jawline so that there's definition on the jaw. I might say, okay, the main light on the face, so that means main source of illumination, the fill light, and that might be a reflector to soften the shadows, oh, and the kicker light, and that might be light on the hair or on the jawline. Those are three words that I will use to describe the light. These words are for the purpose of the light. But I've also given you words like paramount and loop and Rembrandt to describe the direction of light. I've also given you words like high key, low key, soft, harsh, to describe the quality of light. This is definitely a segment that you're going to want to watch again if you're not familiar with all of these terms. These are terms that you'll hear wherever you're learning lighting. As we're proceeding throughout this boot camp I'll be using them over and over again. All of that terminology you're going to want to review. The last thing that I want to do for this segment is I want to demonstrate a little bit of the direction of light on the face just so you can see how it affects our subject live here in the studio. Okay. Hi, Fallon.
How are you?
Do you want me to move forward?
Yeah, I'll have you move forward for me. And if I could get tethered up. Great. Move to this side. I'm a wimp, a weak wimp. I'm not that bad. Let me turn on modeling light, and for those of you at home watching, I'm turning on my modeling light. The light you see on her face is not what I'm exposing for. What that light is used for, the modeling light, is so I can see where the direction or the position of the light is, so I can see if my light is too low or I can see if I'm casting the right amount of shadow. What I tend to do when I'm shooting, to figure out the direction of light that I want, is I like to turn off all other ambient light in this space. Now of course since we're filming we have to have these lights on so that you can see me, so you can see what's going on. But what I would do is I would close the windows. I would turn off the lights. Because then I can see exactly what's happening. Because the modeling light is sculpting the face, I can see exactly what I'm trying to achieve. Is that better?
Good, perfect. So let's take a meter reading, and I'll kind of... Summarize that again. My camera is going to be at 1/200 of a second, ISO 100, dome out, pointed towards my light. Go ahead, John. And it tells me I should be shooting at... F/8, and I told you, I like to shoot between F/8 and F/11. What I need to do is turn my camera to F/8. Okay, perfect. I'll pump it up to F/8. Great, so what I'm going to do here, is let's do height of light first. Do you wanna lower it first? Let's see what the light looks like just a little bit lower. Perfect. Okay, great. And right now I'm using a beauty dish. We're going to be talking about modifiers so you can see why I like this. And I'm shooting with a 24-70. Typically for a head shot like this, I'd probably use a 70-200, but this will be fine. Good. The first thing that you'll see is you will see from this that the light is relatively flat. It's relatively centered and I don't quite have paramount, the light's not totally centered, but I don't quite have loop. What I want you to take away from that is it doesn't matter. People get really caught up on it. When I'm in the studio, I don't go, goodness, it's not quite loop. I just go, I want more shadow. I'll move the light off to the side for more shadow. Oh, I want less shadow. I'll move it more centered. So don't get caught up on like, is it matching the picture I see in the book and what they labeled it? Just more shadow, off to the side. Less, more centered. Looking at this light, it's pretty flat. I don't see that much definition in her cheekbones. But she's pretty, it looks pretty, you always look pretty.
(chuckles) Thank you.
She has awesome cheekbones when she smiles, and I see it in her jawline, too. If I want to show those cheekbones a little bit more, I might raise the light up a little bit because it'll cast more shadows downward. The more I raise that light up, the more drama. So you want to raise that up for me? Perfect, let's try there. Let's point it down a little. Is that okay?
A little bit more.
There? Okay. So now let's see, we raised that light up. Watch her cheekbones. Specifically watch her cheekbones as this pops up. It is a huge change. Do you see all of a sudden the cheekbones start to get more shadows underneath and the shadow underneath the jaw shows up a little bit more? Would someone put those two side by side for me, please? You'll see the one on the left or the original photo is going to be a little less definition, a little less shadow, and then the one that you'll see on the right has more shape and more definition. Okay, now which one of these is right? Neither of them are right or wrong. What I do like is I think the picture on the right, I notice her cheekbones more. See how they're popping out a little bit? And then look at her lips. Her lips look fuller in the picture on the right because there's more shadow underneath. Her jawline looks a little bit more crisp because there's more shadow. Now, maybe her eyes start to get a little dark on the one on the right. Not yet, but I know if I keep raising this light up and up, higher and higher, eventually I'm going to have shadows in the eyes. At some point the light will get too high. It's not like raising it up is always a good thing or a bad thing. It's a balance. I'm actually looking at my subject's face and saying, you know what? I like the sculpting here that's created from going higher with my light, but I know if I go too much higher it might get a little bit dark. So dimension of light is not just side to side. In this case, it's up and down. It's the height of the light. No matter what modifier you're using. Let's look at one more element of the direction of light, which would be side to side. We're gonna move our light side to side here. Okay, so tell me if you want me to... That's good? Okay. Excellent. The first picture, we had the light more centered. Now John has moved it off to the side and I think... I think it's loop. I'm trying to see the modeling light here. We've moved it off to the side a little bit more. We've kept the height the same. But I know that straight onto my subject, moving it off to the side a little bit is going to give me more shadow. This perhaps will give me a little bit of loop. And I'm seeing some solid loop light. Excellent. I'm getting a little bit more drama there, and I can move the light even further.
Yeah, let's see if we can Rembrandt it and let me know if you need me to move all those modifiers. Okay. Let's see if I can see. A little bit more. Just a tiny bit.
You want it up a little higher?
Let's try this. You might need to, but look your chin down at me. And chin up a little. Okay, perfect. What I was watching for as you saw me directing, I was trying to see the modeling lights so I could see when the shadow of her nose connected to the shadow of her cheek, which is what you see here and you see Rembrandt light. Does it work, which one do I like best? Everybody's face is different. There's not really a formula for what works best. Maybe I think she needs more sparkle in her eyes for this photo, or maybe it's perfect in the amount of drama that I wanted. But let me just throw one more wrench into the system. Remember how I said that the direction of light, it's really based on the patterns of light on the face? Right now I have Rembrandt. Watch what happens. Face the light for me. Okay, now, I turned her, and chin down just a little. Great. She's turned flat onto that light, and now the light on her face is paramount light. I'm back to not having shadows coming, no dramatic shadows. But this is short light. The shadow side of the face will be coming towards camera, so it'll be a little bit more dramatic. The further off I bring that light, I can go all the way around to Rembrandt light, where all of the shadow's falling towards the camera, and that would be extremely dramatic. That is the idea behind direction of light. You can create sculpting with the face, you can create more drama. And you can do so in several ways. You can do so where the shadows are falling away from the camera, or where the shadows are towards them, which is even more dramatic. To summarize, really, is all of this that I just talked so rapid fire at you is so that you would get this grander concept of light. It really comes down to the fact that you have to practice it. You have to try it yourself. You have to get in there and move the light. Take a look at the photos, but know that every subject will probably look different in better light. So don't go, oh, wow. I hate Rembrandt light, it looks bad on her. No, that Rembrandt light might be perfect for someone else. Go ahead and practice. Use a subject, use a mannequin. I have a mannequin in my studio. Use that so that you can learn how the direction of light sculpts the face, creates drama. Try to figure out that terminology. The paramount light, the Rembrandt light, high key, low key. Practice it, because that's what'll make it stick in your head. And of course, come back to watch the next segment all about modifiers so you can see how to add to this direction of light and change the quality of light.