Portrait Photography Fundamentals

Lesson 37/61 - Difficult Lighting Situations


Portrait Photography Fundamentals


Lesson Info

Difficult Lighting Situations

Let's talk about shooting in difficult lighting situations, okay? So how do you shoot in the most difficult lighting situations? If I was given an hour, like you said: "Hey Scott I got one hour, let's have some coffee. Can you tell me how to shoot in like, all the lighting situations in the world?" (audience member laughs) I would go hmm, lemme just show you how to conquer the most difficult ones. Because the easy ones you probably could figure out, kay? So that's what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna show you the most difficult ones, and so let's going with that. One is, here's a typical situation I've talked about before. Bright light, right? And so I showed that picture before, is like, if I expose the background then the subject's gonna be dark, so I've got a choice there. Whether to expose the background correctly and get a blue sky or get a dark subject. Or get a light subject and get no sky behind me, right? So what your situation is, let's talk about the problems first. One is: High sun...

, you get some raccoon eyes. What are raccoon eyes? Is the sun's so high and our eyes are inset, that a shadow is created and we get these shadows right where the eyes are, and that's called raccoon eyes, right? That's not good. Sharp shadows, which can be good or bad. But if the sharp shadows are on your subject in a way that you don't like, or covers up, it's too dark in the areas that you want, that could be a problem. Subject will squint when facing the sun. So if you put your subject in the sun, right? Let's say the sun is coming this way and you're there shooting right at me and it's super bright, I'm gonna be like hi, that's not gonna be good. Overexposed backgrounds, right? We talked about that before, right? And so here's a high, here is a bright light situation. If I had no flash, I had no lighting, right? You would get something like this. High sun, look at the shadows right under her. So you know the sun is high, it's about like, 110 degrees too, it's super high. So what am I gonna do there? Well, here's what I do before, and so I can get that, okay? And so what am I doing before and after? I'm gonna make it real, that's straight outta camera there. And then that's post processed. So that's straight out of camera. So it's not like it magically looks like that there. Because you gotta do a little post processing to, that's straight outta camera and that's post processed. So anyways here's again hard light, right. The sun is, look at, I'm at a 16, hard light. I get that but I add a little light, boom. That's what you get afterwards. So I'm just showing you what this technique's gonna do for you, you can produce stuff like this. Okay so that's before, that's after. That's straight outta camera, right, that's post processed. We'll get into that later, kay, but I wanna show, okay here's a typical flat light situation, right. There's hardly any definition, there's hardly any you know, shadows, it's even lighting. But ugh, you just kinda got nothing there, right? So what are the problems of overcast lighting? Flat light, it's boring, there's really no drama to this picture, no dynamic range, right? And so here's the same situation. I'm shooting in a flat light situation, okay? So what do I do? Ah looks okay. I get a little bit of light coming in, why don't I just do this with a flash? Add some flash, and if I add flash and create highlight and shadow on him, then I could create, I could drop in a background that has highlight and shadow that is much more interesting. And so now that looks believable, okay? But I had to add the flash in order for that to work, okay? And so, there's straight outta camera. See how I add that flash in? And then post processing I add that, it's a big difference. But! Because of my lighting I can do that and make it look believable, okay. So, here's a typical photo when there's no light. That's kind of a joke, you can't see anything, right? I'm gonna explain all these situations and then I'm gonna show you how to solve them, okay? So, what's the low light problems, there's no light! (laughs) You have to create your own, and so that's why people don't like, especially if you're a natural light shooter and then you have been forced to shoot at night time, you're like "Ahhh, now I seriously have to create my own light because there is no light, I'm scared." Right? And so that's, that's a problem for some people. They get scared. Extreme camera settings, "Oh no I gotta turn my ISO up to 3200, I don't know, I've never done that before." Too much grain, right, "Oh man my camera just can't handle that, blah blah blah." So what's your solutions? Okay well. Here we go let's say we're in Paris now. And that's kind of a typical low light situation. You got no light, you're just trying to get some light off of a lamp post or whatever, (laughs) that's what you're gonna get, nothing, right? But you add a video light and boom. You can get something like that, of course with a little post processing there. But that's straight outta camera with your light, you have to add light.

Class Description

Want to be able to go into any situation with your camera and have the confidence to know you’ll get the shot? Award-Winning photographer Scott Robert Lim goes in-depth on the four foundational elements you must conquer if you want to develop your creativity and style.

Scott will give you the guidelines you need to master:

  • Lighting
  • Posing
  • Composition
  • Post-Processing

Once you master these fundamentals of portraits, you free up your mind to get creative and ultimately get the shot.


1Class Introduction 25 Shots That WOW 3Four Fundamentals of Photography 4Create a Visual Impact with Composition 5Importance of Foreground and Background 6Create Depth in Landscape Images 7Photos Don't Always Follow the Rules 8Composition Practice Exercise 9Composition Critique of Student Images 10Keys to Posing 11Shoot: Classic Elegance Female Pose 12Shoot: Modern Female Pose 13Shoot: Rollover Female Pose 14Female Hands & Arms Poses Overview 15Shoot: Hands and Arms Poses for Female 16Seven Posing Guidelines 17Headshots Poses with Male Model 18Shoot: Headshot for Male Model 19Shoot: Sitting Poses for Male Model 20Shoot: Leaning Poses for Male Model 21Shoot: Standing Poses for Male Model 22Keys to Couples Posing 23Shoot: Couples Posing 24Couples Transitional Posing Overview 25Shoot: Transitional Posing 26Keys to Group Posing 27Accordion Technique with Groups 28Shoot: Accordion Technique 29Shoot: Best Buds Pose 30Shoot: Talk with Your Hands Pose 31Shoot: Lock Arms and Hold Hands Pose 32Run at the Camera and Dance in Your Seat Poses 33Shoot: Pod Method Pose 34Posing Critique of Student Images 35Introduction to Lighting 36Soft vs Hard Light 37Difficult Lighting Situations 38Bright Light Techniques 39Overcast Light Techniques 40Low Light Techniques 41Lighting Techniques Q&A 42Drama Queen Lighting 43Laundry Basket Lighting 44Make it Rain Lighting 45Smart Phone Painting with Light 46Mini LED Bokeh Lighting 47Choose the Right Lighting System 48Hybrid Flash System 49Innovative Accessories 50Gear Overview 51Theatrical Post-Processing 52Ten Keys to Post-Processing 53Essential Skills to Post-Processing 54Headshot Post-Processing 55Bright Light Post-Processing 56Flat Light Post-Processing 57Low Light Post-Processing 58Introduction to Fine Art Post-Processing 59Light & Airy Fine Art Post-Processing 60Dark & Moody Fine Art Post-Processing 61Post-Processing Critique of Student Images


Vitor Rademaker

This course is amazing! Scott is extremely straightforward. He goes directly to practical problems, tips and etc. He explains every thing very clearly, and he is also very funny and charismatic, making you laugh as you learn. He shows that you don't need a lot of expensive gear to make very nice pictures. So I have saved some money as well, cause I was about to buy some gear that I wouldn't need right now. It is for sure one of the best photography courses I have ever attended to! I highly recommend! Thanks a lot Scott! You are the best!


I have purchased a number of classes, this being one of them. The quality of the information was good and the level at which Scott spoke was appropriate for me. Having a course sylibus would add greatly to the value, which usually is not part of the programs I've purchased including this one, unless I've missed it. I believe the speaker should be required to provide one. After watching the videos, much of material can be recaptured by seeing it in writing. I would like to hear back from Creativelive their thoughts. In sum, good topic, good speaker, good technical audio and video quality by Creativelive


Another fantastic class with Scott Robert Lim! The combination of his knowledge, willingness to share, passion & entertaining personality makes him a top choice for photography education. Learning not only the "what", but the "why" & "how" can transform one's entire approach towards MAKING pictures. A constant inspiration to get better & better through practice.