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Portrait Photography Fundamentals

Lesson 37 of 61

Difficult Lighting Situations


Portrait Photography Fundamentals

Lesson 37 of 61

Difficult Lighting Situations


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.


  1. Class Introduction
  2. 5 Shots That WOW
  3. Four Fundamentals of Photography
  4. Create a Visual Impact with Composition
  5. Importance of Foreground and Background
  6. Create Depth in Landscape Images
  7. Photos Don't Always Follow the Rules
  8. Composition Practice Exercise
  9. Composition Critique of Student Images
  10. Keys to Posing
  11. Shoot: Classic Elegance Female Pose
  12. Shoot: Modern Female Pose
  13. Shoot: Rollover Female Pose
  14. Female Hands & Arms Poses Overview
  15. Shoot: Hands and Arms Poses for Female
  16. Seven Posing Guidelines
  17. Headshots Poses with Male Model
  18. Shoot: Headshot for Male Model
  19. Shoot: Sitting Poses for Male Model
  20. Shoot: Leaning Poses for Male Model
  21. Shoot: Standing Poses for Male Model
  22. Keys to Couples Posing
  23. Shoot: Couples Posing
  24. Couples Transitional Posing Overview
  25. Shoot: Transitional Posing
  26. Keys to Group Posing
  27. Accordion Technique with Groups
  28. Shoot: Accordion Technique
  29. Shoot: Best Buds Pose
  30. Shoot: Talk with Your Hands Pose
  31. Shoot: Lock Arms and Hold Hands Pose
  32. Run at the Camera and Dance in Your Seat Poses
  33. Shoot: Pod Method Pose
  34. Posing Critique of Student Images
  35. Introduction to Lighting
  36. Soft vs Hard Light
  37. Difficult Lighting Situations
  38. Bright Light Techniques
  39. Overcast Light Techniques
  40. Low Light Techniques
  41. Lighting Techniques Q&A
  42. Drama Queen Lighting
  43. Laundry Basket Lighting
  44. Make it Rain Lighting
  45. Smart Phone Painting with Light
  46. Mini LED Bokeh Lighting
  47. Choose the Right Lighting System
  48. Hybrid Flash System
  49. Innovative Accessories
  50. Gear Overview
  51. Theatrical Post-Processing
  52. Ten Keys to Post-Processing
  53. Essential Skills to Post-Processing
  54. Headshot Post-Processing
  55. Bright Light Post-Processing
  56. Flat Light Post-Processing
  57. Low Light Post-Processing
  58. Introduction to Fine Art Post-Processing
  59. Light & Airy Fine Art Post-Processing
  60. Dark & Moody Fine Art Post-Processing
  61. Post-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.