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Demo: Emotion of Light

Lesson 24 from: Powerful Portraits using Body Language and Lighting

Stacy Pearsall

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Lesson Info

24. Demo: Emotion of Light

Next Lesson: The Tone of Light


Lesson Info

Demo: Emotion of Light

For me, light has a tenor, and by that I mean it can set the sort of music in motion, remember yesterday I talked about us being the conductors of our own orchestra and by sort of orchestrating and verses dominating in the studio, with light it's the same. Light has a tenor and for me, this is a good example of what hard light looks like. Before I dive into this particular portion of it, I'm going to ask the folks to bring the lights down for me please and thank you. I'm gonna turn my little handy light on here, and what I would like to do is show you hard light. You always think about the movie, or somebody's been arrested and there's a light bulb overhead, and it's contrasty and it makes them look like criminals. Where were you last Saturday night? I promise I wasn't there, I wasn't anywhere near it. Hard light, it picks up all the little nooks and crannies, it basically ricochets off anything moist on your face, and you know I'm oily so, you can probably, well, actually I have a lot...

of make up on right now so it's probably not as prevalent, but the other thing about hard light is it's very directional, can we bring the lights back up for me please? I am going to talk to you a little bit about light. Okay, for those of you out there who light for a living, this may feel like fundamentally repetitive or even just so basic beyond words, but perhaps, I'm gonna share with you in my experience, something that you hadn't not thought about before. Hadn't not thought? Is that a double negative? Maybe, okay, every light source including the sun sends out light rays. Imagine those as straight lines, right. Those straight lines are direct and they can be very intense. When a light has a source, say my shoulder's the light source, that source is going to spray out, it's not just one line of light, from that source sprays light out in beams. Now there's the more intense part, and what we call the feathering of the light on the edges. Can we bring the lights down one more time? I'm gonna show you something really, really fun here. Now, let's see if I can bring this all the way up, alright. I'm gonna cast this across the background here, and as you can see, this portion, the nearest to the light source is the most intense, and then as it comes off, it basically gradiates out and becomes darker. This section here is what's known as the feathered light, okay, this light right here is the most direct, most intense. Alright, we're gonna bring the lights back up, thank you. Didn't know we were gonna have a disco this morning, right? (audience laughs) We need Anthony to DJ for us. Hard light. Hard light is really indicative of being very directional, and what we call non-modified, and we're gonna get into modifiers in another segment, however, hard light is also really indicative of a very defined shadow cast by that directional light. Okay, it's unforgiving, very, very unforgiving as you saw when I demonstrated it over my face. However, this type of light can accentuate an individual, and an individual's personal qualities that we may wanna amplify. So there's a time and a place to use it, it's probably not one you wanna use too often, but like I said, for each his own they say. Now, again, hard light indicated by dark and deep shadows, there's not a whole lot of variation between the light and the dark, high contrast, and you can also see a lot of specular highlighting happening. That's that light refracting off, or reflecting off of the oils and the highlights of our face. Making sense? (whispers) Perfect. Hard light, for me in my opinion, has its place in the studio. I use this for people who I maybe wanna amplify and say super strong, if you've ever looked through athletic magazines, you're gonna see a lot of high contrast, a lot of varied use of hard light. You also, and I use it, for veterans like this gentleman who was a world war two veteran, had really great crooks and crags and he earned every wrinkle in my opinion, and that was just part of his story. To best accentuate those lines, and his basically, that's his, his face was telling his story. To best showcase that would be to put a little bit of hard light on there, and really amplify the shadows of his wrinkles. Fierce. She's fierce in my opinion. And hard light has that ability to really accentuate jaw line, power pose, intensity, and for me, somebody who, in this case, look at his body language, very vigilant, very abrupt, very ready for anything. Hard light would be good in this situation. Do you have any questions about hard light? Not a lot of ladies like hard light on their portraits, I gotta tell you. However, that said, you can see two examples of women where I've used hard light. Some people may not agree with me and that's okay, this is just how I perceive their personas, and how I best amplified that. On the opposite end of the spectrum, soft light, or light that is soft, has much more diffused, undefined shadows, it's lower in contrast, so it's less sort of aggressive looking, and even the highlights are softer. So, that's less specular. When light passes through a diffused, a diffuser, and in some cases, it might be as simple as a diffuser built into a soft box, like this where the light passes through and then is dispersed, or a hand held diffuser. Some of you who may shoot natural light may put this between the sun and your subject. The idea is the same, that directional beam of light is gonna pass through here and go from one beam of light into maybe five or six beams of light and spread. I don't know if I picked on you yesterday. You didn't. (laughs) Go ahead and leave that right on your seat for me. I'm Stacey. I'm Rebecca. Rebecca, very nice to meet you, have a seat right here for me. Rebecca, I'm gonna warn you, don't look directly into the light or you're gonna be seeing a white spec all day long, hold on, let me get this prepped. So, what I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna turn on my sun, if I can press the button properly. Rebecca, prepare yourself. Okay. Okay, so with this very hard, or harder light, correct, and the further away I get, the more defined it gets, the line. However, it's picking up all the highlights on her face, it's creating darker shadows, it's not horrible, 'cause this has a little bit of a filtration system in it already, but what we're gonna do is do Rebecca a favor and soften that light by dispersing the light through a diffuser. So hard light, softer light, and the closer I get it, the softer it becomes. Can you see that or am I holding it down too low? What do you think? Where were you last night? (audience laughs) I was getting my glamor shots done. (laughs) Okay, we can have the lights back up. You, my friend are off the hook for the moment. I'm gonna call on you again I promise. Thank you. Between these two, hard and soft light, you can see there's a definitive difference. In the soft light realm, a lot of personalities and a lot of emotions can fall within the sort of soft light usage. Somebody who seems to be pleasant, could be somebody who's always smiling, of course you wanna have a softer side to them. Somebody who seems a little bit tranquil, serene, spirited, vivacious, you're not gonna put a hard light on somebody who looks like your grandma, right, unless she was, didn't they just arrest a gal in Florida who was a grandma? Now I would put hard light on her, only 'cause she obviously has some hard edge to her. But what I'm saying is, after reading body language, and reading somebody's personality, you can take and start out with that foundation, which way am I gonna go? Hard light, soft light?

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

The Foundations of Light (PDF)
The Accents of Light (PDF)

Ratings and Reviews

Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience and absolutely loved this class! First of all, Stacy is very funny and is really good at explaining and showing examples of the body language. I loved learning about how to read people faces and body to know more about them. And recommended the class to my husband who is a therapist for this reason. The other part of the class was so awakening, I never really thought about how having the wrong lighting for someone's personality would bring something off on the picture. Once again, Stacy was amazing at explaining why this lighting would work with one person and not another by showing us examples. If you want to bring your subject personality into life on photos, I highly recommend this class!

a Creativelive Student

This class is amazing! Stacy is an awesome person and listening to her teach and review the class concepts was so easy and fun and entertaining! It is jam packed with information on how to connect with talent and clients. Plus you get to see Stacy in action with subjects in the Demo and Shoot videos. I highly recommend this class! I learned so much and feel so much more comfortable and confident working with a variety of people now.

Jovi Jhash

wow, what an amazing class to learn from. you covered all from body language to storytelling and to reveal almost the true souls of the subjects through portraits. Amazing work and thank you so much, Stacy and creative live team. Stay blessed

Student Work