Live Shoot: Umbrella
Let's talk about the umbrella. So this is probably the one light and actually we're gonna do this different. So yeah let's roll it around. So this is probably the one modifier, that, if you're starting out in photography it's like the very inexpensive, like you buy the strobe, and you need a way to modify and shape the light so you can get a umbrella to be able to do that fairly easy. The pros are they're very inexpensive you can usually get one for as low as like I don't know, $20, maybe even $10 for an umbrella. And they kind of go up in price depending on how big they are and how fancy they are. In this case, I believe this is a 47 inch umbrella from Phottix so it's relatively large with the silver interior. This gives a really nice, what I kind of call, specular highlights, so you get very interesting-looking highlights and very dark shadows and I'll show you what they look like 'cause it's easier for you to see it, and it's like, oh, that makes sense. So I like using the larger um...
brellas to shoot beauty because you get a nice spread of light. It wraps around the subject and actually lights the background which is really great. And yeah and there's different umbrellas where you could put diffusion so if you want to get a softer look you can put like an outer layer of diffusion on this and it softens the light a touch. But I actually like the hard light look. She has great skin, so because of that, I can use a hard light modifier and it's gonna make her look really awesome. So let's talk about how this positions. So we're gonna bring this down. And actually, I'll bring this thing down as well. And then, keep bringing that down. Perfect, just like that. All right so for the light placement for this we're gonna do this a little bit different than maybe what your photo instructors over the years have told you to do. The way that I use this light is very similar to how I use my octa in that last example except instead of it being directly at my back it's kind of off to my left or off to my right. I am not sure what the degree is I guess it's like a 35 degree angle. I tend to use that quite often so I'm in front of it but it's kind of at an angle. So kind of rotate it just like this, perfect, excellent. So let's take a shot and let's take a look at what we have. Perfect. Now we tried the octa, we tried the beauty dish. I tend to find that I like the look of an umbrella sometimes a little more than using those other modifiers. You can see you get a different catch light altogether 'cause you can actually see the ribbing from the inside of the umbrella which is kind of interesting. But the highlights and the shadows on these types of beauty shots look really interesting. Now crop wise when you're shooting beauty this is another thing that hopefully you have caught on to I haven't mentioned it, but, if you look at the crop on a lot of the beauty stuff that I shoot it's very close up, it's very in your face. This is not what I would consider to be the type of crop that I would want to shoot for a majority of my beauty looks, I want it to be closer. The closer that you shoot these types of images you tend to not focus on other distractions like it really just brings the viewer into the image so that they can engage more with the person that is in the photograph. So we need to bring this a little closer. And so it's kind of heavy sometimes having these light modifiers these stands with wheels, if you get fancy with it, you can get one with wheels and it makes it really easy to adjust and move around. But we'll take a couple of shots I think this is more my speed for the crop. I haven't done anything to the settings by the way. Settings are exactly the same. And very nice I love that. I'm not even gonna use a reflector 'cause I don't think we need it. But actually let's bring the reflector in for one shot just so that... 'Cause I know there's probably somebody out there that is wondering, what happens, Miguel, if you have a reflector? Very nice. Excellent. So I don't know about you guys, but, I really dig the look of a beauty shot with an umbrella. Hopefully they're looking as awesome on the screen as they're looking in my EVF right now 'cause it looks really, really nice. So for a couple of these poses, I want, like, really dramatic.
Woe is me.
Still want the reflector?
Yes, yes, the reflector is looking quite nice. There we go. Go down the line on the eyes there. There you go. Beautiful. Love it. Very nice, rotate the chin more towards me, there you go, very nice. Beautiful. Rotate the chin a little, yeah, there you go. Look down your nose line that'll be the next thing that I talk about here. There you go. Now same pose, but look with just your eyeballs, look over here. There you go, hold that. And then look in the complete opposite direction with just the eyes. These are gonna look terrible but I just want to prove a point. I did the right way and then two ways that are the not-so-good way. So we'll wait for these to feed through. So one thing when it comes to shooting beauty images and shooting portraits you will often hear me tell them to look down in the same direction that their nose is pointing. So the reason for that, and you're gonna see it here, I did one shot where she's looking directly where her nose is pointing, one shot where she's looking in the opposite direction of where the nose is pointing and then another shot with her looking in a different direction. So her nose is pointing this way but her eyes are looking in a different direction and if you look at that shot, she looks like a zombie, like, she has no iris, it just looks kind of weird, right? And then going in the opposite direction it could still kind of work, but, if your eyeballs are like mine, I look at this eye, and then when I back up from the image she looks cross-eyed, and we don't want that, and I can't un-see that once I see it. And that will happen to your viewers as well where they'll see the image they'll look at it first on this side and then all of a sudden, she looks cross-eyed, and it's never, ever going to be unseen. However, you go here, where she's looking directly in the same direction as her nose and all of a sudden the eyes look more pleasant. So this is another subtle posing thing is to make sure that as they're moving around whatever direction that their nose is pointing they're looking in that same direction with their eyeballs. You don't want them to do this and you don't want them to do that because, as you can see, it looks interesting, all right? So keep 'em looking down the nose fine and we'll keep shooting a couple 'cause I really like how these are coming out. And actually let's do a couple off the shoulder again 'cause that came out really beautiful. Nice. Excellent, any questions in the audience at all?
Good for now, we'll wait until you finished shooting.
Excellent, alright, so, again, you could use eye autofocus, we shot a couple with that. I feel pretty quick and confident with using focus recompose. I could even get a little closer for a couple of these. That's really nice. Excellent. The other thing that I get a lot of people that ask me about this, is in terms of the crop, maybe there's people that are watching that are like, Miguel's cropping into the hairline, why is he doing that? Why is he not shooting like this, right? So let me wait for these to come up so you guys can see what I'm talking about. So often times I will either shoot where I'm cropping just a little tiny sliver above the hairline or the headline, not even the hairline, just like right above the head, a lot of my most engaging shots that I shoot I actually will crop into their hairline and sometimes right into the forehead. So even though I shot this really close up I may actually, in post, crop 'em like mid-forehead and that way it brings the viewer in even closer. A lot of portraits that I see people photograph people like this where it's like, the person is in the frame, they're, you know, a good percentage of the frame, I guess that's like 60% of the frame is their face but then you have this negative space up here and they're always like, "Miguel, why are you shooting so close?" "Why don't you have the negative space?" I will put out there that if you photograph somebody like this you can engage with them so much but if you photograph them like this it is much more engaging from the viewer's perspective because I can't look anywhere else but her eyes. The thing with these beauty shots it has to be a strong focus and emphasis on capturing their eyes and their expression. The other thing is, and, this is another thing that I do that I kinda cheat, so, because I have the electronic viewfinder I have the rule of thirds grid on my eye piece. So what I'm trying to do with a lot of these shots is on this top line I'm basically trying to get that to cross their eyes. So from a compositional standpoint I'm basically trying to get that one line to basically go where that rule of thirds grid is. That's the line where their eyes are always placed so if you see me focus recompose and you're wondering where do I land on that focus basically if I do a tic-tac-toe, I want a line to go directly across their eyes and then I know that my composition is correct. With this, it's a terrible composition and you'll notice that they would not fall if I put the tic-tac-toe lines on this it would go across the forehead and maybe across the mouth. It would not capture them in the right way, so, yes?
Alright, Miguel, you mentioned that this is the type of cropping that you do for your beauty shots and so I'm wondering for people at home who are very new can you even define what the concept of a beauty shot is? What does that mean in the industry?
Yeah, so, that is a really great question. So I had the opportunity, in answering this question, I had the opportunity to be a judge for one of these competitions that I'm telling you, like, don't shoot for competitions. I was a judge in one of these competitions and I was a judge in the beauty category and it was very interesting to me because I think for a lot of photographers their idea of a beauty image is a picture of a beautiful person, is a beauty shot, and it's not necessarily the case. A beauty shot for me is a shot where it's very close up and the idea is that you're selling cosmetics, you're selling make up, whether it be lipstick, or facial make up, you're selling eyelashes, you're selling all the things that women do to beautify themselves and so those types of images, you have to shoot close up in order to be able to capture the detail that shows off the product in the best possible light. So when I say beauty images a majority of the beauty shots if you're looking inside of a magazine and they're trying to sell you lipstick, or eyeliner, or whatever it is, sure, you can see it with a crop like this, but you can see it a lot better if you're close up like this and you can really appreciate the detail, the handiwork of whoever it is that did the make up and so that's kind of, for me, that's what a beauty image is and if you look through beauty magazines you're gonna find that the composition for beauty shots is very similar to this, where it's up close, personal, in your face, can't look anywhere except but to really study the face and hopefully buy the products that they're wearing on their face. So it's kind of a advertising thing. So, good, good question.
Thank you. And one more from Bea Dessler, who said, what about shoot through transparent umbrellas do you ever use those and what situations would you use those?
Yeah, so that's a good question, I do have some transparent umbrellas, where, if I was using them in this scenario I would basically flip it the opposite way so instead of this pointing away from her it would be pointing towards her. You could use that to shoot some beauty shots but it does spread the light quite a bit so you get kind of a more just like flat, crazy, everything is lit type of look. It's not as controlled. However you can use it and you could do all the same type of set ups that I just showed you using that type of umbrella and it's gonna give you a totally different look. And it may be your signature style so that's why I don't ever wanna tell somebody don't use a shoot through umbrella 'cause it's not gonna look good. I've used them on occasion and they look great. So part of the reason why I have a lot of different modifiers in my own studio is that for her, this bounce umbrella looks great. I might photograph a different model, different skin tone, skin texture, all these different things, and this bounce technique, with a silver interior, might not work, maybe I need a white interior, maybe I need a shoot through. Maybe I just can't use an umbrella at all because maybe their skin is not as great as hers and I need something like a parabolic umbrella which is a much bigger umbrella with a diffusion panel actually has two diffusion panels, one on the inside, and one on the outside, so it's very much like the octas that we were using earlier, except they're big. I have a tutorial video that I did awhile back and you can see how big those are, they're pretty massive, and for most people, can't really use that in your living room or you have to be in a studio, you need the space to use it. These umbrellas, you can pretty much pop 'em open anywhere and they travel great. So yeah, you can use shoot throughs, you can use bounce umbrellas, they're gonna give you a different look. It could be you don't like the look of the bounce umbrella and that's cool, try a shoot through, you know?
Yeah. So we're getting all of these different looks here this is, again, using that umbrella. If you noticed, as we kept changing modifiers, we really didn't change our settings hardly at all. The only thing that's really changed all throughout this entire process is my instruction and my direction to the model. So one of the things that's really important is you need to make sure that as you're posing your model that you get them to explore a little, you know? When I say that, a lot of times, the models want to look straight on for every single shot and sometimes the model has a very symmetrical face and it looks beautiful photographing them directly down the center. Sometimes they know they have a better side than another so you'll take 100 shots and they'll all be on this side. And you'll be wondering, I wonder what the other side of their face looks like, you know? So it's really important that as you're photographing the person... And what's really great about shooting with these cameras too is I see the image when it comes up and I could see what side is the better side. Do they look better straight on do they look better with their head turned one way? Do they look better with their head turned the other way? You can evaluate that and get them to shoot more on that side, but the big thing is, you need to get them to move around quite a bit because you might think that their one side looks really good but all of a sudden they tilt their head back or tilt it down, you get a totally different look. The other thing is kind of trying to capture the mood of what you're going for with the shot. It's really important for you to talk to them and to kind of get them to play a role. They are actors and actresses when I'm photographing them for beauty. So often times for beauty stuff a lot of the looks are very stoic and very angry and moody. And there's some product advertisements where it's very smiley and bright and cheery and if you're going for that you could totally do that too. And actually we'll take a couple of shots like that I'll do some horizontal shots just to kind of show you what the bright and happy look is. But it's all... The only difference, the lighting, the settings, everything is the same, the only thing that changes is your direction to the models so letting them know that we're selling a facial cleanser so you know whenever you clean your face, and you're like, I feel so good, my face is so clean right now, that's the expression that I want you to encapsulate. And when I explain this to them they may do something totally different so you have to keep talking to them and kind of walking 'em through the process. But we'll go ahead and we'll give this thing a shot here will shoot a horizontal image and we'll see if we can get that bright, clean, I just washed my face, happy feel, so... Awesome. Here we go, hold that right there. We're gonna check my crop here, too. So I'm gonna back this up just a touch. There we go. Just so that I'm able to actually keep my and not have to move too much. Very nice. Excellent. And so you're super happy right now 'cause you just washed your face with this super cream and it cleared your pores so much. Awesome, hold that. Very nice. A lot of beauty shots are actually not done horizontally by the way. They're usually vertical shots, but, just to show you guys that you can kind of mix things up as you see fit. Very beautiful. There we go. She really loves this new beauty cream. Very nice. Excellent. And so, again, I'll give a second here for this to kind of load up, but, you see that as I talk to them I'm constantly trying to get them to stay in character. It's a lot easier with adults and that's why I don't really photograph kids as much 'cause you might get one good shot out of them and then they're like, "Wah." So with adults it's much easier you just have to keep communicating with them and getting them to stay in that character and stay in that mode, and eventually, after a little while, you know, it could be, if they're pros, they'll give you one shot after another, after another, that's just, like, wow, that's amazing. And then other times you'll basically have to keep working you might get one out of every 10 frames that has the look that you're going for. But you basically just have to keep shooting keep injecting them with confidence and encouragement. There should be a lot of talking on the set just like you're seeing here. In my real studio shoots where I'm not being watched by everyone, I talk a lot. My mouth is super dry today but it's even more dry by the time I'm done doing a photo shoot 'cause I'm literally talking and laughing and trying to get the right expressions out of people to where it looks like they're not really being photographed. So, like a smile like that, I'm telling you, if I told her to look at the camera and smile I would not get that. It's all about talking to the person and getting 'em to feel super, super comfortable. So any questions about lighting or interacting with the models or anything like that? Settings?
So you've mentioned a couple times that you feather the center of the light off. When you have it centered right on her are you feathering it above her, below her, where's that hot spot hitting her?
That's a good question, so--
Right now it's pointing--
So, he's basically saying, where he's standing right now that is where the center, the hot spot of the light is pointing. It's actually pointing right there and she's standing there so it's tilted off to the side. In terms of... There's not really a rule of thumb of which way to go so I don't want you to fixate on, like, okay, so it needs to be to the right. It could be to the left. Sometimes I'll actually have the hot spot where it's above her head so if I have it going directly straight at them the hot spot is actually hitting up here. Or sometimes I'll tilt it downwards but you have to be careful when you tilt it down because they get really crazy shadows on the face. Sometimes, depending on their cheek bones, they'll get these really sharp shadows under the cheeks and it's not the easiest thing to try to fix in post. For her, I could probably get away with doing that where I have the lights kind of facing downwards a tiny bit and it would work fine, but the idea is, you don't want the center of the light which is where the majority of the light is coming from, you don't want that to be facing directly at them, you want it to be left, right, up, or down, but not directly at them. So, yes.
If you were gonna go for a really dramatic, moody look, you were saying earlier that you really like shadows I'm just wondering if you could sort of freeform what would you do to change this up? Obviously you're going for a certain look here, but, just to compare.
Yeah, definitely, so, because I love shooting that and I love a challenge, I'm actually gonna try to do that on the spot. So here's what I would do. I would take this light and I would choose a side whether it be the left or the right sometimes depends on the space that you're shooting in. So in this case, to keep it easy, I'm gonna keep it on this side. So let's bring it more towards you. There you go, very nice, that's perfect. Actually kind of slide more towards me, bring it this way. And, perfect. Then what I'll do is I'll rotate it this way. So, once again, the center of this light is hitting over here, so I have this thing kind of feathered off to the side a bit. And I don't know what this is gonna look like, might be amazing, we won't do the reflector just yet.
I was gonna do the light.
Oh yeah, that would be great, let's do that. I'll take one test shot without it just to see. Very good. So here's what it looks like, again, didn't do anything other than just rotate the light to another side and now you're starting to get a lot more shadow. Now here you have to make a decision whether or not their face looks good with a very dark shadow. The other thing as well if I put my highlight warning I can already tell because I moved the light closer to her you see the red here, it is over exposed on the fabric of her clothing. It's not on her face, surprisingly, but, to my eyeballs, that's a little bit bright. I would probably want... Actually, here we go. So remember I told you guys if you change the exposure for one shot it's been a little bit higher for all of these, but... So that actually looks pretty good. So we could do that if we want to make the shadows a little more dense we can bring in a black flag here and this is gonna make the shadows even more intense. Very good. So now by bringing in that black material you're actually making the shadows a little bit darker so that's gonna give you an even more kind of dramatic type of lighting. For beauty stuff I can tell you that you kind of want everything to be lit. You want it to be nice and bright and beautiful 'cause you can see the skin detail a little better than that. Although there are some dark beauty type of shots that I've seen where it's super dramatic in which case I would actually have her do what I'm gonna have her do which is instead of looking straight on to where we get the shadows this way I'll have her turn more towards the light so that her face is lit and then we'll have the shadow kind of fall off into the hair area. So I'm gonna have you kind of play off of that. Mirror me this way, just like that, that's perfect. And bring in that black flag just a tiny bit, there we go. And let's tilt the head this way, just like that, really intense, you're grumpy now. Very nice. You do a good job with the grumpy look. (laughs) I know, it's too, it's too, it's like it's too natural for you, I'm kinda scared.
I'm thinking Vampire Diaries.
I like it, I like it, it looks great, hold that. Excellent, bring the shoulder in a tiny bit into that frame. That's beautiful. Love that, hold it, hold it. Very good, bring that shoulder in just a touch more, there we go, and close those eyes down. Beautiful. Alright, hold that, I'm glad that you asked me to shoot it this way, by the way, 'cause, I don't know if these are coming up just yet but kind of digging the look. So this is kind of one of those things where it's fun to play because depending on the person's face, and again, this is where you have to experiment, their face sometimes will look great no matter where you put the light no matter what direction, what modifier, some people's face is just like, you know, a dream for a photographer, you can photograph 'em whichever way. There's some people that you have to be very particular how you pose them because they won't come out as good. But you know a shot like this we have lots of detail, we still have details in the shadows we've got details in the highlights. If I put the warning on we have nothing that is warning us here of any craziness. So, yeah, just like that, we're able to get a completely different look and we still have the same modifier that we were shooting when we did these shots. But like I say I don't know about you guys my taste is a little different I actually really, really like the look of that, so. Thank you for asking that question. Somebody else ask a good question so I can get another great shot.
That's awesome, well, I do have one final question for you for the day, so, Miguel, you started off talking about how you were just once just like all of us that are sitting here and you've clearly done so much work to get to where you are. The question was about, from Ines, is saying, making the setting adjustments takes time it can be a source of stress during a photo session. How did you handle the stress, for example, if a client is impatient? And I know you talked about the advantages of the mirrorless with the ability to not have to look back and forth but what would you recommend to people as they are just in that real practice, practice, practice stage--
Yeah, once they're in that mode.
When they feel stressed.
So, I could tell you definitely, and I know I've mentioned it, but, shooting with these cameras definitely took that stress of trying to figure out what settings and how it's impacting the photo it kind of alleviated that stress off of me. If you've noticed for a majority of this shoot you don't see me stressing about where the light is compared to what my settings need to be. It's not because I'm super awesome it's just because that's the technology it really lets me kind of take this whole stress of figuring out what my settings need to be it kind of just takes that away and it makes it a lot easier. Back in the day when I used to shoot with a DSLR I had those same exact stresses that everybody else that's watching that they have where you really want to land on a great shot and then you have the pressure of the person that's waiting there and you don't want them to get impatient because if they do, once again, two things happen, the photographs don't come out as great because it's gonna translate in their expression. And on the backside of things even if you get a great shot out of them because they were impatient they're going to remember, oh, this guy took forever, he didn't seem like he knew what he was doing, and then when they get the picture, they're automatically gonna have that bias that you didn't do a great job. So you wanna try to avoid that and the way to be able to do that, it's going to sound really simplistic, but I swear to you, this is... When I was in your shoes, and I still am, very much, in every single one of the shoes of the people watching, fake it till you make it. Have a poker face, right? So just because the situation is tense maybe something isn't working correctly maybe you're not getting the artistic look that you're trying to go for it's very important that you put your poker face on, I got this, you're in good hands. We're gonna make this work, we're gonna get some great shots, and always being encouraging, always being positive, you will never, ever, ever, hear me, on a set, say anything is not working correctly even though everything might be going wrong, the lights might be not triggering right, or, I'm just making up scenarios, like, my lens choice might be off, my camera settings, I can't get it for whatever reason. All these different things could be actually happening but you would never know that. Like if it was on TV, you would look at me on video, and you would think, oh my gosh, Miguel is slaying it, he looks like he's in total control meanwhile on the inside, I'm like, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, figure it out, keep it together, Miguel, keep it together, keep it together. So, fake it till you make it. And you're gonna notice that if you walk into a scenario and you're confident and you're cool and calm that's gonna translate to the person and I promise you, I promise you, that anxiety that the subject has is gonna dissipate when they see that you're fine. If you're freaking out, they're freaking out, 'cause they're like, jeez, you're the photographer, if you're freaking out, what about me, as the person that's getting the photo taken, how should I respond? Naturally they're gonna freak out too. Be cool, be confident, and you will take great images, promise.