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Essential Skill #2 - Bright Light Situations

Lesson 7 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

Essential Skill #2 - Bright Light Situations

Lesson 7 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

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Lesson Info

7. Essential Skill #2 - Bright Light Situations


Class Trailer

Day 1


Course Introduction


What Photographers Should Know


Lighting Gear Box


My Camera Gear


Understanding the Magic of Flash


Shoot: Essential Skill #1 - Lighting Positions


Essential Skill #2 - Bright Light Situations


Lesson Info

Essential Skill #2 - Bright Light Situations

Right light situations okay that's what we're going to get into and it's very difficult to do it but let's get into essential skill number two okay and that is bright light okay bright light techniques why is bright sunlight hard to deal with? Why is it anybody harsh shadows okay, yeah it's hard to overcome those harsh shadows because the light so bright so when the sun is casting a shadow let's say there's a little bit of shadow on your face it's hard to get that shadow out because you need a ton of light to do it okay good anything else lack of control what's that lack of control lack of control what do you mean by lack of control? You can't control where the sun's at how it's going to be oh oh yeah right is it limiting you to where you can shoot because of the bright light? Right? Okay, good yes. Any other deals? A great anything else okay? Yes right. I actually like the glare use it to my advantage. Okay, so what we talked about that light is not flattering. You get the raccoon eye...

s you know the raccoon eyes are because the sun is very high and if your eye sockets are deep it's going to create these shadows over the eyes and you get the raccoon eyes as hard to get that out without a lot of light in there okay squinting subjects right? You let him open this uh you know, how do you overcome that then you have blown out background exposure is a lot of time about you shooting your subject you don't want them to squint so let's say the sun's coming this way you turn your back on certain sub check back to you because they don't want to sit and you shoot it this way right? But the exposure in front is a lot lower I mean there's less light so you've got toe over, expose the background and then you blow out your highlights that's a problem too okay, so basically when we're dealing with outdoor light I was going to tell you this right and help one flash is not enough and that's a problem too as we go out there with one flash and then we try to put it in burrell a on it how many stops do we lose when we put umbrella on it or a soft box or anything like that on it? Two stops you're losing four times the amount of light and it's just not enough so therefore you're going tohave to group flashes together that's why have that triple amount that I use and I love adding mohr like together and when you start to group flashes together like that and use them, it becomes like a studio light outdoors and it's becomes very powerful and allows you to get the shot that you want to get okay, so there's advantages of grouping classes together one you're going to get more power doubling the light gains one stop ok so if I was in bright light according to your chart right let's say you're shooting in bright light in your at full power at six feet away if I wanted to shoot at half power at six feet away without changing the distance how many more flashes would I have to bring in to gain one stop gaining one stop is what doubling right so to gain one stuff instead of shooting at full I want to shoot at half because I don't want to use up all my battery power I want to know full power suit I only get one hundred shots at one hundred one hundred twenty shots of full power with this I don't that's that's not I wantto shoot it half power how many flashes do I need to write? Because that's doubling when you double your light you gain a stock now you want to gain another stop now let's say you want to shoot at not full power not half power but you want to gain and that what's the next stop one quarter how many flash is what I need to shoot one quarter power? One more how many people think one more no because doubling right light is about doubling so if we were remember the bulls like I was talking about one ball like two balls like the next stop would double what's to how many fascist so I have I need to double this amount of power to get the quarter power so I would have to do for you makes sense it's all a doubling power so when you do when you saw the triple amount that's kind of like one and a half stops okay um so anyways better light bigger the light source okay so when I have that can I get that triple mount over here that I'm sorry not yeah, that one there actually groups see I was there such good food over here is eating and talking so much I forgot to actually set this up but hey uh they're supposed to be free classes on here okay so if you imagine grief lashes on here okay um could quickly do this grab these now I'm increasing my source size right? Okay, now look how big my area of my life becomes the larger there's two things to make your life bigger one is the figures physically just make it bigger and what's the second method to make your light bigger get it closer to your subject. You saw that in the last segment where we got that like really close and it looks softer because the source was getting bigger when you move it it's it's like a contradictory right it doesn't make sense but actually the closer the light the bigger the lights or so now instead of just this tiny little area now and creating an area that's bigger now if you compare that to my shoot through umbrella which is over there you're going to see that's right it's not quite the sides of a shoot through umbrella but it's it's approaching that size so this is going to be stronger and a lot softer in light ok you're now you're going to get faster recycling speeds to because instead of shooting right let's say you're shooting at full power and it takes three or four seconds to recycle your light now you shoot at one quarter power instantaneous I don't need that huge twenty pounds barry back you look around right just do more flashes and now these small flashes they only have full power maybe hundred hundred twenty hundred thirty flashes at full power we reduce it down a quarter power now four hundred five hundred flash flash is right you go all day with that it's not a big deal okay so that's another reason why the group classes together that's the recycling time knows need for studio equipment and heavy power packs et cetera great when you're traveling when you're doing destination work can't bring all that stuff with you this is just you know three little flashes for little flashes whatever ok, so let's let's look at this again, right? We're going to shoot a picture like that it's an extremely bright light how what's an indicator of knowing you can look outside and what do you look at to see whether or not you're in super bright light or not? What's an indicator how sharp the shadows on do you see some sharp shadows here? Heck yeah, that sun's coming in here create really sharp shadow right there. Okay, you know, man, you're probably an f sixteen territory here, but when I when I mean when I call out any f stop lighting situation like I said, oh, yeah that's probably it you know, your your people do this all the time. Oh, yeah that's five six that's two eight that's f sixteen it's always assume that I also is one hundred. Okay, so it's f sixteen s o one hundred. So when you hear me calling as probably f eleven, that means I also one hundred that's the reference. Okay, so that's, you know epstein f sixteen. So what? We just talked about this? We're lighting it up with four flashes. One flash you would be a full power to flashes at half power four flashes you bid at one quarter power and you're getting a higher quality of light because the source sizes bigger now you group all your flashes together like this yeah, you can do that you would have enough juice but you're not spreading the light out and creating a nice big source and so the quality of your life is not as good all the power is good. The quality of light is not as good that's why I make these mounts like this the big boy bar this so I could spread that light out evenly to create a nice big source size. Okay there's advantages a bright light f eight and above ok, this is what I didn't do it crazy stupid, like I didn't define exactly what bright light is. Okay, so now, any time you're in a situation with f eight and above, right, these are some things you can do right there's when you get into ah high contrast background what is that that's like deep blue skies, right? And you see right that contrast in a nice blue in there you want to get that you need some nice light on your subjects so you can match that exposure so you could get everything and you're not blowing out anything. So how this was done right doesn't look like a studio shot like whoa, that could be like some sort of magazine commercial kind of quality there that's issues and strobes this is like, ah cozumel crews doing that in april if you want to come, we do this kind of stuff now look at how many flashes I'm using I got four there and I got two on the back side, okay? So look it if your vision is this do you know any sick flashes, ok? Or at least three and some on the other side or be willing to shoot it at full power all the time, but if you're doing it on it like a commercial job and you got it, you know, rip off a couple hundred shots of two, three hundred shots if you're doing it with one flash, I mean, you know, one third of the way of the session, you're going to run out of juice, you got change batteries and all that kind of stuff, plus, you're not getting the full coverage you can with three flashes that's another thing? Ok, so you see that light coming in here opening up that backs I but don't I still have the short side shadow to define that? So I'm heading it they're in there to get that ok, so here's another two sidelights going in matching the exposure this is an f eight right to side like this was actually the place where originated the one shot test and so I said I freaked out but the students say hey, I'm going to do this I'm going to nail this one the dude in one shot let me show you how to do it wow right so that's where it originated from but to sidelights faa at one quarter power going that way sometimes I like to do to sidelights right here because when I'm posing no matter where they're looking their noses always towards the right but it's just a little wake up it's just going to get worse as the day goes over the three goes on the less sleep I get oh my gosh ok anyway ok look at this now we're into making now right we got her nice flashes going and I want to get some nice soft light and I want to show you how tio so what you do is you measure your background first, okay? You get that nice deep blue sky in there and then you bring your flash in and you get a shot like this see that you get that blue sky in and then you bring your flash and you get that nice soft light okay? And this is the technique that I like hard light with soft light hard light in the background that real sharp dance like but I love soft light on my side subject do it it works ok hard light soft light it will put you at that next level not very many people do it, they don't know how to do it, you know, get gang flashes together, the only way you're going to do is be able to gang flashes together and put it through an umbrella and get it really close and know this stuff so you don't see it a whole heck of a lot like a wedding photography or whatever because most people don't mess with it, but this is the technique, okay? So hard light, soft light technique, what it is is you look for a strong back like with the compelling background, ok, a lot of strong back light with a compelling background, then use an umbrella. Yeah, if you're going to use an umbrella, you're going to have to use multiple flashes because the physics tells you and my crazy, stupid light, which I explained for three days that one flash is not going to be enough, so if you don't understand that concept, you better go back to crazy stupid light and look at it, but you're going to need multiple flashes to get this look, plus you don't want to wait around you want that recycling at one quarter power, whatever and you don't wanna wait so that's, why it's important and multiple flashes then also you're going to get great coverage right it's going toe cover that whole body better when you're shooting through an umbrella. Ok, so what is hard? Light sharp shadows eleven and above or maybe f aidan above that's when you're in a hard light situation okay, so you go outside and you know, sunny sixteen rule what? Talk about that in crazy stupid light go out there, see the sharp shadows I'm in a hard light situation I look for nice background with the light coming through behind the subject I go, you know what? I'm going to do it right here got that hard background I'm going to show that sharp, dense color and get everything in detail right back there and I'm gonna blow some soft light on my subject and, well, it will look amazing, I guarantee it get that light two feet three feet away from your subject bam it'll be right there, but ok, so what is soft like big light source close to subject get it close to subject let's go I don't want to see any missing space in there, okay? And that was one thing that I saw crazy, stupid light that I didn't make clear. I saw these pictures, people were showing me they got that flash back six feet back as well and they were just shooting one personal wasn't that far back there's no need for it to be that far back you got to move it if you get an extra three inches move it in three inches, right? Because it's going to make a big difference the closer that you get, you're going to get that big beautiful like just like how we shot over there at one and a half feet with a single flash now you're using a braille on that hello you've got something you've got some wow power okay okay so looking here it is hard light soft line you've got to really bright light situation is very rare because in london I don't know they don't get sunlight that often but we got there that's in sunlight it's really bright coming through and I pop her with some soft light and here's another example of that see that lens flare coming right that I like that I'm going with it that's my style but hasn't when you see that lens flare coming there I like that organic feel to it you know they do that a lot of times in the movies are commercials shooting they get that you know, iphone commercials they used that a lot but so you get that really strong back like coming right back into your lens and then remember I said, I do two things I shoot it straight, you know knows towards the camp to see a little bit of a loop a rembrandt lighting right there okay and then I tell him to move to the side and I shoot the side light there easy ma'am ma'am, you got two shots in a very little set up and I get that nice soft field is another example of that venice going there next year you could do the same type of shot you got that hard light in the background I remember this was problem like one p m or something really bright like that and then I'm just like kissinger with soft light on the front okay? And here again I'm doing the exact same thing now you can also make a softer feel in your life if you shoot at a lower f stop so here I was using a variable nd filter if you don't know what that is get crazy stupid light because I talk about that but I'm not going to talk about it here but that allows you to shoot at a lower f stop but still use manual flash and when you lower your f stop and you shoot that it's going to look softer no matter what like use because there's less detail in it ok, so that's another way to soften like here's the situation in hawaii I remember shooting this shot I remember I was somewhere around f eighteen or something like that so it was really bright that son was coming right in but look at that soft light on my subject doesn't let cool look to it that's that hard light soft light field I love it and the big catch lights in her eyes noses towards the you see some short side shadow right you get that little dimension on her face here's another shot where it's hard like coming in blowing back behind her just hitting her with some soft umbrella light in the front there's another situation where you've got I remember I distinctly remember coming through and I remember this situation because I was teaching a class and I was like oh great we're indoors right and then I got to this spot michael paying this light is bright wall this is like you know shooting and bright light it's like give me my big boy bar and my four flashes were going to hit this up and so I I specifically remember this was at least f eleven here there was some really strong and you could see the lens flare come in there's some really strong light behind her but then I just popped it with some really with you could see the catch light in her eye right there see that that's an umbrella and that's this coming in this way I got a little bit of shadow there but you can cheat a little bit if you know that light is that direction and you get it in and you don't see some short side shadow there you could photoshopped but just make it a little bit more so what's greatest the light it's really easy when the light is there but in photo shot you just enhance the contrast a little bit more some people look at my work and they go you know scott how do you get that? Like glowing nous on your skin first of all you have to have nice light to create those highlights and then I just exaggerated a little bit more on photo shop so that's why it looks like my skin is glowing a little bit more right so here I do the same thing I had that highlights but I just maybe I made that darker a little bit that darker and I just made that highlight right there exaggerated and it looks like it's glowing so that's how I get that okay here again hard light situation that someone's coming right back into my camera I got one of that dramatic sky but then I just hit him up with the umbrella right off to the side so it looks soft our lights soft light you were using a couple here because there were some comments like oh there's only been one I hope that he will show some couple examples on there which is that it's very much the same the same techniques the same thing just slightly differently arranged right? Right right that's the thing with the umbrella with the three flashes if you use three flashes with the umbrella you're going to get coverage for a couple people moving it close in like that and so you'll be able to do that okay um so let's review some bright light techniques I did two techniques here uh three well to one group multiple flashes together that's the first thing you've got to do to use the hard light soft light technique instant success instant is trying trying get some strong back light against your subject right? And then just pop it with soft light and you're goingto be amazed at the quality that you're going to get out of it. Okay now number three if you have strong backlight shoot into the shadows okay? This is a situation where you don't have a flash and you're shooting in bright light you look for shadows in the background and you shoot into it based on what happens often is this situation here you see when sometimes when you don't have a flash and you got somewhat bright light you're exposing your subject is behind your life is behind your subject right? Because you don't want them squinting or anything like that then you're exposing down and the light is going to be darker here because the lights behind then your background in the sky and so when you accept pose for the person, you're going to lose the background but that happens all the time if you're shooting it out in the sky so what do you do you actually this is when it's f eight and above okay and your subjects back is to the sun this is the situation that happens all the time we get those blown out backgrounds and no sky right it's norris how the detail in skies blown out when shooting in bright light so this is what you do here if the sun is casting shade and your cameras here, the exposure on your subject is going to be exactly the same exposure as wherever that shade hits and so when you meet her for your subject, your background won't be blown out you will have detailed back there so when I'm in a bright light situation I try to use the sun to give that person a highlight ok put that son behind them and then I look okay where some shadows I can look into and shoot this is I don't have a flash available okay? And so give me something dark because I'm going to have to raise the exposure because the sun is here it's darker over here right that the sun is here it's darker here is the cameras here I need to raise my exposure up then I'm going to blow up this the sky if I'm shooting at this guy so I look for something dark so if I'm shooting the shade and I'm shooting the sky that's unequal exposure it's not gonna work so I tried to match the exposure and so now this is exactly what to do, right? You got some nice highlight coming behind your subjects I'm looking when I'm shooting right into the shade so now I've got some detail back there and I'm not blowing anything out so you constantly look for areas that are shaded here's another shot, right? And so we've got some this is a really bright light situation in new york okay, but where am I looking? I'm looking for some places where there's some highlight and there's some shade there's some detailed back there I'm not shooting straight up at the sun right? And so I can look into something and I've got detailed behind but it's extremely bright light there's another situation here this is very common see the highlight on their head I like that I use the sun for that, but I shoot into darkness so I have detail in my whole page still here's another situation where we had a patch of sunlight ok and so I used her to run into this area because I love the way that that light hit her hand but I kind of I can't shoot up that way because it's bright light over there but I did notice that there were shade over in this direction so I'm going to use the stunt for the highlight and then I'm going to match the exposure of her face is the same is that over there right highlight from the sun matching exposure so I shoot that way and so now I can get that feel right I can still get that organic feel of that backlight getting that highlight but now the face exposure matches the background exposure and it you get detail all were way around ok here's another situation here where I'm using the sun as the highlight okay and then shooting in the shape now when the students the students shots this is a workshop student shots were actually a lot better you know why because daddy was holding the video light so they could get nice catch lights in the eyes but was my turn to shoot nobody did that for me that's okay that's like how you live with it okay so anyways that's great here do that pop up sometimes you can pop a little strong video light right in the eyes he had that catch light or maybe just a little reflector boom and then you've got shade here and shade in the back but that's extremely bright light that's like two pm in the afternoon that's like crazy bright okay so that is a method number three strong backlight shoot into shadows framing this subjects was shadows that's interesting? Well, you could look for areas where there's bright light and shadow and you can use that shadow to your advantage because it can frame the subject and created interesting shape okay, so here this is great looking in between walls and things like that play nature where there's some shadows being created and so if you should get happy when you see a light and shadow and you see a pattern, start jumping for joy because you're about to take an amazing shot, right? So you look for the brightest area you put your subject in that brightest area, then you use those shadows to kind of create a frame around them and because you're exposing for the brightest area of the shot, you're going to get strong contrast in your shadows and it's going compositionally it's going to look really amazing because you're going to get that really strong contrast strong contrast in your background is what you want ok and with bright light that's the advantage because bright light can cause that contrast so look for it look for those different areas so place subject in bright light meter for the subject and you could see as you could do to people now not only want to people you could do it right saying things I took a slightly different angle right I started to blur out the background by using the the wall here on the side to frame that because I wanted that shadow in their here bright light then bright light their shadow shadow it's interesting it makes you look at the picture the background so look around your environment look for these types of situations with her shadow of bright light and start working in that little area there you're going to pull off some great shots even with out a flash did I say that you can do it? Okay now here I saw this shadow on the ground on the wall there so I go hey sands, I don't ok let's say you're in that situation and you see that shadow and you pull somebody over there but you don't really know what to do after that what is always the first rule with light in regards to posing the person where it's always this win win and you're dealing with light what do I say all the time so all I know is that her nose is going to be towards that light and then that's half the pot's right there, isn't it? So if you're there you go oh yeah no so like ok, we'll just lean back a little bit close your eyes you can have your it's okay to have your subjects pull their eyes because it's so bright you gotta be burn out their pupils if their typical is staring in the sun for a long time. So they close their right now. I got some natural sidelight. Don't I? I'm using that to my advantage. And then because of good old light room, I make my own shadow there. Okay, very easy. You could take both. Okay. There's. A little trick. You could do this anywhere because you could use light room to do this shadow here. Light room to shoot the shadow there if you wanted to. If you got no other options, you see some wall or something. You don't know what the upright like. Ok, look towards there and then in photo shop. Do that. Whoa that's. Awesome. Right. Okay. Now you get some interesting shadows through the pane of window blood of times. So you can use that also to create an interesting look knows towards the by birds. Eye shadow right there, it's a nice feel tio. So start to train your eye for contrast in your background. That's, what bright light is going to give you? And if you can find these little areas with bright and dark there's something to be worked in there to get a nice shot, okay, yes, you have a question. About when you were trying to match these highlights and shadows are you kobe heart and two other people want to know are you spot metering on the eyes of the subject? Are you judging the exposure just by your eye getting questions I'm exposing for probably I'm not looking necessarily for the eyes but you should make sure that the eyes are kind of in the light so that's why if the noses towards the light automatically lights going to go towards the eyes so just that concept knows towards the light already puts light into my eyes so I don't concentrate on that much but I do look at it and I'm trying to make sure I got a good contrast there it's my exposure is based on contrast so if you meet her it it might not be exactly right because you don't know what the background is so I might under expose it a bit just to pull out that contrast a bit more so in general I would either be evenly exposed or I would be slightly um under just so I can make the shadows darker I'm kind of a big in camera kind of guy I like that um I shoot everything in j peg hey it's just easier to manage easier to deal with files and light room instead and I always found that there was enough detail anyways in there you're going to get maybe two stops of lead way. Three stops lead way yeah ron is better yeah draw sharper yeah draws less noise I know all that but hey shoot I can drive around in a three hundred horsepower path car I don't need a thousand horse power car that's good enough and that's what I kind of feel like j peg is to me is that it's plenty enough especially because you can look at the back of your campaign you know if you're blowing anything out right and it's just a good habit to get into so hey if you've never sought in j peg before I want you to try this I know you can't go cold turkey right off the bat why don't you try shooting a session with j peg and raw at the same time then I just want you to take the j pegs and import that inta light room and your workflow and let's see how fast those images come up and go forward and process it's way way faster way way faster and to me time is money so I want the least amount of time on that's going toe that's why she's j okay um anymore questions were good just a little bit of therapy and three other people have the question can you replace some flashes with reflectors if you don't have somebody flashes to specifically to accomplish the hard soft of course yeah, you can have you recommend kind of setting that up it's the same general principle, right, you've got the light coming from behind, okay, and then so you can just use the reflector to go forward and it's the same thing. This is your life source now, right, and the nose is towards the light. And so if you can get that light to come on to come around, you, khun definitely do a reflector but it's going to kill your subject's eyes sometimes because it's so bright that it's going to tan them after a while and it's going to be really hard for them. Tio, look at you a lot. So, yes, it can be done. Um, a lot of times if you're just not using necessarily director, but maybe just a white part or diffuser that's better, I think it's not as bright, but it's definitely can be done. It's, I'm going. Actually, I'm going to show a little bit of how I do that a little bit later on.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Crazy Stupid Light Review
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide
Final Exam
Going Big on a Tiny Budget - HD

Ratings and Reviews

Dan Frumkin

I read several reviews on this site which gave me hesitation to buy this course. Nonetheless, I pressed on. Now I have a suggestion for those considering parting with their cash. Before you buy, go to any of Scott’s galleries online. If you can shoot at Scott’s level move on. If you cannot see the artistry in Scott’s work, move on. If you cannot conceive of the technical proficiency Scott has with flash, move on. But if you are mortal photographer that desires to improve your work, compare your personal portfolio to Scott’s. He wins awards for good reasons. Invest the time and money. You will be amply rewarded. Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques is worth every penny. So is Crazy, Stupid, Light. I purchased both and now use Scott’s advice and techniques daily. Plus, he provides a good dose of inspiration and humor. Scott is an awesome professional, fantastic photographer and a wonderful teacher.


I already own Lim's class, "Crazy, Stupid Light" as well as two of his Strobie 230 flashes with transmitter (in addition to my Canon speedlight). I appreciate being able to get into lighting with flashes and equipment that costs much less than Profoto lights etc. that I couldn't afford yet. Lim has a very organized and energetic teaching style. He is a great speaker in that he is excited about what he is doing and seems to love to help others learn how to be successful with their lighting. He is very animated and funny and has the right blend of being confident yet self-effacing and admits his mess-ups during class. I find him very engaging and interesting. If you have less than $500 or $600 to spend on lights, but want to start adding lighting to your photo shoots, he is a great place to start.

a Creativelive Student

This class was fantastic! I've always opted for the easy way out when it came to lighting my subjects, usually resorting to using just natural light and a reflector even though I always have my lighting kit with me. I learned in this class how creating my own light can be the easiest way to get the results I want. It's much easier than trying to make the natural light do what I want it to do. Scott's passion for photography and teaching are evident, and his commitment to the success of his students is amazing. I definitely recommend this course for photographers at any level. I came away with many ideas on how to build upon the lighting tips presented here to make it my own. Thanks Scott Robert Lim!

Student Work