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Essential Skill #5: No Light Techniques

Lesson 16 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

Essential Skill #5: No Light Techniques

Lesson 16 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

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Lesson Info

16. Essential Skill #5: No Light Techniques


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 #5: No Light Techniques

Essential skill number five mastering no light ok so that's purposely under exposing your background ok so we're going under expels the background to create no light ok so why would you need to do that? Maybe you're shooting an environment like this okay what do I do here mad ok yeah you're thinking ok so maybe I can just do that but the subject so what I did was I eliminated the background by shooting at a very low isil in high def stop usually in most situations f eleven will do it and get you nothing right but you can whatever it takes take your camera shoot it now let's I'm now you've got me curious and here with this particular lighting so I'm wondering it right now I'm wondering do we even have to turn the light off maybe I can do all this stuff with the lights on just like how it is so I'm going to test it so what I do is I turn my eyes so down to one hundred okay and it looks like no problem I'll do it at f eleven at one twenty five and my screen because I have live view is com...

pletely black so you so all the light in here it's black I could probably go down because I have live you I could see immediately I could probably still do it at f eight in here let's see this kind of light yet it's right here right it's I can't uh it's dark right so in here maybe even f eight will work what different loan will scott want to just put it in f sixteen you don't have to worry about it why don't I do that? Why am I looking for the lowest f stop possible to make it to give it dark jodi stand up lower class settings less power right way are conserving our power were being wise with our power because our batteries need the last hole day okay, so we go it's just good knowledge to know being very efficient with your work okay, so f eight will do it we could do this at faa but in general just to be safe I like f eleven which means instead of putting my flashes on full power at six feet away I could put it at half power at six feet away and then if I bring it up to three feet if I ok so that if I matter f eleven at three, feet away what is my power setting to expose the subject? Anybody know at six feet it's half power at three feet it's quarter power no eighth power, eighth power at shooting at f eleven eighth power that's pretty like nothing you could get a thousand flashes from one flash at eighth power I can live with that so then if you bring it even closer I mean it's nothing then it's what? One thirty second power at one and a half feet away that's nothing. Okay, so bringing it in just remember that I should just commit that to memory f eleven eighth power three feet away because that's a that's generally what you might be using in this situation. Okay? Uh, so that works that there. Okay, so now this is a little bit different scenario when I shooting a person with darker skin I like to put color on them because it takes up the pigment. You see that dark colors that's what I like so use pigment so I'm using a warming gel on the face and I'm just using a purple in the back looks really good on dark skin if I did this on here is not a look too good on this gentlemen here it's just going might might look a little bit sick, but when you go with dark skin it looks really nice. Okay, so they're here I did the same thing put gel there and jail there. Damn one shot you can rip it up, you might have to just a little bit for the jails, but look it now look how powerful this is, ok, you want to do something like this, right? You automatically your mind no f eleven one eighth power one eighth power down how long does that take one shot two shots you got this in your back pocket it's just right there ready for you can rip it out whenever you want your kind of I don't know what to do but let's just do this bam right you could put two subjects there whatever mess with it at school too okay um so anyway is that it is three feet away uh eleven right one eighth power that's it okay boom same thing to sidelights right eliminating the making that background dark right this is outdoors uh same kind of field here's to side okay this is completely dark I had to generate all my light here there is no light there okay so I had to sidelights on her and then I had a flashback there so light up the ground and this back here I'm probably shooting it I s o eight hundred here so it's probably a little bit of power on each side I don't know maybe sixteen power on each side something and then back there may be a half hour quarter power toe like that entire area with one flash you could see that right so that's completely black box you get into this area but it looks pretty cool hey with three flashes you khun do this you can like everything up with three small all flashes wherever you go in complete darkness isn't that cool? You know how much power you have to do that go anywhere is completely dark you just rip out your light and do it boom that is a cool thing to be able to do here's another situation here you're creating a silhouette but this is just back light only okay, so you could set it in f eleven back light on lee and what do you think the trick is here how I got this blue here? I didn't do that in photo shop I did it in camera. What do you think I did there change the white balance good. You guys were listening when we practiced this this shot yesterday? Yes. What did I change? The light falcons too incandescent right? Because indicate so complementary colors make gray and that's what it does. So when you say incandescent it's saying oh there's orange light in the room I'm gonna limit what? So if you get a color wheel you'll know that blue is on the other side of orange and when you mix them it makes gray so that's what they do so if it's orange your camera goes oh, I'm gonna add blew over everything to make it look normal but you can use that as I don't use it to match color I use it for color effects I use more white balance to give me some color effects than to do actual life balance ok, so here to sidelights but kind of what I'm doing here, which we'll get into reception lighting is I'm blowing so much light in here that and then it's kind of ricochet ing uh bouncing off her chest there and giving some up light there you're throwing that and I'd like to do this in the reception you throw so much light in there that light bounce around and it just gives me a little bit of light on on the face and I kind of like that field of just you know, nothing is not quite perfect I like that here's another situation here where I saw this grid all that be cool let's throw some flashes back there let's get them, you know, levy de v and just boom hit it right and but it's creating a silhouette um and I think this shot was by accident because another flash was on but it looked good, so another flashes on and it kind of let them oh, wow, I wasn't planning for that, but that look good, right? So that's just with a little bit of light on them and so you can kind of adjust that, so if you have a strong silhouette, I like that style strong silhouette and in just a little under exposed the light on the face you don't have to have it fully expels maybe two stops or so under expose it's a nice little effective it you're just getting a hint of of who they are it's not complete silhouette so this is the setting syrup five six and then here's another one but what I'm doing is creating that back like mohr into my camera okay, so I'm shining it right into their uh and it's kind of giving me more of that you know feel that that lens flare kind of feel that I like so if you want more of lens flare you put mohr the flash right into the camera you open up your f stop and then this this becomes mohr kind of rounded like that right with zooming of the lens to which will make it is just like a twinkle light remember that this is basically this is a twinkle lights so it's the same principle, right? So what did I say? Move it away from the subject right? And then zoom it as much as possible lower that f stop get as close as you can to the subject and then makes that bigger in the back okay it's the same concept now who this is a final exam shot so what we're doing is we're lowering we're eliminating the background trying to make a dark in there but I'm allowing a little bit left just to see some lights to make an interesting but in here we'll try to make it his darkest possible we'll see what we can do and what the lighting situation is but we'll try to make it as dark as possible and when you can make it dark if it's pitch black in here if they jump up in the air you could have literally any camera setting uh slowest do you could do one second two seconds it doesn't matter if there's there's barely any light but uh if there's ambient life being thrown around and you can't quite get it dark enough that ambient light if you leave your shutter open too long is my costume blur so if you're getting if you're doing this shot and you're getting blur that means what there's too much ambient light in the room eliminated which means maybe going to a darker area raise your shutter speed as much as possible without going past their flash sink right I'll raise your f stop but if you raise your f stop then you gotta have to adjust your flashes in the back and so forth but that's you just know that's what the problem get cliff has a question those light stands are pretty darn far away I would say those are she was jumping here I would say they're about twelve feet away behind her but we don't have that luxury here so here to make it work in here okay uh twenty four to seventeen twenty and I was at twenty four okay okay so yeah I'm right twenty four millimeters at five point six I think I'm trying to remember I might we think that these were at eighth power I'm just taking a guess I would take a guess I'm not well I'm not quite sure on that but anyways uh and then I had another flash lighting corrupt okay and I don't even know want to get there I just shot it to make it look looks good bam there it isthe so I had another so this is three flashes going on so you can fine honestly if I were to do this again I wouldn't I would under expose this a little bit more just to give it a little bit and then it was like right I mean we're doing this so fast this did this I would I wouldn't get sees you don't have any shadow on her so it almost looks like on karen flash so I take it down move the light off the side a bit and would give it a little bit more mood to it right and it would be better so if I were to critique myself you know I don't know c minus whatever like well yeah almost right now it may not seem like a b minus ok, so here is that soft hard situation in a low light situation here, right? So this was under a bridge where there was absolutely no light, so I had this this is a case where I had a strobe through the umbrella up high because I didn't use a lot of video light back then because I was using a five d camera which I didn't feel like going up to thirty two hundred whatever so I used lower I so's here so that's why I used flasher but this is the same situation or is in the flash on top okay and another flash in the back with the cto jail on it okay and give it this is that same looking like that hard, soft look that that's kind of the style that I like hard light in the back soft in the front okay? And here I think this is messing around right? This is what we're going to try attempt to do is we got the video like, ok, this is at the end of the week where they're getting all like, so this is the class right? So in the beginning people I'm not confident with themselves under the end in week oh yeah come on let's use seven lights so they're trying to show off just keep adding more and more mohr and so they had the you know the, uh, plight on the top they had oh yeah let's get a little up like oh let's put a flash in the back and light her up and then you know, let's go forward and then put a pattern of the acts that that was my idea put the pattern on the wall with the gel right? So they were doing all that in a way I'm just make this even better and so I but move the chairs over put there and then put a blue gel on it and then uh boom that's the shop so we're going to try to attempt to do I mean we're not going to use like five, six, seven lives, but we're going to try to get do that particular style you can see what it will be creative to try to create some shadowed background that there but well, it might not look exactly the same, but you'll understand the concept and you could find tune it definitely okay. And here this is just one video light above here and one flash behind, but I want my whole goal in my mind was like I want to try it even though we're inside the hotel room I want to make it feel like it's sunset maybe she's like, you know outdoors on some patio and the sun is setting right even though I'm completely indoors and it's like at ten o'clock at night so that's the kind of project I gave myself so I have that video like here in that backlight there ok it's kind of like saying thing hard soft field here is ok we're doing this workshop in london I think jodi where you hear? Okay, so guess what? You are waiting around for your food and we're all a bunch of photographers do while they're waiting around with their food they start experimenting and doing stuff and like, ok let's take out the good old iphone okay with a a fork to create a pattern on the face okay, so I got iphone with the four could go any of this decent glam related let's get that fork and like do that look, I'm at I s o thirty two hundred at one point eight at one sixty eighth of a second and then I shoot it looks pretty good wait let's go one step further let's try to get kind of a shadowy background because that glamour look that's what it is it's like shadow on the face shadow in the background that gives you that kind of hollywood style look and so I take my video light on my flash right and I have another person creates some sort of pattern to give me on the background okay, so look at that you have a great camera you can shoot a thirty two hundred I esso and you have a fifty millimeter one point eight lens which could probably well this one's like a a thousand bucks but you can get one for one hundred dollars and you can do that iphone in fact I heard that maybe a samsung phone might work to not sure and last video light on it okay there it is power and having a little bit of knowledge okay so we could do the same thing let's try that so I'm going to take s o that inspired me so that that fork inspired me and I go well in step using my stripped reflector that I've been using all these years which is kind of a little bit difficult to to do why don't I just take my video light which is here they don't need this anymore maybe do we uh not don't think so and put this here and instead of a fork I used to pieces of cardboard and some gaffer's tape right let's see what we can do with that maybe this will make a cool textured background something maybe possibly okay on and then why don't we hear see I think I showed on the next picture try taking the video light and making it an iphone light and just taping some tape there I think if I put some war tape made it even smaller would work better we'll do that and let's see what we can do later like to do that and that's easier so we can just put the small little light on the subject weaken, create some sort of shadow in the background and get that kind of movie look but be able to rip it off really easily and quickly ok, so that's a strip reflector I used I used to use that a lot. Well, I still use it was well, I think that I think this method is going to work a little bit better. I think so that's what? You're always doing it trying to always improve yourself how we can make it easier because if it's easier you going to do it right so it was this is the standard technique ok? You're talking about background right? Okay, look at she's probably sitting about maybe this far away from the curtain ok, look at that curtain over there, right? That's not it that's not spectacular like that, right? But pay got that. So what I do was I took a flash off to the side way off to the side and farther back to create a little bit of shadow against that curtain. Okay, so you could be creative as long as it's not pure white you're going to get some pigment going through it and you look pretty cool and it's bitch black in that room it's I mean it makes it look like there's a lot of light in there but there's really not it's it's dark so that's why the it's it's so now we're going with the butterfly lighting above and we're getting you know we're experimenting now and then we get just for that cats like we just have a little video light under there or possibly could use the reflector too that would probably work a little bit so anyways I just find it's easier just to have a video like that I can control as much light a little bit easier that way okay, so that's the clamshell technique so I still got the shadow on the cheek and that's why that technique looks good it is because you still got shadow but it's right there on the cheek bones to define that if that subtlety to it uh you know you're going kind looks at that oh that looks good they don't understand why but really the subtlety of just that shadow right there that makes a huge difference if I shot that without that shadow it wouldn't look the same okay that's advanced lighting techniques understanding the subtlety of the light right and that's and that's what we're trying to perfect ok um let's see here we got a few more slides here that's that same glamour feel with that strip light right there here, right? And then a shadowed background there and, uh, here's. Okay, now, let's, talk about dragging your shutter how you can being a very, very dark area. You can drag your shutter for the background, but keep your image tight with the with the flash and that's exactly the jumping shot. Okay, uh, it's a version of that. Ok, so if you want here's ah here's shot at a quarter of a second, so I'm exposing for you could tell tan held because the backgrounds all blurry and you see it's all blurry back there because I'm a hand holding it for a quarter of a second and then but I'm hitting it with flash because even though it right back there where they are is completely dark there's no light at all. Okay, so now that's why I can pretty much do any setting because the tiny light that's back there is not going over expose my image isn't aren't they brighter than that back there, right? So the light on them is much wider than back there, so I'm not worried about that light. That light is not going over expose my subject, so I put a flash behind them and then I put an umbrella with a flash right there on top of them, so I got that's hard, soft feel and twinkle lights in the back okay, but that's about a quarter of a second now let's do something a bit more aggressive and let's go something like two and a half seconds so now what you have to do and it's kind of like words our situation here I couldn't get completely dark even an f sixteen um isil one hundred I couldn't get riel riel riel dark so what we're going to do is we're trying to get it is dark as possible in here and open up the shutter to two and a half seconds so that gives that two and a half seconds for people to do something with their samsung or whatever in the back okay, we're going to do on ly samsung the man who won't samsung here one person, two people three people that you guys are a real photographers ok, ok, we're gonna have to de samson and we'll get you know what? We'll do this but I want like five people back there just going crazy, okay? Just for the heck of it so you can get something more than this is three people going back there two and a half seconds so what you're doing is your exposure on your subjects not affected by shutter speed, right? So if you're shooting okay, you should know this quiz let's say I'm shooting this at f eleven and I'm putting my flash three feet away it was a power uh ok twenty power right f eleven three three one eight you can rip this up oh don't you hear this all time hey can we do something fun? You know the bridal party always says that well here let's do this who's got their smartphones out who's got there getting out flash the light mode let's get in something real dark okay uh you know you know what starts happening he didn't start doing this they have such a good time they start like doing weird stuff back there like writing things drawing pictures that are not appropriate for this audience you know, like they haven't because it gets to be creative process so this is one thing you don't do something fun okay? We're gonna do this oh wow yeah cool right everybody gets involved with it okay, so what this is what it is f eleven I'm at uh oh three feet one eighth oh, jeez right ok. Two and a half seconds my white balance is on tungsten uh the it doesn't really matter because I want to make it a little bit or in just what? What white balance and tungsten oh, because it was letting a lot of orange light into it because you're at two and a half seconds so I wanted to kind of gray it down a bit but anyways there it goes just go crazy with the cell phone scape smartphones

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