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Shoot: Essential Skill #3 - Low Contrast Lighting

Lesson 11 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

Shoot: Essential Skill #3 - Low Contrast Lighting

Lesson 11 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

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Lesson Info

11. Shoot: Essential Skill #3 - Low Contrast Lighting


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

Shoot: Essential Skill #3 - Low Contrast Lighting

First of all, let's say I'm going to try to do a hill fast situation here so I'm looking at my camera and I met I s o four hundred right now and I'm going to cheat it at four and I'm going to drop my shutter to around I don't know fiftieth of a second okay and then I'm going to use my flat you know what that's what we'll just go for it I could be a tad brighter so let's change my there's not a whole heck of a lot of light here um so I'm going to actually good at this the flash may even be off the charts it might not even be low enough because there's a little bit of light in here but I think this is really well I'll try let's see what we got so well if fn what does it say? Anything at your chart at four bias so eight hundred with the flash power should be I went to our case I'm barely at the edge okay? So in a typical situation you're not shooting indoors it's going to be a lot brighter than this do you understand that? But just in here it's dim light so it's not a true life situation ...

as if we were outside right now because I guarantee if you step out right so outside right now you'd be an faa or five six right now most likely f eight right that isil one hundred but now I met eyes so eight hundred at ford so there's you know mets more many more times like brighter than it is in here so but I'm going to try to simulate we're going to go for anyone so anyways who wants to anyone just hold this flash warm in here get this going we'll just do this okay? So sarah come on in ok, so one twenty eight at six feet away basically ok, so come on in sarah uh maybe what we could do is like this right here. Okay, so what I'm trying to do is just light her up, take away a little bit of the shadows out of her face and kind of get that open feeling to it just add it into flash so actually have to be six feet away right about here okay, so you can kind of turn your body this other way I hear pop that hip out that way right there and turn your head this way right there. Yeah get right so I'm going to feel her up let's see let's test it to make sure everything's working and so one too three good right? And so you know, look at this you get a little bit tighter here one two three right? And this is actually see that that looks natural right um and trying to create more shadow on her feet hammond hard time getting some soda water visual and I got the exposure right on how zizi one side but now a saddle on trying to work it a little bit it's not real soft light it's not the best light in the world but I'm just demonstrating some fill flash okay, now let's say I want a little bit more dramatic feel to it doesn't that feel open and light? Did I just do something for something else ok uh well keep going now guess what I'm going to do I'm going to raise my shutter, okay? Did I'm not changing my light at all, but now I'm going to bring my shutter to two hundredth of a second and dark in it oops now you're going to see what you call flash sink problem so this's great if it shows because now that shows you that I have to lower my shutter speed a bit more and something's going on right now with the connection of the usb like technical difficulties that's what always happens with tethering? Yeah, all right no matter what I because the reload again I will wait until I hear a word from somebody way we'll see what they say it's good okay, so basically would have yeah ok, you go let's just start all over again um what what I'm actually doing is I am low raising my shutter speed to allow less ambient light to create more of a contrast okay, so I see this it's kind of filled you don't know if that window light or what it looks that's what phil flashes ok, now come on here we go um should I try something again turn it off and on try and take a shot okay I'm turning and often in again just to see what's up see that's what you get for getting a soniya just kidding so many people okay uh I can't take a shot it's locked up it's a little bit what was scoring yeah um turn it off again oh, wait we're going all right, here we go okay, so we're gonna take a shot I'm going to show you I'm going to screw up actually I'm gonna show a shot where you get a lasting issue right now I'm gonna lower my shutter um just a bit and treat this contrast there okay, so now I see that that's because it's not sinking with your camera right? And so I lowered the shutter a little bit so now that's at one twenty fifth of a second let me see if I can get it to one sixtieth of a second and create more of that contrast of that lighting in the background so now you're starting to see it are just starting to see that darker background now if I went even more now that's just changing my shutter speed but now you go oh I like to feel splash but I want something even stronger okay what should I do to eliminate someone a the ambient light to make my background stronger I'm already at the top of my sink speed I don't want to shoot more than one sixteenth of a second what's that you know now I'm one was still use flash your flash right right I could do to I could do several things I could raise my f stop I can lower my eyes so to reduce light coming into it right s o that's what I'm going to do I could make it darker right so I am gonna lower my eyes so to one hundred which means reducing it by him lowering it by how many stops you guys know what the difference is it's remember having it? I meant I s o four hundred to stone two stops so if I was at one twenty eight power I would move this up two stops to one thirty second power or just two lights so I'd go to my assistant move it up too right? I don't want him to think like I don't say oh movie two thirty second power because then he goes look okay what's thirty so I have to think if I just say hey just move it up too both oh there I am no thinking involved okay, so technically this should be exactly the same but with a much darker background one two ready go right we are probably running into the problem with what do you think? Oh see, this is great scott roberts screws up right because I had to do this because of the flight situation what's happening is I'm getting background contamination why I'm six feet away and I didn't move her back right so the light is fine there and it's fine that back okay, so move up so let's move up more right now let's move in three feet if I was at thirty second I can move it back down to right exposure seems to be right on here right? So let's do the same thing again turn your yeah yeah no body this way a little bit just face this wave it face that okay, let's try that right it's about three feet right there, right let's try this one tio there now I'm goingto bump this up one more because it's probably needs a bit more power to it. And so you see how I'm reducing that light in the background there, right? Ok. And so now you're creating that contrast now if I did something more like this so let's try a side angle yes oh do any point your face this way here okay let's have it may be your body facing me but looking off to the side that play at the light yeah so you're yeah like that okay right so kind of let's do something with your hands like put your hand point how about this book off like this right here right and just exaggerate those hips a little bit more right keep your head up straight a bit right that yeah right there. Okay, so let's do a little bit of a sidelight groups getting plastic again hopes that we move this down okay bring your hand down a bit so where we shall yeah right there all right, now you're going to start to get something that feels like a sunset feel hey because although I should have had her look that's a bad in her eyes don't just starting to feel like it's more of a sunset thing if we move back a bit and let that flashlight up the background a little bit more that wall move back a little bit more we actually want that right we're going to start to get that feel to it and we can put this on like this here okay and your eyes want tio towards me a bit more your head right there yeah like that one two ready good and so you're going to start to feel this what now when you put that gel on you're actually losing stop too okay so what I can do is increase the contrast here up your losing a stop war to I'll just bring it up one here right and I can probably exaggerate the shadow just a bit more like turning more don't even look at me just to kind of turn sideways a little bit more yet and so now when I would create more shadow and creating more contrast and I'm getting more of that feel to it let's go even war more more more shadow more contrast right um that distance back there to that light is cut we don't have enough room in here and it's not simulating what the real son would do but now watch if I put a flash to that background I can kind of create what I want back there to write and match the highlight so the reason why this is not totally believable is because I'm getting some highlight on her but there's no highlight on the background okay so what we could actually kind of do is let's at another flash in the back and add on to because that's still kind of blah because the background there's no highlight on the background so we could do two things let's add some highlighting the backup but let's use a flash to do it so let's grab another flash right and soon left to help me here right so let's do this let's take this gel off and move this back down karen keiser says I'm confused about why scott is using bare flash rather than an umbrella oh, because I'm just showing you bear flash right now so I'm just telling you what you do oh yeah umbrella is a lot better but I'm just starting from the how to manage a flash and what you can get out of this depends again on the look that you're going for like you said earlier you like that very contrast he look and so it's you know, it just depends on on the look you're going for, right? Um it's so um it's a little bit different because I can't control the lightest most because it's not super bright in here so because my isil is up if I was outdoors it's easier to create that contrast because it's brighter on the subject when the light is lower on the subject it's harder to create that contrast but you still can do it and so now let's have somebody hold this flash I'm just guessing right let's blow this up at one sixteenth power does anybody want to just hold this flash behind here just like this let's sit make sure everything is going here for a second let's get this uh let's get this one here let's just use this let's do this at one sixteen power we haven't shell on here okay on sure so we're gonna put this flash behind to create some contracts and let me see if I could get it below for right because I got a little light lands here let me see if I can just get this down I'm going to shoot it to point beau okay and that contract was pretty good so let's do something where you're kind of looking more at me here I'm going to shoot up and down this way and if I can put that light over more okay I want to just put it the edge of that friend and you could just kind of go like this and then look at me right there good um I know I'm not even sure what I did with the light if it's right but we'll figure it out a little bit higher in the light right there but they're perfect one two ready good and so now you're starting to feel that does sort of look like sunset now we're trained creating a contrast in the background right that light I didn't check it it's a little bit no shadow to it move it over a little bit more let's bring that light up a little bit more okay I'm shooting at two point all right now it's like a it's on sixteen yeah bring it up one more how's that very easy to do right e we'll put that light somewhere right there and yeah that's good one too good right? And that's going to kind of create some more contrast uh that you're able to now it's a little bit hot on the side so you might have to reposition that light in the back there okay and so let's now let's do something with the video light because it's going to be a lot easier to show the softness of light in here because this is such a low light area so what we're going to do is we're gonna put a video light on here with an umbrella, okay, this situation here because we're in such a low light situation here and flash is hard to get this type of look we're going to do is put the umbrella how much time we have twenty minutes okay, so maybe what we'll do is, um take this shade down a bit to think this contrast on my subject here okay said okay if I bring this down slating okay and perfect she has beautiful light on here then this is what you're using the umbrella right here. Okay, um I want to really good that lights a little bit hot on this site so we'll move you over back a bit or we'll take it down a bit I want to let's just move that flat if you could turn that flashes still going on oh, was that class going? I'm sorry about that god got robert screws up it's awesome to see how steaks and you're like, I'm not getting a car. Okay? All right, here we go again. That flashes going up like that. That girl. Okay, well, that's ok too ok? Yeah. So now you're going to start to kind of feel it a bit more where you're going to get that less light in there and you're gonna get more that now, let's, try to put that light right into my lens. Okay, so if you can point it right into what we're doing here so if you come over here and so what you want to do it somebody's holding it is your arm. Okay, if you hold it up and down like this when you put the light over, guess what? Your arm is in the frame, right? So when you ever have somebody hold the flash, you haven't pulled it out like this because that way your arm is not their right and so then you could get more of that directed right back into the light that's great! I want to bury good, but now I'm going to try changing. I can trust this up a little bit higher on the video like I'm going to change my lens, I'm going to put this is with the fifty millimeter lens now I'm going to put in eighty five millimeter lens to compress it to try to get that contrast that opened feeling that I like so um we will put that um a little bit in compressive and so using the lower half stopping compressing it is going to change the image a bit a little bit different tio simulate outdoors when you're in doors but try to do it here so now when we go into the little light tomorrow when we're just talking about low light or no life and that's going to be fine okay so whole not I still littered it off okay questions to get any questions no uh I will have to pull something out of the enemy from the audience I know this is this is a little bit rough I'm sorry just hang in there with me we get it um we turn this off and turn this on could you clarify for chris walt what does f stop five point six or lower mean lower number or smaller apple okay, yeah lower means um lower number which is a bigger aperture so um you want to go like five six you like that you are lower that's why matt like two point oh here if we could do that okay all right, so let's do this this white balances on sh let's change thiss it looks like ah I'm going to go cool white here because it looks a little bit more neutral one can see in here where the flashes going one to move to good all right so now you could see if I'm using a little bit longer lens how it's compressing it and kind of making a bit softer see that through that light on the back end is getting a little bit softer on it um and so the mohr if you go a two hundred lands it'll be even it's just bigger bulbs but the whole thing is is that you want to go your f stop is a little bit lower right and lower and lower you can go longer the lens will also make that more of a feeling of that back light feeling right so let's so that that's what you conduce I could actually add a little bit even more light on the subject right so if I pushed the slight and a bit closer right so let's do that same thing just a little bit out right here and shoot it want to ready right and so it's just you could make it a little bit brighter um so that light it's just get a little bit brighter I can open it up a little bit more I could use even a slower shutter speed I'm going to go down to the sixtieth of a second now letting even more light in sure I'm getting tired I'm sorry one to bury and that's letting mohr even more ambient light in opening it up some war um and see that see how I'm changing the shutter speed but I don't um just giving it that area feeling with that and you get that, um bigger light in the background now if I go back to flash and I change it to a higher f stop then you're not going to get debt nice light coming in the background is going to be more speculator right? So that's why when you're in the situation is going to be kind of like five, six or lower right and some not so great light. Now is it possible for me to go over there on that and over there and try something so let's try doing something a little bit different let's come over here you want to change because I know your arms over ties and that's one thing holding that right and so let's come over here and lean against the wall here, right? Is that okay if we do that? Okay, so I'm gonna have you lean against the wall here and we're gonna light right? And you're gonna look at me for a little bit more this way good and then we're going to add some can you take that flash and just added in the back there and yeah, just with your other hand there come up closer and so another thing is, if you get it closer to its going to get bigger, so let's, just think that and then it was taking down a stop. All right? So another thing is the closer you get that like to the bigger it's going to be, too. All right, so you just lean against yeah, that's um, let's, just go with your shoulder and just bring that arm across like that. Yeah, that's it right there. I bring that, like, just a little bit more in this way. Did you turn it down? One okay, let's, just see what it looks like. One too many focus one, too. All right, so now you're going to start toe feel that, like, because I brought the backlight in closer, see how that that kind of blurred feel is it's because you're using a lower f stop and you're bringing that bigger in and I'm using a longer lens. Okay, um, and so and typically, what you could do is if you're outdoors, this light could be a flash, but because we're in such low, like, like I said, it is really hard to demonstrate outside light with low light because it's so much less light in here, I'm trying to simulate the situation that it would be but you can't quite do it but I'm doing the best that it could sort of work but I want to get you the concept to do it so you could put your flash instead of this video light everything would be at I s o one hundred or well it's at one hundred now but you you would use flash instead of the light does that make sense to you right because you're in brighter light that way right? You might not be able to use video light in that bright light especially if it's f eight so you're going to have to get that soft light with a flash but in this particular situation I'm just using a video light because we're in a lower light situation right makes sense okay? Is there any other questions about kind of creating that soft light with that view like now you could do another things let's try something completely different where you could just get behind put the light behind the subject and if you can kind of just lower maybe if you just kneel down okay and I'm going to try to get you out of the way can you get up closer closer to the subject of kneel down and point right at her head let's see where you get it right and you can move it away yeah right there okay and hiding you right here moving back a bit want to ready kid moving just over just slightly that way a little bit want to ready bid little bit mauritz kind of bouncing off the wall so turn the light more towards this way a bit yeah where was it turned before straight out move it just a little bit that way it was try that okay that disconnected here questions you know having trouble tethering I'm just gonna walk in here this is interesting uh yeah you know I feel like we are kind of a good point where we can just end for the day if you're okay with that we've got a lot more demo to do tomorrow right right that's true how do you feel about that are do you have another shot that you want to get no no no and I think that's fine okay and I think we can go to the kind of the low light um situation and what we can do to weaken ended a little bit early I think I wanted to did I have um the final exam shots going take one more shot really quick yeah I think it's don't worry about it I think it's I think it's good but anyways yeah let's just let's not fight it yeah I think so what? We got some great examples yeah well kind of the process and I think that's what's important yeah see the process of how to do it of course you know it's. Not going to be perfect all the time, and I'm sorry that we're indoors, and we're not actually outdoors. But you kind of get the feel of it. What I actually do, right? It's gonna using the big light on them and getting that back light, using a lord f stop so you can get that nice blurb behind.

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