Skip to main content

Shoot: Low Light Techniques

Lesson 14 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

Shoot: Low Light Techniques

Lesson 14 from: Real World Lighting: Advanced Techniques

Scott Robert Lim

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

14. Shoot: Low 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

Shoot: Low Light Techniques

Let's get to the exercises all right um we're going to expose for the twinkle lights and delight through the umbrella so let me get a video like doing here ah let's do this let's see if you can use this melt for this brand that it had been seen a lot of questions about what brown did you lay own, brand actually um it's actually it's an upgraded brand of my older killer video light here but if you order this older one and you want this one it's the same price anyways it's there's something it's like differences between this one you can actually plug in it hasn't a nadeau apter that you can plug into it and this is my old one you khun tile together and you can make mohr but I just started using a bigger one because I shoot it through an umbrella a lot and grill up takes how many what? How many stops there's an umbrella you lose to write so you get four times less power so I got you know, I just being a little bit more beef up there. So this is three hundred leads versus ninety six so it ...

just got a little bit more pop it's the same price and you can if you request these instead of these it's literally three four days away from me getting get in but I didn't get it in time for here the show so I could show it, but anyways s so that's my own grand a night that I like using it has five different battery sources that you can put in the back five different ones and they all use kind of standard video batteries on double a's and what I like about it too. It has told my manufacturer I have tohave in my video light a test indicator to let me know how much power I have, I think that's very, very important, especially when you're doing weddings or you doing a back to back do I need to stay up and charge these batteries amore or can I go to sleep, right? So I said, listen, you've got to put a test on there, so I know how much juice is left, so I get an idea or you're kind of doing a shoot and you've been using your video battery a lot. You go, how much power do I have to be changed the batteries, then you can just test it right there. So I always have that on all my video lights because I think that's very important for me at least, okay, so let's, get this going here, um let's, set up the video life show people how I do this, just a simple who wasn't watching yesterday this is a cheetah stand that he's using yes cheetah stand people of those in love when they see him so I gotta always throw that one out there all right now what we're going to do is can we turn the twinkle lights on how does that work someone's got just plug that in and wall I couldn't do it well I get electrocuted all right twinkle lights okay so to make it better we actually have to go over here um so let's have let's do this um looking at the part in her hair so she's going to turn this way a way ok, now I'm going to use an eighty five millimeter lens um that's cameras over here and that's hopefully everything will be connecting um do you know if ok here we go good all right uh doesn't matter if I step out here a little bit ok? So let's bring our model in and let's can we get that all the house lights down I needed darkest possible and so can you want to go ahead and sit down here now what I'm doing is I'm looking at the part in her hair ok? Because if I have her rose this lights in the wrong way because I'm looking at the part and the parts on this side of her face so I'm gonna have her turn this way so the hair doesn't cover her face I mean sometimes it's cool to do that but I'm just talking in general terms to start off with because if I have turned this way towards the light but it's not bad and I actually kind of like it and I can have it work and sometimes you could get that hair kind of you know over her face which is cool but ah lot of times you this hair will be covering half the face on her she has a very uh thin face is not that much of a factor so you too if you turn it this way now I can see more face does that make sense to you guys so let's do that so we're gonna set this like we can we can't get any lower than that how we shouldn't do this in a day ok so but it was we're going to make it work so if you can put your watch it just cross your legs and put your legs up here right and turn your legs this way actually maybe you could go towards the light a bit and I want you to kind of lean forward on your legs like that and maybe just put your your hand up kind of like this like you're holding up a cigarette right and then you're just you can look at me like that right? Perfect okay so probably gosh yeah good shot down just a bit ok yeah so I am going to set my let's see if I can change my white balance here uh what's it doing on me I've got my eye so there's a lot of ambient light in here but I'm going to reduce so this is not typical I'm reducing my eyes so to eight hundred maybe even lower I met two point two um maybe I'll go uh let me see if I can go a little bit lower I'll go toe sometimes I don't like going below two because then I don't like a half half in incheon get up the field and make one I am focused on one out so I kind of stay around too if I can I'm at two hundredth of a second right now I can under expose it a bit yeah all right, this would be a good one to read e u knows how I prepare the client. I always say one two ready because I don't know like I used to be a supermodel at one time and when photographers are photographing me, I wanted to know when they were clicking the center so I know not to blink because sometimes the models waiting should I blake now you're right and they don't know, but if I count they khun you know, be prepared on one that and you're going to get way less blinks to the same time right? So I don't know if it wasn't able tio dio up and show the shot restarting it okay, well ok, I'll keep talking then l t t oh gosh and love between the light is so nice so I'm going to try to watch a close your eyes and then turn a little bit turn your face sideways that this way yeah our this's going try to do some projection now right? And I'm going to try to do a little bit more sidelight in so I'm going to just kind of focus on that eyelash and get as close as I can I want to yeah well ok now what eyelashes and focused on when eyelashes not but I'm just showing you the concept here okay? Now come up and look at me with your eyes yeah and I'm just getting in close and then I'm going to get it back a little bit farther so you can see see how the twinkle lights are getting bigger now move that and you can see just a little smile there you go and you can see they could get see how big nice and big they are right? And then the next one you're going to see how they're smaller but so the longer the lands right the closer that you get, the bigger that they are I can try um anybody have any questions about this? Because this is on your final exam, you know? So you feel ready to come up here and just whip it out and do it you want to take your final exam right now? Well, I get it all set up for you right now so wait definitely got questions online sure, yeah. Um let's see first one tracy kinney and three other people just want to confirm that you obviously you're only using one video light here waken see that but do you usually use multiple video life through the umbrella for nighttime shots? You need to be lights through there one source well, now that I got my three hundred led one, I just put one in if you're at thirty two hundred s so you're really highest ah hei I so one video light it will work but there's I just find I little I need a little bit more lead way and strength so I prefer now doing this for a year and a half after crazy stupid light I like a little bit more up in my video light so manufactured this this bigger one at three hundred leads on so three hundred led I would recommend three what's three hundred led what's looming I don't know they're all different it's hard to gauge but in general look for something three hundred led cease to be political yes question once you go ahead and stand on yes do you use when lighting in this kind of yeah let's do that you can it looks beautiful without it s so does anybody want to be my assistant and just we could do it the easy peasy way and just add another video light on this side anybody want to come up and just at a little kick her on the side well actually what's that list is well let's do it no no no come up come out about you know let's not do video light I want just one toe I just for the heck of it I just want to do flash and the video let let's say you won't get one be like ok and so we want to do this hold onto this for me tested to make sure everything's going now I said that's at one twenty eight power so if you could come in close and just uh like you're going to like back here in her hair right? So it was just right there. Yeah, perfect I'm going to try to get in close one too very and it didn't go off. You know why? Because I'm a stupid idiot why do you think I didn't see the flash? My flashing is too high because I wasn't worried about shutter speed at this point because I was just using video light okay, so this is a good exercise ok, so now I got to bring my shutter speed down within two hundred I'll try one on sixty, okay and I may have tio m explosion looks pretty good still still I'm gonna bring up my f stop a bit I'm at two point eight now want to ready good and that's good that's a little bit too hot so just come back a bit and I want a little bit more so where it's dark the light is coming here where it's darkest is kind of right here so I'm going to kind of put it right there and he's going to see that how that works with the little I want to read e good now that's to say that exposure is easy it's the positioning that's hard game that's a little bit too much to the side so it needs to be right about right there okay, now what you can do is train your second that's a little bit too much more behind yeah no well not not when I mean behind I mean don't mean here I mean like position wise that this way because there's because you don't see a direction see where that is too bright on that enter so if it's too okay this is a good question if it's too bright on that side where should the light be like if I think that this is too bright right here where do you position that light? I would change under direction what's that direction so you could wait right but I think it but then it would make it less powerful too so it's just easier to go behind like this does that make sense to you? Because it's lighting up too much right here, right? Ok you could try to feather it off but it's still that may work but I think it's easier just to go behind you to be more okay good all right, so let's do this one two ready good and what power is that at? This is all the way the lowest you have alone okay, so step back some more what good is a little higher but there she has blond hair too. If we had somebody with who's a brunette then it would definitely it wouldn't matter but when you have somebody with light colored hair that highlight is going to be even more this situation. But anyways you guys get the idea about that there it is right there got it lying up. You guys understand that kind of principle with that twinkle anybody have any questions on twin delights? I may pull you up here anymore, man have you whipped this out and do this so you guys get the understanding concept yes question go help in stand I tell the world you name moran evident from southern california s o if you stand back further back you would give you bigger twinkle like all right no opposite this subject is further away so if I move the subject way over there no yourself you if you get smaller okay, so like saying if we're using the seventy two hundred and I'm standing back there and I zoom in on her when that create bigger twinkle lights in the background yes but if you want it even bigger you come closer to her and still zoom in yeah, so the maximum is maximum zoom closest to the subject subject farther away from the twinkle lights all right, so they're like christmas set up right? We would yeah right ankle I so way don't quite have enough I mean, if I wanted to really make those things I would have her way back here but you know, it's we're limited to this space, right? So the distance so that's why I tried to get closer to her so if you ok so I'll just do another shot so real close but I think I'm limited on how close I can yet now look at the twinkle light uh higher yeah, I don't even probably need to my friend here okay, now you see that see how bigger that much bigger they got because I got closer to my subject so that you know if you're doing an eyelash shot or something like that we can get in really close maybe even use your mackerel lands to do it. Those lights are getting even bigger for you okay, uh yes, we've got dave birch and one of the person who are wondering if you can use the video light that's on the flash for a room like you know what? Yes, you can so let's try that yeah let's do that uh it should match up pretty good so we're gonna be using this uh so I'm going ok, so this is that full and we'll see what it does okay, it may see anything. Yeah, I think given the well yeah, this is work. You could come in a little bit closer. Yeah, right there. Actually, if you can get in that close then it you can see it it's not a strong but you definitely can see it and it just for emergency. We have a lot of bright light in here too. You're going to notice that if we were in complete darkness it would show up mohr but because there's a lot of ambient light, you're not seeing it, you see it barely right there, but if it was darker and here you definitely see it more well I'm in situations like maybe a church or something that where they don't want you using flash or just for whatever reason you can't use something that's that right when you know you guys that kind of more constant light right good let's move on because I got let's try some other examples here uh let's can we go back to that page the keynote thank you very much give shanahan helping us out I think we're going to get to some other uh let's see what we're going to do next exposed between the lights okay yeah uh you actually have time for maybe two questions you're alright let's teoh one from somebody there were three other people who voted for it as well if you're getting close with the video light does it not blind your subjects or make them squint especially if you're doing in the darkness where that one through this video light is this umbrella they khun like it's fine nice big light but if it's speculator and blinding their eyes a bit no but that's why my eyes so is all the way up to thirty two hundred sixty four hundred it's not a lot of light on it makes the subject very comfortable they could pose there for an hour probably medimmune it doesn't like it's nice light yeah perfect good stand up yes and you normally recommend how many feet with the video light so you don't get to in their face uh, you mean like, well, I like his closer. I'm like this because the closer you get the light to this subject, the better it is, but in general public three feet or so, yeah, I try to just get it's cool if I could get it back close, I'll do it because the closer the light is through the subject, the bigger it's going to be in the better it's going to be? Yes, if you're photographing a family on during the christmas with the christmas tree in the background, we used to video lights. Yeah, it definitely could put two video lights on the side and do it or you could possibly do it with the flash because you're you're going to do this in a house because it's, you're going to need a large house, maybe they're wealthy, I don't know, but because look at how much room that we're using right here, right? And I would write and so then you have a family and then you have you're going to go way back? I mean you need a room that's pretty darn large where you would do this with the family is maybe outdoors standing outdoors with some christmas lights or holiday lights or whatever or ah cities like a city night scene because a lot of cities dress up the downtown areas with nice lights and things like that and if you can put him there take some video lights they're all dressed up in their boots and their I don't know what do you call those things I believe in california your love's yeah glove with close yeah ok anyways uh you know, that would be to me a better situation because you can get them far away from the sign or the lights you can see you can stand way back and zoom in the u damn, you could get an excellent picture at that point but that's a good idea for families never thought about that yes, uh best shot and four others if is there very much difference between shooting through an umbrella versus bouncing the flash under the umbrella and back to the model there's something that was asked yesterday but I think it's appropriate right now yeah, whether you do it differently whether you're using video, light or flash as well it's the same process really. But when I do it this way I just can't get it. I mean I can't get into close enough because guess what's in my picture now the stem of the umbrella it does have actually ah kind of more soft box feel to it and it doesn't allow the light to spread out as much when you do it this way but I just need a brighter light and it's a huge difference in light that this remember when we talked about when your light sources close ok, so let's say your light source is this close from your subject the difference between here and half the distance is how many stops to that is a huge amount of light so when you flip it around you're losing two stops alight already because you can't get it close enough and so when you're doing it really close like that um that's going to make a big difference so I find that I just like to do it this way and maybe I just saw a request from bob in dallas that I actually think would be fantastic do you mind if we just do really quick this same set up but with a flash instead of the video life okay and just going to see how you would do that differently if that's what you've got sure well uh oh yeah so I'm gonna give it to me come on that's what I love that's what makes it interesting is is somebody help me here hold this because I think I put this mount on the runway and now it's really stuck on there well doesn't matter I'll put it on somewhere else that's why I got three uh different okay, I got to switch this around a bit because I put it in the wrong way but otherwise ok um so I got to switch this around real quick because I got set up differently maybe you could flip it around flip the solo okay, so I'm gonna it's a kind of equivalent to sixty fourth power a bit, maybe more so I'm guessing right now I'm guessing at thirty second actually this is a good exercise because I usually don't do it with the light but because I can't see the positioning of the light but if you were to don't do it with a flash, I don't I mean yeah, I'm sorry I usually don't do if I put wait a second let's do this let's maybe let's let's try to use my if I can I can try to maybe use my video light is a modeling light my video light on my flash to uses a modeling light I'm not sure if it's even enough juice to even give me any brightness out of there about what the heck it's right ok, so I'm going to start at thirty that's my guests of matching the the the power of this that's just my guess I'm guessing um thirty second power ok, so imagine thirty second power putting it through here and the farther away I do the light from the umbrella, the more diffused it it is so another issue you're going tohave is that see the source size of this video light it's a lot bigger than my flash so this is going to defuse the light a lot better I there's I guess so anyways but we'll see what what's up see what's going on let's see if I can actually access this a figure like doesn't even give me any kind of modeling like yeah ho there you go I got modeling that so I'm using the video light as a modern lightless fifty sugar same time turn this on oh maybe when the real lights on it doesn't oh I got turned wireless on okay all right here we go so this is a total guess one two three lift me okay so long as I just actually blew out okay I got its way to struck okay uh thought ok, this is two stops but I don't even think this is going to be good enough living going to have a that's funny you guys aren't laughing I thought those living I am for me to be way off like that that's like saying almost for me okay so ok and another thing is is when you okay? Well ok give two shots all right can you give you tee shots it's better it's within range okay and this is okay right? So that's kind of the same things but what happened to is a lot harder to focus right? Because if you didn't really low light or no light it's harder to focus the subjects to and you have to remember that so even it doesn't feel like I feel that it's a little bit harsher let's do it baby you want me to do an a b right now and the last shot from the from the video like well do that if we can have I had my flash think is a little bit I need to lower my my speed to tad too but anyways um pretty good there was a pretty good guess on how to get the right exposure on the next shot I moved it up to four five um that anyways I'm just kind of sometimes I impressed myself like wow ok right lights a little bit different color because you're letting maybe some ambient lighting whatever but um just this to me just feel softer right um so I'm just going to prefer that method it just feels it just looks softer to me of course I had to go well maybe this is it maybe I had to go up too okay okay okay weighs like it let's be even steven because I had to shoot at four point five there and so maybe that's why it looks sharper let me try to go back down to two point eight ok so let's say if I go back down to two point eight so that's going to be a couple stops ah I'm already at my lowest already with the flash I am I'll see I can't go down to two point eight because I'm at my lowest already with my flash, I'm running into problems because the flash is not built for low light. Yes, you're going to do it, but see see how I'm trying to make everything work. It gets to be quite difficult because why the flash is such a high power light source and it's not matching the low light of the video lights or our city lights. So that's why? Yeah, you could probably do it, but it makes me think more, right? And I don't like to think if I don't have tio yeah, go ahead, why wouldn't you just move the flash farther back to reduce? I could, but I don't like that look because I want to get a similar look, I want to compare apples to apple, and so if I moved that deal like that, I'm gonna lose that beauty of that closeness of the video light and see you losing there. You lose that that kind of wow with lighting so you you do it a little bit of power, but it would also become harsher because you're moving light source. Further away, which makes right, and then you're not controlling it. Then you're creating a tasmanian devil now that light bouncing all over the place. So the farther you move the flashback, then it could contaminate your background, because you're so far back, I just causes a lot of issues. You see that, see that? So what kind of things that were running across so that's? Why I like the video light in low light, it just makes it easier to manage. Everybody should have one in their bag, all right? And so, yes, you can do things with flash, but it just sometimes. It just makes you think too darn much.

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