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Sculpting with Hard and Soft Light

Lesson 1 of 6

Class Introduction

Erik Valind

Sculpting with Hard and Soft Light

Erik Valind

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

We decided to just make this a really fun, fast paced, lots of shooting, lots of lights, lots of education. So this is gonna be a great way to go out. So thank you very much for tuning in. I'm gonna try to fit a bunch of questions in too, so make sure you guys are tuned in online and you're logged into the chat rooms so you can throw some questions that way. We've got a huge audience here in studio, so hopefully we can feed some of those in as well as we're changing lighting set ups. But just like you said, the title of this course is sculpting with hard and soft light. Let me go ahead and play our little info GIF right there. It's really pronounced GIF. I'm gonna make the internet go crazy now, but the guy who made it said it's GIF, and everyone else calls it GIF. So I'll get a hard time either way on the internet for saying that. But what we're doing right here, what you're seeing right here is gonna be the gist of the course. Alright? I'm gonna teach you how to use fill light, how t...

o use hard light and soft light. How to use directional light to create three dimensionality to your portraits. How to sculpt depth with rim lights and hair lights and how to go through a ton of different modifiers to do that. So you're gonna be able to create really three dimensional, sculpted, beautiful portraits here. Sculpture like portraits, if you'd like. With basic pieces of lighting equipment that you might already own. And some really cool aspirational pieces of equipment, like parabolics and different big octobanks and things like that too. So I'm gonna run you through the gamut of lighting tools. And how to really 360 degrees sculpt with light, and chop out your portraits or product photography, or anything that you want to make 3D and pop off the page or the screen. So let's go ahead and jump in. Here's basically what we're gonna be looking at. We've got to learn how to control the light. That's where we're gonna start. Then we're gonna talk about how we place the light and the direction of light and what that does for us and how that brings our subjects out of the image. Then we're gonna talk about controlling contrast, because this is a huge thing. Whether you're a commercial photographer and you're trying to get a certain kind of brightness or aesthetic to an image, or you're a portrait photographer and you don't like those deep shadows that are drawing attention to wrinkles or blemishes and things. Controlling contrast is gonna be huge, no matter what kind of photography you're into. And then finally we're gonna go into some high key and low key lighting set ups. Those are gonna be like those big, bright, beautiful white backgrounds that you see on the internet and on magazine covers. And low key is gonna be the very dramatic lighting where you see dark backdrops and that's the gritty sculpted light like in our opening photograph. So we've got a lot to cover. It's gonna be cool. So jumping right in, I just want to talk about the quality of light really quickly. And hard and soft light. This quality of light is gonna be harped on in every single Youtube video or CreativeLive class or photo tutorial you see because it's really the two different languages of light that we get to work with. And we get to paint with as photographers. What we're seeing here, or what we're looking for when we're talking about hard light and soft light, is that transition between the shadow. So let me just go ahead and pull two up side by side. This is our hard light on the left. And this is our soft light on the right. I want to start looking at specific characteristics of this so we can understand the tools that we're using here. So the image on the left. Look at the shadow from her nose. See how we have a very hard defined line? This transition is almost instant. It goes right from highlight (snaps fingers) to shadow just like that. So it's great because it's gonna help sculpt things out. She looks very three dimensional. The only problem is if we're just doing standard portrait photography and we want to make everyone look their best, we don't want to put Vaseline on the lens like they used to do 20 years ago. We want to use soft light so that that transition is more gradual. I like to make this kind of thought experiment here. This is a model with porcelain skin. Alright? What if you're photographing senior portraits and you've got this kid who's just like hopped up on testosterone and hormones. He's super stressed about his photograph being taken and he's got a big zit right there on his nose. It's not gonna be too noticeable from the illumination or the highlight. But that shadow, that instant shadow detail, is gonna make a huge shadow there. So you're turning this little molehill into a mountain on the shadow side of the face and drawing attention. So as a portrait photographer, we lean towards soft light. Cause this gradual transition, it's not as obvious where the highlight ends and the shadow begins. It's also a lot more forgiving on wrinkles and scars and things like that. But there's also serves this balance here between the two. So we're getting a little more advanced in this class. I want to show you how you can use the two together to really define but then fill to also create a little more forgiving light. So we are able to sculpt and get all the depth and dimension to people. At the same time, also flattering them. Cause I don't want a really cool gritty ab photo where the person's face looks horrible. Like that's not cool. You know we want a well balanced photograph flattering our subject. And in this case, we've got an incredible athlete who's put in a lot of work to get his body. So I want to show that off in the best possible way while still flattering the face. So he can send the photo of his head to his mom. And put the rest of the photograph on his dating profile. That's my goal with this kind of photography here. So how do we get the soft light? I'm gonna talk about a ton of modifiers here in a second. But the basic rule with soft light or the quality of light is the larger we get that light source and the closer we bring it in, the softer it's gonna get. So when we start out with a bare strobe or a speed light or a small flash, it's a tiny light modifier. So I can bring it in really close. Like this far away. But it's still not gonna be any bigger than my subject's head. So what we need to do to get soft light is increase the size. So I'm gonna bring some huge softboxes in. We can use scrims, we can use reflectors, anything really to create a larger size. You see people go outdoors with those big scrims. They look like giant bedsheets that they spread out and they let the sun shine through. What that's doing is taking that tiny sun, allowing it to spread out through this giant scrim, and now we have a giant soft cloud of light coming down. And we can do the same thing in studio with big softboxes. So that's it. You bring it in close. Make it big it's soft. Hard light's really easy. Hard light. A bare speed light or a bare strobe will work, because the light sources are tiny to begin with. So we're gonna be able to sculpt with hard light, which is really easy to achieve. And then add some fill light with larger light sources. And we're gonna need some bigger assistance from modifiers to do that.

Class Description

Would you like to expand your lighting repertoire beyond traditional portraits but don’t know where to start? Photographer and educator Erik Valind will teach you lighting techniques that you can use to sculpt curves and enhance features while photographing athletes.

In this intermediate class, Erik will show you how to:

  • Understand and use the tools necessary to shape light
  • Create dimensions and depth with light and angles
  • Use special effects to control contrast and atmosphere

You know how to shape light for portraiture work, but it’s time to expand your knowledge and learn to take images that don’t focus on the face. After this class, you’ll be able to control and shape light in ways you couldn’t have previously imagined.

Reviews

a Creativelive Student
 

He has good demeanor and there a few good tricks.

Travis Harvey
 

Good class, I like how he doesn't waste any time and moves through the course quickly, but covers the material needed.

a Creativelive Student
 

Erik is an incredible teacher. He is very humble and able to transmit all his knowledge in a very easy way, the course flow very well and is a combination of theory, practice and real studio issues. So happy by buying this class.