Seeing and Shaping Light

Lesson 1/17 - Class Introduction


Seeing and Shaping Light


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I remember, not for a short amount of time, but for a very very long time, that I didn't actually see light. I don't know if anyone relates to this but, you'd be shooting and then you'd come back and you'd look at the picture and be like "Wow, that light sucks, "why didn't I see it? Why didn't I make that change?". And it wasn't like this for two, three, four, it was like six, seven, eight years into shooting. I've been shooting, I've had a business now for 16 years. But just for those of you- I started it in high school, okay, so I'm not gonna age myself that much more, alright. But anyway, so I just remember for the longest time that I just couldn't see light. Whether it was in the studio, whether it was on location, couldn't see it. And then, I would also look at these magazines. I would look at posters, magazine covers, other photographer's work, and I'd look at the light and go "That is absolutely gorgeous, I would love "to do it, no idea how." And what I love is, now-a-days when ...

I'm shooting I can walk into a space, I can look around, and I can see ten different ways to light in that one space because of the environment. I know it'll look like if I have them over here, before I even have my subject there. Didn't used to be like that. And now, I find every single day to be a lesson in lighting. And the reason it's a lesson is, I live in New York City, so when I ride the subway, as I'm passing all of those posters, each and every one of them anytime I'm inspired by the lighting I stop, I take a look, I take note, I might take a picture of it. Because now I can actually look at a photo, decode, and look at the secrets hidden within it, and I can teach myself a new lighting set up. So it's so different, because in the past to learn lighting, I had to watch tutorials, and read books, and granted, I still do that, but now I might see something a new lighting setup I've never thought of before, and I don't have to ask the photographer, I don't need to necessarily watch the behind the scenes. The answers are all right there in the photograph. So that is what today is going to be all about. It's those ideas. Learning how to see the light, learning how light can be shaped, and then how to read that light and be able to recreate it for yourself. It is an extremely extremely powerful tool and it makes me such a better photographer. 'Cuz I'm learning every single day, instead of just watching tutorials. So, if anybody wants to connect with me online, I've got my social links up there. If you have questions after this, the best way to reach me would be my Facebook page. Not my personal. It goes to some abyss of email messages that I never see. And then if you want to tag anything, Instagram's the place to do it. So, when I look at these three photographs, they're all drastically different. Drastically different tools. They have drastically different shape of light, and mood, and all of that. But I can look at them and know what to study in order to tell exactly how they were lit. Now, I'm cheating 'cuz these are my photos, but I can do it with other peoples photos as well. So this relates back to a story, a shoot that I did. I did this shoot maybe, I think it was about three and a half weeks ago now. And, my wardrobe stylist brought me these beautiful crowns and medal pieces and it was stunning. And she says "Okay, this is the clothing, "what do you want to do with lighting?" And so what I did is I went on to Pinterest and I just started looking at images. I went to all the photographers portfolios and I was just looking for something that had the mood of what I thought this clothing would be. And so, I found this one picture by this photographer and I think the edits were always in Harpers bizarre Japan or something like that. And I'm looking at it and it had this golden glow to the skin, but it was still dark and mysterious. Long story short, this is the picture I took, but it's identical to lighting I saw in another editorial. And only because I can read the light was I able to figure that out. And so the three things that we're going to talk about today, in depth, is how you will study the catch lights, the shadows, and the highlights. Those are the three things that if you study, there's so much in them, it's not just "Okay, let's look at these three elements." It's so many detailed things. So we're going to be going through all of that. And that's how I was able to figure out exactly how to do this light. And the also figure out how much was retouching, how much of it was in camera. So at the very end of the day, I will show you what the setup was, and we'll have broken apart these different pieces. By the end of this entire tutorial, we're going to have a checklist. Now, currently, this checklist I do in my head. I'm to that point where I do it in my head. But it's breaking down the catchlights, the shadows, the highlights, and everything I could be looking at and considering to figure out how it's lit. So, you'll have this and there's also some things similar to that in that ebook download.

Class Description

"It is a great course! Lindsay explains every possible lighting issue!" - Ayse Christo  

Light is the key element to any photograph. This class will teach all levels of photographers to see light in a whole new way. By understanding the science behind the lighting, you will learn to shape and create more dynamic photographs.

Lindsay Adler is a successful New York fashion photographer and one of the most popular educators in photography. She will help you understand how to decode and recreate the light in images:

  • Understand the terminology of lighting
  • Study the direction, length and depth of Shadows
  • Understand necessary considerations for natural light


Kaltham Ali

Wow wow wow- I finished the entire class in a day! I feel like owning and buy right away all her trainings... this is what a real trainer is al about.. I went from zero in light understanding to really looking to lights/shadows etc.. awesome thanks Lindsay .. the best purchase ever

a Creativelive Student

Lindsay is a talented teacher. She is very knowledgable of what she teaches, but also can teach it well (which is not something all talented people are gifted with, whatever the field). She is humble, dynamic and her courses are interesting to study. The one small improvement I would have liked would have been a little more emphasis and theory on the shaping part. However, this not being the most important, it is better that more emphasis was put on seeing (if you can't see it, you can't make it). Finally, I will say that to study and understand this course, or Lindsay's methodology, you are then equipped with an understanding—you could even say partly knowing the language—of light, which gives you a huge set of tools and advantage, allowing you to progress quite substantially with your studio or out-of-studio photography.