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Seeing and Shaping Light

Lesson 1 of 17

Class Introduction

Lindsay Adler

Seeing and Shaping Light

Lindsay Adler


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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction
In the first lesson, Lindsay shares how she learned how to light. Once you learn how to see and shape light, she says, you'll be able to imitate any lighting effect that you see. Take a glimpse at the lighting checklist that you'll master by the end of the class.


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:04:58
3 Lighting Patterns Duration:16:29
4 The Science of Light Duration:13:49
5 Lighting Pattern Demos Duration:27:53
6 Study the Catchlights Duration:17:42
7 Study the Shadows Duration:08:31
8 Soft & Hard Shadows Duration:28:57
9 Shadow Demos Duration:21:50
10 Rim Lights Demos Duration:23:44
11 Background Light Duration:08:23
13 Complications Duration:22:10
14 Lighting Set Ups Duration:27:19
15 Studio & Natural Light Set-ups Duration:06:50
16 Advanced Set-ups Duration:17:06
17 Creative Lighting Set-up Duration:10:09

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


  • Recreate the light from any image you see
  • Work with traditional studio lighting patterns
  • Design your own creative, complex multi-light setups
  • Understand how to use a studio lighting kit
  • Work with several different lighting modifiers


Decipher the complexities of light. From working with studio lights to using modifiers, Lindsay Adler helps photographers develop the ability to see and shape light. By the end of this class, you'll be able to look at any image and determine how to recreate the lighting in your own work.

Using clues like catchlights and shadows, Lindsay demystifies photography lighting setups. Learn how to create classic lighting setups, from a single light to multi-light setups. Build the skills to be able to recreate the light from any shot you see -- and the ability to design your own creative lighting system. Work with studio strobes, light modifiers, window light, and natural light outdoors.

Stop fearing studio lighting and start using your light kit to design create powerful portraits.


  • Any photographer ready to learn light
  • Beginners ready to learn essentials like hard and soft light
  • Intermediate photographers eager to learn to create their own lighting setups
  • Advanced photographers ready to learn the clues to recreate light from any photo


Fashion photographer Lindsay Adler is one of the most respected photographers of the genre, known for a clean yet bold style. The New-York-City-based photographer has work in some of the most prestigious magazines, including Marie Claire, Elle, InStyle, Noise, Essence and more. The Canon Explorer of Light shares her knowledge on digital cameras, posing, light and more with other photographers through speaking engagements, books, classes, and workshops.


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

Warren Gedye

Lindsay, you're an absolute genius!! Such a terrific teacher. You are so talented- not only as an out-of-this-world exceptional photographer, but also as a person who clearly is so passionate about her craft and has that very rare ability to teach your art in such a unique and structured manner! I have learned so much from you previous courses too, Lighting Bootcamp 101, I think was one of them. I look forward to more of your tutorials. On a side note- John in the background is such a stand-up guy! I love the rapport you have with him. I've seen him in on a few Creative Live courses now and he's a kind of guy I just want sit down and have a coffee with, and pick his very informative brain! Such a cool fella!

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.