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Tony Corbell: Light Control and Shaping

Lesson 17 from: SkillSet: Best of Lighting

Sue Bryce, Scott Robert Lim, Mike Fulton, Tony Corbell, Clay Blackmore, Mark Wallace, Zack Arias, Joey L, Felix Kunze, Joel Grimes

Tony Corbell: Light Control and Shaping

Lesson 17 from: SkillSet: Best of Lighting

Sue Bryce, Scott Robert Lim, Mike Fulton, Tony Corbell, Clay Blackmore, Mark Wallace, Zack Arias, Joey L, Felix Kunze, Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

17. Tony Corbell: Light Control and Shaping


Class Trailer

Sue & Felix: Shoot: Natural Light Portraits - Maisie


Sue & Felix: Shoot: Natural Light Portraits - Katie


Sue & Felix: Shoot: Natural Light Portraits - LaQuan


Sue & Felix: Shoot: Studio Light Portraits - Maisie


Tony Corbell: The Power of Light Part 1


Tony Corbell: The Power of Light Part 2


Tony Corbell: The Power of Light Part 3


Scott Robert Lim: Live Shoot - Natural Light


Lesson Info

Tony Corbell: Light Control and Shaping

let's dig into just a little bit of light controls and like shaping and then we'll get back most of our lights are are sort of supply and with some type of a standard reflector this is a pretty standard reflector that when it's placed on the lights you know it's funny light will come out of these things uh these are these are really durable there you don't want to bend these and you can't they're there if you can if you bend up your reflectors you're doing something wrong because they're really made to be pretty rigid um when the light comes out of those standard reflectors whatever the shape is of your head life follows that path so I can't it's shaped like this light goes in that kind of a path and that means that if I'm ten feet away from this big gray wall and I've got a standard reflector I'm pretty much evenly illuminating a very large area of that wall okay and then every once in a while while you've got this light all going like this you can put in one of these grids and I used...

grids a lot and you talk about grades you'll hear people talk about grades and show grids um I'll put a grid in the standard head and this is I'm not sure what size this one is they come in ten twenty thirty and forty degrees of spread so I'll just set this guy in this standard head and wherever you know wherever that light was coming out and following that pattern well once I put a grid in place it stops following that pattern that goes like this and it's right here so now I can place that light exactly where I want it I can put a grid on and from here it's amy right from here yeah amy lynn okay so from here I can like just you and not touch this is catherine orly pretty good about that huh so that's the beauty of the grid is I can I can I can control where it goes and works bills in where it doesn't and so for that reason a grid is one of most important tools that I have in my bag and I used grids almost on every shoot somewhere for something you know think about think about uh a light that's away from my camera coming back toward my camera look at this like look look in the center portrait of this girl in the middle look at those twin accent lights on our cheeks you see those those air to strip lights that are behind her aimed back right into my limbs they're coming right forward right so the reason that it didn't flare my lenses because I had grids on those light if I didn't have the grids on lights my lenses would have been flattered so much this is on you it would've been unusable so that's why you've gotta have grids and there's some things that we can do with grids and we'll talk about it and we'll show this week or we're gonna have a little bursting effects were going a little bursts of light and we can put little burst of color and we can send splashes of light you know from here if I aim it at that wall that ten feet away ten twelve feet distance here I'm gonna have a pretty concentrated burst of color but if I walk straight over to the straight over to the wall and put it right there I've got a really small tight tight bright bright bright light and then I can skim it like that and now I just gotta splash of of light going in one direction diagnose and I can raise it up and tip it down and put a gel on it and now I've got stage lighting so so we can replicate something that we see on stage on tv show or on a movie or whatever I mean there's so many things that we could do with these guys grids are critical from my work I use them all the time and they're either called honey comb grids grid spots or spot grady's depending on the brand and they're expensive in their ridiculously expensive but they are awfully good and and you can get hard grids like this or you can also get the soft grids that are also known as honeycombs on they just will velcro onto your soft box in the front of yourself bucks we'll talk about soft boxes in a little bit later but these were really helpful these these reflector heads the standard heads there some people kind of think of us throwaway tools because most people like toe give these often put a soft box on or another tool of some type but don't discount the importance of the standard old traditional regular head this will send light toe large areas pretty easily okay now that also that also comes in a smaller version with this little guy and it's very shiny and bright you can see the difference so it's all about efficiency with this one and this one is to send light everywhere this one's a little bit more bright and a little bit more efficient and its job basically it's got this little small bracket right there for an umbrella so you put this guy mattered on there and this is the umbrella holder you just put the stem from the umbrella not stand what they called post stem the long skinny thing the rods the rod yeah the sinking rod yeah the rod you put the umbrella rod right through that little hole tighten it down and you can adjust how foreign and just the difference in the distance from the head to the center of the umbrella based on what you want the light to do if you want the light to really spread over to a large area then move that umbrellas far out as you can but if you want to concentrate a little bit you can move on brother closer makes sense pretty cool technique tony on some of those reflectors I've seen some that look to be about maybe a foot wide with two or three feet deep like a big bucket what is that doing different from these all that does is without the added control of the grid it doesn't narrow the beam a little bit and make it a little bit more powerful so like I would do something like that and use one of those type of reflectors that's a little bit more tubular and a little bit longer if I was ten or twenty well say twenty or thirty feet away from something I need to light that corner up over that corners really dark and I'm back over here and there's a car in the side and I can't go those were the light there's a car in the shot I could put one of those on back over here and I can power it up and I could fire you and I could hit that corner I would have a little hard time doing that because there is going to spray everywhere and the grid and the thing you do have to be careful about what a great is that when you are off access with your meeting with a grid if I'm off access I mean when the light goes straight out that grid it's great but if I'm over here have lost to two stops of light it falls off quickly on the grids it really falls I was like okay so here's what I'm reading you know f eleven and right there I met a over here about five six already well with this guy on an eleven eleven eleven maybe eight and a half I mean it really spreads light out where that really controls it really brings that being in the more focus okay your questions about this yeah I'm not sure how to articulate this algae my best the lining that's inside one that's super shiny and the one that's more matt that produces a soft it doesn't really make it softer it makes it more evenly spread yeah and and the silver is a little bit wait call it brighter it's a little bit brighter which which means it's a little bit um it's going to give us a little bit more exposure but it's also going to be a little bit more spectacular means a little bit more shiny like coming out awesome thank you softness so we'll talk up we're going to talk a lot about softness tomorrow especially tomorrow that's our big day on like quality and talking about controlling that you have been questioning we ready go keep moving this is great having a nice cold drink thank you um okay so let's talk a little bit more about these these tools the umbrella the umbrella nobody likes to work with an umbrella and yet everybody works with umbrellas umbrellas are are sort of a they're a reflective light source and there and it's kind of odd because of that the way that the way that it would work you know I was talking about with a with a reflector the umbrella reflector I would put the the umbrella in here like this course tighten it down and that just mounts on the front that strokes so that light fires off and it goes in here and it bounces around inside the belle of the umbrella and it comes out it also has the ability to you can remove this black layer so this particular one has a twin layer so if I remove the outside cover then it's a shoot through him raw so this is a diffused fabric so aiken instead of them bouncing light into it to light my subject here then I would turn it around this way and shoot through it and aim it right at my subject totally different look and we're going to go through these this week this week and will illustrate this and go through all this and so we'll be able to actually see what we're sort of talking about make sure that makes sense okay but the umbrella interesting thing about umbrellas er if you were in a small studio you're in your home studio and you're tryingto really learn this craft and you're trying to really find your shadows and separate your subject from your background from your accents from your shadows and do all this control you're killing yourself if you use an umbrella because umbrellas send light everywhere with one umbrella could let all seven of you guys one two three or six twelve however many there are I can't see but but one umbrella will light a very very large very in a very large number of people you know you could do a high school football team with two umbrellas well you might want to use three maybe four but they just sends light everywhere you know but the drawback is you lose control you don't have that much control and I think that's that to be challenged is it just sounds like you and especially you know for me I always want my backgrounds to be controlled completely separately and not every case but in a lot of cases I want my backgrounds to almost be black while I'm shooting on my subject so then I can then like them exactly who I want to like him and I can't do that if I've got spill going on or what I call light contamination in the background so I'm brother is not my choice in the studio too often but there is one thing that it does brilliantly in the studio we're going to go after tomorrow you're gonna love it we're going to a fooling fashion shoot with one life and it's it's gonna be awesome this and this is what we're going to use but not this one we're gonna use one it's a little bit bigger than this ok it's a lot bigger this it's seven feet it's big and it's wonderful but these things are there just great tools and what's great about the umbrellas is they're very not number expensive and umbrellas almost any kind of us kit that you use the umbrellas come with it you know so they just hold up pretty easily and they're exactly what you think they are um gather started working for was a pretty funny guy when I was first starting out and he was talked about using a black reflector ah black umbrella and and and he did a really funny slideshow where he did this photograph of this girl and say one of my friends said I should use a black umbrella and course then he showed the next picture and it looked exactly the same there was no difference and he said I don't know what the problem is any backup and showed an overall set shot and he was holding umbrella over his head like this you know so but they're great tools they're really great tools but just be be advised they do send light everywhere so then so then we got a couple of other things that we have talked about here let's talk about the dreaded light meter then we're not going to spend a lot of time on using one yet but we're going to talk about about um a little bit interesting thing about light and meters there are there are two types of light meters not brands but two types they are either what's called a luminescence meter or an ill luminous meter and for those of you that are round two with me you know how I am about this the illuminates meter is also known as the incident meter and the the illuminates meters definition is it will it's designed to measure like that strikes were falls on your subject okay and basically that's the white dome the sphere it's designed to measure like that strikes or falls on your subject the reflective meter the luminous meter is designed to measure light that reflects off of or emits from your subject that's the meter in your camera that's a reflective meter or spot meter okay those air that that is the reflective or luminous meter that's in your camera and here's where they differ the meter that's in your camera its job is to do one thing and one thing only replicate eighteen percent grade it is designed to give you a relative value that's middle grade a middle tone if you are using the camera on automatic and or if you are using your camera and using the meter for your readings through your camera you are in great shape as long as your subject is of a middle tone if you are photographing someone dressed in black on a black background you're going to be sorely disappointed and if you are shooting automatic in your camera and your shooting a bride at a wedding and she is you know in a white gown she's you know standing in front of white curtain with a white tablecloth and she's cutting a white cake and you're shooting on automatic you're gonna be in deep kimchi you have an exposure that is going to be off by a stop and a half minimum maybe two stops too dark because it sees all that and tries to make everything that it sees middle grade which is two stops darker than light that's the way that works its two stops darker than white so for me the importance cannot be expressed deeply enough people I oh yeah I just use my spot meter okay so that's great as long you know what your body if I take a spot reading off of your face I'm gonna miss your exposure because you aren't the same diet was an eighteen percent great card you're not a middle value your denim jacket is your red shoes are greengrass the average green grass in the park that's eighteen percent my hand is one stop brighter than eighteen percent I know that so I can spot meter off my hand and open one stop and I'll get a dead on exposure as long as my subject is getting the same life that my hand is getting there are there are variations of of um consistencies of things that are just predictable things that we know their value you know like the sunday sixteen rule on exposure on a bright sunny day we know some of those explosion we talk about that later but we get that but what we have to understand is that in this world of capture and exposure and using meters and making sure that we don't miss we have to understand that that I'm going to go to this board over here and draw out a couple of things in the world of digital capture what changed what changed well several things changed when we went toe digital but the big g is that you know in the film days we had a thing called the agent de curve and that date to de curve was kind of like this okay and this was we call this shoulder of the film and this we call the tow of the film and so from that distance from there to there was kind of like that far and eighteen percent grade would fit right down in here somewhere in the middle of value and that would be white without detailed this would be a shadow black without detail but you can see that we had about that much distance okay so that was a I don't want to get too technical here but that would be the dynamic range of what we could capture with film then then bam introduced digital who digitals here hey are curved changed to fall off quicker and more narrow right so so the dynamic range changed and that's why for the first year of digital capture everybody freaked out because everybody was blowing out their highlights and blocking up the shadows because they didn't know what was going on we lost the same dynamic distance from white to black we lost the distance it became much more less it became much more less it became much less of a dynamic contrast range are our range changed dramatically okay so having said that now you have to couple that with what are you delivering to your client are you delivering slide shows or you delivering photographs are you delivering prints if you're delivering prints well that changes everything again because of reflective print has a different dynamic range than your eye can see which is a different dynamic range than your camera can capture right you have to know I was tell students to start with the end in mind what is your what is your use of this photograph and if it's a print then you've got to start with the print in mind and you've got to capture and expose this based on what you're going to do and here's the way I think about it let's let's put it this way so we've got on eighteen percent gray middle grade let's just give it a little bit of a shaving so that's middle grade and then if I open up one stop above that I'm over here and I get light grey and it opened up again I get white with detail and if I close down over here another stop I get dark gray this is middle grade I get dark grand if I close down another stop over here I'm basically get black with detail okay now I know this might be a little confusing but if you think about it on this on the scale and that agent the scale it's kind of like it kind of goes off like this eighteen percent gray fits right about there eighteen percent is the number and I know this is mostly for growing why do I have to know this I'm about to tell you why it's called eighteen percent great because it is a midpoint the middle point of the log rhythmic curve everything in photography works on the exponential we don't live in the world of a narrow thematic where the previous number you had one one two three four five six we don't live in that world we live in an exponential a log rhythmic one two four eight sixteen thirty two those numbers sound familiar right so that's where we live so I know that eighteen percent hits there if I opened up one stop I got right there thirty six percent gray this is eighteen percent gray sari from my writing open up another stop bam it puts me right there I had seventy two percent great if I closed down one stop half that distance that's nine percent gray if I close down that again I'm way down here at four and a half you get the idea so I've only got this within which that I have to work for the printed page if you're just capturing and looking and sharing online that's different but if you're gonna make prints that's where you better live because two stops above eighteen percent you're a white with you're almost out of detail two stops below you're almost out of detail and you have to know that if you're using the meter in your camera that's my point you can't miss this you have to know it if predictable results is anywhere in your vocabulary you know I need to know what's going to happen I can't shoot this picture and look at my camera go what happened not with a client stand next to me okay totally confusing isn't it totally weird isn't it where the girls where is the pretty pictures sorry sorry that will come later but we've got to get through this tough part this is this is this is a challenge of teaching it's like you know I gotta say boone features some of the technical stuff will get the nice pictures I promise what we got we got to know this stuff so that then when we do take the pictures we know what's going to happen tony someone in the chat room did say I wanted think tell me for the science behind this without the science were only memorizing what to do do you love your timeline demonstrations my first studio lighting book that came out in two thousand I had it was selling on one of the a word internet companies and it sold quite well off the bat and there was like sixty reviews that were so great I was so proud and was one of you that was this guy rip me to pieces he said he didn't do put one diagram in there to tell me where to put my lights right I didn't want teo my job is not to tell you where to put your life my job is to give you the science and the foundation behind the craft you guys figure out where to put the lights that's none of my business where you put your lights so I think the science and this all pieces together uh to really make a pretty important point which is you know it's great if you could take this artistic picture but it's so bad and so awful if you can't figure out a way to put it on a piece of paper and if you can't hold the detail no sunsets that you shoot across the sound are so spectacular and yet you and and then and new photographers want to shoot the engagement couple out there are at the beach and they don't want to use flash I don't know how to use flash and they don't understand why the subjects look so great and they've lost the brilliance of the sunset well because there are seven stops apart from someone's back to the sunset to what the exposures on their face seven stops the part you got to get him closer together somehow either by darken and that one down are lightning this one up but you've got to do something and get those ranges closer together I can't do that without a measuring tape that's what this is to me like I'm a contractor I'm I'm I am a cabinet maker and this is my measuring tape in it sits on my hip and I cannot goto work unless I can measure my work you know we've all done some construction work and we've all been told you measure twice cut once measure twice cut once well I lived by the by the world of measure twice to shoot once and I'll tell you when I finish shooting I could hand anybody my cf card and I don't have to think about those files they're going to be dead on these files these prints that are appear on this wall not one of those print that I have touched the raw file and just I didn't have to change anything on the raw files of these prints of these this girl in the wall and I'll show you those you want to see him you know people get a little bit freaked out by how much I use a tripod in the studio because it is kind of in the way sometimes and you know you khun trip and fall and all that kind of stuff but for me it's a I need my hands and I don't want to walk over to the side of the studio and set my camera down every time I need to go over and talk to my client so for me having a having a tripod makes the most sense so I can get away from it from time to time but there is something that you have to know about a tripod and most people are smart enough to figure this out but for the two of you that aren't you know who you are I'm gonna tell you how to set your tripod up and that is one leg goes under your lens one leg under your lens period if you do that then when you have your camera on your tripod and your tripod set up and if one leg is under your lens then you can safely walk up to your camera see there's no hole instead of oh right but one leg under your limbs it gives you a stability and it gives you a little entry you have an entry way right up to your camera yes yes it's true but but here's the thing I don't use the tripod because I'm worried about motion when I'm in the studio because again when I'm using a strobe in the studio my shutter speed isn't very critical I can see that the thirtieth a sixty one twenty fifth and I'm going to get pretty much the same picture because in that case when I turn on elektronik flash my exposure is based on the aperture based off of how much light is hitting my primary subject so I'm mostly taken meter readings with my meter going to say that reads f nine that reads f eleven uh eleven great my show just doesn't really matter unless there's an awful lot of ambient light in this studio which is not good you want to get rid of grand life as much as you can but for the most part let me just say a tripod is a really good thing to do I think I think it's great to use in the studio I use an enduring tripod they're lightweight that small this is my small one I've got to that air bigger but this is my small because it comes it's three sections so it compacts down to here and I can unscrew the head and it goes in my suitcase at the check it goes another bag stays kind of close with me so it's a pretty too pretty until anna like a ball head for the obvious reasons this is a this is a pretty costly head this is a really write stuff head this is a b h fifty five it's called lifetime warranty best investments it's well let me just say stupid expensive but it's the best investment ever made for myself it really is that good uh lifetime wanting all that stuff but their precision and by not having the pan until handles I don't hit anything all the control is right there on one big knob so it's really grand tony you're comfortable with those bull heads with like a two hundred millimeter lens as long as you mount the the linens on there not the body of the camera I don't want that weight of that lens hanging out there I wanted the central point to be in on the lens for big lens okay let's grab some questions fantastic so first one ah now I know that we're going to talk more about light meters as we're going to be using them throughout the next a day or three days but really quick for driver forty nine what type of light meter do you use well I use a psychotic meter and for the last eight years I've used the sick connick uh l seven fifty eight d r and that's this this big guy right here this guy has been I don't even know how many exposures this guy's taken but he's been with me for eight years and he's been dropped he's been kicked he actually got a little salt water on him once and he still works somehow um but but he's reaching the end of his life span and I know he's going to break down at some point just say I'm sorry I'm tired I can't do this anymore and so when that day happens I have the new four seventy eight d r which is the new touch screen and it and it's just like your iphone or one of your text screen smartphones that everything is a touch screen on this guy uh same features same accuracy and even a few extra features that are in this one in a smaller package that I will never use so but but they're both really there so durable what I always liked about this guy and they both will work with flash and ambience both this guy also had a reflective spot meter built in so I could remove the cap here take this off of incident flip it around this way now I've got a one degree spot meter and I can suit through and check my reflective readings so that was a great feature I've lost that feature with this but there is an attachment that will plug on this it's just an added you know it's just an accessory that you bite and this unscrewed and the new one about amounts on there so they both do the same thing what they're designed to do is give you proper exposure if they're used properly which we're going to learn during this going really well and for you guys out there on the internet and tony as well sir comic is giving a fifty dollars instant repaid on the new l for seven eight d r so if you're interested in that I'd say now's the time to head on over so twenty we're going to do just one more question before we head out for bravely on dh it's this's from stephan daniel swartz and I'm going to ask actually two questions they read they read that camera meters are calibrated to twelve percent grey and not closer to eight eighteen can you comment on that and new dubai wanted to know why is the standard eighteen percent and not twenty five or twenty two because eighteen percent is the midpoint on log rhythmic curve between zero one hundred ok so that's why it's eighteen percent I don't know about the twelve percent I can't speak to that because I've not heard that before god I would have to do some serious research on that okay so I won't say that's incorrect I'll say you didn't know that I better check my tech stuff again but to my knowledge it's all based on the eighteen percent really in the middle

Class Materials

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Ratings and Reviews

Vincent Duke

I am pretty new to Creative Live and this is my first purchase so for me I am loving this! So many good gems of information and having some of the repeated content from different speakers with different perspectives really helps drill in these concepts. I say for anyone who's looking for an great all around drill it into your head lighting bootcamp this is a winner. But if you're like the others here and have purchased videos from these authors before then you will probably want to look elsewhere as this is a bundle of highlights from previous sessions on lighting.


If you’re just starting out with photographic lighting (especially studio lighting), this set is a steal. I already had the set by Sue Bryce and Felix Kunze, and I’ve bought all of Joel Grimes’ tutorials. Since I’ve watched them recently, I didn’t watch their videos again. If you’re into commercial photography OR darker moods and low-key lighting, anything by Joel Grimes is well worth buying and watching. If you’re into glamour portraiture, everything by Sue Bryce is worth buying and watching (although I haven’t been able to acquire all of her tutorials yet). However, the videos by Sue and Felix are not where I would begin. The two videos by Joel Grimes in this set cover aspects of lighting that aren’t often discussed. However, most of his knowledge of lighting (from his other sets) isn’t covered in this set. If you’re thinking about going into commercial photography, Zack Arias’ discussion of how to gear up to open a commercial studio is a must-see (as are Joel Grimes’ two sets on commercial photography, neither of which is represented in this bundle). I agree with virtually everything Zack said. Although there are a couple of areas where I might have gone a bit deeper than he did in this video, it’s a much-needed reality check – with great advice before you start spending money on equipment to start a photography business – and he gives a LOT of great advice. While his lighting style and mine are very different, his thoughts on equipment for a startup photography studio (or just beginning to learn studio lighting) are right on target. (Zack’s and Joel’s videos on the business of commercial photography cover different areas, and there is very little overlap between them.) One of the reasons why I bought this set was the lighting wisdom of Tony Corbell. Tony is the closest thing to the late Dean Collins at this time (I have all of Dean’s videos on VHS tapes AND DVDs), and Tony holds nothing back. Great stuff! Joey L covers material that I’ve seen covered in many other tutorials (on CreativeLive and elsewhere), BUT he gives a MUCH clearer explanation of why he does certain things than I’ve seen elsewhere. For example, he gives more information about feathering light than I’ve ever seen in a video, and few people besides Joey and Joel Grimes (but not in Joel’s videos in this set) give as good an explanation of WHY they’re changing the position of a light by two inches. Clay Blackmore was a protégé of the late Monte Zucker, and he’s as close as we can get to learning from Monte (aka the master) these days. I have Monte’s VHS tapes, but they’re worn out, and there’s nothing to play them on. While they apparently were also issued as DVDs, the sites I’ve found that are supposed to have them all lead to 404 (page not found) errors. Clay covers both posing and lighting – and how to fit the lighting to the pose – in great detail. I haven’t watched any of the videos on speedlights. I still have about a dozen Vivitar 283’s, 285 HV’s and 4600’s that I used in combination during my photojournalism years (back in the film days), but you’re much more likely to see me lugging 1,000-watt second strobes outdoors to overpower the sun than using speedlights in studio (or on location) these days. I’ve seen some of Roberto Valenzuela’s work and tutorials, and I’d say he is the Joe McNally or David Hobby of wedding photography at this point in time. He knows his stuff. One or two of the videos are slightly dated in terms of the equipment being used, but that doesn’t make the information about lighting less valuable. Equipment may change, but the principles of lighting, the things that determine the quality of light, and the elements of “good lighting” have changed very little if at all since the days of the Dutch Old Masters painters. There’s a lot of great lighting information in this bundle for the price.

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