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Shoot: Quality of Light

Lesson 8 from: Skin 101: Lighting, Retouching and Understanding Skin

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

8. Shoot: Quality of Light

Next Lesson: Direction of Light

Lesson Info

Shoot: Quality of Light

is you khun definitely ruined skin if you have a bad quality of light and you can definitely ruin skin if you have a bad direction of flight so these would be the essentials to understand and if you kind of got a grasp on them then you should be able to problem solve pretty easily when it comes to getting as best as you can in camera so quality of light lighting principles when I am lighting a scene there are three things I'm thinking about the very first thing is the quality of light the next this direction and the final is intensity so what this means first thing is quality do I want soft light or hard light like do I want it to be soft and glowing or don't want to be crisp you know strong harsh shadows so it's kind of quality what is that like that light like direction is the light going to b flat kind of even with the camera flat onto the subject not a lot of shape not a lot of shadows or very directional really really carving out the cheekbones ah lot of shape lot of three dimensi...

onality and the last one is intensity of light so basically how much light where the ratios between them if you watch I know there have been several lighting classes here on creative live I also did a one day for lighting week last year and this is something that everyone talking about like kind of dives into thes essential so if you want to understand that a little deeper I would definitely check those out but we are going to address the first to for sure it's going to start with the quality of light so already said is it softly is hard like as I dive into these two topics here's which you're not going to like there's not a right light for everybody it depends on what you're going for and it depends on what the person looks like but I can give you an idea of what lighting does to skin that's what I kind of hoped to equip you with so soft or hard light so like I said none of these images air retouched we're going to talk about this girl tomorrow she I was casting for shooting for this class and she was one who signed up for having realization she had very red red coloration in her cheekbones anyway so soft like very diffused shadows it's very flat very even less saturated very hard light gives me chris look at the shadow and chris shadows brighter highlights darker shadows so what does this mean for skin right contrast is an important concept to understand and I have put together something that I'd wanted to teach and show forever so I'm really excited you're going to be like what I just okay it's a point that I always say like I always teach it and they never have a photo to show it so I finally did it uh okay so okay we get so when you choose a harsher light source thank you when you show choose ah harsher light source high life will get brighter shadows will get darker when you choose a softer light source it's the opposite highlights will be pulled in not his right and shadows won't be as dark or it's crisp so a more contrast the light modifier will do this to the skin it is very similar to what would happen in photo shop if you drag the contrast slider so if you're in photo shop and you have a photo and you open it up and you drive the contrast lighter highlights get brighter and shadows get darker so I did a little test to take a look at this so when these two photos this is the exact same photo all I did is pumped up the contrast in photo shop just drag the contrast a little bit so what you see is brighter highlights and darker shadows okay well in the next photo what I did is I switched my light source I switched my light source from here on out I say we go back from here I have a soft box and in this image I picked a silver dish reflector so I fundamentally increase contrast by switching my modifiers the highlights got brighter in the shadows got darker if you look at the two photos on the right it didn't almost the same thing to the skin increasing the contrast in photo shop brought out those highlights and darhk in the shadows but also switching toe a really crisp contrast the modifier did the same thing so that's kind of what I want you to think of when you're choosing a light source is what is it doing to those highlights and shadows what is it doing for the texture uh so this is increasing the contrast by the light modifier so you kind of see how this highlight gets a little bit brighter and again shadows get darker and also gets more con contrast c and saturated so in photo shop when you drive the contrast lighter hi scriptwriter shadows get darker and if you noticed that that saturation increases to same exact thing happens when you choose a more contrast the modifier like a silver dish or tell a zoom reflector so all these concepts kind of place if you can't remember what's going on with the modifiers think of what happens when you drag contrast left and right and photoshopped like generally a really soft light source looks flatter it is less contrast you know like something lit with really light bounced from every direction it doesn't have that pop doesn't have that christmas but it would be the same thing is decreasing contrast in photo shop and get a little flatter all right so let's talk about modifiers that are considered hard versus soft and there's everything in between and you can modify all these two cross over this is my generic okay so hard modifiers equal more contrast so in that photo the dragon the contrast lighter brighter brighter highlights darker shadows so a zoom reflector is a contrast the modifier a tele zoom reflector a good deep reflector dish it's called a magnum like any of these those little grids that fit on the front of some of the heads these are all small and silver is you're all silver and their contrast e so they'll increase the contrast on the skin on the far opposite side you have soft boxes either octo boxes or soft boxes and the bigger the light source and the closer it is to your subject the softer it becomes so we're looking at that we've got really really hard and contrast is very very soft with less contrast and then you kind of have in the middle the medium which would be a white beauty dish or they also have these things called parabolic umbrellas this one we're going to shoot with tomorrow westcott just came out with its called the zeppelin and it's really beautiful and I get like little obsessions of our gear and this this is my current one um so you have an idea of kind of modifiers we're looking for the reason you don't see umbrellas on here is it depends on if they're silver white are they shoot through dude you bounce into it and then put diffusion like there's a lot of ways to modify an umbrella to have different qualities of light personally I don't usually use umbrellas there's nothing wrong with them I tend to work mostly with a bt dish the reason I like this in between is hard modifiers are really really harsh on the skin so think about it like this if somebody has a lot of wrinkles and you increase the contrast the shadows beneath those wrinkles will become darker so they will look more defined they're going to look like bigger wrinkles so I don't want to do this for wrinkles or the same thing if somebody has a redskin okay like the black penis the rose asia because remember how I showed you in that dragging the contrast lighter what happens when you increase contrast it increases saturation so if someone has redskin and you increase the saturation by increasing contrast now the skin is red or even more red so I want to kind of stay away from that so when anyone has a skin problem it generally seems like you go over here to the softer light sources that generally is more forgiving if someone has bad texture skin soft boxes help when somebody has really read or blotchy skin softer light sources help wrinkles any of that softer light sources help but what you want to keep in mind is when you go soft sometimes you can't get the mood of the lighting you were going for or you're not getting the shape of the face you're looking for or you don't have that pop so everything that we're doing is going to be a balancing act at what point is that modifier too soft to give you the look you're going for but at what point is it too harsh it destroys the skin so it's kind of on the slider of what you want the skin to look like this is why most often portrait photographers shoot almost always with soft boxes because it is the most forgiving for problem skin for sure so if you know that you were photographing maybe a lot of high school seniors with a lot of bad skin the band skin comes in your studio maybe you go ahead and you make sure you have that soft back soft box up but this thing with me for high school seniors is I did a lot of fashion feeling sessions with them and wanted them to look and feel cool and a saltbox was a little bit too traditional for what I was going for I wanted to have more contrast and have more pop but their skin could not handle one of these harsh modifiers so I would go with the pt dish or a parabolic umbrella and know that it's a little harsh on the skin than this it gives me more of that pop but I'll probably have to do a little bit more retouching this is also affect the the harshness yes so the size of the modifier all has to do with the size in relation to the subject so a small soft box brought me really close to the subject is going to be softer then soft that same softworks far away and so a really big soft box really far away is going to not be a soft as if you could bring it close so it's basically the size of the light source in relationship to the subject and think of it like this is well white is softer than silver white is less contrast e than silver diffused is softer than not defused bounced is softer than not balanced so there's all these things that you gotta kind of think of it honestly everybody figures out what modifiers they like best I could just tell you I use silver dishes mostly if I'm photographing athletes because I need those crisp shadows to make their muscles look huge so I might do that and just know I'm gonna have to retouch a little bit more but beauty dishes are a lot of times I'm going to that fashion field I don't want it to be too soft and too traditional and have that portrait look so I'll go with a beauty dish because it's a little bit more crisp it carves out the cheekbones it carves out the jaw lines and so I'll go with that but if I'm doing a traditional portrait maybe for a fiftieth anniversary portrait for a couple and have a little bit more wrinkles I might go with the softer light source to be a little bit more forgiving yes norman do you kind of mix your modifiers every now and then like maybe use ah beauties for the face but then maybe shoot harsher life for but if you were doing an athlete so I mean especially female athlete you don't wantto know one of jarl and to be a cz children as you would a male but that is a great question so I called this I personally don't knowthis what's really called but I called glaring light so I'm wearing the lights I have multiple strobes in my frame each one doing something different and I do this very often gets a little bit more complicated but for example let's say I'm photographing a fashion model and she has this is beautiful dress that I want kind of soft raking light across but I wanted to have a little bit more christmas in her jaw so I might use a beauty dish on her face and a soft box below light the body or in the example you're saying you could definitely do that you could go ahead and use a softer light source on the face and then more crisp from above on the body or too strong back lights or something like that it comes down to having that nice balance between what do you going to do in photo shop and what are you going to achieve in camera because you can't really you can't fake that takes a lot of effort you can't really fake that quality of light meaning how darker those shadows how christmas how is it sculpting their body but you can improve skin texture so it's how far do I want to have to go in photoshopped how much can I achieve the look I'm going for and what expensive retouching skin so I definitely do a lot of retouching especially if I want it to be sharp and chiseled in contrast it's going to destroy the crap out of the skin but I know I'm gonna have to retouch because that's the only way I can get that look do you mind if I ask a couple yet modifier questions from online tennessee ricks wants to know adding a grid to a beauty dish does that increase the contest contrast or is that just restricting fred it increases the contract ok well alright moves it more this way there's also a silver beauty dish which I consider more in the realm of a harsh modifier on so if you ever look into purchasing a beauty dish the reason I like it it's doubly reflected it bounces into this center dish and then back into the large dish itself into the subject and so it's nice and forgiving the silver one gives you much more crisp edges which is why it's nice for athletes but it's not going to be his gentle on the skin what is not as harsh is one of these so it's like you kind of can choose what works through how you're eating well you basically just asked you answered painted foot's question which was explained the difference between silver and white modifiers in terms of contrast yeah I just always think silver is more contrast on dwight is always soft there same thing with umbrellas white umbrella softer than a silver umbrella and then on location lighting somebody same exact thing from lighting a subject on location with the reflector a silver reflector like talking about actual reflector here silver reflector is going to be more contrast and their skin it's going to be harsher where the white is going to be softer so then it comes back to the same thing okay well what about on location why would I choose a more contrast the reflector why wouldn't I always go with wait if it's more forgiving well okay again I can carve out features but also it's for distance sometimes you use white and it's not illuminating your subject silver's gonna catch more light throw it towards your subject is going to be brighter so you have all these kind of things that you're balancing and taking a look at uh so here's what I want you to pay attention to for contrast and texture more contrast silver dish direct flash or any adapters to your flash that our silver silver beauty dish silver umbrella a long throw a tell assume and gritted lights these air all more in the harsher rome harsher light modifiers increase saturation and increase texture make pilots brighter shadows darker you notice texture more same thing with blemishes right if you have brighter highlights and darker shadow's going to see the blemishes more okay than over here less contrast soft box octa box white beauty dish white umbrella shoot through umbrella and screams also for your speed lights any modifiers that you can balance into that are white or large and diffused or soft box adapters so all of this applies whether you're using studio strobes or for the concept of taking speed lights outside he's all stay the same okay so I said this already yeah that large the light source is in relationship to the subject of the softer it is as well so if you don't have a few of us won save a small studio right any small soft box you really can't fit a big one and you're looking at the subject and the light is still too harsh on them you can bring that light closer and that starts to make it softer quality of light another thing to consider as well has ever seen in the soft boxes how they have the inner baffle like kevin inner diffusion so on this over here one of the things I said was that the fuse lights is softer than direct so when you're shooting with a soft box thank you john when you're shooting with soft box if you wanted chris blight and all you had was a soft box that's all you had you could totally take off the diffusion it's going to be pretty direct and pretty chris but you've got that silver let's say that you have the soft box and the skin is still too oily or to chris you add this thing called inter diffusion so in the inside there that diffuses the light again which makes it even softer so more diffusion is softer lest the fusion is more harsh bigger is softer as well okay so I'm just taking a look there's there's not this is with a darker skin tone I also did the same test with a lighter skin tone I tried tons of different light modifiers just really generically I really like so it doesn't even make sense but I looked at all the different modifiers on someone's skin tone every single thing I had in my studio I tested I tested it on a light subject and on a darker subject and I tried to pay attention to what did I like best on the skin and it totally depends on the subject but from me I really like dr boxes um beauty dishes and parabolic umbrellas those were my favorite usually the most flattering on the skin it's really subjective depending on what you're going for so they just look at a couple different modifiers this silver dish a beauty dish white a small soft box in a medium octa box so you can kind of see what it's doing to the skin but we have to even look closer to see what's really happening and so I invited a gentleman he's an actor into my studio to photograph him andi has got a lot more texture on his face you can see a little bit more what changing the modifiers going to dio so the first image we've got a silver dish the second a beauty dish and the last one a soft box so if I really zoom in and this is okay I'm just warning you because you've been really close it's like what is this okay forehead uh if you look when you're using either a silver dish or a beauty dish you have a little bit more definition in the wrinkles and it softens up there's not as much dark difference between darkness and highlights when you have a soft box and also the edges three shadow areas I don't have much grady in't there crisper so um or contrast the modifier is going to show wrinkles more it's going to show blemishes more and it's going to have more chris shadow areas as you get softer it goes the opposite direction the next part of this is using reflectors and talk about in the studio first of all so when you're feeling in underneath underneath someone's face right you're trying to fill in some shadows there is a difference between using a silver reflector and a white reflector a silver reflector fills in light more so if you really want to fill in say you're trying to really fill in some light underneath wrinkles really give a pop to the eye and make them glow silver does that moore has more glow weight is more subtle white usually is more flattering to the skin because it has less contrast let's say you've got a gentleman with five o'clock shadow and you want to fill in a little bit in the eyes when you add a silver reflector you see that five o'clock shadow a lot more because they added more contrast to fill in around his chin versus white just softly fills in the shadows so it depends on the look you're going for lindsay can we talk about gold troll wanted to no talking about silver versus golder where gold fits into this I never used gold because what gold is basically doing for me is it's adding it's giving me mixed light source because I've got daylight balance above and like just really warm from below the on ly kind of exception thank you but I looked really yellow good okay thie only kind of exception to this isthe sometimes I'll use a silver gold mix on darker skin tones to fill in the shadows but not like a ton like this would just be like a little kick of light because sometimes in darker skin tones the shadows look blue and cooler and I'm trying to balance things out andi also if you're doing sexy swimsuit on the beach at sunset which is a valid ways to photograph skin so maybe you want this over gold mix yeah so no gold ever though for me I don't like it um okay so silver reflects more light throws light farther has more contrast it shows texture more crisper edges defined catch lights so there's good and bad features to it the white it reflects less light it doesn't throw it as far it's softer not as crisp and has more subtle catch lights so with her the biggest thing that I was noticing since she has pretty nice skin what you notice here is this is the white phil and this is the silver you can see more of the pop in the eyes but can you see here on her chin there's a lot more detail on her chin visible and a lot more detail here in the skin right around right around her neck using a silver because silver has more contrast more contrast gives me brighter highlights darker shadows and so it's going to pop and show that texture in beauty photography ah lot I'm using silver because I want those catch lights in the eyes and I want that glow and if it's damaging to the skin that I know I have to do a little more retouching portrait I tend more towards the white phil is like really generic it depends on the portrait but I wouldn't use it to white here's on location this is no reflector this is white and this is silver can look at the detail on her cheek in the silver the highlights are much brighter and you can see the texture in her skin I can see blemishes significantly more using the silver reflector than the white the white is definitely more forgiving in this photograph but let's say that my subject is ten feet away its closest I can get and not be in the frame waits not going to reach I'm gonna have to use silver to get that light to throw farther so again it's a tradeoff what can I do the biggest thing you can do is try to feather the light not like blast them with the high contrast silver reflector and said use the jj there's kicking a little bit more light in okay no gold karat I'll show you the way no gold no phil silver and gold so is literally a mixed light source underneath his chin he's got a lot of yellow under his chin and under his nose the silver is going to be much much more neutral so I never use that the silver gold so I still don't think works really with lighter skin tones because it still doesn't make sense why air the shadow areas and underneath the chin looking warmer but if you're going for that bronze son look you could use a silver gold as a main light source on location but I wouldn't do it for portrait it's not doesn't quite work as much too much mixed light

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Makeup Contour Reference
Retouching Checklist
Frequency Separation
Retouching Files
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Gear Guide
Skin Retouching Action File

Ratings and Reviews

Aliah Husain

Lindsay is an INCREDIBLE photographer and teacher, and also seems like a wonderful person! This class is great for beginners and more advanced photographers, as well. She goes into tons of detail on all the technical stuff like lighting and editing, and it is fascinating to see her interact with and shoot her models, work with her equipment, and photoshop like a pro. Huge amounts of information for what you pay for. If you are looking to improve your skills in photographing and retouching people, purchase this class!!

Kirsi Todd

Lindsay is probably my favourite instructor (and that is saying a lot, as there are many incredible instructors). She is so clear in her teaching and she also seems like such a nice and humble person despite her incredible success. This course is one of the best courses I have ever seen. Thank you Lindsay and Creative Live!

Andrew Lederman

Great course. Lindsay Adler is one of the best instructors for any creative live classes that I have seen. Simple and easy to understand, clear workflow, very friendly and non condescending like some other instructors. Could you put a link (maybe I just didn't see it) to where to download the actions used in this tutorial?

Student Work