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Skin 101: Lighting, Retouching and Understanding Skin

Lesson 22 of 37

Skin Challenges: Dark Skin Outside


Skin 101: Lighting, Retouching and Understanding Skin

Lesson 22 of 37

Skin Challenges: Dark Skin Outside


Lesson Info

Skin Challenges: Dark Skin Outside

dark skin outside we just photograph that and I couldn't quite tell from the back of my camera but I think they look pretty good I think that we achieved what we were trying to do especially photographing the couple together I remember it was my first portrait studio trying to photograph really dark skin in the middle of the day and it was a disaster to start off with and it was trial and error and so I kind of figured out along the way so I'm actually really proud and happy to be able to try to help people so you don't have to go through the misery that I didn't mess it up that much okay sin over eight dark skin outside all right so here are your challenges if you're photographing very dark skin tones outside the really contrast the light that you have blows out the highlights and then also the shadows get too dark and so uh upstairs we had a little bit of nice fill to fill in the shadows but usually you don't have that the next problem you have is a really contrast he scene so it's h...

ard to balance because you've got the subject who's darker so if you expose for them now the background is really really over exposed you're trying to like balance everything together so how do you balance really contrast the light on the face and then also really contrast the light for the entire scene all right so here's some of our solutions first solution for the contrast you like first thing I would do it if I can find shade I will find shade try to get them out of direct sunlight because then it gives me kind of a neutral point it's not too bright not to contrast it and then I can pick whatever modifiers off camera flash reflectors and build the light in so I'm controlling it instead of trying to fight with this time but of course we don't always have that I defuse the light if necessary I did take one shot where we put the diffuser overhead obviously a downside is if it's really windy it's a little bit harder to hold that but I love diffuse light diffused light just it looks like you took a ticks off box out on location it's just beautiful and glowing a little unwieldy and it's a little more challenging if you're trying to get full length shot so tryingto light a group but for a headshot is beautiful life so I definitely would kind of go that direction for dark skin on location avoiding the direct sunlight on dh then if you are going teo introduce light try to use something that's bigger or broader and attempt not to have a contrast the light source if you're gonna use the speed light we've gotta have something on it soft box flash bender like something to soften the light to make it a little bit broader than that flash head the next solution you have is for the exposure on the subjects I want to darken down the highlights in some way and so we were talking about this and using this over and over again and I said compressing the exposure in the scene so what that means is your camera can't capture the deepest shadows on dark dark skin and the brightest highlights in the middle of the day so what you've got to do is you've got to help your camera out you've got to find a way to bring those highlights down and then fill in light in the shadows so you're making it so if there's a twenty stop range you're trying to bring it like maybe seven or six something your camera can actually record so you darken down the highlights and there's one way to do that you could go in the shade or you could diffuse and that's what we did a little bit or you can under expos and that's to get this those highlights those bright lights under control and then on the flip side you've got to give more detailed bring up more light in the shadows and you khun do that using a reflector or introducing an off camera flash or a strobe on location so those air that's something that I'm always looking at how can I take that huge range and squish it and so the camera can actually show a nice image otherwise it's not going to get the detail on both ends of the exposure range and so that's you know to spell it out one more time really it's compressing exposure something else that I would do and mentioned this up up on the roof it wasn't exactly easy to see but I watch out for my backgrounds because if I have a very dark skin subject and really bright things in the background that difference is going to really be compounded and it's usually doesn't make for pleasing image and then at the point where I'm exposing for the skin the background was ridiculously over exposed so I watch for darker background it's easier to control its easier to compress that scene because I've gotten rid of one of the bright elements I got rid of the bright background so I've just gotta worry about the other speculate highlights on the subject you could also under expose and then add light so those air the different approaches I was taking so let's just take a look at a bunch of different things I did start with overcast because I know that we didn't have overcast today so I thought I would address it so she doesn't look too bad and overcast light is very very dark skin tones but I was trying to look for either a medium background like behind her maybe not something really really light or really really dark something kind of in the middle makes it easier to handle exposure the biggest problem that I see is that she does have some shadows in her eyes but the skin tones look okay maybe a little bit dark on her jaw maybe I'll add a little bit of phil there but I don't quite like the direction alight with those the shadows so I could go ahead and at a flash the problem is if you're using flash on camera with dark skin tones that's what it looks like that light kicks onto their face and you just get all these speculate highlights yes you do have kind of a flash on camera look when you're photographing pale skin tones but it worked looks even worse with darker skin tones because all those speculum highlights pop so flashing cameras not going to work like pretty much ever with dark skin tones so at least what I want to dio is try to introduce some kind of directional light to fill in those shadows can even out the exposure so that's that's one way to photograph dark skin on location on overcast day I have tried to use reflectors on an overcast day sometimes it's not quite enough to fill in and sometimes that silver gold mix is good on an overcast day just to warm it up a little bit sometimes when I used silver to fill in the shadows on the eyes of the dark skin tone just looked really cool also an overcast days definitely your color checker because otherwise it's overcast and it's ringing the skin tone everything just looks really blew it doesn't look like they're true skin tone all right so let's talk about what we're looking at today so here we are photographing right outside of my studio in new york and were shooting and direct sunlight and those highlights are overexposed or shadows or underexposed and I still have a little bit of that sidewalk phil I was talking about which kind of fills in a little bit of the shadows so helps me out but it's still awful light on her face and just to contrast ing so one thing that is easier is just to put her in the shade and the shade that you want to look for the better shade if you want to say it that way it's called covered shade so we have covered shade here with this overhang and what that means is the subjects in the shade and there's something above their head and the reason this is so nice is because now the light source on them is from straight ahead if anything's really reflecting down below but not above and the reason that's beneficial is this previous photo before this is what open shave usually looks like on someone's face in other words there in the shade but like in the shade of a building there's nothing over there head so what happens is there still a direction of light there's still light from above which means they'll still get highlights above their head highlights on the cheekbones and then shadows in their eyes but as soon as you put them under an overhang like a porch or inside of a doorway now there's blocked off overhead now the light glowing from straight ahead dad so I tend to prefer that if I'm looking for shade and in this instance hear the reasons really nice is see those massive catch lights in her eyes it's all that is is the reflections of the sidewalk so this is me being a little bit lucky because at least I've got some fill from the sidewalk if I didn't have it there it would be kind of a dull picture but I could then use a reflector toe add light into the scene to give some direction of light on her face um here's a direct sunlight again and this is when we hold the diffuser overhead so it diffuses the light and it cuts down on the really bright highlights and was really dark shadows and it kind of just makes everything in the middle when you go ahead and use the diffuser what happens is your darkening down your subject they're not as bright anymore so what you want to look for is you want to look for a darker or mid tone background because when you darken them down and it's already a dark subject you've got to start opening up your exposure and if there's something bright in the background it goes like extremely overexposed and becomes incredibly distracting so if you are going to use diffusion take a look for that something else to be aware of when you diffuse for a subject is when that diffuser goes overhead sometimes they get really bad shadows in the eyes because if it's high noon not changing the direction of light you're just making it a softer so light might really harsh on their face sure you diffuse it but it's still from straight ahead so straight of overhead so they might have shadows in their eyes here I have filled from the sidewalk but you might consider adding a reflector really a little bit of filled give catch likes their eyes if they don't have it all right so compressing exposure as I talked about over and over again pulling the highlights build up the shadows and it will make your history ram look like it's not you know peak on either side it kind of pulls it in a little bit so why you would add light said compressing exposure improved the light on the face definitely can overpower what the natural light was giving you if it wasn't ideal especially for dark skin tones and then just change the shape of the light on the face so here's a couple examples I am shooting in the middle of the day it's heavily backlit and this is like outrageously over exposed and if I go ahead and I exposed the backgrounds not bright she's going to be completely dark so I'm trying to figure out how can I bring down those highlights fill up those shadows so one thing I can do is if I'm all by myself and all I just have one assistant or something is just to reflect a little light back in the face so I'm giving a little bit of direction of light and lighting her up so there's a little bit more balance between foreground and background not gonna be perfect but it's definitely more improved in the kind of this dull underexposed look notice I have my assistant general who's assisting me and I have her holding the reflector about even with the subject's head or maybe a little bit above because if you hold the reflector down below you to get bottom light and that's not what we're looking for so you have your subject holding even to the subject's head your assistant hold even to the subject's head or above if you don't have an assistant I use ah westcott reflector grip and sana stand so you can bring that around as well so that's that kind of helps um so something like this that you want to look for is well is trying to compress everything so take a look here this is no phil no nothing ridiculously over exposed highlight on her head it's really distracting to me I don't think it's I don't think it's adding anything to the photo so you could go ahead and say all right got to compress my exposure the first thing I need to do is bring down those highlights so how can I bring down those highlights one way is I can do issues so I added diffuser overhead and I mean you can clearly see it brought it down a lot so now it's not an overexposed highlights or something I can manage for sure all right then I have that but the face is definitely too dark so I've got to build up the shadows and I can go ahead and introduce a reflector so this would be kind of the ideal look that you would want where I've actually brought the exposure into something that is manageable looks nice for a portrait by the way it was freezing when we're shooting this that's where everyone's all in like coats um but this is what it looks like if you have the reflector in the wrong place this is kind of holding the reflector lazy down here doesn't do us any favors at all okay this is what I mentioned before for the direction of light you could add a reflector underneath its lights diffused take a look here we're going to get to flash on location but this is with a light background this is a little bit darker background so my eye goes to her a little bit better when I have a darker background or neutral background behind her instead of bright highlights so it's just a way to control your eye in another way to make a decision about about compressing the scene okay so these are the modifiers that it taught was talking about upstairs but I wanted to show you what they look like I used the road flash bender if I need something quick and easy and light or for event photography I really like it produces a nice quality of light in the face your goal is you want to make the light source bigger and softer so flash bender's one way to do this also westcott has something called a rapid box and a rapid box is kind of like taking a beauty dish on location it's going to give you a little bit more focused light andi gives you a little bit more crisp shadows but you can also put a diffuse around the front so it's kind of like an october ox octa box beauty dish kind of in between both so I like that because it's how I work in the studio I work with a beauty dish a lot so that's just taking out on location and then if you want a broader light source and a softer light source then I would take a look at the westcott apollo so these are some of the things that I use if I need to compress the light on the scene I bring something like this dress my strobe on its own definitely won't be enough it's not going to be flattering light on the face um so I put the subject in the shade and this is with rapid box the octa and so that's uh shaping the face a little bit more yeah back in the back reflector is it okay to you yes okay so the question was inside the rapid box there's actually a silver dish saying that it makes it act more like a beauty dish because of beauty dish bounces into a little reflector and them back in I usually take it out it'll give you a little bit more hot spot in the center it won't be as even but I kind of like it like that if I asked actually talk to west people said what do you supposed to do and I said whatever you like okay cool perfect all right so let's go back to high speed think because I was kind of you know getting blown away so let me make sure I could break this down notice how she is pretty nicely balanced with the background exposure on her face looks nice exposure in the background looks nice it's no blown out highlights no dark shadows it's just kind of a good balance there well that is not with natural light that is with introducing strove to the scene so here's what you have to go this is my pro tip okay if you speed lights on location learn high speed think okay so this is what lets you do um uh sink speed when you're shooting your camera has a maximum sink speed you're just a maximum shutter speed that if you shoot faster than that what ends up happening is you see your little shutter you actually see the black bars and for most cameras that's one two hundredth of a second someplace around there and so the problem is if I want to shoot a narrow depth of field like two point eight but I have a shooting up my thing speed of one two hundredth of a second in the middle of the day and bright sun my backgrounds going crazy over exposed so then a dark and everything down I've gotto keep my sink speed so I have to keep closing down my aperture and all of a sudden how about five six steffy f eleven and now there's too much detail in the background it's not pleasing to my eye anymore so a flipping your camera high speed sinker to your your flash to high speed sync it allows you to exceed your cameras think speed which is really really nice because then I can use one won thousands of a second one to thousands of a second so I could over exposed the ambient and still use a strobe and so that's a great way to compress the exposure on the scene because I can under expose everything so that controls my highlights and then build up the shadows by using flash yes do all flashes have high speed thing okay so not all but almost all I know that all of the newer night cons all the newer cannons all that I was using a kotex flash up on the roof I actually prefer the photo flashes because they're easier I e was just some other ones that I found a little more confusing in the photos is really nice to just set what you need I would say like lower and flashes that are intended to be surely manual and just kick out light they may not but almost almost all modern flashes d'oh and now it just it just all you do on your camera or on your flashes you hit a button it changes its high speed sync but the reason it's not automatically on for some flashes because it does drain the battery because it will send out a lot of pulses how do you ever use like a variable indy filter when you're outside and having a shoot and just broad daylight awesome question okay so he was talking about variable nd filters and nd filters air they're neutral color and what they do is they darkened down the whole scene so I have one is called helio pan and it's a zero stop to six stop variable neutral density which means as I rotate even like in the middle of the day I can take it from full daylight to almost dark like almost night it lasts out all of the light at six stops it puts basically black filter in front of my camera which is really great because it darkens down the scene the reason I usually don't with speed lights is because it darkens down any light coming into the camera so what that means is I've gotta pump my power of that speed light way way up and when you're using high speed sync it already is putting out lower power so usually at that point it doesn't even record if I don't use high speed sync I'm still shooting at like almost full power most of the time s o it drains the battery quicker and I have more limitations so I'm I could see where it would be useful to someone to use it a little bit just to darken down the scene a bit but just know you're going to have to use a lot more power from your flash for sure to try to light that scene because you're blocking out all like whether it's from your flash or the ambience but yeah you could definitely try that so here's here's how you want to think about it I went ahead and I exposed correctly by spot metering on her face and this is what the exposure by spot mentoring this is the exposure I was told has that background is totally overexposed and extremely distracting okay but if I exposed for the background now she's definitely way too dark and I'm sure some of you run into this problem so what do you wantto incredibly blown out background or really dark subject so then you got to figure out what I do if I go ahead and I shoot out my sink speed here at one two hundredths of a second I'm at six point three it's not terrible but the background still a little bit distracting I'm shooting my seventy two hundred at two hundred I was doing that on the roof as well and the reason I like to do that sometimes on location especially in the middle of the day is when I'm shooting at my longest focal length at two hundred it gives me a narrower death the field so it's helping me blur out that background especially in the middle of the day when everything is going to be distracting so I'm doing the same thing here I'm looking at it and I'm like okay um maybe not fully at two hundred but I'm a little bit longer but six three is a little bit distracting but if I stay at my think speed and open up it would be over exposed so if I ignore that I've got to go toe one won thousands of a second in orderto have to pointing and have the correct exposure on the background but now I'm over my sink speed so my flash isn't going to work unless I turn on the little button that says high speed sync go above one to hundreds of a second and still work so now what I can do is I can introduce flash and so I have introduced maestro and so now the background lets me shoot at two point eight I can shoot above my thing speed and I can compress the scene by adding light on her face they wanted to take it even further if you want it to be bigger is set up in more production value I try to find a way to defuse that highlight so it's not as bright so just taking a look at that one more time this is if I expose for her face at two point eight and my think speed holy crap you know extremely blown out but if I go to my sink speed it's six three that background I can start to read that sign I don't want to read that sign in the background so if I go to two point eight the signs not distracting anymore but I'm above my sink speed at one six forty six forty for the second so I switched on my high speed think and now you can go ahead and add flash to the picture so I brought down the highlights brought up the shadows and then that highlight still distracts me so you can definitely add in and diffuser and so it cuts down that highlight and so this would be kind of where I would be aiming there still for me to write a little bit too bright of highlights on her face it's twofold in this in this particular shoot she had zero makeup on it all and she had a little bit of oily skin so what would be great is if you could take those blotting papers kind of just blocked down the skin so it's a little bit more met or we talked about yesterday is you have thebes powders potter someone's forehead or I could use a bigger and softer light source and that would be a great option so I might use the apollo in this case the apollo is that one that's a bigger soft box of different sizes I had was a twenty eight inch apollo out there so it's bigger it's broader and its softer and so now it would give me more even light on her face and not as speculum highlights the biggest downside is that of course is a little bit harder toe wield on location you've got to set it up and you gotta have a stand the flash mentors really nice and really simple and portable but you've got to get really close to get soft light

Class Description

Capturing beautiful skin tones is essential to the success of any portrait, yet skin is notoriously difficult to photograph and retouch. Skin comes in all colors, tones, and textures — each requiring different treatment.

Learn how to handle your subject's skin and add polish to all of your portraits. In this course, Lindsay Adler will take you through the essentials of understanding, lighting, photographing and retouching skin in all its variations.

Lay a strong foundation for a great shoot by learning easy make-up tips. Get an in-depth look at how light modifiers, reflectors, and direction of light impact the appearance of skin for both natural light and studio lighting. Learn advanced color calibration and color correction. Master setting up your camera to capture accurate color and when to modifying in post-production to get ideal skin representation.

Lindsay will teach you how to work with a variety of skin textures and tones – whether the skin is very pale, extremely dark, very oily, has extreme blemishes and much more. You’ll learn everything from how to photograph each type of skin to how to retouch these varieties in skin.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 14.2


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?