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On Location Shoot: 3 Light Edge Portrait with Strobes

Lesson 21 from: Strobe Lighting on Location

Joel Grimes

On Location Shoot: 3 Light Edge Portrait with Strobes

Lesson 21 from: Strobe Lighting on Location

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

21. On Location Shoot: 3 Light Edge Portrait with Strobes


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Develop your Artistic Vision


Learn Strobe Basics


Which Strobe Is Best For You?


Strobe Questions Answered


Balance Strobes with Ambient Light


The Sunny 16 Rule


Choose the Right Modifier for Strobes


Lesson Info

On Location Shoot: 3 Light Edge Portrait with Strobes

Because I've done the three edge light portraits like thousands of times, I have a pretty good idea of where I'm going to put my lights, but my edge lights have to show up on the face, all right? So if the edge lights are too far back, all they do is light the ears. Unless you want to show off the ears. If you go too far forward then they come around and the zone three, here, gets over lit. So there's a spot where the edge light should kinda come right about there. You'll see me move it on the next one. I'll move it around a little bit. But that goes back to the fact that I've done so many of these portraits that I know pretty quickly where I want those lights. Now when you're in a ring, a boxing ring, there's limitations on what you're gonna do, right? The ropes are there. So it makes it a little bit harder than when you do it in the studio. But I'm watching where my edge lights gonna hit, where the middle zone, So when I look at people's photographs. They send me photographs and say,...

here's my first three light edge portraits, what do you think? And usually it's zone three that's over lit. That's usually the problem. So I try to make sure that they got a lotta drama. So let's open this up. And then we're gonna hit, view, full screen. Here we go again, hit play. Let's go for it. Okay, Rob, let's have you move dead center right over this light here, this modifier. Dead center. Okay now, put some weight on there like you're really exhausted, yeah. We're gonna get some glycerine on you in a minute here. All right. Okay, and so let's, Cliff, let's move the light just toward my direction. Okay and raise it about a full foot. And it will match that one exactly. And it seems like that's angling up a little bit, so let's just kinda bring it down a little bit, the angle of the light. Just a tad. So we want both those lights exactly the same angle, the same output, the same everything. Okay, that's about right. Now raise it up. Ah, come down, come down, come down. Come down, come down, right about there. And just walk it toward me, just a little bit. All right, and then, John, we're going to adjust this one as I need in a second. All right, so what we want to do is, we're going to try to keep the background to a minimum. All right, so, to do that, that's my, shutter speed's gonna control the background ambient. And so let's get framed up here. Now there's a chain hanging in the background. Right down the middle of his head, of course, right? That's always the case, but what we can see is, hopefully that will not be an issue. And we can always take it out in post if we have to. Okay, or I can have John climb up there on a ladder and unhook it. You want to do that, John. Sure. All right. Okay, so, what I see here is. I want to get his hands in there. The top, everything, and then we're gonna make him look like he's just been a drag out fight, you know, practice, whatever. So let's take the, well we'll do the gloves in a minute. We'll maybe add the gloves in a minute. Okay so let's take a look. I have not set anything up yet. So no exposures have been given. So I usually keep my aperture at around 7.1, that's the sweet spot of the lens. So depending on my depth of field here, so let's see if my iso, we start at 100, just see what happens. And to get any ambient, we're gonna need probably about one second. According to my iPad, I've got my Camranger set up, it's hooked up here via the USB. And way too much exposure to my background. So, with one adjustment, so I didn't... So i did actually snap one between-- (attendee mumbles) Yeah, they didn't show it. So, I said I didn't take an exposure and then all of a sudden I picked up my iPad, there's an exposure, but I did snap one and then that's the first one that came up. Just to clarify that I wasn't lying. (attendee mumbling) A meter, a flash meter. I don't use a flash meter, why? Because I just now looked and I can tell I'm way off. All right, so let's go and make it a shorter exposure so let's go to a quarter of a second and see what happens. All right, okay, this is just getting my lighting. Just checking, okay. And so right now, Cliff, for some reason that light is not as powerful, which is okay, so just do this, just swing it, just point it toward him more. Come to me. Three you go and now walk it in about eight inches, cause it's a little further away. Okay, that's good, that's good. Okay, so let's take a look here. I still think I've got way too much background. So we're going to go down and let's go to let's try eighth of a second here, exposure. Still 7.1 here. Okay, so still slow. Getting a little better. Still have that big RSU in the back. Which is not bad cause you're in a ring, right, there's gonna be stuff in the background. But you don't want it to pull away from the drama of the face. So let's go even darker, okay. So let's see what happens if I go even darker. All right, so let's look at the light on Rod. So I'm going to downplay power, just a little bit on my two background lights. So let's go over there. They're both at seven. So let's go down to like 6.5, well 6.3. So that's going to give him a down power. And the light in zone three which is my middle zone, his eyes, nose, lips, that looks pretty darn good. So let's just stick with that. And let's just see what we get here. All right, we're still not even close to getting our HDR going here yet. But we'll do it. Ready, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Once we get the lighting kinda the way I want it. All right, so now, maybe just drop the chin a little bit, okay? And you're kinda like, you're not happy with me, okay? You can give me that tough look. (camera shutter clicks) There we go. That's looking better. Okay, so lighting looks pretty darn good. Now, if you look at the edge lights right now, they're coming right about here. So what does that tell me? That I can move those lights forward just a little bit. So let's actually bring 'em forward. If you have to raise 'em up and clear just a little bit. Actually go to where they're touching the rope area. Remember, when he lets go, that ropes gonna pop up. Okay, and then go over to the other one and match that and that should bring the edge light just a little bit closer, wrapping around. All right, let's try that. Okay, all right, so ready, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Once we get the glycerine he's gonna look like he's really been working out. Right now, we're just kinda, okay, all right. So, I would say that looks pretty good. The value still on this light, is a little weaker, which is fine. All I'm gonna do is that's number one and a lot of it's just the way, it could be baffle inside, you know, whatever. Just a little angling of the grids. That grid looks like it's going this way a little bit more but here we go. I'm going to match it. Here we go, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) So I think, we've got our base, a pretty good base. I still don't like this RS (sighs). U in the background. Okay, so let's do this. Now, let's try, before we put the glycerine on, let's try HDR. So I'm going to go up here, I'm going to tap, HDR, okay, and it gives me some options. Shutter speed, aperture, but we're going to go to ISO. So we say okay. And we want the starting iso to be at my lowest, which is, on this Canon 5DSR, I have it set to low, 50, okay, so that would be my lowest. I'm going to get number of shots, are gonna be three. Okay, there's three. And then I'm going to have my increments, well lets go, one and a third. Let's just start out one and a third and see what happens. And then, when I'm ready, I'm going to hit start. And it's going to go, pop, pop, pop. About that fast. Okay, so you just have to be staring right in the lens, okay? I'll give you a count. Ready? So we're all framed up and ready to go here. I'm focused right on you, ready, I'm gonna count. I'm going to say one, two, three and I'm gonna click it. And then just stay real still, don't move, ready? One, two, three. (camera shutter clicking) Here's the first one. Here comes the second one. Here comes the third one. Okay, so that's my three sequences of images. So just take a look at 'em. So the dark one is pretty darn dark. Okay, so that might mean I can open it up a little bit. But we want, because of those wraps are gonna be white, I mean they're white, if I don't do a HDR, then I'm going to have to battle that in Photoshop a little bit. Which might be retrievable. But believe me, I've shot a lot of boxers and I fought with the white wraps. So there's my overexposed one. So that's my middle and that's my under. So my under might be a little too much. So let's go back and let's go back, let's just do one stop because we've got our strobes, that's good enough and we'll do a starting point... So let's just do this. We're gonna go back to my main data and we're gonna go back to F8. And then HDR and we'll try it again, ready? So drop your chin a little bit. Kinda clinch your jaw a little bit, stare me down. Here comes the first one. One, two, three. (camera shutter clicking) First one. Second one. Third one. Now Photoshop will register this later. If it's a little teeny off, if he moves, it'll register it. So there's my three exposures. We've got the over. Then what I call normal, then under. SO look at all the detail in his wraps. And that's going to be my normal. Which we've still got pretty much detail but there's the over. So that gave me a 32 bit file. So now we're ready for glycerine. All right, so we just put some glycerine on Rod and what we do is we mixed the glycerine, glycerine and 50% water. So we just sprayed some on. And we also put up a black cloth over that big logo on the back wall. So let's try it again. So again, it's three exposures. Pop, pop, pop. Ready, and I also, because we put the black up, I increased my time exposure to a 25th of a second. So let's try that, ready? Let me get it focused. Okay, actually what I'm going to do is I'm going to shift this camera and get that... Get that chain which is now very bold. And go right behind his head. That way I can fix it really easily in Photoshop. Okay, ready? So, here we go. I'm going to go and give you a start here, ready? One, two, three. (camera shutter clicking) First one. Second one. Third one. All right, perfect. And then maybe, give me that (exhaling). Just kina, maybe exactly, one hands up a little bit, and one hands down. We're relaxed, it's almost like, yeah, here we go again. Okay. Do you want me to look at the camera or no? Yeah, look at the camera, you bet. Okay, ready, going to focus again, right on your face. Ready, first one. One, two, three. Here it goes. (camera shutter clicks) Stare it down. Don't move, stare it down. And you can see his gloves moving a little bit. It would be kinda interesting to see what Photoshop does to that. So, let's just take those gloves and hang 'em, on the ropes. Cause it feels like all I see is string. Yeah, just hang 'em over there like that. That's good. That's good. All right. When it comes time to making creative decisions, it is really hard because you could do 30 options with those gloves. Right? What's the best option? Well you try it around the neck. Nah, that doesn't seem to work. Doesn't look real. And then you hang it on the ropes, eh, still, you're trying to incorporate something in there, but it's like, there's a lot of options there. But which is the right option? I don't know. Now if you have a client, they may go, okay, glove, no we don't care about the gloves. Or we gotta have those gloves in there. We sell gloves and that's our gloves. So, this is where photography gets difficult. Is when it comes time to making choices. And you've got to make 'em on the fly. And you don't have much time. And you don't want to wear out your subject. So you can always say later, I should've done this. Right, on Monday morning. Oh, I should've done this, right? We can always say that. Almost every photograph I do, I think oh I should've moved that a little bit there or there. But on the moment of doing the photo shoot, it's a lot to be thinking about. But, you just gotta do it. You can't be overwhelmed by it. And I'm trying to mix it up a little bit, trying to figure out those gloves, but again, like I said, if I did it tomorrow, I'd probably do it a little different. Tomorrow I'd probably put 'em inside the ring and have him sit on a stool and completely do something different. But like I said, these are choices that are tough to make. Don't beat yourself up so much of trying to make the right choice that you never get the shot. You just gotta do it. Rod's eyes also, he's like this. He's a little almost like deer in the headlight look on almost every shot. And part of that problem is, is because I am doing HDR and I'm asking him to kinda stay still. SO he's like, stiff as a board. You know, so I kinda had to work around that. And later, when I looked at the images, I should've probably had him squint just a little bit. I've had models or subjects, not models but a subject that, every single flash, they blink their eyes. They have this, I don't know if there's a term for it, but they actually, they can anticipate the flash so quickly that they close their eyes, they blink. So you have to actually do this. Have 'em blink and photograph them as they're opening back their eyes. So it's like, blink, click. Otherwise every shot's a blink. So you run into these problems, folks. (laughing) I mean, it's not easy out there. So, anyways, did you see me fumbling with the gloves a little bit? It's just a hard, it's not easy, but it's okay to just move forward and not let it go too much. Yeah, you can relax. Okay, you just knocked somebody out and now you're kinda just enjoying the moment. Staring me down. Here we go, ready? One, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) First one. Second one. Third one. Okay, we're gonna bring 'em up and take a look at my exposures. SO here is the under. That's really under. The normal, and the over. Let's try... Can you see that a little bit? Can you see it from there? (mumbling) Maybe not lean as much, let's just see what happens when you just come up and you relax the rope. Now put 'em on there again. Just kinda really. Just barely? Yeah, let's see what happens. Okay. Cause I don't see any of your six-pack when i do that. And here I can see it. Okay. Okay, maybe a little more. Maybe lean down just a little bit more. Just kinda in between what you had before. Right there. Okay, no John, now I'm going to have to move that light up. (mumbling) Okay. It felt like it was almost, you were leaning way too low. {Rod] I'm tired, remember? Yeah, okay, we're cleared. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to crop in a little bit here. Ready? Okay, move my focus point up, focus right there. Okay, now just drop your chin, just a little bit. Right there, ready? Hold on. Get my camera right dead there. Okay, ready? Here we go. Here comes the first one. One, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) First one. Second one. Third one. Okay, let's take a look at these. I think I moved on that last one. It's all right, we can do it again. Okay, all right. This looks a lot better. Now, maybe you can just drop that chin maybe just a little bit more. Okay, ready? And I'm at 50 iso's, Let's see I'm going, 50, up to 320. So it's probably 51, 63, 20, something like that. So let me think about this. If I go, I want a little bit more, the shadows are too dark. So that means I need to, let's go back to my data. We're gonna go to 7.1, that's actually my best sweet spot anyways. Go back to HDR. Let's try it again, ready? Perfect, ready?/ One, two, three. First one. (camera shutter clicks) Second one. Third one. All right, all right, so there's the darker one. So plenty of detail. Middle exposure. Looks great, overexposed gets a little more, so, and I can fix all that, that cloth coming down made a big black square in the back. Which is not the best. And he looks great. (mumbles) click it, let me go right here, okay. One, two, three. First one. (camera shutter clicks) Second one. Third one. You felt pretty good, moving? You didn't feel like you moved at all? Okay, so there's my three exposures. Dark one. Middle one, overexposed one. I think what we did, I'll see if we've got it, but what I did and you'll watch me, I think at the other scenario, too, but a lot of times what I do with an athlete is, I kinda try to coach them as best I can. See here, what happened was, on this one, I finally said, you just lean on the ropes and whatever feels natural to you, and that's what he did. Does that look a lot better? Cause I was almost too much coaching. So I always say, don't over script your subjects because they feel too, like, they're not natural. And all of a sudden, boom, he just felt like, He relaxed. And plus he wasn't looking straight in the lens. His eyes were just like, you know, again, the deer in headlight look. So, there's my shot. I got my shot by him being, just him. So, I would say that... And I've said this many times. I am not an expert at posing someone. But I'm really good at watching someone when they become their best. So I'm watching, watching, watching, and I'll try to get him to be as natural as possible. He just seemed a little stiff. And that's okay because you know what? He's not a model, right? He's a real tough dude. He does, he boxes and whatever. I don't know his history but so, now look, I got a little more six-pack on him, he's relaxed, the light looks great. They got detail on the wraps. Also, you notice that I was, I was... I'm looking at my under and my over to make sure that I have detail in the shadows and details int eh highlights. So that's my goal, is those under and over, just make sure I got, okay the wraps look great. They're not blown out. And when I go in my overexposed, I've got some detail back in the background where I want it. That's it. Yes, question. Talking about the overexposure, did you have to calibrate your camera to, so that what yous see on the iPad is what you've actually got or is there a difference from viewing on the iPad and going to your mac for later post? On my camera, that's a good question. On my camera, I have the luminance value, you don't ever wanna set it, at least I would say, don't ever set it to auto. Auto luminance. So, it defaults, if you say on manual, its defaults in the middle. I have my luminance on the back of my monitor one notch down. I've done that on every digital camera I've ever owned. And then I go to my iPad and I just bring it over to my monitor and I just turn the value of the, you know, its luminance down to match the same value as the screen. I mean, it's a 30 second adjustment. But that's a good question. Then I know my iPad's looking close to what my monitor. Now there's going to be a little bit different contrast, slightly different color maybe shift, not much. But it might be a little bit.

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Bonus Video - One Light Portrait

Ratings and Reviews

Christopher Langford

I love Joel, even though I'm not a big fan of his style. He's a great teacher, really down to earth, and best of all, humble. He's a true professional and knows the business. Even if you're a seasoned photographer, I believe you will pick up some great tips throughout this course. What I enjoyed most from this course was learning Joel's thought processes and how he takes on challenges.

Dana Niemeier

After seeing Joel at Shutterfest 2016, I am a fan. He is intense, but that is inspiring. I especially like the segment using ND filters as I live in Florida where bright sun can be an issue! His teaching method sets the student at ease. You see him make mistakes and then figure them out! Makes us believe there is HOPE for us in the learning process! I also bought his commercial photography class as an add on. Great to see him work and think on his feet. Thanks CreativeLive for giving artists this platform that reaches out to artists around the globe.

Gilbert Wu

I did enjoy the class despite not being used to the American product placement culture. The British say “the proof is in the pudding”, Joel’s pictures are fantastic and create drama. He has the eye. I like his very down to earth approach which is far better than many youtube photographic charlatans. Apart from the techniques he shared, one very important thing I learned from this class is “Be an artist and not a technician”. If you want to learn from people who can take better pictures and more confident and experienced in his/her work than you, Joel is one of those people.

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