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On Location Shoot: Portrait in the Shade with ND Filter

Lesson 11 from: Strobe Lighting on Location

Joel Grimes

On Location Shoot: Portrait in the Shade with ND Filter

Lesson 11 from: Strobe Lighting on Location

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

11. On Location Shoot: Portrait in the Shade with ND Filter


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: Portrait in the Shade with ND Filter

We're gonna go into some videos now of me shooting, fumbling, making mistakes, and dealing with, ell, we cut out, I think, the part where the the bum came up and tried to get in our picture and yell at me. And so, but let's do this. We're gonna go to, I think, let me just make sure I'm not. I'm not, yeah, this is time to go to the videos. So, let me double click this. And so, I'm gonna set it up. We're gonna do three videos here, under this scenario. The first one is just using any filter. So before on the park bench, was no NDs, just shooting. I was at about f5/6. And then, we're going to introduce the ND filter. So, I wanna get my aperture as 2.8. But remember this, my strobe still has to put out the numbers of F-stop that you have on here. So, a three stop would be F8. So, my strobe still has to put out an F8 light, but my aperture's set at 2.8. All right, so I'm gonna get my filters out here. And this is the view filters mount. I've stripped it down so that it's gonna be able for m...

e to clip something on here. So, it's really, really kind of an interesting little technique I've got. So, let's just put this on the front of the lens here. It goes... Okay, then I loosen this up. We're gonna set our filters, so that this little section right here will clip in my filter. And I can actually move it up and down. Let's see if I can get in here. So, I have a three-stop, a six-stop, ope, here's a six-stop, and a 10-stop. So, I got three, so let's try the six-stop. And what I do, this is my little invention. It's gonna be my right hand. Right, left hand. I clip this on here. This is a Office Depot or Office Max little clip, and this is how I do it. Focus, drop down. Focus, drop down. Basically what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna run my aperture or my output of my strobe at an f8 exposure, but I'm gonna set my camera to be at 2.8. But it's gonna think it's gonna be an f because I'm gonna drop this in front of it. So I'm gonna have an f8 exposure out of my strobe, and I'm gonna counter it by having, no, no, this is not three stop, this is six stop. So, let's go with, well let's try the six stop. That's gonna be f16, f16, I think that's right. Well the easy way to figure that out is this. Take your aperture on your camera, okay, so I'm gonna go 2.8, ready. I'm gonna back it down. So my camera does three clicks for every stop. So, one, two, three, that's one. One, two, three, that's two stops. One, two, three, three stops. One, two, three, four stops. One, two, three, five stops. One, two, three, six stops. So what does it end up at? F22. Okay. I usually use my three stop. So at f22 output, that's a lot. Let's see if we need that. That's gonna be a lot of power. So let's get Cliff in. So Cliff come right here. All right. Straight over the top. Right there. Seems like a little high, but let's see if we can get it, it's a little bit. All right let's see what we can do here. Okay, so we're gonna focus. Let me loosen my camera just a little bit here so I can focus. So right now, 2.8, 1/30 of a second, ISO 100. So we're underneath some really thick canopy of trees. So there's not a lot of ambient light bouncing back into her. So I'm gonna go down to, let's go 1/20 of a second here. Focus. Ready, one, two, three, beautiful. So that's gonna bring a little bit more ambient around the back of her. Look at how soft that background is, gorgeous. So what I've got is we're kind of on this like sidewalk and it's kind of tapering down a little bit. We don't see a lot of the sides, but we can see kind of a split level of the foliage in the background. Let me zoom in a little bit. So my focal length was 135. So let's go to 1/200 of a second. Look at that, that is gorgeous. I normally don't use a fill card outdoors, but because there's no, like this would be, the sun would bounce light back into, but let's just put the fill, underneath her about waist up. Come a little higher, little higher, little higher, right about there. Okay, ready? Ope, too high, can you drop it down? Gorgeous, gorgeous. Beautiful. That looks amazing. Really amazing. Okay, so I'm a little crooked on my horizon. Let's just get that, okay? Beautiful. I got the wind machine going right now. Just a little bit of wind. Beautiful. So I'm at 200 mm on my focal length and she looks absolutely amazing. So let's go a little tighter. I'm gonna go a little tighter. If I put a three stop ND on I would be able to bring my shutter speed up faster three stops. Right now I've got, I'm now at 1/20 of a second. That's a little slow for this scenario. 'Cause usually I'm using this technique in a lot more light. We were literally under this huge canopy of trees. It's really kind of dark under there. So probably shouldn't have pulled a six stop out, right? So in Arizona you pull a six stop out more than you do in Seattle. But I was gonna say is, I might change that here in a minute. We'll just see if I do it. But I'll just let you know that I probably should have started with a three stop. Yes. Before you go back to the video, everyone wants to know about this pole setup. Can you describe that again for us? Okay, so it's a painter's pole you get from like Home Depot, Lowe's, whatever. And then the top part is an adapter that screws right on any painter pole type thread. And it's called a Kacey Pole Adapter. You get it at, I always order at Midwest Photo Exchange in, they are in Columbus, Ohio I believe. And it's like $19, $20, somewhere around there. Kacey Pole Adapter. And so that screws on. And what I've done is I take it and I drill a hole right through it. Like a small drill bit and then put in a little nail, a long skinny nail, and then bend the nail so then it doesn't spin. At first I taped it, and then about every month I gotta re-tape it. And so one day I got really smart, you see, I'm not, I mean, I'm not brilliant, but just drilling a hole, putting a nail in there, kept it from spinning. So that's it. The pole's about $20, I don't know, $25. And I wanna find one that's like three sections because that's a little hard to ship sometimes. So there might be, there's another brand out there, but the brand doesn't matter. I got tape stuck to it. I've actually used it to paint. My big sweep, you know. So I use it all the time. So it's a paint pole and with a paint pole adapter. Okay? One more questions, could you just set up again for us or describe why you chose that specific location in the shade and then also why you're sort of at the distance that you are from the model. Okay, so I wanna keep, for the shallowest depth of field I wanna go as long as I can on my lens. So 200 mm is the longest on that lens. I actually have a 2X but I don't have a lens longer than 200 mm. Typically I don't use that long a lens, but so I am wanting to get the shallowest depth of field so I have my lens the longest setting, and then at my widest aperture, and so then I gotta move sort of like, I gotta zoom by walking in and out a little bit. 'Cause if I'm gonna keep it at 200 mm. So that was about waist up. The background is you want smooth foliage, right? You don't want, if you can avoid it, anything that's really a hot spot. So on the first video, notice I had a little bit of light coming through the bushes, and it was, uh that's bothering me. So I'll move it around. If you get a shallow depth of field enough to where nothing matters, everything back there looks great. You know, that might be the case at some point. But out here you have so many nice foliage. Here's what I want you to think about. You can do anywhere. This is just right around the corner here. I can shoot this, in fact I've done this on the streets of New York, just throwing the whole street out of focus in the background. Looks absolutely perfect. But what you want to do, if you can, is to get under a little bit of canopy of shade, and then shoot through into the background, which can be a little bit more sunny. Does that make sense? 'Cause that gives you a little bit more control on your light. Now we actually move it here later. I'll show on the next video. Come up just a little bit there. Right there. Beautiful. Looks perfect. So, if I wanna darken my background let's go back to 1/30 of a second and you can see the difference here. That's 1/30 of a second. That's a little cleaner, I mean in terms of portrait feel. But lifestyle feel you'd go the other direction. Okay, right there. All right so pull that one side back just a little bit, yeah. That one hair right there. Gorgeous. So I go horizontal I have to kind of spin this little thing though. To here. I love horizontal because of the websites have so much real estate horizontal. I love it. When you put a horizontal. Oh that's beautiful. Look at that. So let's go back down to 1/20 and see what that does. It's a little more background. And I zoomed back a little bit. That might be too much. So let's go back to 1/30 on that. So do this, kind of look off to one side a little bit. Just look off, I'm just gonna get one right there. Okay, I'm gonna zoom in, zoom in right there. Gosh that's amazing. Oh my goodness. Beautiful. So I'm kinda watching your hands here. Drop that one out, yeah just keep the one up yeah right there. So one of the things I've learned, too, is that I'm at 1/30 of a second. So when I'm at 1/30 of a second and I'm on a tripod, and if I don't walk it down and I'm a little bit shaky I'm gonna have a soft image. Trust me, it's happened to me. So with that, what I gotta do is I'm gonna adjust my tripod exactly where I want it. Okay. And then I just slowly squeeze it off. Woops, let me say one, two, three. Beautiful. That's amazing. Absolutely gorgeous. So those are little things that you gotta learn as you go and get out in the field. You're gonna make mistakes and believe me, I still make mistakes. Things happen. And again, I probably shouldn't be so high on my column here. The old school. Someone's gonna probably call in and say, Joel, your columns too high. So let's go back and raise my tripod from the legs down. Okay. So. Those are things you gotta think about when you're in the field is every variable counts. So let's now, the column's a little bit sturdier, or the tripod is. Let's try that again right there. Beautiful. Yes. Because I'm at 2.8 I gotta make sure my focus is smack dab on her eyeball. I mean, right on the leading eye. Right now she's pretty straight on, but you always you focus on the leading eye. Okay, so it focused right there. And if she does any movement you gotta watch it. And I'm doing back focus. And back focus means that I'm not using my finger here to focus on the camera I've disabled that. My back focus is right there. So that means that I can focus on her eye and then push the trigger, and if I've got my focus nailed here this doesn't affect it. And that makes it so much easier for me to work. Right there. Bam. Absolutely beautiful. Let's go back to here because I love the length, you're very slender. So let's try it, let's do this. We're gonna do one last thing here. We're gonna go full length at 200 mm. Full length. Let's go back here. Let's see if I can get the full length in there. Woops, let's go back even further. Okay? Now that one is much a depth of field, or as shallow depth of field as possible. Okay, full length at 200 mm. Right there. Beautiful. Now let's, yeah, pull the hair back. Pull the hair back. Make sure I'm focused. Focus point right there. Okay. Boy I'm just too tight on that thing. This looks amazing. Amazing. So I'm gonna go. I'm at 1/30, let's go to 1/20. Let me focus one more time here. I'm really making sure that I'm focused right there. Out from directly underneath that modifier. So that's Cliff's job. See Cliff wasn't really paying attention there. No. (laughing) But you gotta watch that because my artistic vision that when I do a scenario like this, one thing I didn't mention when we talk about lighting too that light often, the most pleasing light often falls from top to bottom or from side to side, okay? So the cross light, the Rembrandt cross light side to side. Gorgeous light. You get the Rembrandt triangle, you get the shadow on one side, lit. But light falling top to bottom is beautiful light on a subject. And so I want that shadow on her eyes, nose, lips, chin, to fall pretty much dead center. It looks a lot more pleasing. Now I see pictures all the time. Photographers have it off to the side a little bit, fine. But for my vision as an artist I love it dead center over the top. You gotta watch 'cause she shifts like this, she shifts like this, and when a light's that close it will change it. So her going six inches like that is gonna change that shadow. You know, I gotta watch it. But I'm just saying. And sometimes what I do is I tell the model just make sure that you're dead center to the light, and usually that works. I didn't do that with her. But I can see how she's, some of the shadows are just moving a little bit to the side. Not a big deal, but I'm just saying. Gorgeous light falls top to bottom, side to side. Okay, all right, ready one, two, three, and I got someone walking right behind you. Oh that looks beautiful. Okay, since I'm under the canopy of trees she's in a really dark environment. So what I'm gonna do is probably move her into a little bit more of the light for our next scenario. But very simple. 2.8, f8 output on my strobe, I'm at ISO 100 at 1/20 of a second. So do you see why it is kind of challenging sometimes? 'Cause you got F-stops, shutter speeds, outputs, your little brain starts to go. What you really need is someone like John was telling me, he was correcting me on a couple times. 'Cause he's thinking in his head, I got too many things I'm thinking about, right? So it helps to have someone maybe keep a track on what you're doing. So what I wanna do. I was six stop. So I was putting an f22 output on my strobe. So had I really done it right I would have started with a three stop. That means I have less power out of my strobe, which in that scenario I could have used some speedlites. Probably didn't need that much power. So that'll tell you another little trick, is that if you have a nice overcast day and you're doing high school senior portrait and you want to get a scenario like what I just did, then you can say, oh, I can get away with my speedlites. Because you don't need much power at all. But you go, oh it's a sunny day today. I got this girl who's gonna be in an open field with her horse or whatever. You gotta get a lot of power. So that changes. So I usually have my speedlite kit sitting there and my regular studio strobe kit, and I can pick and choose what I want. And you can also stack the speedlites to get pretty decent power out. Joel, question before we go to the next video. Let's see, can you just, can you clarify or go through again your workflow in terms of setting the order up. So aperture, ISO, shutter, ND filter. So if you know that you want that wide aperture what order do you go in? Okay, so the way I would do it is this. And I can tell you this, that having even walked through this scenario last week, Friday, we shot this pre-shoot, and then today I'm gonna be better at this the next time I go out, right? Because I'm having to teach this. Teaching this always makes it, kind of like it anchors it better in your little brain. But I would say this. I would shoot first without the ND filter. So let's say I have this canopy of light and this scenario, let's say I put a three stop on. I know I want a three stop. I want to go from eight. So I now wanna get my output on my strobe at f8. So I set my camera at f8, get her in there, get the light into position, snap, snap, snap, get all my lighting good at f8. So let's say it ends up f8 at 1/100 of a second. Then I know all I have to do is slap my three stop on and go to 2.8 and I'm good to go. It should be no change whatsoever except for the softer background. Does that help? So if it was a six stop scenario, I would set my light up to give me an f22 light. Get everything right like the cowboy out in the field, f22 light, slap a six stop on, boom good to go. Now he's at 2.8. So I guess that would be the best scenario, is to start without the ND, get your lighting right, and then walk up your F-stops.

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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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