Shoot: Use Strobes with Props


Strobe Lighting on Location


Lesson Info

Shoot: Use Strobes with Props

Okay, what a challenge. When we scouted this we had lots of clouds. And I've been wanting sun, right? So we got sun and really no clouds above us. We've got clouds in the distance here, which are great. Clouds over here, which are great. We've got these new condos that've been put up, or whatever. And so we're kinda blocking our skyline, but what I've decided to do is take this facade right here, with the windows, as sort of my background element. We've got Anna, our beautiful model, on a ladder. I wish she was a little bit bigger, but, you know, again we're going with what we have, which is good, old rustic ladder. She's kinda dressed in a, what would you call it, 50s, 60s? I would say 50s. 50s look, y'know, kinda look with a hat and everything, red dress. What I could do is, I could also take and throw it into Photoshop and make it black and white, and I could take that dress and make it pure black. If I want to, later. So I'm using, I wanted the sun to hit her shoulders. Ideally...

I would probably swing a little bit more in this direction, but I got the Holiday Inn, sorry it's not gonna work. So we're gonna go with what we have. So, we've got our light, one light overhead. The 24-inch beauty dish, and I've raised it a little higher than normal, 'cause I wanna, I want the, the sun's gonna come across already create some highlights on her shoulder. I want the hat to be a little bit shadowing her face, a little bit, so we raised it up. So we've got the light, probably about a foot higher, a foot and a half higher than normally we'd do it. So I've set my aperture to be at F output on my strobe. And I've got a three-stop ND filter, so we're gonna start there and let's see, we kinda did a couple shots, I wanna just give you that, I did kinda, you know, at least sort of see if I got an exposure. So let's try that again, we're gonna go, let's go horizontal first and take a look at what we've got here. Ready, one, two three. (camera shutter clicks) I got 2.8. 2.8, I am at 200th of a second, so that's my highest that I can take my shutter speed. And if I look at my image, it's kinda hard to see out here, but if I look at my image, I would say the background, you can see those windows are kinda soft. Now let's take a look here. I see the highlights on her shoulders, that looks good. Alright, that's great, so let's try to go vertical, I think I'm gonna go vertical on this. Let's just swing this thing. I got my little filter system here, set up. I wanna focus, let's go a little bit, I can't go too low because then I kinda get the roof in there. Let's just see how far I can go here, ready? One, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) We're gonna maybe have her lean out a little bit. So I gotta look at my lines, she looks pretty good. Let's have you grab and pull a little bit, and then, Cliff, we might wanna just slide that a little bit. Just pull a little bit out, that's good right there. That's good, okay hold on. So I'm gonna set up, I wanna make sure my windows aren't growing smack out the middle of the back of her head, So I gotta kinda position her in between the windows. Ready, here we go. We focus, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Okay, let's take a look at that one. So right now I would say, you know, I wanna fill her but I don't wanna fill her too much with my strobe light. So, we could probably down-power that just a little bit. Let's just take and down-power that light just a little bit. So kinda remember where you're at on that, and I'm gonna go down, one, two, three, four, five, half a stop. Five clicks for me is a half a stop, on that, on these lights. Okay, so we're gonna kinda get a little bit more moody on the lighting here, so here we go. One, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Okay. So that's a little less of the strobe on her, using the sun a little bit more. You can hear me, can you hear me, Anna? Yeah. Okay, alright, so let's, maybe a little more stretching, just a little more stretching here. Let's just see how far we can go without you falling off the ladder, let's see what happens. (camera shutter clicks) Okay, let's take a look at that. And so, if I take my shutter speed from 200th of a second to, let's go to 1/25th, that's gonna give me a little lighter, a little brighter on her. Hand can't go quite that far, if I spin this way, let's try this. I like it, let's just do this. We're gonna go horizontal here, ready focus. Ready, one, two, three. (Camera shutter clicks) So now that I've gone to 1/25th my background almost gets too light. So let's go down to 200th of a second, and then let's try it again to show you the difference. Focus. (camera shutter clicks) So that gives me a little bit darker. So let's go the other way, so let's take, we went down a half a stop, let's go a full stop and a half. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, one, two, three, four, five, that's a stop and a half. And now I'm gonna go from F8 to about a, let's try, well actually let's just see what we can do here. Let's see if I can blow that out a little bit, here we go. Now lean right there, I may have to go to a six-stop ND. So that gives me a little more light on her, I actually kinda like that, the background's kinda nice and dark. Let me do a vertical, that was a horizontal, so let's go back, not so much lean this time. So kinda just right there, right in that position, right there. I'm at 200 millimeter right now. See what that looks like, gotta watch my background. So let me do this, I'm gonna come in a little bit. We're gonna come in a little bit, so a little tighter. That's gonna throw my background out of focus a little bit more. And that sun is bright, not quite as bright as our desert. Alright, so let's try this right here. Okay, so let me get my, so Cliff? Yeah? Now pull that light this way a little bit. Yeah, keep coming, keep coming, right there. Okay, so we're gonna come a little tighter on her. 200 millimeter. (camera shutter clicks) Let's see what that looks like. So now I still got a shadow coming across her face. Which kinda gives that mysterious kinda feel to it. I still feel like I might be just a little too far back, I wanna get a little closer to you, little softer look here. But let me just go horizontal for a second here. Right there. (camera shutter clicks) That does look light. Alright, background's crooked, so you don't wanna have a background horizontal line crooked, so I gotta line up everything perfect. Right there, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Let's go even tighter. So we're gonna go even higher up. I like that look right there. Okay, I'm gonna go a little bit up on my column here. Okay, I gotta find my spot right there. Beautiful, beautiful, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) That's kinda nice. So it might be that at this point, my ladder is not working. Meaning there's not enough of it. So let me go a little wider for a second, see what this does. (camera shutter clicks) So you say, "Why a ladder, what's she standing on a ladder on a roof for?", who knows? (chuckles) Alright, so let's jump down from the ladder for a second. Okay, let's move it out. So let's see what happens if I just get a really clean sort of a headshot here. Do you want me to drop it down? Yeah, drop it down. Okay right there. (camera shutter clicks) Let's see what that looks like. Did you get any of the feet? No feet. Is that hurting? It's getting a little hot. Little hot, yeah see that's, you gotta think about the model, it's kind of important. She get's cold or hot, she's gonna get mad at you. (Anna laughs) You don't want that. Oh yeah do that, look down, look down right there. Ooh, I like this. So basically what I'm hoping to do here, ooh, now we're talking, now we're talking, it's looking beautiful. Okay, so I'm using the hat as my element right here. (camera shutter clicks) Beautiful, beautiful. Backgrounds are really soft, out of focus blur. I'm still at 2.8 ISO 100, 200th of a second. To go any darker in the background I would have to use a six stop, and then increase my power. But right now I can't do that, so let's, do that right there, right there, hold on, let me focus, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Alright right now, Cliff, you just lower the light, so the hat, I love the hat, but I'm not getting enough on her face, so lower the light, lower the light, keep going, keep going, keep going, right about there, let's see what this does. One, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) So now, hopefully get a little light underneath her. There we go, now it's a little too hot on her hands. So let's power down, power down. Whoops, that wasn't what I wanted. One, two, three, four, five, half a stop on, I hope I hit the down power, I couldn't see it. (camera shutter clicks) Still a little hot, let's knock it down. So actually, I need the ladder. One, two, three. I need my ladder. Can you guys see it over there, doing good? Okay, ready? So I'm just gonna follow you, Anna, just kinda do your thing, let's see what happens here. That's good, that's good, hold on, let me focus. (camera shutter clicks) Let me get the hat in there a little bit more. Hold on, right there. (camera shutter clicks) So really, to be honest with you, we're kinda just letting that background go. I like that look, go back to that look again. Let me get my focus point, now go real horizontal, real side profile, what you did before. Well, that was too much, let's see what you did before. Right there, yeah, do that right there. Ready, so I'm gonna zoom in a little tighter. One, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Yes! Beautiful, now my light looks good. So really it's just gonna be a matter of, one of these is gonna pop. (camera shutter clicks repeatedly) Gotta make sure my focus is right on the money. Okay, ooh, I love that, go back, go back. Okay I'm gonna now spin it to horizontal, I mean vertical. I love this, I love it, I love it. Let me focus, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Take a look. Now do this, just bring that elbow down a little bit. Right there, right there, right there. Ooh, this is a great look. One, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) I just see a little bit of your eyes, that's good. I love that look, now, I like that but I've got a little bit of this roof edge on the background, I don't like that. So I'm gonna let, actually that wind is good, except when it blows away your reflector. John? Okay that's not good, I've had things blow off roofs before. Okay so what I'm gonna do is try the same thing, only now I'm gonna try to get the roof out of there. So it's just the buildings, let me take a look at this. One, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Let me see, let me see. I like it, I like it, so let me just make sure, if I go this way, yeah. Right there, ready? Again, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Love it. That's a clean look, could be on the streets of New York City. (camera shutter clicks) (camera shutter clicks) Go a little tighter. (camera shutter clicks) Flip it horizontal. (camera shutter clicks repeatedly) We're gonna go off to one side on this, take a look at it. I like it, I like it, so really what I'm trying is, I'm just taking and trying to use the sun to get highlights on her shoulders, I gotta shallow dip the field, let my strobe fill the middle, pretty darn simple. The question is how does having the hat change the light? Like if she wasn't wearing a hat, would you be doing the same thing? I'm casting a little bit of a shadow across the inside of her face. So it's making her look a little more mysterious, plus it gives a nice circular type of element that leads you into her face, which I like, when she tips it down, that looks good. But in term of the lighting setup, you wouldn't need to do anything differently. Well it's blocking a little bit of light on her face, like a ball cap. But I like that right now, I mean there's a limit. Go really far down, let's see what that looks like. Really far down, ooh, oh yes, too much, too much, come back, come back, I wanna see your lips. Right there, no come back down, down, down, down, right there. (camera shutter clicks) Let's see, take a look at that one. Oh, I love this. So this is a great look, so right now I'm using the hat, let me see if I can get a little more hat out of her. Right about there, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) So this gives me a beautiful element, so let me go now, that's horizontal, let's go vertical, and then we can ask any more questions if you want. Okay so hat down, hat down, both hands back down again. Both hands back down, now let me get my focus point right there. Ready, one, two, three. (camera shutter clicks) Yes. Gorgeous, I love it, that's a beautiful shot right there. Okay, get another question? Question is, is autofocus still working okay I don't use autofocus. With the filter down? Yes, on this three stop, no problems. Okay. Outdoors I could probably use a six stop. Okay. But, so I don't wanna have to flip it on this one, like I was on the other one. Gotcha, and one more question, I know we've talked about it previously, but could you review the different gear that you have set up here? Well, alright, so can I walk over here a little bit? Sure. So I've got my one light, a Paul Seibe Feinstein, I've got my 24-inch beauty dish. I've got my Avenger light stand, I've got a Vagabond power supply it's plugged into. Sand bag, Really Right Stuff tripod, ball head, Canon 5DS R, 50 megapixels, the 7200 2.8 version 2 zoom lens. And the Joel Grimes beauty dish, you gotta make sure that gets in there. (chuckles)

Class Description

Get out of the studio, and make the most of your portrait photography by combining strobe and natural light. Joel Grimes breaks down strobe lighting through 11 different lighting setups, including shooting at a boxing gym, a local park, in direct sunlight on the roof and in the studio, so that you can go out on location and capture great images. 

Join Joel for this class as he goes through the basics of strobe lighting basics and how to use strobes to overpower the sun.

Once you learn the essentials of strobes, he will show you techniques on:

  • How to use a neutral density filter and the combination of ambient and strobe lighting, to achieve a shallow depth of field.
  • How to achieve an HDR 32-bit depth final image with ISO bracketing
  • How to create a textured background for a character portrait and stitch it in Photoshop®
Joel is an experienced commercial portrait photographer and a member of the Canon Explorer of Light team. Learn how to create iconic images of your own as Joel shares his extensive experience in the lighting world.


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.

Doug Stringer

This is the first Creative Live class of Joel's that I've viewed live and plan on watching it again and again for the 'nuggets' that he scatters along the way. Compared to other classes I've watched and purchased, Joel's style falls in the category of that of an 'artisian'. As he explained in one of the segments of this course, if he could be anything from the pioneer days in America, he would chose to be a explorer. Joel takes you through shoots and subject matter using his intuition as a compass rather than following a map of prescribed steps. His long journey as a successful photographer and experiences gained are his guide to this course's final destination--you just need to trust his intuition and hang on for the ride. If you learn better from someone who is a 'craftsman' and follows the rule of the tape (or light meter) then Creative Live has scores of other classes that fall in this category. But what's the fun in that? Thumbs up to Joel for his explorer style.