Studio Lighting Basics

 

Studio Lighting Basics

 

Lesson Info

Shoot: Portrait with Female Model Part 2

My dear let's just bring your head around a little bit okay I lied when I told steal I was gonna leave this in a horizontal position because I want to shoot vertical um get in here a little bit yeah that looks nice wayto go skating you get good so we kind of have a complete picture in terms of she looks great I'm just close enough to the background where there's some good density in the background back there so we can see it at least uh but I do want to light I want to like certainly her offside shoulder her left shoulder and the offside hair a little bit now following what we talked about this morning if I'm going to do that I know that that's got to be powered down below what I'm shooting at right makes sense so let's turn on this life john let's take it we're going to need to read this uh in power wise let me see where this one said so this is a two point five so is it okay so it goes we might want to pull that one let's prove that pull that back away just a little bit towards you t...

hat way now spend it toward her and let's get let's get a good reading on just that right at her hair okay, here we go test five six and a half five six and a half and I'm shooting at and I'm now up to, uh I think I'm f nine. Yeah, I met f nine now so that's three, two thirds. Right. Well, a little bit more than that. Let's. Go, let's. Go pull that back just a tiny bit further away and then tip it toward her a little bit more. That's it right there. And let's, take one more reading. Here we go. Good. Six and half still it's from one of the string direction five six point six. Okay, great. So now I'm a stop away. So it's minus one from what I'm shooting at here's what's. Remarkable when I pull this trigger it's one stop below my main light it's gonna look brighter than the main life because of the relative position that we just illustrated on the flights so let's, try no one. Here we go. Nobody moves and nobody gets hurt. Good one. Good one. Good. One. Good one. Good one. So now look at this high life coming off her shoulder and look at this light in her hair. Ready? Set. Here we go. See how that works. Look how bright that hairline looks, guys. That's one stop down from what I'm seeing it. So that does sort of prove the point about, uh, what there was a guy that wrote an article in a magazine called peterson's photographic thirty years ago the guy's name was farley robert farley, and he wrote this whole thing about this technique and then sadly he died and he never wrote anything else about it it's like, wait, don't stay with us if we need to learn more, you know? But so so some people call that farley's law, I don't think that's fair to do that because I don't know that much about him. I don't have any real reference about that, but but I do know that if you think about this, if it it's almost like a tennis ball, if you threw a tennis ball at that wall as hard as you can when it hits that wall and changes direction, it loses its some of its power and it comes off the wall at a slower rate. But if I walk up to that wall and get it at an angle like a real sharp angle and throw the tennis ball with the same power, it comes off of that wall considerably faster than it does flat. I think when that light travels from the main source to calin face turns the corner and goes into my lens, it loses a certain amount of power here this sounds like a elementary waited this spine this but if it makes sense from there it takes energy to make the turn back they're coming this way it takes less energy to make the turn it's it's it's playing bumper pool you know that's why I think it works something that's why it's effective so I would think that uh don I think even that's a little bit bright let's let's pull it back a little bit let's pull back just a little bit and I'm gonna move us around just a little bit here we go oh yeah I'll be much happier now just give me a little bit well for your eyes talking but there you go good good good how uncomfortable would it be to have your elbow your hand up here yeah yeah yes just like they just comfortable yeah and didn't bring your head toward the source just a little bit yeah in fact why don't you move your your your right hand is great just let your left hand come under your right arm maybe even yeah, something like that now bring your head back around yeah good great. Just mind that there are twenty head back to me just a little bit this way right there good turn down a little bit but you're being a little bit one way or the other there you go good great great great good so now oh, that fire over there let's try that one more time here we go there we go that's better let me do that one more time good great so what's interesting here is depending on where this accent light is placed I can cheat it just a little bit and let a little bit of that light still on in my background this background looks pretty good at that level right there and I think it is getting a little bit of that light already it looks to me like that lower right corner is getting hit just a little bit uh so we might let's let's move it toward her six inches in straight straight toward her just like that and now feather just a little bit toward the background just a little that's it and I think it's probably going to get the same amount of light on her hair and another half stop on the background what yeah make sense kind of well she's gonna hate that don't even look at it don't don't sure that one steal she's going to kill me turn your head just a tiny bit right there yeah yeah yeah yeah good good good good but one more sorry because I'm a goober hang on hang on bring your head around just a little right there got it good good good okay let's try everybody recycled everybody ready here we go who great that's my line from princess bride remember princess bride yeah mad max it's that whole thing about mad max so I think just a little bit of light just a little bit of a pivot and it picked up some ambience in the back not andy's we picked up a little bit of light value in the background and as close as I'm working for her and as far as she is from the background it's softly how to focus a little bit and if I want to fall off even greater I can power everything down open up a stop or I can also move her further away from the background and back up just a little bit in a small home studio I can't do that so I do have to go I do have to think in terms of all of that to I'm not gonna worry about it too much right now I'm just trying to set this foundation that's what tomorrow's gonna be about a lot of that but for now I just mostly want you to get used to the concept here that I was taught that you have to have five lights in a studio you've gotta have a mainline you gotta have a fill light you have to have a background life, you have to have a gn accent light and have to have a hairline so by the time you put all that together you're broke you know? I mean, it gets you run out of money pretty fast in those days and so I started and that's exactly what I did, I started with the same thing everybody else had and what I realized was that all of my pictures look like everybody else's and I just thought, you know what? I don't want to do that anymore I just got tired of that and uh and I learned little things like, you know, there's you can buy those portable background role or systems that mount to the ceiling so you can with a touch of a button z roll, backgrounds up and down and swap him out all day long I learned that those were my worst enemy, not my best friend because I figured out that with a portable background set up like this, I'm more efficient because I can grab one end and I can pull one corner toward me or one corner away from me to allow more fall off or to create a great nation to smooth out and even out of high key white piece of paper. If I've only got one light to put on a high key background and it has to be lit from one side there's going to be a falloff of light from the nearest side to the farthest side well, great take the farthest side and move it forward about five or six or seven feet and now you're flat into the light source there's no more gradation and besides there's enough it's just white this is a white value so there's nothing to be in focus or out of focus it doesn't matter, it's nothing but a white source makes sense that's why a portable background became so important to me and then I just start using it for creating gradations too dark. So I think part of what we have to do is is just keep learning little small, tiny, stupid little things for our toolbox and that's what? This is all about you guys for me? I love this look for her. She's got a great great face. Great eyes can't wait to show you what I'm gonna do in the next segment with what? With this face and those eyes were gonna light her up a little bit. I do want to make a couple of adjustments here, john let's grab white reflector and let's bring it in. Oh, you got one. Ok, good. So let's, bring it in on this side and it's going to be a little bit tricky to see that maybe with the ambience it might be I don't know how much trouble we could, how much trouble it is or if we could lower some of them it's just a little bit for just a segment is that is that possible or not especially okay, okay it's just going to be a little difficult to say this but you guys will see it in the picture so um if we yeah I'm gonna do it this way I'm gonna move this away just a little bit and don't turn your face just a little bit that's not that far come back come back come back right on their chin down just a little great so let me keep this out of the way for just a second and then I'll bring it in just one minute let's get another reading no john let's just double check let's just make sure that we haven't lost anything here with our light source here we go stand by good okay, so I'm at nine so I'm down with a london two tenths pretty close I'll take that uh so let me shoot a couple of those and then we want to bring that in and let's talk about the difference between the two so your face is aimed just about the right direction, my dear. So just stay right there for one second. Good. Okay. So now then john just keep you right where you are just bring that in and keep going keep going keep going more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more keep going more more, more now come to me about a half step full enough tip it just a little bit that way there you go right there nobody moves us through the same thing here we go good so now let's put those two side by side there mr steel oh light room wizard you watch this this guy's good you know if I turned this uh hey steel in the booth you know I can turn this I'll go to raw and j peg both and then it'll fly the jake eggs over quicker I didn't know that about tethers shooting oh it is old and then never mind it's just fifty feet to the control room so it just takes it a minute s o that's with him without guys nothing else changed so that reflector doesn't bring in and it does change the value of the highlight to shadow ratio now if that's a little bit close great so let's say that one on the right let's say that's about a four to one five to one ratio maybe even a sixty one let's say the one on the right it's probably about a two to one ratio meaning twice as much light on the highlights side is the shadow side so great if I back that off just a little bit maybe something like that is the right value for your taste and your style in what you like let's try and take a look here we go one more way yeah let's try that again so now it's kind of a split split between the two, so when this next one pops and that's a little bit of a value kind of in between, I don't know subjectively what you're like, I don't know what you're going after, I don't know what you're gonna what you're gonna like, but I do know that with the simplicity of one light and a reflector, you can kind of have whatever you want you really can and as you and as you add more life, so the set it does become a little bit more complex, but it also is a little bit more controlled results, but here's the trick, the trick is, no matter how many lives do you use, you start with one light, and you always start with the main light, and you measure the main light, and you establish your foundation for this picture, with the distance that that main light is to your subject and that your exposure period that's it. I could have ten lights in this room on that face, but all starts with that one, and I'm not going to add more life to that face than that main light. So no matter how you, how you build your exposure, how you build your set and your your photograph, I mean, there might be all kinds of stuff going on the set that I'm gonna light in the background of sides or whatever but overall you start with one light it's a building process that the matter first ten lights there you start with the first light and then you have the next one measure and get it where you want it then you have the next measure and get what you want then you have the next one and measure it and get it where you want it that's the way this works so it's not that difficult um just don't get caught in the trap of you have to do it this one way no you don't you can go any way you want to okay I know that in portrait photography there are so many books that say the exact same thing about the short life side of the face and the three to one ratio and there's just a lot of basic basic basic things that every book says you have to do is a portrait photographer and that is true if you want that specific look that's not always what you want and there is more to it than that and so we'll make a couple of adjustments here john I want to I want to take that accent light and let's raise it up about a foot maybe maybe foot and a half and bringing in just a little bit closer so I want a little bit higher so I can so it goes up a little bit higher on her hair. I want to see it up a little bit higher there. Yeah that's gonna be it and then bring it toward her about a foot straight in more, more, more? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now, just a tiny feather to the background right there. Now this is just I don't have to go measure this because I know just how I feel that that's going to be pretty much what I wanted to do and it's going to look pretty right? Because I just got more added tour because I moved closer but also further a little bit more away. So I kind of cancelled itself out so let's, try this one more time. Here we go. Your eyes here good. Great, great, great, great. Yeah, I like that. I like that a lot. So we're starting. This is starting to come together a little bit here is that one? I think the hair is working pretty good. Uh, the background, the the shadow, the ratio of the highlight to shadow ratio. I still think it's a little bit too much of a ratio, so I might smooth it out just a little bit by bringing this in back where I had it, maybe closer to where I had it anyway maybe something like that but you do have to be careful if I've got an accent life be careful that the placement of this it doesn't block that that light so you have to make sure that that still has a clear path to reach her good it's pretty real pretty and another thing let's talk about let's talk about the world of placement um there we go now that ratio is pretty comfortable for me. I like that shadow ratio a little bit better uh in in fact uh is it possible or easy steal that we could see the history graham in the top right in the developed module sorry r maybe it's in the well anyway yeah, so that that shows to me that I've got plenty of travel in the right I've got no danger of clipping that highlight I'm in pretty good shape with that highlight on the right side of my history graham uh it gives me plenty of travel and on the darkest, darkest saddle side it might be blocked up a tiny bit and if it is, you can pretty well see where it's going to be blocked up and that is that area right in the darkest darkest is probably right in there maybe right under there maybe that right there is blocked up a little bit that's okay and you know you can click on those those points in the history and it'll show you where that where you've lost that detail and that's ok I'm ok with that saddle being that black it should be that dark but that that puts us in the ballpark of having a having the right spot house color look looks okay right because I'm set today light these air daylight balanced and everything's and all's right with the world that's the way it's supposed to look so I like it I like it when things do what they're supposed to I guess we've gone over that yes ma'am explain for people again how these three lights are working together and it's best to show it on them photo itself or but what is the reflector doing versus the two lights and are all three of these working together at this point yeah they're all they're all three coming together to make the picture what's interesting is that the main light his number one it's it's not it's our number one azaz uh as I've been told it is the hub of the picture that the hub everything rotates around that main light great got that established then we brought in the shadow the shadow filler with this guy and it's and it is like it's like the salt in your soup how much salt do you like? Well you get to salt it to your own taste I love salt I know many of you hate salt great then moved the salt out I don't want more salt so you get to that that's a subjective statement then the third light the third element back there the accent light is that's what's separating her from the background and I think it's doing pretty good job of separating her and that like that highlight on her far left shoulder that highlight coming around is pretty important to separate that uh in fact, john just for fun let's turn that a little bit off the back ground if I turned it all the way off the background and so just pivot toward me more, more, more, more there you go now back it up towards you another foot and just back up a little bit right there is going to put it back. Word is now let's take a look at the background and we're going to see it just going to go a little bit darker I mean, you guys are getting this now this is not a yeah, there we go so I've got the same everything and if you could put these two together still would be awesome. So basically right here I've got one this woman pops on, everything stayed the same except that my backgrounds going to get darker, she looks like she looked but the background got darker, so no, no big change there so they do all kind of work together to build, you know, it's, it really is like you're you're in the kitchen and your you got your own recipes and everybody likes everybody likes all. I like little spice over here. Great. And put little color in that one. Let's. Put a little silver in there with a little gold in there may be a little blue red let's. How do you like tea? Spice up your food, you know, and that's, the fun part of this, isn't it? You guys get to create whatever you want. That's. That's, the great news about photography. I know that when I look at a magazine cover, I look at it and go oh, I hate that I didn't get the job. I think I got the job or that girl got the job. I know that there's people's work that I look at and say I could never shoot that good. That is so amazing. I love that. And then they'll tell me well, and did it with these two like minded this this this crap is a great idea. I should I'm going to steal that idea. That's what we all do, but it all does come down to yeah. Personal tastes and I can show you I'll show you movements and stuff this whole week of different things that we can do, but all does come down to what you want to do and what do you like to do with you work? You know, where's, your where's, your heart in this thing so that's kind of what the key is, I think yeah, that I'm glad you brought that up, so so, uh, john, john knows me so well, you're so funny, john the best anybody who is anybody noticed there's invest anything on the chat rooms yet about his glasses every years I've ever been with john somebody's always saying, where did you get those frames? He's always has the best glass frames always what's interesting about this, the placement of the reflector and it's going to be kind of hard to illustrate it with the ambience that we have, but most people will have the reflector sorry about your foot there we'll just have the reflector right there opposite the main photographers. Beware of assistance that don't know very much when you give them a reflector because most assistance that don't know very much when you give them a reflector they almost all go like this that's all they know to do because they've seen in every tv show right that's pretty much what not to do yeah, it is a goal like that unless that's a fashion student, a light is overhead and you're trying to do it uh, kind of a clamshell sort of hollywood glamour life and you know what you're doing and bam, you're putting that highlight in the bottom of that's different, I'm but I'm talking about the guy that you know, his tongue sticks halfway, he doesn't know what he's doing that's what I'm talking about, beware of assistance that try to do that and hold that reflector like that. If this reflector is on this side of her face in this position, just bring your head round right there with the problem with this is that there is a highlight side of the face from the main light, then there's a fall off and there's a little bit of a shadow, then I'm seeing this reflector in that position. What that means is if you squint your eye enough, you can do it in here today, but if you squint your eye enough, you'll see on the news always look the bridge, the nose you see a high life and in a dark strip and then another highlight from this that's not good that tells me I've got two separate light sources on the face I never want to light sources on the faces, two main light sources what I would prefer to have is that this one is a continuation of that one in order to do that, I've just got to move it forward I've got to move it forward so much that it appears as if it's a continuation of that light source I just need to bring it up here and that cancels out that little dark strip down the tip of the nose. So now the highlight comes across from that side and then hits the reflector and keeps going for a little bit and that varies my range of contrast and makes my two to one show up as a two to one nata not a not a two zero two one what? Anyway, you know what I'm saying? Keep it clean and this this is it's a clean way to do it if you can work that reflect her just a little bit forward so practice that you guys were watching this just practice moving that reflector a little bit more forward and here's the good news about this as opposed to a fixed fill light in the studio. What you see is what you get there's no guesswork here there is no I gotta shoot this untested. No, you know, I know exactly what this is going to because I can see it and that's the beauty of this with a feel like you can't ever see it you never know until they both fired the man in the field like until they both fire you don't know what the ratio is going to be and you're you're down on both thumb up one up, one down all day long trying to get your ratios correct this is just bring it in to you like it right there is a two to one back it up a little bit that's three one back it up a bit that's four to one back it up a little that's five to one I get the idea we talked a lot about size of source relative to distance today so in saying that if I move my reflector too far back away from my subject my reflective elsa comes a smaller source doesn't it do you think that would affect with reflected value? Looks like you bet. So you know what I've learned from a guy in new york that's a wonderful fashion guy named douglas do blur what I learned from do blur is have some various sizes of grey reflectors because I want my reflector to be big and I wanted to be soft but I want it to be about a four to one or five to one but I don't want to back my reflector up to get it I wanted to stay close great so just change the value of the white to a great what I've never heard another guy in the world that does that like dubai and as a result of that I started doing it so that is what we were talking about when you were asking about the great matte board there's another use for that great matte board not just the tabletop surface that great matte board is also a lower value reflector, right? Why couldn't we do that? I've never seen by also do learn now me and now all of you and the seven people that are watching you do have to make you do have to watch your color temperature and but then you have a great card also if it's truly great here's the here's the problem with great cards let me just throw this out thanks for bringing that up because now I'm going to go down another rabbit hole again white balance is all about the white balance on eighteen percent great card is all about the exposure value try to be careful and avoid the urge to use a great card for your color balance great cards almost always are anything other than gray they're almost always a little tiny bit of blue or a little tiny bit of green be careful about using them to establish your color use white white is always white and if you establish that as a white you asked video guys video guys will tell you all the time they're in give me a white balance they never say give me a great balance they want a white balance they used to hire assistants with white shirts too and they make their systems like this so they could get a white balance on the back in the old days of of the uh yeah well okay, you know what I mean no yeah he's a really dirty shirt whether you're gonna probably have to bleach our killer is going to be but in the old days we used to do that you know uh anyway so is that all makes sense sort of ok, sorry we keep going down this little rabbit holes but these these are a little small little things that are important I think I love the one on the right I think it looks great and so we want to do well let me shoot a couple of variations of that and I want to change it all up a little bit so so throw a couple of ideas your way okay? There nobody moves nobody moves who? Oh, that's good. Let me do one more like that. Goodwin your eight good now john let's take that accent guy and lower down, down, down, lower, lower, lower, lower, lower, lower I'm going to move you just a little bit further away from the background kind of like that if you would let's, take the guy's low as we can get him to go all the way down bottom in the stand. And I'm gonna put it right behind her and naming up background. You want a lower stand? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Great. So what's gonna put this down and we're gonna light it from the dam build a gradation going up and what's. Interesting. You know, there's there's an interesting thing that we can do. Uh, I figured this out on the beach in san diego shooting at the beach. Uh, I was watching photographers one day there's there's a stretch of beach in san diego, california that tourists don't know about. They're about to come back to tell him about it. But in the end, the local farmers sent a robot to kill me. But there's this place called wind and sea, and I won't tell you where it is. But if you go lawyer and you're not, listen, go west. You'll hit your dead end in the wind. See sorry, san diego, when it sees a fabulous place to shoot because you've got rocks, you've got sand, you've got a grass hut, you've got great facing rocks. You've got natural phil, and you got all this wonderful place to shoot. And a lot of people go down there and they want to shoot late in the day and they want to shoot with flash on camera some people use soft box some we'll use a small life, but either way they worked with flash. The problem is they're they're pictures if I'm photographing this three these three sisters here and I've got my soft box here and it's up here shooting like this at a forty five, this is what everybody does and the problem is I'm blowing out my sand in the foreground everybody does it in san diego, everybody on every beach in the world blows out there sand by lighting like this, so what we came up with was let's, move our soft box just a little bit I'll come right back to this, I promise instead of shooting like that with my people seated on the home aground on the sand or on the rocks, why don't we just take the soft box live in that exact same position? But just go like this right to there? And now that light cannot reach the sand and I'm stopping, I'm cutting it off and getting off about their feet I'm still getting plenty of light on them and I remember a photographer walking by and saw me shooting one day and he said, well, I heard you were pretty good educator never sending my life the sky like that and I said, well, it's great I'm not lying this guy but I'm not lying that saying neither anyone uh totally different deal I'm just tryingto go below the sand you can't retouch sand and bring it back you can't burn it back in enough to bring it back and you can't even it out enough great don't put a light on this makes sense no after background sorry there you go and I want it really close and I want it tipped down quite a bit like probably as far as it'll go yeah great so we know that that close and tipped way down at the very very base of this photograph that ground's pretty bright but there's an interesting thing about light fall off the closer the source to the background the more rapid the transition the quicker the fall off so like two dark will be more extreme when that light is closer to the surface if I need a more soft radiation that he's needed back that light further away from the surface and then it becomes a little bit more of ingredient follow me okay can we take another one? Shall we wait? We're here anyway great let's just bring your head just a tiny but that's it right in there good, good, good, good, good, good so now uh, okay, so maybe I tipped it down a little too far there. John let's. Tip it up just a little. Just a little when you do these things and I've got I've got almost everything I need here today. Almost there's a few little things I didn't bring because you just can't bring everything, you know? Yes, ma'am, miss miss kenna. Question. I'm just wondering way look at this picture. What was it about it that you said? Oh, way need to put it down too far. I was breaking up a good question. I was expecting more of a grady int on the background. I was expecting right here in the darkest part of that shoulder. Expected that to be brighter and then fall off the darkness on the top. Expected a quicker transition. So let's, try that, uh, and see if this one gets us closer. Good, good, good. Yeah. This is what I was expecting. This is what I just seen right here, huh? Come on. There we go. That's. What? I was expecting something like that. The thing is, guys, it's all a subjective thing. I'm just trying to show you some variations that you can do it it's, just all about the variations. Well here we it's like well yeah but we now we don't have the light on her hair will create this crap another like a lot of hair I mean we can do we can overcome whatever is going on that you want to work on and and adjust if you will I do want to make we're gonna make another change here in a second I want to put on that uh let's put on the deep octa on this mainline and anyone have her more of a three quarter length type thing yes all right another question that a lot of folks are asking is on the little self box back here is there a reason why it's not a square but is more turn at the magno yeah because right before we went on the air we put it together cooking I can fix it but I don't want to take the time to fix it well you have answered everyone's question telling the new tony korbel technique it's a new thing yeah it's called tony's uh diamond diamond I was gonna say the tp look but yeah diamonds better tony diamond yeah now there there's there are so many little subtle changes and things that we can do like for example that is actually kind of a neat look and if I wanted even brighter on the bottom and a quicker fall off I can move it even closer to the background and that changes everything you know uh there's just little it's a little subtle movements you know so oh yeah yeah, I got it I got the head way free so yeah, well someone just use this deep octa and I think I'm gonna get rid of the chair I want to get rid of that I think I can move that kind of out of everybody's way possibly there is always a certain amount of time when we, uh when you when you do these shows where it takes a minute to do things and you have tto you know, what's funny is years and years ago I worked with this guy named dean collins and we've had this siri's of books and publication's called fine light and way started to call the siri's uh the fly on the wall siri's because most photographers they don't care about seeing the big shot a big print of the finished hero picture what they want to see is a small shot of the hero but they want the big shot of the set up they want to see behind the scenes they want to see they want to peek inside your studio they want to know where your plugs are and what kind of stains you're using how far you really from the modeling that's what most photographers want and I think that's the fun part about this show is you do get to see everything and there's. Just too many cameras around this room toe not see everything, including the gopro in the corner. I mean there's, just everywhere. It's. Awesome.

Class Description

Lighting equipment doesn’t come cheap, so it is crucial you get your money’s worth. Learn how to make the most of your investments in Studio Lighting Basics with Tony Corbell.

Tony is a celebrated photographer, educator, and author. In this class, he’ll help you get more out of basic studio gear. You’ll learn:

  • How to use off-camera speedlights
  • The basics of studio lights including; mono lights and pack lights 
  • Combining studio lighting with natural light
  • The properties of light 
  • How to position lights for varied results and styles
You’ll learn practical ways to work with strobes and light shaping tools and get tips on creating the exact look you’re aiming for. Tony will also help you overcome any hesitations you have about purchasing and setting up your own lighting equipment.

If you want to get more looks out of your existing gear or want to know which gear you should invest in, don’t miss Studio Lighting Basics with Tony Corbell.