Skip to main content

Studio Lighting Basics

Lesson 10 of 14

Shoot: Standing Portrait with Female Model

Tony Corbell

Studio Lighting Basics

Tony Corbell

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

10. Shoot: Standing Portrait with Female Model

Lesson Info

Shoot: Standing Portrait with Female Model

Okay let's tip it down before you go to high with it down down, down, down, down and let's turn the power up to about that way we'll readjust it you don't okay okay caitlin came any questions from anybody here while we're setting this up yes ma'am white balance of daylight instead of like a flash because these studio strobes are balanced for daylight the flash setting is ideal for speed lights and daylight is balanced I mean this trove studio shows pretty much across the board are perfectly dialed in for the same value as daylight but the speed like they're a little bit cooler so that means that that flash setting on your keller balance pop shins on your camera it's just a little bit warmer about four hundred degrees kelvin which some people like to set their set their camera on that because they like that added warmth you know, I know that I used to shoot years and years ago I had this little quantum q flash and I would in fact I lost the the reflector head tossed because I never used...

it and as I'm shooting with a bare bulb everyone's well, I wanted a little warmth and I would put my hand right behind the bare bulb and let it bounce off the palm of my hand and it gave me just a little hit of warmth and I didn't have to do it later and that was my whole point guys, I don't want to do anything later that I can do at the time of capture anything yes, but it's only a thirty second fix it's not good enough it's like it's like doug box from texas one time said I could fix that with a certain one time told him yet but I could just fix that with one click and he says yeah but you won't because once you open that file you're there for forty five minutes and you know it and he's right once you're in there and your editing you know you're going to stay there and keep looking what else kind of fix well there's nothing else wrong? Well, I could move I could fix that wrinkle a little bit and I could move that pin down just a little bit so I could there's one hair oh, stop damn come on really how much we have? What point do you stop and say we got to put this in the can and go home? You know? Yes ma'am, uh the beginning of the segment you talked about shutter speed on that it doesn't really matter how does that work with sinking the flash? Because I know some cameras don't go above like two hundred whatever it is so so there's some things you have to know what your camera thinks that and you do need to stay at or below that flash sink number, uh, it's the result of what they call the the focal plane shutter as opposed to a copal orlins shutter. Uh, and it does have a it takes it a moment for everything to happen that's happening when that shuttle goes across? Uh, it used to be a horizontal showed that one across in one swell hoop one fell swoop. Uh, it's a little bit different because now I kind of like the door kind of opens and closes and opens again. It kind of reveals, which is why the high speed sync mode that some flashes have toe work with certain cameras, you can go higher because they're ideally sink to your cameras values as those shutters were coming down and opening, but yeah, you do in the studio. Your shutter speed isn't important at all unless you're bumping up at the high end and this is kind of a weird thing too. But if your lights are low power, you're flashing units aren't lower power. You can usually stink another shutter, speed or two out of it and not get in trouble but a full, big power you better stay at or below that sink speed it's. Reported from your camera but I think we're some confusion comes there tony is with them stopping action it's not the shutter speed that stopping the action in the studio is the flesh it is flack situation that's that's the action yes you can shoot it a six stiffened still stop action as long as the room is dark enough you're not getting ambien ticket but a six if there's not enough to freeze a jumper in the air that's what my flash duration has to kick so what you have to question way do need to stay at her below that stink speed so that's why for me my my default is a six years it's been a six years for thirty years because it syncs with every camera I can get screwed except one camera and I got screwed once and it was an old pentax six by seven camera that on leigh sinks at a thirtieth or slower nobody ever told me that as I shot a wedding in nigeria lost half the job lost half my pictures a wedding in nigeria who wants to die with a pentax six by seven anyway long star long story I got stories oh boy have I got stories yeah let's move it let's in fact just take it off for the seat for the ease of things let's put it back on its other stand and we're going to put it about where you're standing right now yeah right about there and we're gonna aim it at the background and I'll grab that meter I want to get a quick exposure on her quick I don't okay, this is great. This is for me I mean obviously this is a treat to be here and it's fun to get invited now that's great, but it's but it's hard to uh it's hard to perform the way you want to perform on all the things that you're trying to get done without all of your stuff around you you know it so you do have to kind of think so well where's my scene my other bag where's my other bag oh, there it is. Okay, everything is in a different place, so you do have to take a couple of minutes to kind of find it all out. Okay, so take that power up to about and open up, open up, open up let's, go up to about five okay? And the other one's on fire and then moving about a foot closer and tweak it toward you to spin it that way more more, more that's it right there. Perfect it's really funny because I was goingto make something up about the diamond shaped thing and I thought, yeah, I was going to tell the truth making stuff just gets in trouble because because because I know friends I've got friends are washington's going you get it yeah, yeah yeah, I know. Okay, so right there we're at not full power but I'm down to stop from full and even at this distance I'm getting f sixteen so f sixteen for me is great for this kind of a shot and pull back so let me just check this guy here so this will probably be the left edge of my frame right about here just missing this corner so from there twenty two so it's going to be plus one plus one right behind her sixteen right there is a one to one I call that the zero over here I guess this will be probably the minus one minus one minus one zero plus one get the idea so I got to stop falloff of grady int all the way across that background makes sense can you see it in your mind? Right? Because we have a meter those of you that don't work with a meter and you know who you are but I'm not going to call you out on it but you know who you are who are watching who say they don't need one you can't pre visualize this like I can because I know what's gonna happen when I pull the trigger now sorry, I just like to thank all my friends who shall remain nameless joel I mean okay the fun part is well no way telling we love each other to death and we just wait do this all over the country time you were here tony joel grimes is in the next day and I had assist him to and I I spent all day trying members this tony or george or use a meter away not doing go to stops up on the back onto its ups down right it was really wake were so opposite and yet we like each other and we both are pictures kind of sometimes look pretty similar but we went totally different when we got there you know it's fun it's fun okay so let me take a look at this face look at that holy toledo back up just a tiny bit further and I will talk a little bit about focal length and I will talk a little bit about lynn's compression here let me just get this in here and I want to make one of the change here no good it's off okay oh that's what I heard that's what we're here for yeah okay thanks okay so what I want to do is can I think you're terrific the way you're standing you look great. I want to turn you just a little bit there the way though just a bit yep now bring the face and your shoulders back this way you still yet bring your head around a little bit your shoulders to me just a bit and anybody right there right there right there let's take a quick test shot and see if we like this at all I think you're gonna like the way that this light's kind of falls off across the lower half of her green it's going to be in kind of a dark shadow a little bit but I think it's kind of a fun look which is a whole different thing than what you'd get with a large soft box you won't quite get that same kind of look now I'm a little bit hard on her face and john that's a little bit hollis pull that down let's drop that guy down a little bit I'm getting more than I want their take it down a full stop there you go now this guy here I will die I will not I told you about that beach trick. I want to put that in play here just a little bit. So I'm gonna take this guy and I'm just gonna take him up just a little bit because I want not just her pants or dark her shirt is dark and her arm is standing out to me so all I can darken it later yeah, well, why don't I just dark and now look at the difference look at her arm there and look at her arm there it's completely different get the idea I'm just saying let's just think a little bit it's okay? The thing I tell everybody it's okay to think like a photographer what? What does that mean? I just think like how would a photographer solve this? Think like that and then you think oh, well, I could do this or this or this. Yeah, great. You can do this or this or this, but you gotta think like, a photographer would think in the next segment we're going to do some some sort of some tighter glamour shots of her face and we're gonna do some more kind of fun things that you might enjoy uh, but I just wanted to I just wanted to do this. Illustrate this whole thing about this natural vignette this natural fall off on the bottom so just bring your head around just a little bit back there when the media's take a look here like that bring your shoulders to me just a tiny bit. Yeah, yeah. That's good. Yeah. Now we just drop the value of a hand if you could put those two together so you can compare, we drop the value, the background and if the background is too sharp because we couldn't drop them, we can certainly drop the we can drop the power down and open up and push it out of focus just a little bit uh but we pulled a full stop off of her arm by just tipping that light up a little bit it's just a small subtle bit of control okay does that compute okay uh let's let's take the last couple of minutes that we have in this segment and take some questions from uh our chat room and from our folks in the office kaylen thankyou thankyou way can let you go get thinking get started on our next segment thanks. So do you have any in there that you want to talk about? I d'oh people have been asking it every time they show your camera lens hood in this studio why? Why not? I will never work without a lens hood for one reason I have dropped my camera so many times and the lens hood has saved my lenses I have replaced hoods but I've never had to replace the lens so it's not about flare it's about I'm a klutz so that's what it's about but I know it sounds silly but but really use it for protection golly uh we we get busy sometimes and we think we tighten down the clamp on our stand and we might have missed something uh working with an assistant in canada wanna shoot one time in calgary and I just re sober and I thought he had and he thought I wasn't there yet, and I just let go of it. And it fell between us on the concrete was just like, oh, that's not good, but the lens shades shattered but nothing else was hurt so yeah, that's. That's the reason for that? No, thank you. Thank you. I'm a klutz as well. Drops so it's not affecting how light is coming in at all? No, it doesn't affect anything. I mean there's, a there's, a there's, a all the manufacturers, all the camera manufacturers and all the accessory manufacturers use different techniques for reducing stray light infractions. Stray light imperfections that come in hospital will use a stuff some stuff called the pampa ce fabric. And this fabric was like it was almost like you took a you know how, when, when longmore is used on a golf course. It's, different than a longmore is used in your yard. So think about felt that's been cut down like a golf course. That's what? How somebody used on their land shades inside the camera bodies inside their film magazines everywhere, and all the manufacturers use something like that. This inside of this has a has a rough feel to it and it's a fabric feeling roughed up thing that is not shiny and plastic. If it was if a flare came down from above and hit the bottom of the inside of that lynn shade it's going to bounce right and still give me flair but this this correction material in they're prevents any flare from coming into the lens so it's pretty helpful to have those guys anything from you guys yesterday uh is I'm sitting here I see three things the model which always deserves more credit than they get I think that the lights which you've done a greatjob explaining and my frustration when I look at studio work is always the background right? It's either the plane the same stuff you see all the time or it's too busy or as just wondering if you could comment on background you know, I think I think, uh boy, this is this is the answer that you hate well depends uh in my studio in west texas in the earlyeighties I had one of those fake bookcase backgrounds that I put behind executives and high school seniors and uh one of my friends I was a pretty high end photographer in l a came to visit one weekend anyone well, that looks pretty, you know, fake and I thought, how dare you? He was right so the next thing I know one of the catalogs a few years later started selling bookcase backgrounds and that they were real books but they were sawed off like on a table saw or something so you have the real spying at about a half an inch of a reel of the real paper but it was all on a wood frame and it really didn't look like real like a real library totally different look, I'm not a guy that likes anything like that story telling mode in a background uh at the very, very most there's a background guy that makes, uh, wonderful backgrounds that I've I've used several times over the years dame named david mayhew and mayhew's backgrounds there's one that he has that it's just a little subtle plan so some kind that's very very faint and light and willowy and the lower right corner and then one limb that's almost just barely visible in the upper left corner and this background looks so fantastic with a dancer in pink now I know that's very specific but you know what for? For that kind of a shoot for that kind of a job and that kind of money I can afford to buy background for that job uh and and and end the hand paints all of yeah so uh but those are the kind of guys and him and other companies to they'll make anything you want, you just tell him what you want uh and then you do have to think about how you light it and remember that if indeed my meter the dome on that incident meter if this guy's job is to be as I move, unless I'm shooting it at eleven right there on the main line, if I put this guy here on our band fired off that's eleven eleven, eleven, then the background will look like it really looks most backgrounds I've ever used. They look better on a minus one, then they do it however they were painted, I don't know why, but for me in my eye, I think all backgrounds on the planet ought to be presented a stop darkening the really, really look, so try not to ever over like my backgrounds, but that's just a personal thing it may not be with, you know it might be that way with ten percent photographers, not not all of us that way. More more, more that sort of I guess that we just kind of default over too things that we all like and things that we don't like uh, it's kind of like the ball head I'm a guy that can never use that squeeze head, it just makes me insane. I want a bald head and most of my pictures now this vertical because he was just standing my camera's vertical, but as we shoot later on everything that I do if it's a head shot my camera's always tweet one way left or right. I'm creating a little bit of a dynamic with my camera angle, and it just takes me a half a second to do it with my ball head can't do that with pan tilt head with four nobbs, you know? And then it doesn't work for me so everything is this a real personal thing? Yeah, sorry, there's not an easy answer for you on that one. No, but it's a great question. I'm not sure if it's a great question, but it's a great discussion it doesn't need to be discussed, you know? So, uh along the background line in the last segment you were talking about how you like to use gels instead of getting backgrounds different colors do you have some secret for being able to gel a full length? Or is the secret that you don't use gels on a fooling fortune? You're gonna ask that question right now, the answer is a little complicated to tell you, okay? And, uh, there's not an easy answer. I use gels probably as much as anybody rarely on full links because it is difficult. Um I just thought your money you might have some magic there's, not there's, no magic, there is no magic, but I do know this and we will talk about this a little bit in the next segment when you introduce color uh, you have to make sure that you understand how to produce the color of the gel itself, not a variation or pastel of red. I want screaming red, just like the red in the package. How do I get that red? Most people don't know how to do that. We're going to show you how to do that next saying, um, but it's very, very difficult to do that in full length, because I have to make sure that no light values hitting the background surface when a full length light will hit the background service, and I can't do it. So, uh, in that case, that the answer is probably best suited to do a full length with the subject's standing on a clear, shiny, highly, highly polished piece of, uh, plexiglass, and that is the surface. And so from your camera's position, what you're seeing on the ground actually reflected value of the red behind them see, they go the tony magic, and then and then you have to clone out the seam where you can see the back edge of the plex that way, you're also not getting any contamination in the shadows of the color.

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.


Catherine Stevens

Excellent class. Tony does a great job of highlighting different ways to work with light without being prescriptive. He's also a great speaker - very clear and easy to listen to. I would love it if this class came with a gear list and some basic guidance on the different lights as a starting point - I think the class does assume a certain amount of pre-existing lighting knowledge. Still worth every cent though!


I love watching Tony Corbell. He is such a wealth of knowledge. He is one of the Great Masters. Tony is an excellent teacher and he both freely and honestly shares his immense experience. It is truly a delight listen and watch to Tony teach.