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Studio Lighting - The Power of Control

Lesson 4 of 30

Beauty Dishes, Soft Boxes & Reflectors

Tony Corbell

Studio Lighting - The Power of Control

Tony Corbell

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Lesson Info

4. Beauty Dishes, Soft Boxes & Reflectors


  Class Trailer
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2 Mono Lights & Pack Lights Duration:29:32
3 Light Controls & Shaping Duration:30:36
6 Tools of Light Q & A Duration:13:59
8 Shoot: Painting with Light Duration:26:01

Lesson Info

Beauty Dishes, Soft Boxes & Reflectors

I think one of the things that we always have to keep in mind is that there's an awful lot of tools in our world there are so many skews at a camera store now there's so many products that are available and guess what all of us wanted by every single thing that there is if you're like me your bag aholic I'd buy more camera bags than anybody I know I have a closet filled with camera bags and I'll keep one and after six months I hate it I'm tired of it and I will buy another bag it's a it's a sickness let's just face it but with the lining tools and especially with all the lights shaping stuff all of this stuff has a specific purpose you know I heard a guy one time say that the definition of a niche is a gap that needs to be filled and so there's an awful lot of niche or niche products in our industry um and and they all have a riel true reason that they were designed and many of you have found things that like all I need such a such and there's not one of those will then it'll make one ...

um I just saw a new product at a convention recently that's called limbs elian z lynn's a hand and all it is is a velcro strap that goes around your zoom dial on your lens and it's a handle that sticks down it's about that long and it's really cook cushnie and rubberized and you can hold your camera so much more steady and you're zooming appear instead of one and it's just like it's remarkably easy to use and it's just this funky little fun inexpensive little product that is on my lenses now so there's these little great little products lighting wise they're soft boxes on browsers, there's beauty dishes all the stuff that we're going to be using this week and what's great about all of it is we need to know how to use it we just need to understand what it's capable of and sort of what the limitations are I heard for years people talking about beauty dishes and what a great life source city dishes well I guess I was photographing people that didn't have skin that quite allowed a good exposure are good photograph with beauty dish and I didn't have very good results or maybe I didn't know what I was doing nowadays I love what I'm getting with a beauty dish um the shot that's directly behind me on this wall that's a that's a main line of a beauty dish and to strip lights coming forward with little soft boxes from that air giving it a chiseled feature on her jaw line and her cheekbones but you can see how enhance the cheekbones appear and that's because of the beauty dish that beauty dish in that particular the incident was up high and coming down the face directly in line with her nose so you know, if you think about some of the traditional patterns of light on the face uh we were always taught in the old days of traditional portrait photography that there there's the where the shadow from the nose touches the lip or the cheek makes a descript or of that pattern so there is a loop light where there's the shadows a little loop shadow there's a rembrandt light where that shadow is closing makes a little triangle on the cheek of life there's butterfly which is what this is it's also known is paramount live from the hollywood studio glamour days but that butterfly light when in position correctly the nostrils of the lens put little shadows on her lip that almost looked like a butterfly wings you concur you can kind of see it there a little bit but it's a little bit off center there but all of those little things they're nicely tips to know uh and where you not just how to use these tools but where you exactly place them uh and placement is pretty critical on some things and as a model turns and moves and during the middle of a fashion shoot especially it's kind of a challenge and you have to really give him good direction because they'll turn in such a way that you you missed their missing the picture there out of the like and you know one of the one of the old masters always told me if you're ever in doubt on what to do with a subject, then then simply move their shoulders away from the life and bring your head back to the light if you just do that, you'll have something you can sell you can buy houses and cars that's why this away? I bring everything down to that kind of buy a house or a car if I do that well yeah ok then great, then I'll turn shoulders away and bring the head back and and what that also does is that removes the head and shoulders from being on the same access, which is so stiff so just having turned twist hey, thanks funny when talking about the female form and we'll talk about this a lot because we're going to a lot posing this week when you're photographing a woman especially acute all american looking woman the idea is anything that will bend bend it that's my that's tony's law of posing if it bins will bend it and then you can't go wrong so like the difference between the shoulders in the head is that there's a movement there, so I got to make that movement happened move anything that'll move and you'll always get a better shot so I wanted to talk a little bit about that can I just have that beauty dish right there? Yeah let me just talk about these tools a little bit the beauty dish they have every all the manufacturers of these lights these days have pretty much all the tools that we talk about and there's this all just a little bit different from one manufactured to the next but they're pretty much designed to do the same thing this is the white beauty dish and basically the light the light head mounts on here this mountain ahead like this and then there's this this interrupter right here that sort of is a distributor cap if you will so light fires often their hits that inside of that camp and it bounces all the light back into this bell and this one's all this is a flat white bell so it all comes out the front pretty uniformly as opposed to the silver one which will come out a little bit more shining a little bit more speculator and maybe a half stop hotter but a little bit more of a shine to it which you can get away with if somebody's got matt skin somebody's got great maker but if for john q public that walks off the street and comes into your studio you know normal people you wantto you want to give them a photograph that enhances them a little bit and it's a little bit more complementary so so the white is a really good idea because in that case you're sort of you're sort of matting that down a little bit and it's not quite as sharply speculator if that matters uh but again imagine this light source on this picture right here and it is up I directly above camera positioning and tipped down a pretty good angle about like that and the shadow will tell you where that angle is one of the interesting things about that learning light and as you as you start beginning your exploration into life control is that you will always and no especially on people you'll always know how someone was photographed if you just look at the catch lights learn to live with those those catch lights are speculate highlights in the eye now a speculator highlight is defined as a mirror image of whatever created the highlight okay, so you want to have something let's look in the eyes and you'll see a reflection of the light source often you'll see a reflection of the photographer standing in front of the light source and you'll see that on a large sharp picture taken with a great camera especially on magazine covers where they really really spend a lot time and it has to think about the depth of field to your depth of field at your camera lens holes has a lot to do with the light distance to your subject and in the reflection will the depth of field be enough to follow from your life to the eye and then from the eye to the light source? If you're shooting at five six, you might lose the focus and you'll never see the person standing in front of the light source, but if you're shooting it f sixteen f twenty two f thirty two, you might and they might be sharp because light and focuses on a cumulative thing. And if you ever photographed a bride looking in the mirror getting ready, you know what I'm talking about? Because there is an accumulative focused distance you can have her sharp in the mirror, but the reflection might be soft anything but they need to both be sharper than bump your light up higher and go down that sixteen stupid again, and they're both start his lights a cumulative makes sense. So anyway, the beauty dish is a really great tool. This is another one of those tools that we won used properly, boy, it can just come to life, and we're going to talk about that here in just a second a little bit further and again, as with the small standard reflector head, it comes with a grid and the grid, you know, once again instead of that light coming out following that path that light comes down it really narrows down the being like this so we're going we're going to put this on testing its test it right we're going put this on test in just a few minutes and I want to talk about that a little bit further and we'll bring a light out here but first I want to talk about that soft box and let's just talk a little bit about the world of the soft box what I love about a soft box is there is a set distance uh from the head where you were this mounts on the back of the head of the strobe from there to the front of the soft boxers of set distance and those two move together as one unit so if I need to make this life source appear larger I just bring my life source my stand the life and the soft box all closer that makes it appear larger and as I backed away it all becomes smaller but the distance from here to the head doesn't change ok so that's a good thing in most cases there are times when I wish I could make my life a little more speculator or a little bit less speculator without having to move it and so for that there's another tool we're going talk about that one next so there's a tool for everything and that's the beauty of this thing these things were great these these these soft box is great, and of course, the speed rings when you work with a soft box, they're made to spin so you can go from vertical to horizontal. So so the speed ring stay stationary and it rotates around that that ring. So once you're in the senate, you can kind of determine how you want that appear. Uh, some box is probably the most used light tool in our industry period from commercial work to portrait worked on location, work to seniors, toe underclassmen to just about anything you can't hardly miss with the quality of light with soft box I use one as my primary source for most pictures. Uh unless I've got to do a big group, then that's different, then I'll then I'll go to the umbrellas to spread light everywhere, and I'll use umbrellas for that, but there's also other tools to that you can use and there's a lot of subtleties that we can introduce of how you control these lights, you know, for one thing, if I was if I was to aim this life at a model here and maybe even skim it this way, well, the light on her is looking pretty good, but my backgrounds pretty dark well, if I only have the one light, I can like that by just skimming it just a little bit this way I'm still getting her with the soft bucks and now opened up the background now my background picked up a half stop alike so it's helping me a little bit there and that's how I did that one close over the black guy states erin from santa fe one of my favorite pictures I don't know why maybe cisco they like him you know, I think sometimes that happens sometimes pictures that I've taken that I really don't like but I love that subject in the picture and we had a great shoot together and so those are my son my favorite pictures I was one three year old girl I'll never forget her well, my favorite sessions ever she was a little three older mom wanted a model and she was precious and I don't know that the pictures were any good or not, but that was the best sex I ever did and it was twenty years ago you think I got better, but I don't know um, but any rates it is funny how your career will have been flowing you're in europe, quality of your photography will ebb and flow and you'll find yourself in a rut and you'll find yourself doing the same thing over and over and over and you'll get kind of bored with your work and you got to shake something up and do something different so, you know, I tell my student, my workshop students when they come in, how many of you worked with soft boxes in the studio and all these hands go up great this week? You can't use soft box. What right? You got to break out of the mold, you gotta practice with other life shaping tools. You know, I had a good friend and I'm a procurer, right? We're all pros here. I had a good friend that called me one time and said, let's, go practice with our wide angle lenses, and I want what? And she said, no, really, this is a woman that used to put together and shoot all the l l bean catalogs brilliant photographer, but she wasn't as good with her wide angle lenses that she wanted to be, and she was in town and she said, let's, go out and shoot tomorrow and work with our wide angle and practice, and I said to them, I'm a pro, I don't practice with lenses sees well, then you're an idiot pro, you know, you were in the old story about michael jordan and how he would go toe practice when he's playing for chicago on our to ahead of our boss and shoot tens of thousands of free throws. So like when he has to call has to be called on to shoot a free throw at the end of a game to tie game or to win a game was not going to miss it because he's shot ten thousand of them that week are more he practices nonstop it's what it's second nature to him to suit that insisting that because he just practice of a now ergo our two hours ago and saint that thanks same thought process for her is go practice with your gear no your camera here how many of you confined your self timer in the dark can you find it in the dark? Not very many can know you're here know your meter know your camera but at the same time I will encourage you all to travel with your owner's manuals stick him in your bag there's room they'll go even the thick ones stick him in your bag and take him with you it's helpful but we'll talk about a lot more in depth we're going to use soft boxes a lot on how the relative distance of the size of the source relative to its distance the subject and how all that changes but this is a really this is a really important tool um one of the other things that I want to talk about is let me grab the reflector yeah let me grab those guys thank you, thank you I use these pop up reflectors all the time, and they come in every shape there, get gold and silver and white and translucent and all that stuff. Um, I never know what to call him, so so I, you know, the way I the way I do it, I always say, let me have one of those too, one of those because I don't know what else to say said, yeah, that thing that pops up and, you know, they're disposable, right? You guys know that because you can't ever hold him back down, so you have thrown my angle by might buy a new one it's kind of the way that works, but these were really these air really helpful and the and the especially the translucent one lakh people don't recognize the power of what this is, and with nothing more than one light and this we're going to make a light source look like for this week, just with this, this silly little thing that you can make with a wooden frame or a pvc pipe frame with a with a bed sheet taped to it, you can make one of these yourself, and they're great because they give you so much control because I can control the distance of my light to this and the distance of both to my subject. So here's my life here's my subject and here's my trans loose in the middle and I can move this independently where I can't do that with the soft box so I even haven't added element of control so for me those were those were all big big steps okay hope that makes some sense um so we're going to use this extensively the reflectors and what's interesting about the reflectors uh gold reflectors got real popular a few years ago and I never was a big fan of gold reflectors I won't put gold on a subject space I will put gold in their hair on the shoulders on their waist on the back of their legs highlighting and accenting but I don't use gold on the face I'm just really funny about that don't know why but it doesn't work for me but I do know that with you with the way these air maine these just zip off and you can spin him around so I've got a black side and I've got a soft gold side as well and so you just take this off all the way around and in reverse and put it back on so you've got there called six and ones so you've got all these different variations and all these options in fact let me spend this around in fact maybe I could get you that for me real quick would you just pop this guy flip it around so this side is out. You probably done that before, and those things around where the zippers come together is always a little hole. That's what that's trapped goes nobody's figured out what the hole was for. Well, when it doesn't step around on you while you're chasing and trying to get to zip up, but they worked real well, but again, so so when you're using a reflector and you're working with one light there's, some things that are very, very clear where it's easy to make some mistakes. And I want to show you some things that I learned early on with reflectors that, uh well identified that every assistant, the world tries to do the exact same thing and it's usually the opposite of what you need him to do. You know, most of most assistance when you say, can you describe that reflector? They almost will always walk up like this, and this is not what you wanted to do. I don't need them. This is the last place I need him. You know, it's almost always appear are up here are appear over here where I need this never down below and that's just the automatic reaction from assistance.

Class Description

Get ready to learn how the lighting secrets every sought-after photographer needs to know. Join creativeLIVE for an in-depth immersion into understanding and controlling in-studio light.

Taught by award-winning photographer Tony Corbell, you’ll explore how to work with a wide variety of lighting tools. Tony will explain how a photograph’s look and feel are influenced by the size, shape, and placement of its light source. You’ll learn about correct light metering techniques and the role logic and physics play in metering and working with light. Tony will cover basic, subtle lighting adjustments that transform photos. You’ll have a front-row seat as Tony applies his one-of-a-kind lighting techniques live in-studio as he shoots both portraits and still-life photos.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a new and improved skill set for working with light and achieving jaw-dropping results.


AJ Photography Ireland

Watching this Course from Ireland live, and at my leisure having purchased the course, I cannot praise Tony Corbell enough. I felt I was right there in the Classroom with him and gained so, so much from stunning course. He really does explain the techniques he uses so well and is one of the greatest Educators that I have seen in photography. Worth every Euro ( Dollar ) !.. Thank you Creative Live and Keep up the good work ! Andy Jay Cork Ireland.


I learned a lot from Tony´s class. Very experienced, talented, smart tips and funny comments. Generous on sharing his knowledge. I am passionate about learning portraiture since about a year or two, had bought a couple of flashlights, stands, modifiers and now the most difficult part, to have my wife and kids be patient and let me practice with them. John Cornicello did an excellent job helping with the lights and bringing his own comments too. They both did an excellent match. This is a class I will watch again from time to time. This is the second course I watch from Tony and about the 15th course I watched from Creative.

a Creativelive Student

This is just a tremendous class. I love Mr. Corbell's teaching style and appreciate his levity. Most of all, I value the expertise he brings to the subject matter. After watching the entire class, I have been able to make adjustments to my lighting that I love and feel like I have a better idea of what I am looking for with my lights. This is a terrific value at any price.