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Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 29 of 39

Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1


Studio Lighting 101

Lesson 29 of 39

Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1


Lesson Info

Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1

What I'm going to start with this morning are the questions that I have struggled with endlessly in my first studio space trying to figure out all these things like okay, well there's a shadow in the background I don't want it there how do I move it? And well, my subject has reflections on their glasses how do I get rid of that? But the big one is any time you want to shoot on white getting it white without being too white but having to be equal light and that like all the there's, all these things and how do we get a silhouette once it's white there's the type of things we're going to go through now? So originally this was a top ten and then late last night I thought of two more so it's gonna be it's gonna be twelve this time? Um let me grab my clicker over here but what? I want you to take away from things what we're going to talk about this morning is that photography's it's problem solving that's really what it is because maybe I show you howto late a white background evenly, but t...

hen you're photographing a group on a white background will later on I talked about how to like groups evenly so you've got a mix and match and put these things together then what happens if someone in the group is when glasses like you're going to mix and mash and kind of put all of these common problems together, and so I'm hoping I am going to save you time. So here are my solving the ten of the twelve so early morning switched it to twelve common problems are so here's a good one. How do I make a background white if I only have one light? Because what we talked about yesterday is one of the things that you can do for a white background is you illuminated you like that background to get to be a nice, even pure white, but in general, if this is going to be mid length of full length, you're going to need two lights on the background to do that, and you're going to need your main line for your subject. So now you need three lights and what happened to feel on. They have one, but you still want a white background. Thankfully, you can do it, and this goes back into what we talked about on day one when we talked about remember the inverse square law relative distance of the light. So I'm going to put this into practice and so here's the answer, what I'm going to do for these common problems is I am going to show you the problem. Talk through the answer and then put it into practice so you can see what I talk about try to explain it and then show you in practice all right? So white background with one light what you want to dio if you want to place the subject close to the background and the reason why I like what we talked about on day one is the more similar distance they are the closer they are together, the more similarly lit they'll be if I have my subject far from the background, what happened is the late illuminating them falls off, it gets darker, the water in the bucket won't reach the background. And so what it will look dark is, however I place a subject close to the background and the light far away even though they're slightly different distance from the main light the relatively similar. So let me just say like, this is the main line for example, we have this light here if your subject is right here and you're exposing for your subject that backgrounds going to be gray could even be black depending on your modifier. But if you take your subject and put them right up near that white wall that white background the relative distance of that light to the subject in the background I mean this is barely any distance once that light is backed up you could get away with this with that ladies and closer, but really if you can get it further back that's going to help you out, okay, but the problem is that we've talked about it time and time again is the smaller that light sources relative to the subject the worst that life is going to be more contrast it's going to be if you're trying to do a portrait doesn't mean it's going to be worse but in the face it probably would be so right now if I try to like me what you'll get with just that bear head is it's going to be a very high contrast light source with a pretty harsh shadow but it will be white so the next thing that I have on here if you want your modifier large and far away so now if I put a large modifier on here maybe it's a large soft box maybe it's a large umbrella, maybe it's a large umbrella with diffusion since I backed it up the relative size got smaller, but I can add a big modifier so now it's still larger compared to the subject so that's your first tip you wantto big modifier faraway subject close to the background suna let's give this a try perfect but this round so we are going to demo that may have my lovely model I'm going to start by showing you what won't work first. Okay, so would you bring that closer to him for me? And we're going to take I'll take a major reading and john, I'm gonna pass you might trigger and it's going to hit the test button and so let's, take a look. All right. So just going back if you miss a day one day one we talk all about what settings to put your camera on, but just so everybody's on the same page. I'm at one, two hundred of the seconds I s o one hundred. And then now when I use my light meter is going to tell me what my aperture should be back him up about a foot or so just in general here to distance you. Maybe I think we can perfect. Now weaken right. Nice and close and okay, so right there this is must be turned up really happened. He turned down. I think maybe they're okay. Dump it when you want more. Okay, so that gives me nine. Oh, it's basically to sing how much like it's? A relative piece of information, but let me in test that same thing on the background three point two. What that means is that you would have to open the aperture up much, much wider to get this to be a white background so that light fall it is going to be dramatic so I'm going to take a shot at nine o just to show you what that looks like thank you john great like grow inside here perfect great okay, so you'll see this is at nine o with him a bit away from the background will I want it white and I only have one light that's what I'm going to do I'm gonna have you take that chair and push it all the way back to the background if you would and I'm going to keep this distance the same the distance of this lights going to stay in the same place and I'm going to england back towards him a little bit because kind of missing him and I'm going to have john take a reading for me right there all right let's see what it is six point three okay and I checked the background by point oh so now the distance went from six three to five point it's like a third of stop it's not well to third this up is not as dramatic as before it was vastly different so now watch if I put this at six twenty now I have a white background I do have a little bit of a shadow but it's actually something I could almost get rid of I can put this right behind me and yet one more here great so this would be something I would recommend if you have one like now if you're looking at this light and it's not perfect on the face is not quite what you like well I just kind of stuck this here what you could do is you could raise it up a little bit to give yourself a little bit of shape or this is the umbrella that comes with the diffusion panel so I could put diffusion on the front and soften it so it is a softer larger light source and they are the subject in the backgrounds close together but the light is further away so that's your solution if you have one like there are some restrictions of this like still going to have a shadow I'm not going to be able to maybe use room lights on him because he's right up against the background but if you are cutting the subject of the background just wanting it looks nice and white and clean so we're fine about three feet come right about three feet and let's bring this late ok so we're going to take this light further back and see if you have more space when even like this if you can get this further enough back it's not that he has to be directly against the background thank you so now we should be able to get rid of the little bit of that shadow well, we haven't angles and this is we're jumping the gun a little bit so I tell you we have a section about how to get rid of the shadows where he's moved this light source well now help me diminish the shadows on the background so you saw it with the shot looked like before I didn't get rid of a bunch of shadows but let's give it a test it should be about five six knowing ok and there's not really visible shadows what we'll talk about how this works before later and if you're if you're looking again he doesn't have to be right up against the background this solution though, just requires a little more space where the other solution I can at least get white even in its tiny space so wait background no shadows looking good we're going to talk about the shadow thing later on we're backing that light source up and we're changing the angle to point that shadow down we'll answer that in a bit ok so that was question one kind of part one I am happy to take questions on that so far I say maybe keep going to part two and then we'll see if there are more questions does fantastic okay I'm single yeah perfect okay so now we're gonna pop over tio really did more than twelve because I had some ap and like regular than a and b parts but and then okay, I'm not even superstitious, but it went to thirteen and I had to finagle it, so it wouldn't be thirteen because I didn't like it that weird it's nerdy, but I thought twelve sounded better than thirteen or eleven. Okay, so next part is, how do I make a white background white? But this would be more like if I'm going to be illuminating the background. This would be helpful for full length, for example, because I want to be ableto light head to toe, I want to be able to have some distance, and I don't want to be limited to just a big light source far away this is I want a little bit more flexibility, and so this is how you saw yesterday, when I would put a beauty dish on my subject, for example, well, that's not going to give me a white background, I'm goingto have to illuminate the background, but if you've shot backgrounds that are white and you're trying to light it, wait before you may have run into a problem where it's not quite white or it's white in the center than it graze out towards the edges or it fades and and then you end up having to fix it and photo shop and it's just a pain or the background so white that it flares out wraps around your subject sure it's completely white but it's creating a haze in your image. So how do you get a white background white without all of those issues? So here are a couple things that you want to think of it, so the distance first part you ideally will light the subject and background independently if you have the space, move your subject away from the background because that gives you the ability to basically treat them as different zones of light you like the background is one's own, and then that background like doesn't affect your subject whatsoever, and you light your subject the totally different zone and vice versa the main lights not affecting the background. So if you have the distance to work with, pull your subject out of it, so I'm going to pull you out maybe like, two feet, so if you and this is a benefit of, like those massive studio spaces, the more space you have, the more control it's not necessary and I'll tell you a couple work arounds, but we'll we'll get there right next part is to get an even white light all the way across. How do I get even from edge to edge, right, so part one, ideally, if you take a light meter and I'm gonna have john do this a whole whole demo you should be able to meet her on the left hand side of the white background in the middle and the right and have it all be the same truth be told when I'm lighting in my studio, I'm not going to the background and going could click, click and like, making sure it's all the same, I'm just trying to get roughly even, but this is what helps me make sure I don't have to photo shop because it's when the center reads one number and the edges read something different, that means that they're getting gray and I'm going to have to go in and do work and post, so ideally the background will be the same exposure left to right up and down. So here are a couple things you want to keep in mind. One thing you don't want to do would you turn that light on and point it straight at the background? One thing that you don't want to do is have the lights close to the background and pointed straight at the background because what will happen is if you look at this, you should be able to tell that the late doesn't reach the top out of the frame so it will be dark at the top of the front and it's dark at the bottom this's full length it's not going to be enough and on the right hand side it fades to shadow, so you need to have two lights and you don't want them put in straight, the background said what you want to do is feather them across because right now, how he had it, there's a hot spot on the left, and then it slowly gets darker, but if you feathered across, meaning angle it across the light is kind of more equal distance across the whole background when you do it with two lights, see the houses were ready to unfettered it's more focused on the really hot on the left and a feathered across notes, or even when you do that with two lights that's helping you get more even spread of light. Another thing that you don't want to d'oh and as you don't want to have them close if the lights are super super close, it's the bucket of water example, if I take my bucket of water and I throw that bucket of water from here, it can't spread out just like this part of the background. So if I give myself a little bit of distance, that light can spread out just a little bit more in a small space, back it up as much as you can, and by as much as you can, as much as you can without hitting your subjects, and we'll we'll talk about that so that's a that's a pretty good distance we have there you can do closer if you need to but we're making it easy on ourselves because we do have this space here. The next part is the modifiers that you want to use the model firs you want to use on your background lights should not be restrictive and when I mean let's buy that is you don't want a grid or you don't want a light source that's going to focus the light and said you want a light source or modifier it's going to spread the light out because that's what we're trying to do we're trying to get that bucket to kick like everywhere nice and evenly and so one of the modifiers that I said doesn't I don't use very often because it gives you less control over light our umbrellas it spreads the light everywhere but in this case an umbrella is great because it spreads the light everywhere so we're going to add small white umbrellas tio our background so that it will spread out the light evenly if you don't have umbrellas, you could use a bare bulb depending on what you're set up this like just I have no a lot of fires I don't want to buy extra things you can do that but the problem that you have with bare ball this chances are that light goes so far everywhere that it will hit your subject and you'll get spill that you don't want to have, so what we're doing is we're putting on the small umbrellas and we're flipping them around towards the background, making sure that there are lights aren't too close and we're feathering them across it's not like we're pointed straight at the back wall were pointing them inward towards the centers that light crosses another thing to keep in mind if you're shooting full length, sometimes what you made need to dio is you may need to have one light higher than the other, so it's kind of skimming across the top in one light lower than the other so it's skimming across the bottom. All I can say is it depends on your studio space, the space that you're using because there's not quite a right or wrong answer, it really depends on exactly the height that you're shooting in the size of your space, but I usually in my space have one point it a little bit higher towards the background, one pointed a little lower, not too dramatic, just slight angle. We've talked about our modifiers, we've talked about the distance we've talked about feathering, we're getting it nice and even glow of light across the ideally, we'd have it about even so john's going to give me a test to see how we're doing four point out contest on this point over, bueno that's how we do the middle we're point one four point ok a tenth of that four point one zero point one oh we're good yeah it's even that's even that's nice and even and we're keeping these these umbrellas equal distance to the side equidistant back in front if I have one further to decide again the distance makes a difference and I have the powers at the same time trying to keep everything the same so that is a nice evenly lit white background I said keep going for a little bit more couple um block dish whatever is easy it's probably being which is easier to set up okay next part of this total number of lights I am teaching you guys how to do this with three lights may three lights total one light on him in two lights in the background because you don't want to buy a ton of lights but I did want to note that it like really big studio productions when they're lighting psych walls if you've ever seen them the big curved insanity walls they use more than two lights in the background and typically what they do is on one big poll to have one light hire one light lower on either side crossing in the middle I don't do that in my studio space I have what may be thirteen foot ceilings and I have thiss with a background and I still do it with one like so if you have the gear or you're shooting a huge space, there might be reason for more but you can definitely do it with just three like we have here next and final part before we demo this is something that you want to watch out for is the spill of light all right? So you straight at me if a camera can get a close up on his face on we're going to look at the left hand side you guys can't quite see it what I can see with my bare eyes from both of these umbrella this is I can see the front part of the head of the light now these lights as we talked about yesterday the way that they're built the light doesn't spread to much, but if you have one of those bulbs that stick out the light's going to spread everywhere and I could see that and it is hitting this side of his face right here, so can you see that shadow that I'm casting by doing this? What that means is some of that light is going to kick back and I will have a highlight on the side of his neck that could be totally fine that could be great and actually I shoot that a lot on purpose because I like that little bit of extra highlight on the side and the you know, the bright high key background but other times you you don't want that you wanted to be a nice dark shadow where they look like they're cut out of that white background. What you need to keep in mind is you have to find some ways to avoid spill something you could do is you could stick a barn door on that light and then just have the barn door on the side towards the subject like only close it just a little bit so blocks it off or you could use your sin if oil I talked about sin if oil on day one it is black piece of basically tinfoil but is made so that it does not millet doesn't overheat is made for theater and studio lighting purposes so you could tape it on your light and just block it off on that side or you could hold a piece of foam core in the way or if you're not holding it, you could just attach it to a stand if you have a bigger space what I like to dio and I'm probably I don't know john what you think is gonna be easier for this case but what I do in my space is I used the flats and we showed you them yesterday there the four by eight foot pieces of foam core black on one side white on the other and what I will do is I will set them up here and what this means is that the light still has no problem hitting the background, but it blocks it off from hitting my subject that controls it and because umbrellas throw light everywhere, it makes it so they're not throwing like quite as far it's containing it, but it still gets it still gets the background evenly illuminated. So notice that getting a white background is probably a little bit more of a process than you thought. It depends. If you were shooting a ton of images and you do not want to be working on this and post processing, you don't want to have to retouch out every single back on to make it white. You're better off doing in camera at this point if it was a quick set up and you don't mind doing it, you could cut corners, but I would recommend doing something like this will save you a lot of time in the last thing that you should know is for your white background, you can I it, like I said before, where I was shooting yesterday, and I would try to figure out what that said that set up is if it is a white background just by looking at my history, graham okay, cool in the background should be bets six okay, all right, so what you'll see in this photograph is there's that spill of light that I don't want so I'll give you a couple more tips from that? Well, I'm looking at the background here and if I look at my history graham ideally what I should see if I'm not meet a ring is they should see the peak of the white pixels as far to the right as possible you see that little peaks that that's the background the further it goes to the right, the whiter it means that that background is so right now I would like it a little farther over there not quite white they're a little bit less so right now I'm at six three let's go teo, go to five o okay, so now it's like tight right up against that right hand side of the history ram this is it you don't have a meter, you could get it close like that. Another thing that you could watch for is you could actually go into the back of your camera in the settings and go to the part that says highlight warning and if you guys don't know where this is, check your manuals let's see if I even know where mine is here we go it's called minds hall highlight alert I have it turned off and what that means is when a white highlight goes over exposed with no detail, it will blank I haven't turned off because I to wait on purpose all the time and it distracts me to see it but I can turn it on and I can't adjust those lights and see right now in the center I do have that overexposed highlight so I know that I have a pure white but it's not flaring around him okay so this is without a meter I could kind of get close to that so looks pretty good but the next thing that you could do is you you can use the meter and the general rule of thumb is that your background if you're meet a ring should be one to two stops greater than your foreground keeping in mind that you're lighting a white background okay this is not going to work if you're taking the meter reading is that it's a black background this is for when you're lighting a white background they're done would you take the meter reading now and we'll see what it's at so we're going to test it and figure out what my foreground should be for it to look good perfect all right so it's about sixthree so let's I'm going toe what's easier say five from up a little bit I want to pump it up just a little bit more I don't want to be shooting at a really wide aperture right now we'll pump it up to know he should do this in the number you should be higher than six point three I know you want to give you go one more, one more click stephen a little higher all right, perfect. Ok, so if I know that that background is at ten or eleven let's say you're you're more familiar with eleven, okay? Because that tends to be one of the stops we all know if it's supposed to be a stop brighter, then the foreground or two stops brighter if I'm needed my foreground, I should be at feat if the background death eleven or at seven point one or six point three you know it's it's in that range when you start when that background starts to be two and a half stops brighter, three stops brighter that's when you get the flare and what I mean by flare is that light is so light in the background so bright that it is so over exposed it wraps around your subject and it gives you a lens flare and you don't actually have pure blacks. The edges aren't crisp anymore. They start to have a little bit of light creeping around. You could use this for creative effect but usually shows you don't have control of your life, so this is a ten I'm going to put this we'll try around, we'll do it, we'll try seven one or eight oh this over just a little just bring it up a little bit way could do it both ways wide open and show the flight that get a lot brighter knowing okay let's try so this is when it's pretty similar ok, this is when they're equal power all right, so both are about half ten the background looks pretty good but it is not quite if you're white and as I'm looking at my background here with the highlights morning nothing is over exposed there's nothing that's pure white so what I ideally want to do is I want this front light to be a little bit dimmer so I guarantee that that background is pure white so I'm gonna pump it down I'm going to try for like we'll try for like eight get this so I put mine at seven one and now what I should see as I set my aperture at seven point one to match the main light so that background light is now stop and a half two stops brighter but I don't have any flare it's not like it's wrapping hard around but if you look at his hair to this right here if you look really close it starts to piece apart his hair a little bit these air some errors that you would look for if your background is too bright it's so overexposed that hair like mine it it starts to get like it breaks apart is what it looks like so these are the types of things you know when it's a little bit too bright so here's my thought process to go in my head okay, so that background looks nice and white but you know what it's probably a little bit too bright because that hair isn't completely it might be from the spill a little bit too your book it's not completely intact so I have to go ok so is that from my background being too bright or is it from that spill that's what the problem of spill is it might look pretty to have those highlights but then it might make the side of the head on the side of the face too bright so john was using his body to block but holding a foam core let's see if this helps once the thing the highlight should get dimmer so why tell that highlight went away and now the hair is a little bit more intact and then if it's still for some reason piecing apart and you think it's too bright what I do to counter act as if I make this light brighter I've got to close down my whole exposure which makes the background look darker so this is my problem solving I'm going through this whole thing all right? I'm gonna pump up this late a little bit more um, let me close them a little bit and give it a test. Yes, you don't mind. Ok? So it's looking pretty good now his hair that it's pretty much intact all the way it's still a white background, but notice this this is what I'm talking about with that phil that you want or that spill that you want to watch out for. So, if I continue my problem solving let's, say you don't have a handsome john cornyn cello to help you out something else that you can d'oh if you are by yourself, if you can take those the flats, john frequently uses a, uh, a light stand with a big a clamp on top and, you know you don't need assistance or you can try if you're in a big space to move your subject out of this spill zone out of the, you know, like with champion who they had the splash zone, okay, so what I'm going to dio is I'm watching the highlights on his face have you come for farming, come and could fill in the out tray right there, and I'm going to be able to take a look and see, and I took it a little bit of spill, but I'm going to take a photo without the main light so I can see if I'm getting spilled from that background that's what I recommend you do cause it's hard to tell otherwise so this main light is not on. I get a tiny bit, but it is less this member before holly the bright highlights on his nose and on the side of his face. So if you've got the distance, this is why I was saying it's better to light and zones I like the background separately than the foreground. I keep them separated. If you're in a small space, get used to using flags, black pieces of foam core v flats, let's, try this, so that would be my summary of how to light a white background evenly correctly exposed that going over exposed and to watch for the perils of spill like. All right, how did go guys way? But we're involved in people think, well, I can say for people in the chat rooms that things are really clicking for me personally, thank you for taking us through sort of the logical steps as well of what you're looking for and how toe set it all up, one by one by one. I did want to ask a lot of people are asking about john's light meter, could you tell us what that is? This is lindsey's light it is lindsay's ok we were even though I practice in the beginning I don't use one but it is really good so everyone knows what page I'm on okay, so this one is the sick connick it's a light master pro and I have to look at it the l forty seven eighty are basically what it is is it is the light meter that is all digital it's all touch screen so that's it's cooling funky but it works for still and also for cinema so if you do a little bit of video you can set your frame rates you consider all of that information there so you can meet her for video as well and we'll get that into the careless as well for people, so don't worry, thank you very much, but what a lot of people have been asking was about if you don't have the light meter, how do you just use your camera re during tio set though those white points in the background. So you're talking about the history graham was awesome I well, one thing that you can do is you could turn them on independently and check where they're crossing or trying to get it so that you're getting even spread and use that technique I use before where I want to see its way on one side and white on the other I also do my highlights morning so I'm looking and I'm just testing and I want to see that everything is about evenly lit if the edges air if basically just the hot spot in the center is really bright or just on either side that I know it's not even you have other camera meter using the city on the back the camera doesn't know from the stroke the camera meter is going to read the ambien here so it did it's not going to be able to read the background separately, so you're just going to go guesswork or use the lcd you need a flash meter I mean there's light meters that don't read flesh and camera meters don't read flesh so the light meter has no play in this were in manual mode through the whole time yeah it's not like I'm looking through and going ok, is it even I have to actually take a picture and just try to determine by looking at my history, graham if I'm getting even not just by looking through great point thank you, thank you. I do have a couple of questions on this if you don't mind in this scenario and in general are these adjustments something that you would do after you have your model ready to shoot or would you have all this tested and ready before your model is there in my studio space, I have a mannequin head that's missing one eyeball and I test everything on that. She had two rivals, but she got dropped and we couldn't find it it's really funny at the beginning of every one of my shoots if you look at the images, I have a one eyeballed lady with no hair and the long neck so in other words, I test it beforehand, okay? So manikins air great, we could put a marble probably where the eye was on because they can't get the catch late. I should do something weird like that there's something really could you like red marble? So I've got to find something weird video that so I do that or, you know, I frequently work on this is a question I wanted to answer, I frequently work with assistance and people like, well, yeah, you know, you're more established, you can work with assistance, I always had assistance because there's always people that are interested in photography and watching the process. So I just became involved in my local photo community and I say, hey, I'm doing a shoot today, you want to come help you want to come watch, I was always able to have someone around to help out, so there aren't really excuses for that, but even if john weren't here this is absolutely nothing I could do all by myself and I usually do the reason well, first of all, I love john said so I haven't helped me but also it's your time, right? So I could be speaking to you as I'm setting up so this is not anything that requires one or two or three assistance you can definitely do everything I'm doing here by yourself great thank you. I do a warmer question from edwin who says thank you thank you, thank you may be doing the same thing with full body and in a group question mark yeah and that's what we're about to do right now is that so we want to do it and when you do wanna roll it out okay, let me see if this would be the ideal points to do it at the shoot full night, you know, we'll roll it out now, so if you want to help him out, just bring you some tea and what we're going to do is now that question of how to a shoot full length on white and I'll show you a problem that you do run into when you shoot full length on white. One problem you might see is the floor is great and not white enough anyone's has tried that and had that same problem, and what I'm using here is I am using something called white seamless paper comes in different sizes you could get six foot nine foot twelve foot and with and then a role is just kind of all the same length. The reason I like to use paper is it is easier to light evenly across because it doesn't have wrinkles. When I have I used to use white muslin or white canvasback grounds for the province and roll him up, I'd put them out, they have wrinkles in them and then my light raking across from either side the way I'm feathering it would pick up the wrinkles in the fabric, and so it just gives you more hassle. So if you like to shoot a lot of high key, you can shoot white seamless or they do have white vinyl backgrounds that you can purchase a cz well and use them over and over again. Yes, have you ever used white from majka on a roof or mike or whatever on the floor so you don't have to keep on you re using the same what a wonderful leading to my next slides let me so the answer is yes, so that it wasn't planted. That was a good question, so I ok, I was going, I want to show how it doesn't look quite, but I also don't want to get dirty and I'm thinking, mr do she's come off easily by the way, in my studio space, because I don't like ruining backgrounds, and sometimes I don't want a reflective surface. There's a couple solutions will talk about, but I keep the little hospital booties. We have the little blue hospital booties. So when people are walking on the background, they were that that they don't leave footprints.

Class Description


  • Expertly light a portrait using just one light and one modifier
  • Work with more complex two and three light set-ups
  • Create light for portraits, beauty, or drama
  • Light a group photograph
  • Learn to troubleshoot the most common lighting questions
  • Confidently purchase the right lighting equipment for your work


Intimidated by studio lights? In Studio Lighting 101, fashion photographer Lindsay Adler deciphers the complexities of studio light, breaking it down into simple concepts for beginners. In this class, you'll learn everything from basic lighting terminology to creating multiple light set-ups. Start with the basics like how to adjust your digital camera settings for studio strobes and layer in the details you'll need to light your first photo studio portrait.

Photographers on a budget will learn how to light a portrait using a single light, modifier, and photography light stand. Then, learn to work with two and three light kits to create drama, background separation, and more. You'll see dozens of studio lighting set-ups, from start-to-finish, behind the scenes in this live recorded class. Develop the skills to troubleshoot several common photography studio lighting problems, like lighting large groups and correcting reflections on glasses.

By the end of this class, you'll know how to buy your first studio lighting kit and how to shoot that first in-studio portrait. This class is ideal both for beginning photographers that don't understand much beyond the exposure triangle and experienced natural light photographers ready to try a studio setting.


  • Beginners with a grasp of the exposure triangle
  • Intermediate and advanced natural light photographers new to studio lighting


Fashion photographer Lindsay Adler is one of the most well-known in her field, noted for her style, posing and mastery of the studio lighting system. Along with working as a photographer, she's also a respected educator, a Canon Explorer of Light, and author of three instructional photography books. Her work has appeared in publications such as Marie Claire, Elle, InStyle, Noise, Essence, Zink Magazine, Rangefinder, Professional Photographer and dozens more. Lindsay is a sought after speaker for her experience and straightforward, easy-to-follow teaching style.


  1. Studio Essentials: Shutter Speed

    In the first lesson, gain an overview of the course. Dispel some of the most common lighting myths. Learn how camera settings change when working with studio lighting instead of natural lighting. Figure out your sync speed limitations and how shutter speed affects the ambient (or existing) light.

  2. Studio Essentials: Flash Exposure

    While shutter speed won't change the look of your studio light, aperture and ISO will affect the exposure, or the amount of light, from the flash. Learn how aperture affects the way that burst of light from your strobe or speedlight looks. Then, factor in ISO and the strobe output, or how much light the strobe lighting creates. Work with a light meter to take out some of that guesswork.

  3. Studio Essentials: White Balance

    Where should you set the white balance when working with studio lighting? In this lesson, learn where to set the white balance on the camera, and why those settings are different for different types of light and even different brands. Work with additional factors that can also affect color temperature.

  4. Light Principles: Inverse Square Law

    Dive into the three things that affect the look of the light. Consider factors like the intensity of the light, lighting ratios, and the quality of the light. Take the complexities out of the Inverse Square Law and learn how bringing the light closer or farther away makes a difference in the image.

  5. Lighting Patterns

    Learn the lighting lingo to establish a basic foundation in light -- and the ability to learn and talk about light. Pick up terms like broad light, short light, flat light, highlights, and shadows. Then, dive into common lighting patterns like paramount, loop, Rembrandt, and split.

  6. Shoot: Demo Lighting Patterns

    Watch the lighting patterns from the previous lesson in action. Learn how to set up each type of pattern. Then, add variety to the lighting set-ups through simple changes, such as understanding how height affects dimension.

  7. Quality of Light and Modifiers

    Control the quality of light from hard to soft adding modifiers to your lighting kit. Learn why size and distance matters for modifiers. Look at the different types of lighting accessories available and see how several types of modifiers affect the light.

  8. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid

    See those lighting accessories in action. In this live shoot, see how adjusting the different available diffusers and grids change the look of the image. Determine how to pick a modifier that matches the look you want.

  9. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Umbrellas

    Umbrellas are a large, inexpensive, and easy-to-use light modifier. Work with the different types of collapsible umbrellas, including silver, white and shoot through. Discover how to place the umbrella and work with umbrellas in a portrait shoot.

  10. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Softboxes

    Softboxes are similar to umbrellas in that they create soft light, but they can be a bit easier to control. See the pros and cons of different shapes and sizes. In the live shoot, learn how to control the light spill by feathering a softbox.

  11. Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Extra Stuff

    Work with strip boxes, barn doors, grids, and snoots -- modifiers that are often used for rim light, backlight or hair lights. Explore how each type works, then see the different options in action. Learn about Lindsay's favorite modifier, the beauty dish.

  12. 10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2

    Launch into ten different lighting setups that you can achieve with just one light -- this lesson covers the first two. Create paramount and loop lighting with a softbox in this live shoot using a single light, a light stand, a boom arm, and an octabox.

  13. 10 One Light Set-ups: 3 to 5

    Moving through the ten lighting set-ups with a single light, work with a Paramount octabox and two fill cards for a lighting setup called the beauty box. Create a Rembrandt light with an octabox and watch the behind-the-scenes fine-tuning using a modeling light, or continuous lighting, to see how small adjustments affect the light. Then, add a silver reflector to the Rembrandt for another option.

  14. 10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10

    Continue building variety with a single light using a Rembrandt set-up with a white reflector. Create a short light loop with an octabox, a short light Rembrandt with a reflector, an octabox rim light, and an octabox behind.

  15. One Light Set-ups: Pop Quiz

    Review what the class has done so far. Look over the ten images from the one-light set-ups, recap the qualities of that light and how it was created.

  1. FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 1

    Which is better, strobe light kits or a continuous lighting kit likes the ones often used with video cameras? Discuss the pros and cons of each type to help determine what type of lighting gear works best for you. Dive into the most frequently asked questions about buying photography lighting, like what wattage to look for.

  2. FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 2

    This class allows you to shoot multiple set-ups with a single light -- but ideally, how many lights should you have in your light kit? Continue working with purchasing questions on lighting in this lesson, including name brands, DIY alternatives, and the difference between the pricey strobes and the less expensive strobes.

  3. FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 3

    If you can only afford one modifier, which one should you start with? Finish the round of purchasing questions in this lesson, including questions posed by students like you. Learn how strobes differ from flash heads or speedlights, and why strobes are often better for a studio space than an off camera flash.

  4. 10 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 and 2

    Move from simple single light set-ups to lighting with two light sources. Start with a basic portrait with a softbox loop and a stripbox hair or rim light. Then, learn to shoot a basic clamshell with a softbox, a reflector and a strip box for added highlight.

  5. 10 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 6

    Continuing the two-light set-ups, move into more dramatic lighting with a Rembrandt using a softbox key light and a strip box rim light. Next, tackle a Rembrandt portrait lightened with a fill card and a clamshell with a softbox and stripbox.

  6. 10 Two Light Set-Ups: 7 to 10

    Go behind the scenes for a short light Rembrandt with a second light behind the subject 45-degrees with a barn door modifier. Create a "checkerboard" style light using a Rembrandt key light and a grid on the background. Finally, create a dramatic Rembrandt with a silver dish and stripbox or barndoors.

  7. 5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2

    Two light set-ups aren't limited to just ten possibilities. In the second set of two-light scenarios, Lindsay walks through some less common photographic lighting techniques. Start with using two rim lights, then jump into a sideways clamshell.

  8. 5 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5

    Create a wrap around beauty light with a softbox behind, a beauty dish in the front and a silver reflector. Or, build a more dramatic wrap-around light without a reflector. Learn how to shoot with a dramatic grid light and a barn door modified light towards the back.

  9. 5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2

    A three light kit will open up even more possibilities. In this lesson, Lindsay discusses why you may want three lights, then jumps into the first of five different basic three light set-ups. Start with a high key portrait, followed by a high key clamshell.

  10. 5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5

    Learn to light groups using a three light set-up. Anticipate the likely problems with lighting groups before they happen and watch a live demonstration of a group lighting set-up. Then, create a three-point light set up with a softbox and two stripboxes, then a checkerboard with a key, rim, and background light.

  11. 5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3

    Move into the more advanced three light set-ups in this lesson. Start with a Rembrandt with a gridded beauty dish and two rim lights with barn doors. Then work with film noir studio lighting and a high key drama shot.

  12. 5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5

    Learn to use your lights to create a high key spill light. Finally, create a high key clamshell lighting in the final intermediate three-light set-up.

  13. 10 Common Lighting Mistakes

    Now that you know how to light, learn how NOT to light. Work with some common lighting mistakes that beginners make, and learn how to fix each one.

  1. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1

    In the final day of the class, work through twelve common problems that are common in studio lighting. Learn how to problem solve lighting in the studio. Work with issues like getting a white background with one light or multiple lights.

  2. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 2 to 6

    Continue troubleshooting in the studio and dive into creating full-length shots with an all-white background. Work with stacking light, dealing with ambient light, and more.

  3. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 7

    How can you prevent the subject from casting a shadow on the background? In this lesson, Lindsay explains how to tackle this tricky challenge.

  4. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8

    How far away you place the light plays a role in the image -- so what about working inside a small studio? In this lesson, Lindsay tackles the challenges of working inside a small space with studio lights.

  5. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 9

    How do you avoid reflections on the subject's glasses? Learn how to avoid reflections on glasses when using studio lights.

  6. Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 10 to 12

    Finish the list of the most common problems that come up with studio lighting. Work with separating the subject from a dark background, lighting groups evenly, and using wide apertures with strobe lights.

  7. Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    In this set of rapid-fire studio set-ups, learn how to light a traditional portrait using, one, two or three lights. Watch behind the scenes for these "go-to" portrait set-ups.

  8. Beauty Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    Beauty shots are a bit different from a traditional portrait. Walk through ideal lighting set-ups for beauty light using one, two and three lights.

  9. Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    Build these go-to group lighting set-ups into your repertoire. Learn easy lighting set-ups for using a single light, or one or two.

  10. Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

    Work with three go-to lighting set-ups for drama (which also work well for men). Learn dramatic light with one light, two or three.

  11. Your First Studio Lighting

    In the final lesson, gain insight into what to consider when building your studio lighting kit. Lindsay shares tips on what to buy and how to save cash for photographers on a budget.



If you're on the fence about this class I can easily answer your concerns. BUY IT. Lindsay provides top notch professional education while keeping things interesting. Her words are precise and direct. I actually felt GOOD just watching and learning. I mean, like someone surprised me with a cupcake kinda GOOD. After the class I could immediately see improvements in my photography. The best part is that I learned enough to see the wrong in my setups. Knowing what's wrong is just as important as knowing what's right. She is funny, easy going, energetic and filled with knowledge. I would also highly recommend her Posing 101 class as a must have addition to this course. I feel like I have learned more than I could possibly use. I will be going through this course over and over again just to make sure it all sinks in. There's THAT MUCH she offers that you will always learn more with each time you watch. I hope this helps someone make the decision to up their game. That is exactly what it did for me.

Beatrice Palma

Hi, I am Beatrice from Italy. I think this class is superb. I finally understood what are the guide lines to follow, I tried for years but never found such a good explanation. Lindsay is a wonderful teacher, she explains in a simple way, she shares a lot of knowledge and she shows in practice what are the results of every single choice. Thank you so much, it was really amazing and super interesting!!!!

Penny Foster

I have been shooting families and pets in my living room space for two years now and I thought I was doing a good job but certain skills had eluded me, like lighting a white background to perfection and shooting people with glasses without the reflections in my shots. Then I watched this course and had so many 'aha' moments that I HAD to buy it; not just for Lindsay's teaching style (which is pretty awesome( but also for all the lighting diagrams that I can refer to whenever I feel like 'stepping my lighting up to the next level'. Lindsay shows you what you can do with minimal gear, so you can get started right away; no need for expensive triggers (I have a set that just fires when I press the shutter), and no need for expensive branded modifiers (she shows you what you can do with one umbrella). Lindsay is so enthusiastic, it is obvious that she loves light, and it is hard not to get 'fired up' to try all of her lighting setups. Brilliant course once again!