Skip to main content

Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8

Lesson 32 from: Studio Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8

Lesson 32 from: Studio Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

32. 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.


Class Trailer

Day 1


Studio Essentials: Shutter Speed


Studio Essentials: Flash Exposure


Studio Essentials: White Balance


Light Principles: Inverse Square Law


Lighting Patterns


Shoot: Demo Lighting Patterns


Quality of Light and Modifiers


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Umbrellas


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Softboxes


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Extra Stuff


10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2


10 One Light Set-ups: 3 to 5


10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10


One Light Set-ups: Pop Quiz


Day 2


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 1


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 2


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 3


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 and 2


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 6


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 7 to 10


5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


5 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5


5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5


5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3


5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5


10 Common Lighting Mistakes


Day 3


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 2 to 6


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 7


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 9


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 10 to 12


Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Beauty Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Your First Studio Lighting


Lesson Info

Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8

How do you shoot in really small spaces? I can do a ton with a twelve by twenty that like I feel really confident and really comfortable and that's basically the size of my studio space, so if you've seen images of the actual shooting space I used the studio's bigger but if you've seen my portfolio and my studio images it's pretty much all done in a twelve by twenty but that is a decent sized space you can definitely create something in a tiny space and I'm going to give you some considerations on what you're thinking of and not to call out the size of john studio space. But how big is the actual space it's difficult to say because it's an l shape so one room is about twelve by thirteen feet in the other one's about twelve by thirteen so I can get about eighteen feet back from the background so when he has has this this shape where the actual shooting space might be ten by terry but then she came back I go back into the dining room and he just did a portrait of me on sunday that's awes...

ome and it looks like it could be taken in any size space so that was this is the no excuses part of the presentation so let's take a look at some considerations one thing you want to avoid is huge modifiers if you're in a tiny space because then you can't move them anywhere you can't do much with them so I'm talking about you don't want a seven foot octo box if you're in a really small space unless if you just shoot children and newborns all the time and you want one really broad soft light source that you're not going to move and you're going pretty much keep it in the same place the same type of light let's find I mean if you find the light source and that's your style and you're using it over and over again go with it the problem would be especially if you have low ceilings got let's say you have eight foot ceilings and a seven foot hopped a box you can't raise that senator of the light up high enough to be elevated above the subject's head like we said is more flattering so you get a lot of bottom like you just don't have much flexibility so in general avoid really large modifiers the next one is let's say you say well ok so lindsay said let's get away from large modifiers so I get a three foot doctor box but now I have a family portrait that I'm trying to do and I could like the top of this family and normally I would try to back up but I don't have much room to back up so really it's just the top of the family of flint not the bottom well, what you can dio is you can stack the lights like he's doing here you could use to lights in the front and you could use to octo boxes or too soft boxes, sir could be one three foot doctor box above one three foot locked box below and it it's not really like clams, so you don't have to treat it like that. It just looks like a longer light. You could also in a situation like that, use one of the larger strip lights. There are stripped banks that are larger and you could use one of those head to tell to get even illumination if you needed. The next one is just to take a look like modifiers that I consider a little bit more manageable would be three foot doctor box a beauty dish it's all relative to your space to have ten by ten or do you have twelve by twenty? How small are we talking? So I would also avoid medium to large umbrellas, usually because they need a lot of space, not just because of their wingspan, like how why'd it is the diameter, but the shaft of the umbrella takes up a lot of space and because you're trying to fill that large umbrella, you need to extend the umbrella far out so that it fills it and then you have problems to worry about death as well as with and it just becomes a big hassle however, when I had my portrait session done by john he was using a very, very large umbrella kind of he was using this so is a sixty inch umbrella, but this one is the faux tech soft lighter and the reason that I'm recommending this one in particular is part of the chef of the umbrella can actually be removed, so it just makes it into a narrower but broad soft box it's a silver umbrella with diffusion the light look beautiful looks really, really nice and I liked the picture you did kid, I posted it on facebook where people could go see the photo facebook and instagram because it or what your instagram corner cello photo cornyn telephoto you can follow him awesome thank you the next thing is if you're working in a small space, keep your lights close and this is something that I did not understand when I was first working in studio lighting. Having your light really, really close could be great for portrait's I'm talking like just barely out of your frame because the larger the light source is relative to subject the softer it is and I can have it wrapped around, so if you could bring that light close fantastic but let's say you bring the light closely like, oh but see tartlet back to stacking a light source again especially if you're in really, really low feelings having like faraway doesn't improve the quality of light, so feel free to bring it in as long as it's not in your shot. Another thing to consider in smaller spaces is what you khun dio is you can have the light off to the side and you can then fill in the shadows this is giving me a little bit more room then trying to frame if it's in my way I have after science or you could just fill in where the phil card but when I do this, if you guys can see the distance that light is pointed right at the background, so becomes difficult in a small space to control your background right? Because right now it's going to be light so what I could do is I can souther the light off the background and now the light will go much darker so I'm going to take a photo both of those if you don't mind just to show you the difference all right and I'll do one without yeah so perfect here we go oh god turn it off but that was like what happened? They don't look at that well but look at the shadows why that intense shadow this is ok this let in this is a good this way both of these lights on right now, the soft box and this this is the worst case scenario besides it being maybe a little more center and because it is high contrast with no modifies a bare bulb and it is pointed upward or from a lower angle which cast a shadow up, so this will give you chris and contrast the shadows and the on ly reason that's not even darker is because that soft boxes filling it in it would be awful shout so this is like, get us far away from this as possible, so I turned it off. Let's, try this again. Okay, so notice again, we're really close, but no shadows, okay? Nice soft light on the safe and we pulled the light off to the side if I'm working in this tiny space and I bring the soft box over now, it's going to be in my frame, so if you're trying to have less shadows, it might be better for you to just use a full card still in the shadows as opposed to going with paramount one more really, really super close to her going to go and get so this would be with phil card, feeling it and softening up the shadows, all right, but like I said, I'm looking at this photo right now and I think it looks kind of blah because of the background personally, the reason step blas because her skin tone is a similar tone ality to the background there's not much separation, I want something to separate her out. A couple things that I could do is I could just switch the background like have it be a darker called her, and she would stand out from it or I confess, either, and so I'm pointing it away from the background as much as possible. I could just catch her with the edge of that soft blocks still feeling different. And so now the background it's not totally even, but it's much darker or even my flag, you flag off on that side, we'll try to make it even darker or let's say I want to angle it this way just a little bit more for whatever you're set up is you can use a piece of black home court as long as it's not in your frame, that background is going to be significant and a little less I'll tell you in right there, I'll say what I was looking at one sec, you know I can get the background again much, much darker, like a really dark, dramatic background. When I told him when you heard me say we're not not that far, it was because the flag starting to block off the light on her face and all of this for time's sake I have him holding you would just use a little black piece of foam core on a stand with the clamp do you buy the clamps at home depot or whatever your home improvement stories but it's nice to have friendly, intelligent life light stand better moving around okay all right so so far we have that for small spaces I mean if you wanted more separation from the background there's definitely enough space for me here in this I don't know ten by ten space or less to put a ring light on her jaw I could do that do anything I'm trying to I would have to be aware of because I don't have much space it's going to be really close to her which means I'm going to have to be really aware of how I help far down I dialled that power so close it would probably be really bright then maybe in this small space it would be better for me to go with barn doors because it's it's small versus strip bank it has a little bit more depth to it I might not be able to back up so it's kind of problem solving of what modifiers your smaller how could I separate my subject out from the background and in a small space like this you can still light the background white you could still light it but it would be much, much much more difficult to get full length even white and you really have to worry about the spill of light so this is when using was we said before the v flat or black it would be fun to probably be too big in a small space so just black pieces of foam core would become incredibly important to black out spill of light so I can still point those lights at the background but they would probably be pretty much right next to her in order to light that background so I just have her blocked in with black home court here we're problem solving again and they think there was anything else like that oh okay well last tip that before we move on from this particular subject matter is let's say that you show up and you're shooting in I don't know you got hired to shoot an environmental shot in a dentist's office and they have you shooting where they do the dental work and it's like six by six okay tiny space you can't even get a modifier in there if there is a large white wall you could consider pointing the light into that wall and it becomes like a big reflector so let's say you're getting your teeth done at the dentist ok and there's a white wall behind me I could point that strobe into the corner of the wall and it would give me a directional light from this side. Now, what you have to be aware of is what happens if that wall is bluish white? What I would do is in that case, it would definitely be an instant where the expo disk from day one would be great, because now I'm taking a lot more into consideration with white balance, and I could take a custom white balance based off of the reflection on that wall, so that is another if you're traveling aa lot and shooting in spaces that are tiny and you can't really set up here, that could definitely be a solution, so I'd love to say questions on the small shooting and tight small spaces right now. Great, and let us know if you guys have any s o I just heard you, we went from like, twelve by twelve ten by ten six by six several folks have asked what is the absolute smallest size that you would recommend? I would I mean, I'm there's not much that I I was like, I couldn't do much and anything smaller than like eight by eight yeah that's kind of where I feel I can actually get a little bit of space, I would prefer like an eight by ten born eight by twelve and notices what I want to know this seamless right here this is a nine foot seamless and then the stands need some space, so you usually need about twelve feet of space to have a nine foot seamless, but they do make smaller seamless they do make six six foot right forty's forty eight inch approximately forty fifty, four hundred fifty four I told you he knows everything that makes smaller, seamless I never buy them on these a little bit harder to work with, but I have plenty of friends that shoot like I have one friend in new york. He does a lot of photos where he shows up and photographs famous musicians when they do a press release, you can't say you can't carry it, but but you can't set up a huge, seamless and he's working in tiny spaces and will often use a gray seamless that is that fifty four inches wide and he's working in a space that it by eight. All right, just get in there and try it out a size two is getting the camera further away and the perspective you want the light waken light things in a smaller space, but I may not be able to get a full and photo and yeah, and if you're more one on one and part of what happens is if you're shooting here, okay? If I want a full length of her here I'm at twenty eight millimeters and it's definitely going to start to to start. So it's a awesome point yeah, it's not it's not going to be ideal. So this this next part, which is his part eight a of this is what do you do in low ceilings? Maybe you have some space which I've had this situation before. I have some space, but the space I rented with those drop ceilings in an old office building and that's what I'm shooting in or maybe it's a basement studio where he got a little distance side to side, but you just don't have the height. You have a couple of things and let's start before we get too, even though it was a good one before I even get to the lighting part let's talk about a couple of things, okay? The cop out would be avoid standing poses that that's a that's a cop out, but it does create a lot of problems if you don't need them to stand if you're not sure in their feet do sitting poses the next one is, well, that's kind of related, but I'm going to show you height. What happens when you let say this background were lower? Okay, it we had to stop a eight foot tall trees in the background is now that this poll is eight feet tall okay, so assuming that's like an eighty said the poll here is eight feet tall so assuming you have, like eight foot ceilings if you have a soft box like this what he did is perfect. You can rotate it on its side for example so it wraps around or you could use is smaller modifier stacked just like I said before and octo box with another octo box we're just using an octo box or a beauty dish if you don't care about how the bottom of the frame is let but the other part of this has to do with toll subjects and your distance ok, your distance makes a big difference so can I have you stand for a second and joining just back it up a little bit? I'll try to do some distance dancing here. You know the dance is that kind of like I do all right, perfect. Thank you. Great let's say that that soft box was right up to the top of my eight foot ceiling. Okay, let me just give this test. Can you come for just a tiny bit? Just give a quick test here to get an exposure that's pretty good. All right, so a couple things you want to keep in mind and this is this isn't exactly lighting related, but I did want to address it because it's it's related you want to avoid low angles because what will end up happening with a lower sailing is watcher happens here's me standing and shooting her mid length or a dutiful link now same thing when I get down low ahead we'll start to go off the top of the background I'm sure you guys have run into that a ton of times that was one that took me forever to try to figure out so here's a couple rules of thumb some things that will help you out it's all about perspective right now let's say that I'm going to pretend you're a tree okay, so you're in a field right and you get really close to your subject and this is your tree the tree when you're really close looks really tall and really big and the mountains in the background looks smaller but if I back up really far from that tree okay, well now the perspective changes it doesn't look as large and comparison now the back of the mountains in the back on do start to look larger so the same thing happens here if I'm really close to her she is going to look larger whatever is closest to the camera looks largest so if I am here yeah well it was like the poses you were doing before right horrifies is ok, so for example she is going to be off the background a bit okay but if I back up in zoom in, the background appears to be growing, and she appears to be strength, shrinking it. It's, how perspective works so now that same thing and I back up in zoom in she's nowhere close being off the top of that background anymore. So what you want to do is if you can back up from your subject that will help you out, it makes the subject look like the shrink and the background look like they grow on. The other part is, you don't, even if you have the space you don't want. In that case, maybe you're subject to be ten, twelve feet away, because, again, let's say that she steps forward, but like, five feet ahead and let's say the wall is right behind me. I can't back up anymore to zoom in, and so now she's going to be asked at the top of the background, so it might actually be better if she gets closer to the background in this instance. So that again, as she moves back relative, that background will grow, and she will look like she shrinks so that's, not a lighting thing, but it will make a really big difference when photographing people who are tall, so for people who are tall, you wanted to stack the light and you want to try one shot staff we put an octopus and this just I've talked about it so what does that even mean? So we're going to go with approximately eight foot ceilings here you want to lower that like six inches okay, so this is what you could do with the six uh if you had an eight foot ceiling and a really small space at this point that's all the things I've said to help light your subjects more evenly because you want to back the light up from the subject to news a larger light source but you can't use a large light source because you're in a small space so three by four foot it might be that might be doable or you might need to octo boxes because it's smaller but I can't back it up enough to also like her feet so we stack another light beneath all right and all uh give it your car with all right let's take a look so what? It will also like her feet and also light her head the thing you want to watch out for is you don't want this light to be brighter because it will give you bottom line so I wouldn't go for completely even dial down like a stop I would go for a little less power on the bottom and look ahead towards the light this time good right there and if I didn't have the stool here you wouldn't actually really see a shadow the stools only thing casting a shadow it wouldn't be there but notice the shadow caused cast by her legs just goes out of the frame is not really on the background all right? You just point we used the super clamp here that great leading ok, so we're gonna take a step back real quick what john did one of things that I never I was taught and so I think that john needs to teach this class and creative life I'm just that's my vote is a class on grip like gear grip for setting up studios so what? He uses something called a super clamp and he has attached to the pole there so I was able to mount another light on that same man for two poll another thing you could buy a something called a floor stand it's just much shorter or it's used for a little background lights. Yes, this actually might be for john but really when I and your studio's got taller ceilings now right one thing that just I don't know if you're goingto address this, but these stands that I see are kind of the kit stands it looks like do you see stands to use those type of stands? I have boeing issues with big roles and I'm just wondering what you use what you recommend I can tell you personally what I use for nine foot seamless is I have auto polls and so they're they're stick on the ceiling and it's it's basically when you crank um it uses the tension between the ceiling in the floor I used the same thing the thing to be careful though if you're in a residential home e a plaster ceiling you can you can crack the ceiling if you know so be careful don't put it against the ceiling two before you clamp down get it like a quarter inch away so that the clamp just gets it in place but the broader auto polls don't have any spread feet at the bottom so they're just one poll on either side with you hooks on on super clamps and they could put a large curtain rod I've used paint sticks as my poll or conduit metal conduit a nine foot ten foot piece of metal conduit between him and then you don't get the boeing and that's a perfect question because one of the reasons auto polls are great for small spaces is because you don't have the spread of the feet so you can actually shoot in a more narrow space then you might have been able to do with wide stands I just want to give john cornyn cello here extra special shout out thank you for all the knowledge of what happened here but john actually because people are seconding you have john teach a class on creative live john has taught a class on credible I've a couple actually so you can go in search for for his name c o r n I c e l l o john cornyn cello he actually taught a class out of his home for home studio so check that out what I love is I get assisted by an expert it's not too bad but and and that's also just kind of piggyback on that. What? It's? One of the reasons I love being part of a photographic community is when I have questions it's never ego singer next for thing it's like, oh, this is how I do it how do you do it? You know, and that's why I like being part of the community do the same thing I asked on on facebook I've done it this way, but does someone have a better way to do this like the brilliant one I figured out, how the heck do you store? Seamless because you have these giant rolls of paper, the sad, the savages, the seamless that I usually use if you go to their web site for like I think like forty bucks they have these foam core their phone things that you can store them vertically because when you store them horizontally they tend tio get bubbles and warm so you have to store them vertically. But then how do you make them stand up vertically? And I wouldn't know this, because when I asked on facebook and said, well, what do you people do? And people helped me out so there's, that that's, another tough when working in a home studio fee of eight foot ceilings howdy store in nine foot seem was vertically, and I found that they're going down my basement stairs. There's a little slot next to the side of the stairs, that's, about twelve feet tall because it's the stairway to the basement and I can slip them into their that's. Great see, expert.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


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.

Jason Ashley

I loved this course! Lindsay spent so much time with explaining each set-up in-depth that anyone picking up a camera could understand how to accomplish their lighting goals. This course covered so many unique (but, most likely to come across scenarios) and how one would approach the challenge and how to successfully accomplish with incredible results, not average-sub-standard or basic results, but above entry-level standards, high-level, money-generating lighting expertise! ZERO laziness in her explanations to the point where she is constantly refining her course in the middle of the 3 days. Her passion gleams throughout each days lessons with so much energy. You know she really wants her students both in-person and through the screen to be successful in whatever type of lighting they choose to dabble in. I am so happy, I have bookmarked, and i'm so happy and fortunate to have this course to reference for hopefully –everrrr. Thanks!

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!!!!

Student Work