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Live Shoot: Low Key LIghting

Lesson 3 from: The Highs and Lows of Lighting: Controlling Mood with Light

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

3. Live Shoot: Low Key LIghting

Lesson Info

Live Shoot: Low Key LIghting

we're going to shoot, and I'm going to start with low key example having my beautiful. You look beautiful. You're so cute. You look off. See? She's like, my like that. Okay, So I'm gonna have you stand right out here for me. All right? Perfect. So in this first example, let me get all tethered up here and make sure I'm do what I'm supposed to be doing. Perfect. Okay, move a couple things out of the way. Thank you. I think I Which one is that? I'll probably use that one most perfect. All right, so let's start in the very, very beginning of a simple low key lighting set up, and it's going to be with two lights, So can you turn on the back to lights for me? All right. What I'm going to do is I'm just going to create a low key silhouette. And so the low key still about what I'm going to do is I'm going toe like her profile on one side. I'm going to Carver out from the background on the other. So for both of these, by the way, all the lights and then use today everything amusing. I believe ...

these are the 500 watts or these. 1000. Perfect. I'm using Pro photo D one air 500 watts. That's what I use in my studio and the two. And can you turn the modeling late on that one? The two modifiers that I have here are won by four foot strip soft boxes. Um, can you grab me a barn door real quick. This set up you can do and also cinephile. Perfect. So this set up, what we're gonna do is we're gonna use these two strips off boxes on either side to car for out from the background. And I have moved my lights off as far to decide as possible, which gives me as much shadow as possible. And I'm not filling in any of the light in the front, which means shadow shadows, shadows and lots of shadows like that. Like, this is what it means. And the picture that I showed you before that I mentioned the fine art nude. This is basically one of the ways you could do this. All right, so I'm gonna show you the shot, but I want to tell you other ways you can do it. First of all, you can absolutely do this with speed. Like if you're in a small space and you have speed lights positively, you can get the same effect. I've got the strips off boxes, but you could also use barn doors, barn doors from the either side, and then you can narrow the beam down if you use barn doors. This is what would let you get the tiniest sliver off a highlight super sharp. It looks like you drew it on with, like a white marker. Like it, it gives you more focused like now the reason is smaller opening, whereas with a strip soft box, it's a little bit broader. It's a little bit bigger, so it's gonna wrap around a little bit more if you don't have barn doors. But you're like, Man, I want those razor sharp highlights you're talking about. Something else you could do is buy sent a foil and Senna foil you can get at. I mean to be an age you could get a theater supply shop and this black sin if oil, it's basically black tinfoil that doesn't catch on fire, because I what I did to create my first barn doors was cardboard, and then I taped it on with Doc tape. The duct tape melted, the cardboard fell in and it like smoke. So I don't see that saving your effort. But you can create your own barn doors using center foil so you could take him on, narrow it down and get the same effect passes back to you. So something else that I find very useful when you're working with low key lighting is to eliminate as much ambient light as possible. Right now, we're shooting in a nice day light studio, which means it's there's lots of light. It's not because the light's going to affect the picture. It makes it difficult to see what your model modelling lights are doing, because if you're using very narrow like right. So if I'm just using a light on the center of the face and I can't see it, if the lights of this big and the subject moves now, it's not going to be correctly placed. So that's why I like to use my modeling lights and ideally, I work. I kind of closed the light down a little bit, so I'm gonna take one more step center. I'm gonna be turned to your left. Perfect. And now this is not opposing class. But if I'm gonna be shooting her in silhouette, I want the post to look good in silhouette. So what have you pop up your right knee? Perfect. We afford a little bit great archer back a little, and then put your elbow back to a little less right there and hide your left arm. Okay, So I cannot see what my modeling lights are doing at all. So we're gonna guess Can you bring this in a little bit more? If the light is further off to the side over here, it wraps around. The further I have behind her, the narrower that light is more bring into the front, the more it wraps makes sense. So let me give this a quick test, and you're gonna look your head to the left the whole time. Thank you. Let's try. Oh, it's set on black and white for some bizarre reason. Hold on. Can't perfect mature and practical. Although, honestly, I'm leaving it look good. Like, Wait. That looks totally fine. And, uh, so I just got the mark. Four. The Canon five d mark for It's Not what I'm using today, but it was meant to be the day I got it. My dial fell off. This is might know on my mark three. So it was like meant to be. I'm like, I got my new shiny camera replacing it, Okay? I mean and pull your right arm back just a little bit more perfect. Just And of course, they act in the song. And he said, Channel five rate perfect looks good. I was going to tell you a little bit about strips off boxes and barn doors. So for a strip soft box, what it does is it gives you a nicer, more even illumination. So if you're doing a full length shot, I would recommend a strip soft box. You could use barn doors, but what happens with barn doors is usually get a hot spot like in the middle of the body. It's really bright, and the time you reach the feet, it gets darker. So how strips off boxes work is it makes it hit that front diffusion spread out, and it gives you more even fill more even illumination. Okay, so that's looking good. Okay, so there's a base example off a low key image when I shoot fine art nudes where I don't think of a person's a little more uncomfortable, and I don't just want them to look nude. This gives much more of a suggestion if they face straight on, because you can watch curves and they can turn their head. Or it's more of a study of figure, shape and form and light and all of that, because you're really paying attention to the light and the shape, so that looks good for me. So this is an example of low key. But let's say it's a portrait, and I don't really want to have her facing to the side like I would like to see her face. And so what I can do is I can add in 1/3 light to the front. So, Joseph, can you grab me that light and bring it up. Now if I bring this light to the front and I've got a big soft box that lights everything, it's not Loki anymore, cause the light goes everywhere. So if I want this stay low key, I could take the light off far to the side, right? Like that's one of the ways that could keep it low key. Bring it over so that it's Rembrandt. Another thing that I could do would be to change the modifier and use a narrower light source like a grid were add a grid to something. So let me quickly demonstrate a couple of those options. So I'm going. Teoh is the biggest, like sand ever. I give this a couple of examples and I'm gonna take off this grid first. All right, so this is a grid for a, um, for a beauty dish. So this will do something similar in the way that it focuses the light as those other grid. But the little grids because their little give you smaller illumination. This is on a bigger light source. So already it's going to be lit a little bit more broadly passes to you. I will have you put it back on, and I just tour off the tag. So good luck getting it back on leader and let me turn some. And I will be taking to my modeling light up a bit Good, good said on yet. Good. And if I hold it into the script, Writer? Yeah. Perfect. Okay, so I'm gonna have your face straight on. And if I have her face straight on real quick what it looks like, Can you cross your knee over? Whatever one is is easier. Great. And even further. Perfect. Now turn your But it's your left. A teeny bit archer. Lower back me in your chest towards me. Okay? Now put one hand high in your hip and one hand a little bit lower. Popular right there. Good. Shoulder down just a little bit. Okay? So let me show you. There's this is an example where I'm gonna flat light my subject. So this is going to be at Paramount with the light nice and centered roughly cause I can totally see what it's doing. We'll say about state, but it moves. It's going to be more loop fish. You can deal with it. It's OK. OK, check this out, and I'm probably gonna have to lighten it up a little bit right now. It is very useful to photograph these beautiful subjects. Man. She looks good already. Right now you see the beautiful highlights on the side of her body, right? like it's carving her out from the background. But because I've used this broader lighting late source, there's just a lot of light and it's not really truly low key. If I'm going for really dark and mysterious, I need to narrow it. So one of the things I can do is either at a grid. But the first thing we do is moving off to the side. Let's add more shadows. Lower key means more shadows. So what? I can dio I can move this light. Move this light, Move this light. I'm totally guessing on this without the modern light visible what we're going for somewhere around Rembrandt. Yeah, right. Okay, so So See how that starts to move it in the like the lower key area moving the light off to the sides, making it darker. And what I love about this is if you look at her cheek on the right to see how the shadows and then you've got that highlight, That beautiful highlight that shows her jawline. I love sex. It was pure shadow. One of the things we think is most beautiful about people we love jaw lines. And so it would be lost. So I love that the highlights there. OK, so, Joe, you add on the grid for me now she's wearing a black outfit, so you can't quite tell. But right now, you can actually see because of the sequins on her outfit down at her knees. The light is hitting it there. You can lower it if you need to. Um so it's got a lot of spread A light. So what? This beauty dishes going to Dio it's gonna bring the light in just a little bit. Focus it a little bit more. We're gonna keep kind of pushing it to different extremes. Great. Perfect. Thank you. Try again. Same thing. So in this shot, her chest looks pretty bright to me. So what darkens it down? Like focusing the light even more so It's a little bit more of the illumination on her face instead of on the chest. So it's giving me a little bit more drama. Little bit more focus. Keep pushing it pushing. Okay. You want to go further? Okay. Lets go further. We take the beauty shop, and now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna add Ah, five degree grid. You could do 20. We're gonna push it like we're gonna push it all the way. We're gonna take this five degree grid. Put it in Rembrandt. Oh, I'm gonna attempt to see its attempt to see if I can see on her face. Yeah, right there. Okay. Perfect. I'm probably will have to adjust my exposure, but let's just test year great and lean back just a little bit. Chin down a tiny bit. Maybe a little brighter. Not too bad. Perfect love. More so you can kind of see there's almost no light on her chest at all. It's just that focus light on her face. So this takes you to super low key as a side note. Let this is for those of you who may be a little bit more advanced. Let's say that I was being asked by this clothing designer to shoot this piece and they wanted something dramatic. But now you can't see the dress very much. What I would do is I would add another light. I would use this focused beam of light on her face and the night at a soft box here, Super low power just to pick up the sparkles so it stays low. Key, stage, dramatic. But I don't lose the detail in the dress, so that's when, like, I want to keep it three or fewer. But there are. There are reasons to be a gear hoard. Or at least I tell myself that we're told amazingly Okay, Perfect. Where are exposing when you're taking these? Okay, so thing number one, I'm totally cheating right now because I'm just going to profess and I I shoot with pro foto de ones like See how I'm knowing I'm pretty much I shoot with these every day. So I have been guessing, but I would be meeting off of her face. And typically, let's say her face says F 11 or F nine. So putting right here, meeting towards the light. I usually put my background lights. I start them the same. So if her face meters f nine r f 11 the background both of those lights metering towards them, I put him at F nine f 11 and then if I go man, I want the writer turn him up in power and I go until it looks good. So but I start them the same great can you do me a favor? Can you bring this light to the front with a barn door? Yeah. Cool. All right. So the basics of what you just saw to summarize move the light off to the side to create more shadows gives you lower key. Narrow the light gives you lower key. What we're working with here is pure black shadows, but you don't have to. And that's kind of where I wanted take you next. So let's say for this shot, I decide that the mood I want is this is, like, sexy like, super like sexy, alluring, whatever. And so in the beginning, I listed a whole bunch of different ways that you can control your lighting and a whole bunch of different ways. You can control your mood and one of the ways you can control mood would be color. But you can control color with lighting and put them together. So I'm gonna dio a low key picture that also has some color in it. So can you grab me a blue slash teal gel? Great. And can you have a deal on top of it too? And I'm gonna build this in slowly. All right. So let me talk a little bit about gels. Gels are awesome for introducing mood. I think that if you don't have a reason for using them, sometimes it can look cheesy or go too far. I think that honestly kind of comes with experience and I encourage people just experiment. And if it looks cheesy Oh, well, like start off and you figure it out and you build from there, Um, I in There's a couple of presentations that I dio that early on it. I have so many awesome, cheesy pictures. So not that my picture. Amazing now, But I've gotten better. It's you develop your eye, you develop your taste. So anyway, there's two directions. I think I could go if I'm going for dark, dramatic, sensual, sexy. I could either go for fiery Red, which I do all the time. It's kind of my jam or I go the other direction and go for like, a cool, mysterious blue. So I'm gonna go for a cool, mysterious blue and I'm gonna give you an idea of how gels work. So gels show up most in shadow areas. That's how they work. So the example I always give is I give the bucket of water example, and I've used it a 1,000,000 times in my lighting classes. But let's say I am tossing a bucket of water at you. That is regular water cover you and then I take a bucket of blue dye. It kind of just like flows over it, right? That kind of blend together, like the die doesn't really stick. But if I take the regular bucket and I just do the left half of your face with the regular bucket of water, and then I come over here on the right hand side with my blue jet die, it really stick on the dry part. So I think of shadows like dry areas. They're dry from light, so when you give it that gel, it soaks it up. So what I know is in this picture, wherever there are shadows, if I add a blue gel, that's where it's going to show up, long as it's pointed in that area. Now if I want this to stay in the low key like I've already got it nice and super low key, I just got to make sure that light isn't really bright. I wanted to be more of like a hint in a tone in the shadows instead of overpower in the entire photo. So it's kind of to taste, So we're just gonna more and all. Uh, we'll figure out how much I want and what I would probably play around with this well is a little bit of my white balance, like a mess around with it. Maybe tried tungsten. So I make it really cool, or what I would do in Post is I would make the skin really, really pale and to make it really Poppy. In high contrast, it's nihilistic. So let's test this one same curve for me. Pop that over relaxed that shoulder just a little bit. Great. And chin just a teeny bit right there. Test it off course, of course. It's how my black and white on. So I got. Turn it off. Let me try it again. Always make sure this is going off here. Perfect. Okay, great. That cool. So fills in blue in the shadows. Now, of course it like for me, it's going a little bit too right. Like I still wanted to be moody, but it turned it down until it doesn't look like it's overpowering too much. Great chin down a little. Perfect, great. I think this would be more appropriate for what I would like. And so it's kind of like just filling in the shadows and the clavicles, and it's making sure without that backlight it's gonna blend in on the right hand side of the photo. So now, by illuminating the front, pops it out just a little bit more. You could like this with four mean kind of depends. So in other words, you can use high key, low key for mood. But you can also add color to your lights to push that mood in this low key example. All right, so that's been kind of an overview of just, I mean literally endless Loki examples. But I want to show you kind of my approach to things. I keep pushing it further and further and further

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Lindsay is an amazing instructor. Her info is clear, concise and relevant. She has a great personality so it is fun to be a part of her classes - whether in person or on line. I would recommend any of her classes.

Brenda Pollock Smith

Fast class, jam packed with precise instruction. Thank you Creative Live and Lindsay Adler for yet another fantastic course. Great course to own to refer back to the details of the set ups.

Edmund Cheung

WOW! Must watch. Packed with information and discoveries. I am more of a landscape photographer that really wants to expand my knowledge and repertoire. So been practicing my portrait shots. This quick course is a must and so helpful. Lindsay really breaks down lighting, high key and low key shots perfectly. Would absolutely recommend this class for all photographers no matter what level or type you shoot.

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