Zone Lighting Part 1
So, the V-flats that we're using, these things that are back in the corner here, we're gonna be bringing them out. I get so many emails asking where you buy those. You get 'em normally at an art supply store. That's where you get 'em, and what they are, they are usually almost four by eight foot sheets, not quite, depends on the different art supply store, but they're foam board panels or foam core panels, and these used usually to build, like, architectural models, so slice them up with razor blades, or they're used for backings for matting prints, and things like that, but you can these in very large panels, so that's where you get 'em, and you'll buy two of 'em and then you'll take gaff tape and tape it together and you have your V-flat or it's also called a bookend and they come in black and they come in white and they come in different thicknesses, and so get the thickest ones you can find because overtime the thin ones will bend and break and all kinds of stuff. So, you normally ...
will not find these at a camera store, you'll find them in an art supply store, so I hope that helps people out there that are going "where do you buy a bookend?" You buy the pieces and you make it yourself. The pieces normally range from 12 to $20 per panel, so one of these things is gonna cost you between 20 and $40, depending on the thickness and size of the board, and a nice thing is they can be used as reflectors and you can slice them up with a razor blade and make just about anything you want out of them. So, that's what a bookend is. OK, so John is gonna come out here, actually, you know what, I need to diagram this before we start. And it looks a little messy up here and that is because we have so much going on, we didn't have a way to put all these lights up in an orderly fashion, so bear with us. So, here's what we're gonna do, here's the lighting diagram that we're working with. We are going to create something that is a cocoon of light that we can shape in different ways. So, top down, here is the seamless white background. What we're gonna do is we're gonna take two bookends, and we're gonna put one here and we're going to put one here. And these are subtraction panels, so they are black. And the reason for that, we really wanna control the light in the different zones that we're gonna be building, we don't want one zone to be spilling over into a different zone. And I'm using zone in two different ways. Zone as in the area of light that we're gonna be building out, and zone as in the physical button that we have on our pocket, which is to turn things on and off. So they're gonna correspond to each other. So, these two bookends here are going to serve to sort of subtract some of the light that's coming this way from our light modifiers, and I'm doing this backwards from back to front. We're gonna have back here somewhere a softbox on the floor, so that's gonna be there, and then over here hidden, we're gonna have a light that has a five degree, maybe 10 degree grid, and what this, what these two things are going to do is this guy is gonna throw a beam of light on the background here to give us that vignetted look. So we'll have a dark background with a spot on it, and so we'll change the size of the grid to change the size of that hotspot there. This softbox here, what that will do, is it'll give us sort of a graduated light on the background, so a little bit brighter on the bottom, a little darker on the top, and because of the color of Lex's hair, it's a little bit lighter, we'll be able to use that to illuminate the bottom portion of her, but keep the top portion a little bit darker so that, well, you'll see. We can combine these two things as well. So we'll have both of those things. Then what we're going to do is we're gonna take two other bookends and we're gonna put one here and we're gonna put one here. These are white, these are white bookends. And then we're going to put a light here and a light here, and these lights are going to be these. These are our Profoto Acute 2-D4 heads and we're not gonna use any light modifier on them There's gonna be bare heads. And the nice thing about these is they have this globe on them, so light emits at 360 degrees, it just comes out in all directions, and because we're gonna be putting them inside of these white reflectors here, these are gonna become giant softboxes. They're just gonna have this really soft light that's coming this way. So, in front of that we're going to put two other bookends, we'll probably put 'em like this, and these are also gonna be subtraction panels, black panels. And inside here is where Lex will sit on her stool. And we're keeping these to be black because that way this light that's shining this way is only gonna be directional on one side of her face, and this one the same thing, so we're not gonna get any light bouncing back into her face. And what we'll do, is we'll move her deeper and farther out of this zone right here to change how these lights affect her cheeks and hair. Then, what we're going to do, is we're going to add our key light, which is a beauty dish, here, and we're gonna do this with and without a grid, so we can sort of see how that works. And then we're also going to put a softbox here and the softbox is gonna be placed low to emulate more of a clamshell light. So that clamshell light we talked about before. So these will be a little bit opposite, but we're gonna try and bring them from opposite to more of a clamshell effect, and so we'll be moving those based on what we're seeing with the effects of light on Lex. And what we'll be doing with Lex is she'll be looking to the beauty dish, she'll be looking straight forward, and she'll be looking away, and we're gonna be getting different looks based on the shadows and the highlights that we get from the different light modifiers. And to do this we're gonna be putting these things on zones, and we'll only have four zones to work with. The PocketWizards only have four zones, A, B, C, and D on the PocketWizards that we have. If we had, these guys don't have, we normally use the Profoto Air system, which is a, another radio trigger, which has more zones that that, it goes all the way A, B, C, D, E, F, but these guys don't work with the Profoto Air system, so we're using a different system. So, what we're gonna do here is we're going to put the key light, we're gonna leave this on 'cause we're gonna shoot with it almost all the time, so that's not gonna be on-- it'll be on zone A 'cause it has to be on a zone, and then we're gonna keep the fill light here on zone A. So these two on zone A, and the reason for that is if we wanna turn one of these lights on or off we can just do it, we can just turn it off physically. These lights right here are going to be on a Profoto Acute pack, so it's gonna be connected to both of those, and this'll be on zone B. This guy right here we'll put on zone C, and this one here we'll put on zone D. And so what we'll be able to do is with our camera out here we'll be able to turn B on and off, C on and off, D on and off to get different looks from the background and from the fill, and then from these we'll just physically turn one of these on or off to change how these look. Alright, So that's, that is the look. So as far as metering is concerned what we wanna do for this is we wanna have our key light, I wanna meter that around F11, for depth of field. We might, we might take that down a bit, so we have a little bit shallower depth of field. In this environment here what we discovered is we have so much light floating around we need to keep our aperture closed just a bit to try to restrict that. What we'll do with this light here, this fill light, we're gonna dial that in to about a negative one, so about one stop less than our key light. These guys right here what we wanna do is we're gonna start them at plus one or just even. So, we're gonna sort of gage that based on the look we're getting. I'm guessing we're gonna, we're gonna keep these a little bit more toward even than the brighter because we want nice soft light on the, on the, coming in from this direction. This light right here, we want it to be even or a little bit brighter because we want it to be, to compete with our key light, so we want the light on our background to give us a white background, or, by keeping it at even or a little bit less, we can make this background different shades of gray. Dark gray, medium gray, white. So we can adjust the output of this light to taste. To a lot of to taste. This guy right here, we're gonna make it even. So we want it to just give us a vignette there, so we'll keep it even with F11. So this should measure F11, this should meter around F11, maybe a little bit more. This guy right here should meter, from the back of Lex's head, around F11, maybe 13 or 16, depending on the look we get. And then this guy right here should be metering at eight, eight or nine, around there, so a stop less. Alright, any questions on what we're about to do? OK, yes?
Are we getting an overhead light?
Are we gonna be adding overhead lights?
No, not on this. Everything here is going to be at cheekbone level and below except the beauty dish. The beauty dish will be above. So this is a lot of light down low actually, which is really cool. OK, we have questions online.
Well, SaveSeaCucumbers wanted to know what are you calling the setup again? What is the setup called?
Mr Toad's wild light? (laughs) That was Jim's name for it. I said it was like Mr Toad's wild ride at Disneyland and it was renamed, yeah Mr Toad's wild light, yeah, that's what it's called. Yes?
What would you typically use this setup for? Who would hire you to do this?
Beauty shots, so anybody that's doing hair and makeup. Retouchers do this, somebody that wants to have spectacular pictures of eyes, lipstick, eyelashes, that type of stuff, jewelry maybe, maybe necklace distributors, so these are all tight beauty shots. Definitely beauty shots. Yeah, it's what these are made for. OK, we're gonna go, and this is gonna get a little bit hairy on the set, I can just gonna tell you that right now because we're moving a lot of stuff in a very small space, and I was talking to John about, I'm used to working in a little bit larger space, so the space I'm working in normally is about 70 feet by 30 feet and when I'm doing stuff like this I, I go to a studio called Loft 19 and its, just the working area is 3,000 square feet, so I'm a little spoiled in that sense, so we started setting this up and it was like oh yeah, this is very very small. So, we're just gonna do what we can and it's gonna be awesome. Alright, one other thing I wanna to start with before we do anything is I wanna tell you how I measure things. And so in my notebook, and I wish I had it with me, I could just flip through the pages and show you. I measure things using my arm span and my nose and all kinds of things like that. And so a lot of times when I'm setting up a light and I'm doing a set like this I'll have a little note that says nose high because the light stands are of different manufacturer or different bases, are different heights, and so I know that if I am gonna have this at nose height and I just sort of put this out like this, and then I just raise it up until it hits my nose and I know every single time that I set this up, it's gonna be the same height, unless I change my shoes, but it's still gonna be like an inch off, so It's a, I have many notes that just say shoulder high, nose high, arms width. So arms width apart is that, or fists width, or elbows, and so, 'cause I don't usually take a tape measure but my body stays pretty consistent most of the time. I'm getting a little creaky and old like eurrgh, creaky. Alright, so the other thing we wanna do with these lights in this setup I need to make sure that they are not measured against me, but they're measured against Lex and so once we get Lex on her stool, this light I want it to be as close to equal with her cheekbone as possible and so what I'll do is once we get her, in fact lets do it right now. So we'll have Lex come over and we'll set the height of these lights really, really fast. So, if you'll just have a seat. She's gonna be seated. So what I'm gonna do here is I want these to be cheekbone level and they're pretty much cheekbone level now right there, and this is another way I measure lights, is this is one hands width raised. See that, one hands width raised and so if I have consistent stands sometimes I'll say raise it, the first section, one hand width for like measuring for horses or something. So what we'll do is we'll raise this one hands width. We'll see if they're the same height. Look at that, same height. Done, that's all there is to it. Alright, thank you, Lex. So these are, are set at the right height and you'll see in a, in a bit when we set these up why I did that. We wanna make sure these are properly raised, so that when the light comes out it reflects right on her cheekbones. OK, so we're gonna set these aside. Let's start setting up our V-flats, John. So, the first thing we're gonna do is back here--
Using this stand for anything?
No, I think that one is left over for some reason. The first thing we're gonna do here is we're gonna setup the lights that are gonna be going to our background and so, lets, lets bring these all out 'cause they're gonna get lost in this, in this forest back here. There's two of them there I believe. Got those?
OK, gonna take these guys out. Take these guys out.
Another one coming down. Only thing that's nice about these is you can't see on the other side, so a lot of collisions happen. Sometimes we knock gear over, that's OK.
Is it good?
Yeah, just hold this light for a second.
It fell on there.
Ah it's cool. Awesome, bringing that guy out. OK, so what we're gonna do here is we're gonna set up our first lights and then we'll put the V-flats around them, so if you can put that over there, so they can still see. This guy right here, we're gonna leave it about where it is. Now, because we don't have a lot of space we can't put this where I normally would put it. So, normally I'd put this out a little bit farther away from the background because when it's this close, when it shines on the background, it's not gonna give us a circle, it's gonna give us an ellipse, and so what I'd wanna do this bring this out about right here to give us a circle, but because we're pretty constrained for space, we're gonna deal with the ellipse. OK?
So, that's one light, we're gonna leave it about there. This guy right here what we need to do, there's an apple box, if you'll give me that. We wanna tilt it up. And so you don't always have to put a light on a light stand. You can stick them on all kinds of things, so I'm gonna just stick this apple box here, stick this down here like this. And then we will just call that good, just like that. That's just gonna shine light up on the background. OK. So, then what we'll do is we'll take this guy here and we are going to put it right in here and, John, if you can help me get this over a little bit. Put this about right there. Alright, and we'll play with that a little bit. And then the next thing we're gonna do is we're gonna start getting our middle V-flats. So, we're gonna have to move all these V-flats that are behind here.
Yeah this is completely blocking this light here, that's better.
Yeah, and we'll adjust it as we go.
Do you wanna build one side first or?
Yeah, we're gonna build this side, so if you can move those that way a little bit.
Do I have them all?
I think so. Yeah you can come, you can come on out.
You can come help us.
Yeah, if you can help John get those guys.
Where do we want them?
He's one of those secret people that nobody ever gets to see, that's behind the scenes helping out.
We're gonna duplicate that, so I'm gonna take one of them here.
Yeah, we're only gonna build this side right now
So, we're just getting, keep, keep one there for you and I'll take these out of the way.
Yep. Yeah, we'll just put this against the side there, just for now. OK, so this guy, I know that I want it to be about an arms width wide. So I've measured this out. So about, about like that. I'll scooch it over, so it measures up. There we go, good. Okay, so inside there I wanna take this guy and I need a distance to measure to make sure that these are both inside the V-flats equally. So, I'm gonna twist this, so that this light matches up to that leg, and then I can roll this in here, and when that leg touches I know that, if I do the same thing on the other side, these are both gonna be at the same depth in this little V-flat. So, I've got these about wrists wide and then the V-flat is adjusted exactly right. And if I need to change that a little bit that's fine, but that'll give us a starting point. And then the next thing we're gonna do here is finish out this front V-flat, so we need to move that out of the way. We knew this was gonna be fun inside this space. Yeah, if we can move it to the edge that'd be great, just lift it up, just like that. And then we're gonna put this guy back, right here, is that still black? Yep. Put this back here like this. Just like that. OK, and then if we can roll that back just to here. Thanks for having me at CreativeLive, it was great, see you guys. (some people laugh)
Can you get out of there?
Yeah. Can I? Yeah, I can. OK, perfect. OK, so that's half of that and then Lex will be here, just like this. And then we're gonna light her with the beauty dish. So, Lex, where did Lex go? She's back there, over there, yeah. OK, this is getting to be fun. Right, if you'll have a seat right there. Now, realize we're only building out half.
Yeah I wanna take, drop, run that cable out while you can to the Acute pack it's on the--
Oh yeah, we will. So let's build out, we're gonna build out the, and you're gonna be this way. This way. Yes, thank you. So, this will be our fill light eventually, and then this guy here, I'm at the edge of the lava zone here they tell me, is our key light. So, we'll move it over here like this, and we're gonna raise this up, so it's just above her face like that. And then, once we have that set, we will also set our fill light over here. I've just got a D1 and a, this is like a mini boom arm here. I wanna give this a sort of clamshell-y light like that. We're sort of putting these near where they're supposed to go at this point. Just near where they're supposed to go. Pulling this out. We like to do it live.
Awesome. OK, this is gonna be fun. Think I can do it. Think we can to it, OK. So, we have this, this is half of the setup. Thank you, can you zip like over this way. Like that, alright can you hold it there? Yay. That's Tessa everybody. So we have our zones and we're gonna build out the rest (laugh), we're gonna build out the rest of this softbox, we have a grid hidden back there. We have these two very soft lights. And we're, I can see right now we're gonna have to move Lex over a little bit, but these are gonna come back and they're gonna highlight her cheeks, and then we have our key lights there. So, yeah. Perfect, can we, we're gonna need to bring that Acute pack here if possible.
Weren't we gonna manually turn that one on and off?
No, that's the front one.
That one should be on it's own.
OK, so before we start building out all the rest of this stuff, I wanna start dialing in where these lights are, so you can actually see what's happening. Are you good to be standing there for a while? You're like yeah, yeah I'm good. OK, awesome. Yep, they're on, excellent. So don't turn on the modeling lights yet. We're just gonna start building up.
So, what I wanna do is make sure these are equal distance, so the other side of this we'll build about right here. So it looks like Lex is, is positioned correctly. So let me, again, really quickly go through what these are doing. These guys right here are gonna have nice soft light that's flooding this way. What that will do, is it's gonna highlight the back of Lex's cheeks and her hair and her shoulders, and we can either choose to have that or get rid of it. And so that's what that is doing. Think we're gonna have to build the rest out, just to make it work. So, you guys, sorry, we'll see you in a few minutes.
(laughs) And if you'll get this one, and just go a way forward, there we go, thank you. Perfect, perfect. And this guy's gonna go like this. Just like that, about wrist width. Good. And that, John, let's move it over just to here, this way. And then we'll bring this back here. And we'll bring this over here. Alright, I got it, Tessa. Thank you. That's matched up. Good. Ahh, right in, ouch, that hurt. I just got blasted, about two inches from the light. (some people laugh) Wow, that was good. OK ... I think we're set. Pretty close to being set. OK, so lets start building out this, this light. Now what we're gonna do, we're gonna start with the beauty dish here, and what I've done is I've set this on zone A on my PocketWizard. And what we wanna do is we wanna meter that and I think I said F11 is where we wanna be. So, I'm just looking at where things are, good. And you know what I'm missing, John, is my camera.
It's right behind you.
There it is, it's right behind me, of course it is. Alright, and can I step here, is that gonna work. We're so off the boundaries of where I'm supposed to be, but I'll do my best. So, what we're gonna do is we're gonna see if we have the right setup. It looks pretty good. We're a little bit tight on the back there, but, lets have Lex, lets have you move about four inches this way. There you go. About like that. Perfect. Alright. That seems good, and then we need to raise the key light just a hair, so that it doesn't show up in our photo. So, I'll grab that. OK, good. Good, good. I'm gonna move this to the side just a hair.
Can you hand me the meter?
Yes, there we go. Alright, if you can, John, if you can meter this, what I don't want is I don't want this, this beauty dish to be directly on like butterfly light, I don't want that because it won't give us a second option for a look, I want it to be to the side just a hair and we have a grid on it now but I'm gonna take this grid off to start with. And lets meter that light.
Is the PocketWizard on on that one?
It is, it's on channel 17. Did you not change that channel?
Alright, let me do it real fast. So I need to change this channel to 17 on my meter.
Will a meter do zones too?
It will, but we're not gonna do that OK, go ahead and--
This ones not powered on right at the moment?
No, it's just that light.
We're at 10. Try that.
11, right, that's where we wanted to start right?
Yes, we're at 11. Now we're gonna add this second light really fast. This one we want it to meter one step below, and so I've already got it powered down, and so let me do the ratio metering really quick. I'm gonna do this really fast since I've already explained it. Just gonna go in here and, and meter this stuff very very quick. Then we'll meter this guy down here Alright, so this is metering at, at 1.7 stops less, so I'm gonna increase the power here very quickly, and we'll just do that one more time. Perfect, so this is at just over, it's at 9/10ths of a stop less right, so it's just, almost one stop less power. So the next thing we want to do is we wanna have the, these Profoto Acute's turned on, so turn those guys on. And this should be on zone B. Just make sure it's on zone B. And it is on zone B. Alright, so, John, I'm gonna hop in here and meter this really fast, just to speed things along. Perfect, so I'm gonna meter from the back of her head, oh we got somebody up there, and I'll do that. So we knew this was at F11, so this guy right here should be, that's F8, so we need more juice on this.
Turn the B, yeah turn that (mumbles).
There we go. And those are separated?
No, they're combined right now.
Everything's in the B channel.
There we go. Alright, so that's at 18. So, that is what kind of a difference, we can meter that and find out, so we're metering the key light right here. We've got that. We have that, we'll put it in memory. Do our, our difference. Right now that's a half stop brighter. So, lets start there 'cause we said we want it between zero and just a little bit more. So, that's a good starting point and we can sweeten that, this on here. Alright, so the last light over here. You can turn that on. We want this to be at F11. And if you can give me a modeling light on that. So I'm gonna meter this directly on the background.
It's alright if it doesn't go in.
There it is.
There it is. Perfect. So, I'm gonna meter this and I'm metering this with the lumisphere up. That's at seven, so give us a couple of stops of light. That's nine, so give us one more stop, we'll go with that. That's still at nine. That's at 14, so take it down about two thirds of a stop. Lets try that. So, now we're at 13, we'll take 13, so that's just a little bit--
and what zone is this gonna be on?
That one should be on zone C. Zone C. So, now I'm about to disappear completely behind you and so you'll have to listen to my voice as I work, listen to my voice. And so what I'm doing here, so I have a modeling light to turned on and this one is a Profoto B pack and so it is actually battery powered. I've already set that up. John, I'm gonna have you come back here and play with the power settings
So this is hitting about right here.
Yep? And so if you'll go back there.
I think it's a little that far away.
Yeah, so zip back there, and I'm going to meter toward this light here. That's at 13, so we'll take that, and then turn that modeling light off since it's a battery pack. OK, so now we have our lights at a baseline and we can start playing with all of this stuff. I'm gonna do a complete meter reading right here with both of these on to see where we're at. We're at 13, so we're gonna shoot at 13. Alright, Lex, are you ready to try some things? Alright. Any questions before we start shooting on what we just did 'cause I know we did it in the dark basically. No? You guys have any questions, you can't see anything.
(male audience member) we have a monitor here.
Oh, you can see, oh. Awesome.
OrchidImogen asks how thick the foam core panels are, I know they're a quarter inch.
Quarter inch, they're a quarter inch.
OK, I think we're good to keep going.
Good, keep going. Alright, so now this, and John we'll have you--
Yeah, I can't be the lurker in the background?
Yeah (laughs), like creepy John back there. What we're gonna do now this is up to Lex to work with the light that she's in to help me create some beautiful portraits. And so this is where working with a model that has experience really counts 'cause she knows that this is a key light, she knows this is the fill light, and so she sort of knows how her, her face looks and what works best. So, I'm gonna try my best to go as close as possible so you can see this, and I'll try to keep my camera in the same position, so we can compare some of these different looks. OK, so right now what I'm going to do, on my PocketWizard I'm going to turn off everything except for Zone A, which is these two lights. So I'm gonna do that. In fact I'm gonna actually turn off the, the fill light as well. I'm just gonna shoot the beauty dish to begin with. And so for this, Lex, what I want you to do is turn and look at that, just look at that light. Beautiful. And it's just that, and we're getting, oh there's gotta be some, ah, the, this pack is set to slave, so let me turn that off. It's set to slave mode here.
The optical slave?
Yep, the optical slave is on. So, that is on and then the slave is off, OK. So what we had is we had an optical slave triggering and so we had lights that we didn't want to fire firing. OK, now, perfect. Look right up there. Beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful. Let's try and see if we can get it to fire again. And my PocketWizard's not firing for some reason. OK, there we go. And then if you'll look toward me. Then what I want you to do is just look with your eyes toward that light and then tilt your head up just a hair and a little bit toward it, there you go. And now look with your eyes toward me. Perfect. OK, we're just playing with some of the shadows here and we'll bring this up on the monitor, I can't see the monitor. Well, what we can see is, when we compare these two photos back to back. I love the one where she's looking straight at the light. The one where she's looking a little bit odd, that's me trying to force her to do something that's unnatural. Right, it didn't feel right. And so the side profile light, you can see how that light's falling off of her chin, it looks great. I could actually move in this set up here and I could get some, a different look, just by moving over, lets have you look at that. Perfect. And I'm gonna put her to the side. Now with your eyes just peak over at me and not quite, so move, follow my finger right here. There you go. And tilt your chin this way just a hair. Beautiful. Alright, and lets have you look at the light again. I'm actually using this background, you can see we have a gray and a black and a white, and that looks cool, but I like to have it just to be very clean. So, if you look up. OK. I'm just playing with this to see what kind of different looks we can get with one light. And you can see in these shots, look at this specular highlight here. It's awesome, it's right on her eyeball. Very very cool.