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Creating a Three Light Setup

Lesson 12 from: Working with Speedlights in the Studio

Mark Wallace

Creating a Three Light Setup

Lesson 12 from: Working with Speedlights in the Studio

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

12. Creating a Three Light Setup

We continue building on the principles we've learned by creating a portrait using different light modifiers, shooting in manual mode, metering tricky lights, and setting the camera and flashes appropriately. Understanding the three-light setup allows you to create endless lighting setups.

Lesson Info

Creating a Three Light Setup

we're going to continue our journey by creating a three light set up. Three light set up is the foundation for pretty much any lighting setup. And so once you know, the principles of the three lights set up everything is butter from then on out. In fact, we're gonna do a four light setup. But first I'll show you why the three lights are important and what each thing is and why adding 1/4 light is essentially adding bonus. Third light, that makes sense. You'll see, it's gonna be a lot of fun. So, to start, I want to show you how I've set up all of my speed lights, I'm controlling them, how I'm metering everything. And so because we're going to be mixing our cannon speed lights with a goatee, X speed light, we are going to be using our Pocket wizard system because that way we don't have to depend on either a cannon or a todos because we can only do three cannons. That's all I have or two Gs, that's all I have. But using the Pocket wizard, I can just use anything I have. So we can use fou...

r lights, there are four lights for your Star trek fans, That's what we're going to be doing right back here. Okay, so let me show you how I've set up the controls and all that kind of stuff. So, over here on the super close up zone, we have this iconic light meter and I showed you this already, but let me just turn this on and show you exactly how I have this set up. So wait a second, it says, okay, here it is. So I've set my shutter speed to 200 my eye, so to 100 then the mode that I'm using is this little guy with the antenna that is pocket wizard radio triggering. So when I push my meter button here to take a meter reading, this sends a signal and it will fire my pocket wizards. So once I have that, great, that's good. The other thing I want to do is use this little wrench here and then I'm gonna go to my radio in channel zone. So I am on channel 20. That is the radio channel that I'm using. And then we have these different zones here, A B C and D. So if it's a light grade that is turned on a dark gray means it's turned off. So if I just want to meet her, the lights that are in zone A I can turn off the rest of these. If I want to do Zone B and not A, I can do that. If I want to just fire all the lights, I can turn all of those on so I can sort of control my pocket wizards here. It's really cool. And you can see right here we have, this is a standard 20 A B C. D. That means I'm doing a standard meter reading on channel 20 and I'm firing zones A B C and D. And so that's really all you have to know this big number right here. F 3.2 that when I do a meter reading is going to tell me how bright my flashes and how to set my camera accordingly. Okay, now that we have that, let me put this meter away for a second, so this is gonna go away, and then what I'm going to do is let me show you how I have my pocket wizard setup, so I'm gonna bring this into the super close up close up zone. And so I have this uh little pocket wizard right here, this is a pocket wizard plus three. And so what that is doing is when I turn this on, I don't know if you can see this exactly right, but I can turn on, this is a channel 20 I can turn on, Oh, there we go. I can turn on and off different zones. That's right now. It says A. B, C and D. So this is all zones. If I hit B, C and D, that means this is only going to fire if it's receiving channel A I can put this on channel B or C, or D. So I can turn this on or off. And so when I'm firing my meter and I only want to meet her Zone A I can put this flash on just A and this is only on zone A now, so you can add this to multiple groups, which is sort of cool, that's all there is to this on the flash itself. What I will be doing is I'll turn this on, I have set this flash to manual mode, it's just in manual mode. And then if I want to change the output, I hit this button here and I can make it full blast, half power, quarter power or whatever I want to do. So you might see me doing that. I usually start my flashes at half power and that way I can take them up or down from there instead of going to full power and just going down. But that's how I have that. So I have that set and then when this flash and when this pocket wizard here's a signal, it will fire. That flash will go and that's all good. Then I have different light modifiers that will be talking about on the front of these and so you don't have to worry too much about what they are right now. Um It's the stuff that I showed you on the table earlier. Okay, now it's time to bring out a Teresa and so Teresa is gonna come out and we're gonna build out our three light setup. So Theresa, I'm gonna have you stand about right here, so we're about 6ft come out a little bit more, we're about six ft from the background. So I think we can show you here. So my arms are six ft so there's a little bit farther forward. There we go about like that. So I want some space behind Theresa here to add lights and to do some things and to let this gray background fall into darkness. So that's why there's some distance here. It's good to have some space in your studio. So with the three lights set up, there are three different lights that are consistent. The first light is called the key light. It's called the key light because all the other lights are based on that light. And so the key light is set to a certain power and everything else either matches that or it is brighter or darker than that. But that's the key is the foundation. It's the cornerstone of the entire lighting setup. That's what we're going to start with. It's the main light, the key light. So we are going to use this guy right here. This is my favorite little Last delight. Easy box shoes. So, this is the soft box I showed you before I have put this in zone a on my pocket wizard. I am going to turn on my flash right now is set to half power. I want this flash. I want sort of a nice shallow depth of field. I want to be shooting around I think about F five. So I don't wanna go too shallow because we have lots of video lights. And so if I open up my aperture too much, it's gonna start letting in ambient light. Someone to sort of stop around F five And see what that looks like because I want Theresa to sort of fall out of focus as much as possible if we didn't have all these different video lights here, I could go all the way down to maybe 2.8 or something, but because we're shooting video, we have to have all these lights on so I know where I want to be. I want to be at about F55.6. So I'm gonna meet her the light and adjust this light this key light until I get it exactly where I wanted to be, which is around five. So that's turned on, I'll hit this, that's going, that's good. Now I'll take my light meter, I'm gonna put this underneath Teresa's chin and I'm gonna meet her toward where the camera is, so the camera is going to be here. So I'm metering this toward the camera so I'll do that. That says F- 8. F8 is too bright. I want it to be down to around 5.6. So I'll come over here to my flash, I will take that down to about a quarter power, something like that. We'll go back over here, I'll meet you my light that says F45, it's a little bit too uh to dim, I'll go up one little notch, I'll meet her this again at five. Okay, so I said, I want the light to be a five. I metered and adjusted and tell it was F five, I told the light what to do. The light didn't tell me what to do. It's not the boss of me. I'm the boss of him. So that's how that works. Okay, we're gonna make sure that's at five. It is F five. I think I can even come really close. I don't know if that can focus. Yeah, that says five. You can see that. Okay, five. That's where we are. So now I'm gonna take my camera, we're gonna put it over here. I'm going to set my camera to five. So my camera and my flash are now in agreement. We knew they were in agreement because of what we did with our light meter. I'm gonna look through here. One of the things that we have an issue with is this soft box a little too close. Why don't you take just a tiny step to your right other right? Yeah, yeah. Perfect. Just like that is good and I will take a shot. Okay, now let's take a peek at this photo in lightroom. So it comes up, notice that we have the background is dark. It's falling into darkness even though it's great. It's coming almost to a black. And so what we wanna do is we want to start flavoring this and making it look a little bit better than what it is. And so what I need to do now is to add the second light in a three light set up. The second light is called a separation light. Sometimes it's called a hair light. Sometimes it's called a kicker light. And so what it does is it takes, if somebody has dark hair and a dark background, it separates those two things. Normally you would do that by taking a light and you would be shining the light onto a person's hair. That's what a hair light is. Um and that creates separation between the background and the person. So what I'm gonna do though is something a little bit different. So I'm gonna go back over here to the super close up zone and I'm going to show you something that I have on my flash. It's sort of cool. So I'm gonna zip over here. Here it is. This is that grid that we showed you earlier. So what this grid is going to do is it will allow us to throw just a splash of light on the background back here. And so instead of uh separating her from the background by lighting up her hair, I'm gonna separate from the background by adding just a little bit of light on the background similar to what we did with the white background earlier. But because this is a darker background, it'll be more pronounced. So with my pocket wizard, I'm gonna put this on zone B. Just so I can trigger it separately and not have to worry about that. And because this is a five, I know that I probably need this to meet her also about F5. So I'm gonna meet this. I'm gonna put this over here, turn on my flash. It's in manual mode. I'm gonna set it to about a quarter power and I'm just gonna hit this flash button to see sort of where it's going. And the other thing I can do here is I'm looking at this grid. So I've got different grids, they go inside here. So go back to the close up zone. So you see they have two different grids here. One of them is a 45. The other one here is I think it's a what is it called? A 25. So this 1 25 this is a 45 and when you put them together that makes 16 degrees. So I'm gonna use both of them together to try to get this to be a very small little thing. So, can you hold this just for a second. So, I'm gonna first put in the first little grid, go in there. A grid go in their greed. It always happens like this when you have to go fast. Let it go slow. Okay, first grids in The second reason. So now I'm at 16°. Get this guy there, this guy here and then I put my flash over here. Here we go. All right. So the first shot that we did when I looked at it with my eyes, it just didn't look like that light was refined enough. It looked like it was showing too much light. Okay, there we go. I'm just gonna hit this little flash here again. Oh yeah, it's much smaller. Good. Okay, so this is on zone B and to get this in position, it's going to come over here and I'm only gonna trigger zone B. I'm gonna look through the lens here, turn my camera, looks at the lens and I'm just going to fire the flash and just sort of see where it is. I'll have to turn on B. There we go. Here we go. And I think I didn't turn on my pocket wizard. Yes, I did turn it on, but I turned it on transmit and not receive. There we go. Okay, now, that's on the right thing. So now I'm just gonna trigger zone B, bam, bam bam and it's still not there he goes, Sure thought for a second was never gonna work. There. He goes, okay, nice. So I'm going to trigger this just to see where it's going and I think my batteries have died in that flash. I think that's what's happening. Yes, it's taking forever to recharge. So there we go. So what I'm gonna do here is I have another little device that's really cool. So it's a battery pack, so matt's gonna grab this battery pack and it's exactly for this scenario that we have right now and thank you very much sir. So what this does is this is full of a bunch of batteries and it plugs into a flash. One of the problems with speed lights is they have a tough time recycling when the batteries get low. So when you have a bunch of big batteries like this, you can plug it in, then it can pull from a battery pack and refresh very fast. And you might have noticed we put one of those on the key light already. So I'm just going to add this battery pack here to solve hopefully the issue of this flash being a little slow. So don't mind me hanging out right here behind you do do do do do uh my fingers, there we go. There we go. Okay, so now I get this plugged in, get this plugged in like this. There you go. Okay now you, it took longer than I wanted it, but I love making mistakes and having things happen because it's great learning. There we go. Okay, now it's working just fine now is working exactly as we want. Okay now, back to what I was trying to do, which is look through the lens and see where that flash is firing. I can see it needs to go a little bit to the left, so I'll do that. Just a little bit. I'll look again. I can see it looks like it's about where I need it to be. Which is cool. Okay now let's meet our that light. We've got it where we want it to be now. We wanted to be around F5. So I'm gonna set this to only meet her. Zone B. Only metering zone B. You can go over here, meet her in the background. 45. It's close. I got lucky there so I'm gonna increase the output of this just barely. Okay, that's good. Come back over here. Here we go. It's still at about 45. I'm gonna increase that. Just a hair more. I think that's going to work Just fine. There it is. five. So again, it's not the boss of me. I'm the boss of it. Now. Let's take a photo again with the key and the separation light perfect. We'll take a look and see how that looks. And I think that I take a picture. Yeah. So now we see that background. I think I did not turn on the key light. Is that on now? Yes it is. Yes it is. There we go. There we go. All right. I think I had my flash set to something. Okay. Here we go. Now. Let's take a shot. You can see how that works. We're seeing that background background light pop up. Is that popping in? No, it's not popping in. I'm working too many things at once. Okay, so we have an issue here. Let's figure out what it is that's not firing. Why is it not firing? Let's figure it out. Oh the reason it's not firing. Let me explain what happened. Perfect. The reason it's not firing is because these speed lights have a power saving mode and so because I hadn't shot it in a while, it just powered off, it just went to sleep. That's what happened. And so this is the fun of speed lights. This is how it works. Okay now we figured that out. This is on zone A. That's on zone B. Now everything's turned on, everything set. Let's try again. Now it worked okay. We have our foreground and our background. So now you can see we have a key light, we have a separation light. That separation light, I'm gonna move it just so make sure you don't move Teresa, I'm just gonna move this light just slightly to the left. I'm going to take another shot really quickly bam. Oh and now we can see that that light has moved over just slightly and we have separated the key light. I mean separated Teresa's hair from the background and now watch what I can do, I can control these so I can say only the key light. I'll take a picture now. It's only the key light and there's no separation light showing up. Only the separation light bam. Now we're only going to see the separation light and no key light. I'm doing that by turning on and off my zones. So that gives me some options. Okay, we have the key light, we have the separation light. The other light that we would usually have is a fill light to fill in the other side of the model. So for this setup, we're not going to use a fill light. What we're going to use instead is I'm going to use this little light over here. It's got a grid on it. And what I'm trying to do is sort of fill the other side of Teresa's face with a little bit of light. But I don't want to just have a light that's bouncing in and creating soft sort of bland light. I want a little bit of contrast. So I'm gonna do is Theresa, can you take your hair off the right side of your face? There you go. You're gonna look toward the left side. I'm gonna move this here if that's okay, it's like that. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna try to add a little light right to Teresa's cheek so to do that, I'm gonna use this GTX flash. So it's not a cannon flash, it's in manual mode and I'm gonna put this on zone C. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna come over here. I'm going to point it at her cheek. I've got a grid on here of about 25°. So I'm gonna take a shot. I think that's going to work. Okay, but remember what we said about vertical and horizontal light, I think I need to make this vertical, I think that's going to be a big difference. So let me do that really quick. I think there's a vertical light, boom, boom boom. This little frio guy can make this go whichever way I want. So, you know, it's got a grid on it, it's still gonna be vertical or horizontal. I'm gonna make this vertical, add a little light to her cheek. I'm gonna fire this so that we can see where it goes. That looks pretty good. Okay, so that is on C. That is on C. I'm gonna make this eighth power. It's just a kiss of life. Okay, so for that, let's meet her that I'm gonna get my light meter to go in here. I'm gonna change this to zone C. Some only metering zone C. So when I click this now, that only goes, I want this to be just a kiss of light, so I want this to be around 4.52 point eight, something just very subtle. So that's it. 44.5, that's a little bit too bright for me, so I'll come back over here, I will take this down To a 16th of full power. Just just barely any light at all. I'm going to meet her that again. So that is coming out. It's gotta charge up. I think these batteries there he goes, there it goes. Now that is metering. There you go. Right at 3.2, I think that's pretty good. Okay, so that is good. Let's take a shot with this guy. We're only going to turn on that light over here just to see what we're getting and so we can see this shot, that's what we're getting from that light. It's too much, it's a little bit too much on her cheek. We're getting some of her hair, showing some shadows. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna move this out just a bit, gonna take this down To a power of about 30 seconds. We just want this to be very, very subtle and let's take another shot here, we're just flavoring to taste at this point and now we can see we have ah look at that, it's just a kiss of light on her cheek. Now let's add in our key light and our separation light looking right at me, gonna add all of those lights together. Now when that pops in, we have to make sure all of our other lights are indeed awake, keep going to sleep. Both of these have fallen asleep. Okay, now let's try that again. One of those special things and cannon is to make sure you're batteries don't die. And uh I'm sure there's a setting to make this go. Okay now we can look at this and we can start seeing the effects of what's happening. So we have our key light over here on the right, we have that fill light just adding a kiss of light to Teresa's cheek. We have this uh sort of halo light from that grid on the back. This key light I think might be a little bit bright, I can take that down by adjusting that or just changing my aperture value slightly and we can see that. This is looking pretty cool. Oh, I like that, That's really great. So that's a three light set up. So essentially when we look at this, we have the key light that's lighting up Teresa, we have the fill light which is this light over here on her cheek, we have our separation light which is on the background. And just as a bonus on this, I think we can do a little bit better with this portrait and that is to add a sheen of light to Teresa's hair. So we're going to do that. So what I have here is this speed light. This speed light is another Canon speed light and it is set to Zone C I'm sorry. Yeah, abc this is set to his own d see his own d It has a snoot, a snoot. This is made by just a flash better. It's just a little a little tunnel of light. So you can see that there, Boom, how that sort of comes out and there we go, recharges too. So it's just a little bit of light. Very specifically focused. So that will help us put light on Teresa's head. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna set this flash power down to about a quarter power, something like that. And looking at this and it's in the wrong mode. There we go. So I'm gonna set this down to about 16th full power, so it's just very, very slight, we'll start there. I'll put this up. I'm gonna hit this, see if it's hitting her on the head and it is there we go. So now I'm gonna meet her this and see where we are. This should be around 2.83, something like that. So, again, I'm gonna get my light meter and go in here. Gonna set this to my zone D. So now, when I trigger that only this fires. There we go. And I'm gonna meet her this to the light, That's it. five, in other words, that's way too bright, we were way too bright. So I'm gonna take this power all the way down almost to the lowest power setting it has. And once again, I'm going to meet her this light Now that's a 2.5, so that should just be a little kiss of light. And so let's try this. All right, so Teresa looking right at me gorgeous. Now we'll take a look and see what this looks like, You can see that we have that uh light coming from this side, it looks like once again my Canon flashes, yeah timed out. Okay, now let's try that again. Bmo, Now let us go in here and see what we get. I like that. I think the light that's falling on Teresa's hair, this is a little bit underexposed. So let me go back over here and take that up a little bit. So we're gonna take this guy up just a little bit. So I don't think we were getting enough and I think there we go now, let's take a peek. There we go. Okay now we have that tiny little highlight on Teresa's hair, we could play with that, but let's walk through each of these one by one. So here we go, you're gonna try to stay as still as possible. So that's the hair light that's going to come up. This is our light on the cheek, this is the light on the background, this is our key light, then here is everything all together. Okay, so let's look at those as they come in here in lightroom, we'll put these all up, side by side. So there you go, We have four lights. The cheek lights separation light. The key light and everything all together, I think I missed. Oh, that's the one off the hair. There we go and there we have a basic three light set up with the bonus and what I would normally do at this point now that I have sort of the lights set sort of where I want, then I would start my photo session, so we're at the beginning point of a normal photo shoot and I can start posing the model, moving her around, I can start moving these lights up or down, turning on and off different zones. Maybe I don't want that light on her cheek, maybe I do maybe a little bit more light on the hair. But now that I have this basic light setup, I can manipulate that. Now this three light set up is the foundation really for all other lights set up. So any time you have a lighting setup, you're always going to have a key light always, you're always gonna have. Not always, but you always gonna key light and then in most lighting setups are going to have some kind of a fill, either reflector or a second light or something and almost always gonna have a third light which is a separation or a hair light. Those three lights show up over and over and over again in almost any lighting setup, you'll ever see anywhere in food or advertising or anything else. You'll have a key, you'll have a fill and you'll have a separation and then anything else is just sort of a bonus that's added on, they might be called different things. So your separation light might be called a kicker light. It might be like what we did on the cheek, your separation might like might be a hair light on the hair, It might be something that lights up the entire body from behind to create a cool silhouette. It doesn't matter what it's called. The principles are the same a main key light that illuminates your subject and then flavoring things, adding separation and Phil to be perfect. Okay, the next thing we're gonna do is instead of using lights to illuminate and Phil and all that kind of stuff, we're gonna start bouncing the light and I'm gonna show you how that works. So we're gonna do that next.

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