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Exposure Problem Solving and Overpowering the Sun

Lesson 25 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Exposure Problem Solving and Overpowering the Sun

Lesson 25 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

25. Exposure Problem Solving and Overpowering the Sun


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


Principles of Light


Speedlights vs Strobes


Compressing the Scene


Location Lenses and Lenshoods


Metering Modes and Back Button Focus


Natural Light Reflectors


Lesson Info

Exposure Problem Solving and Overpowering the Sun

we're going to talk about some problem solving when you run into problems as you're trying to light on location all right so here's what you go in your head if your stroke is too week alright if it's too dim you've taken your meeting meter reading of the scene it's supposed to be five point six and it's like two eight it's like not even close what do you do to help yourself get closer to that value I increased the brightness off that light all right so the first thing you do is make sure your flash your stroke has turned up all the way turned up his highest power as you can um some strove system depending on what you have you actually there's a button to change it from a fourth toe a full power um like I know my old uh had a white lightning that you actually don't click a button in the back to bump it up to its full power so just make sure that you don't have that secret hidden setting on whatever strobe you have of the next thing is to bring the light closer to the subject the closer ...

that you can bring that light in it's going to appear brighter and softer and hopefully softer is what you were going for maybe not the next one is to increase your eyes oh or open your aperture both of these make your exposure more sensitive to uh it makes your flash exposure brighter because you went ahead and in one you opened up your aperture so you allowed more light in which makes that flash look brighter and then with I s so you just made your entire exposure more sensitive to light when you do that if you go ahead and you make the image more sensitive to light open up your aperture you are likely going to have to try to increase your shutter speed so maybe you were shooting for some reason uh you know a sixteenth of a second and you're like man I can't get this light bright enough you brought it in as far as you can you've turned it up a ce faras you can feel like you know what I'm gonna open up my aperture but when you do not only does it make the strobe look brighter but it also makes the ambiance look brighter so you're going to go ahead and have a faster shutter speed in order to compensate for that um and then the last one I wanted to touch on is your modifier choice if you're using a gigantic soft box on location chances are you're losing a great deal of light because first of all it's big and it diffuses you lose a lot of light actually in the modifier if it has an inner baffle and an outer baffle it could be another one or two stops so maybe you go ahead and you take out the inner diffusion to give yourself a little bit more kick with that light or maybe you just don't choose a soft box instead of a soft box we're going to get better exposure more lights to kick into the scene using a beauty dish or a silver dish it's or some maybe even a silver parabolic umbrella all those you're going to give you more light than a heavily diffused soft box so that right there is my checklist for if I just can't get maestro bright enough what I resort to what I need to do here's the andy filter I have a variable neutral density filter and it doesn't play nice with my lens hood and I noticed in yours that you had your lens hood on in your video and then when you put your indie filter on it didn't have it all play nice yeah I can't get them both to fit on at the same time which if you're shooting in a heavily backlit situation then becomes a challenge and what I've had to do is basically give create my own shade which is a pain but yeah it doesn't fit their things that they make to put shade on your lens we don't recommend them because they become little sales like they have like these little things to block the light but then if it's windy it's making you shake so I don't usually recommend that direction you could use a voice activated lights stand as your shade I've done that one before too we've got a couple of questions on nd filters if you're interested in them okay let's see very hackett does using nd filters for solid up the field affect skin tones not at all now that makes it easy good question are good answer let's see we have one when you're shooting with andy on to get your shallow depth of field how do you manage to focus since it's so dark especially if you're a white aperture like one point for two point oh where the field plane is so narrow yeah okay so my approach is I kind of do the same thing as I would do at night I make sure that I'm not using one of the side focus points because it's it's those aren't sensitive um I use my auto focus I try to put it in the center and recompose or make sure the center is in a place that I actually wanted to be in focus and there's a little bit of chipping to go on to make sure I'm like close um but yeah it's something it's a leap of faith sir your camera definitely khun focus it's more like your eyes being able to give you that verification that yes it's focused so I just I'm familiar with my auto focus and no one get it's locked in where I wanted to be a little red thing laid up in my camera and along those lines demi ducasse says can you focus first with one stop with your variable and then turn it to six stops and take the picture yes you can do that as long as you're not shooting so wide open that when you did that you moved and then you moved your focus your shooting at like effie which you wouldn't be in this like you see the point of this is a shoot wide open you'd be totally fine you'd probably be fine at three five it's like when you start getting too that for oh the movement of you switching it and re composing could throw the focus totally off from omni cool and seven other people as well is a neutral density and a polarizer the same thing if not what is the difference and what are the effects of each oh excellent okay so what a polarizer does is the way that you rotate the filter blocks out certain angles of light that create reflection and so what that usually wood before is like if you have a reflection on a window or a hood of a car the way you rotate that polarizer reduces that amount of reflection that you see it's also used for making skies look really blue using most polarizer is at their full amount cuts out about a stop of light neutral density filter doesn't affect reflections at all it doesn't do anything except for dark and down your picture and when its variable you can go from one toe however many stops that that filter has polarizer is usually just it goes from zero toe one stop based on how it's rotated so you could kind of use it to cut out a little bit of light but it only gives you a stop which isn't usually enough to make the difference you want okay uh maybe one mohr to mark a j thomas and we're talking about speed lights tomorrow that's the focus of tomorrow but just a quick yes or no could you use an nd filter while using speed lights with this plate lights be powerful enough or just with strokes okay so it's not about the power how powerful the speed lights are because you're now going to have to open up your aperture in order tio in order to make the ambient look brighter and at the same time it's going teo make the stroll which is the speed light the light is the same it's the same type of exposure so that will be fine but I would probably opt for high speed sync and the reason that I'm in the way that I'm teaching this is high speed sync on pretty much any flash that you buy nowadays it's built in whereas to achieve hyper sank or high speed sync for strobes you've got to buy several hundred dollars extra worth the gear which isn't going to be practical for a lot of people um but yeah so you if you have a neutral density filter with speed lights it definitely will still work the exact same ways it's working here we've got a great one a one question from sarah lynn who says how do you know what size of neutral density filter you need for your camera or lens that's awesome usually the front of the lens around the outer edge it'll say something millimeters seventy five millimeters eighty two millimeters on dh then you just purchased the one that is appropriate there are very certain sizes that are very common most of the lenses that I use for portrait or seventy seven and eighty two just for the lenses that I use my my uh fifty one four and my eighty five one four will work with these so that's why I bought one of each of seventy seven eighty two and it covers most the lenses I use and then maybe just one more final do you use a hood with your nd filter I've discovered that my hood doesn't fit with the one that they have yeah I can't get my my hood to fit with my filter either so you should end up blocking it out with my hand next thing on the problem solving what happens if your stroke is too bright and this usually happens in really dimly lit situations or small spaces so it's a small space and you've got a five hundred watt second strobe and it's really really close but it's a dimly lit space so you've had open up your aperture and your esso and your shutter speed in order to capture the light and it's just too powerful that's those were the situations I run into so like over here we're going to talk about this later that picture on the wall that's the situation that I was running to there I couldn't get my strobe dim enough for what I was trying to achieve without having to go to an extremely slow shutter speed and closed down a little bit so these are things that would do cat well turned my stroke to its lowest power that's the first one it's the first one on the checklist see how far down I could turn it the next one is make sure I have my lowest I s o and then also closed down on my africa er however when I closed down on my aperture the entire scene gets darker which means I probably have to go for a longer shutter speed to compensate so like I'm looking at all my trade offs here um I could move my light away from my subject to make it look dimmer tryto take that bright light and make it darker but as they move the light away I change the quality of light and sometimes the direction of light looks like it changes because as you back a light up when it's really close it looks like it wraps around the subject but as you back it up it looks more directional so you have that trade off but if it's just a little bit I'll certainly back my light up a little bit to darken it down and then lastly is trying the more of a diffused light source a modifier like using a soft box and they also have filters gels that are neutral gels they actually make joe's that air just gray and cut out a stop of late they're basically neutral density filters for your flash for your stroke so if for some reason just the style the way you shoot you realize the stroke that you have is just too powerful and all the time you're having trouble getting it uh dim enough to match with your scene then you might want to look into a couple of those I mean it's just it's just a gel like it's really inexpensive and you can tape it in front of your strove inside of the modifier that you're using all right so talk about overpowering ambience light and disease or some of the things we've talked about but there were a lot of people who have asked what exactly did you mean by overpowering the sun or blowing out the sun or whatever so this is great people definitely wanted to know what this was all about okay great because you're not literally putting out more power than the sun it just looks like you are so tomorrow we'll talk about how to use high hyper sink in high speed think to do this but today we're going to focus on what you have available in your camera without any tweaks about buying any extra things all right so here's the steps that you want if you want to go ahead in the middle of the day or later in the day whenever you want to make your ambient look really dark even in a bright day and then have your subject correctly exposed with a stroke these are the steps that I take so the first one I'm going to make sure I'm using the fastest shutter speed that I can because that's how I darkened down my ambien I need to make my ambient light look dark so most of time for me it's one two hundredth of a second so automatically in manual I put it one two hundredth of a second and I'll also make sure that I am at s o one hundred because I'm going to try to bring all that ambient down make all of it look darker all right so the next thing is I bring the light as close as possible to my subject without being in my frame uh usually just because I know that I'm probably going to have to get a little bit more power out of it next thing I do is on my in my manual settings I set my aperture too very closed down it depends on how what you want overpower the scene do you want to one stop two steps three steps but a lot of my lenses because they're fast fix lenses I can only close down to f sixteen so what I usually do is they usually take a look and see if I s so one hundred one two hundred of the second f sixteen that is as dark as I can possibly make my scene with what I have available how does the ambient look like I take a look is that dark enough is that going for the is that the effect that I want so the shots that I have in this demo where I did this at high noon because that's when it's going to be the hardest to overpower ambience and I can actually get quite a lot done and so blast up is figure out how strong I need to make that strobe to match f sixteen so I would take my meter I would put it on stroke mode and flash mode pointed towards the flash on those settings f sixteen one two hundred of the second I s o one hundred and I would go ahead and see how strong my flash needs to be turned up to read f sixteen here to match that africa or whatever aperture you choose maybe it's twenty two maybe it's eleven and so that's should be it that should be how it works let's watch an example at high noon I know that a a popular aesthetic is to try to overpower this sun so maybe have the model in this case up on iraq against the blue sky and you want that sky to be really dark blue but then have the model beautifully illuminated so want to give you a couple but it takes over power the sun when you are shooting with studio strobes out on location all right so the first thing you need to do is you need to darken down your ambience and so I'm going to do that is I'm going to use all the tools available to me to try to darken down what that ambient light looks like so I'm on manual and I'm going to shoot at the fast this shutter speed that I possibly can so this is going to be the fastest sync speed for my camera most of the time the sink speed for working with studio strobes is around one two hundreds of the second maybe one two fiftieth um I will as you get more advanced you can do research there are ways to bump this up a little higher so you can actually shoot faster than this but for most of us it's just about around one two hundredth of a second all right so that's my starting point darkened down that ambient light's all right I'm going to shoot up the lowest aya so that I have in this case I'm going to shoot a I so one hundred all right and then the last tool that I have to been down that ambient light is to close down my aperture here tio f sixteen on this lands and she knew the sigma fifty millimeter one point four and I'm just gonna take a test shot no strobe all right so already that looks pretty good that is pretty much the darkest aiken get that that light unless I go ahead and add nutra density filter is it's a another discussion all right so now it's time to introduce our studio stroke stroke that we're working with here is a five hundred watt second stroke you know that regularly you're going to want to overpower the sun like you are here you might consider getting a very strong what second stroke example there are several companies that sell thousand watts or even twelve hundred watt seconds because here's what's happening is I'm shooting at f sixteen in order to darken down that ambient one two hundredth of a second so f sixteen might means my aperture is very small and lets in very light very very minimal light and as we've talked about before part of what controls the exposure of your stroke is going to be the size of your aperture so a very small aperture means I'm gonna have to turn up the power of my strove in order to get any light through to make an exposure so what I already know is that f sixteen with this five hundred second stroke I'm gonna have steven turned the power all the way up and I'm going to give it a try and see if that's enough lights over power this the sun and overpower what's happening by shooting at aperture f sixteen perfect okay so we run into a problem right away taking a shot with that beauty dish twenty and white beauty dish that distance it's not enough light even at full power so what I could do is I could go ahead and open up my aperture but unfortunately that's gonna still let in more ambient light and then it's not going to be overpowering this on the way I'd want it to and I've only got in this case this one five hundred watt second light so what can I do I could move it in and this is what we talked about with the inverse square law as I bring that light closer it's going to be a stronger light so that will be perfect right there let's give this a test and I'm gonna have you turn your head that way this time good perfect okay so that is definitely better and some other things that you might consider is if we're sure shooting with a large soft box unfortunately a large soft box has a piece of the fusion in the front sometimes a piece of the fusion in the center depends on how it's built you might lose a couple stops of light from your stroll just by going through that modifier so if you're trying to overpower the sun and you can't get it right enough you might have to go ahead and switch modifiers for example even with this beauty dish stephen could you remove the beauty dish even just by removing the beauty dish and shooting the bear ball I'm going to get a lot more light a lot more output out of my stroke so I'm gonna take a look here the problem is of course it might not be exactly the quality of light I'm looking for so just keep in mind when you're trying to overpower the sun your modifiers do make a difference perfectly there's great and now you look much later I haven't changed any settings on my camera haven't change any settings on the strobe itself but the image got a lot brighter so keep those things in mind to give you a little recap of what you want to do you want to go ahead put your camera on manual and get the ambient looking like you want use the fastest shutter speed you can go ahead and close down your aperture you was the lowest I s so that you can on your camera and so that's going to help you really dark and down that ambien and then when you add in your studio stroke you're going to need to compensate for the fact that you've really closed on your aperture you're gonna have to turn it all the way up or depending on the strength of your stroke you might not have to with this five hundred watt seconds overpower this nearly high new light we had to turn it up to full power if you have your flash of on a strong power and it's still not bright enough you're gonna have to move it in inverse square law give yourself a little bit more power of that light and if it's still not strong enough you might have to change your modifier set modifier isn't cutting out is much like so this actually looks perfect and plenty of light overpower the sun here and actually can you just lowered a little bit can you put it down to nine and I'm just gonna shoot a little bit alright looks great meat there is good a test for exposure that's perfect looks great good great so you can use this later in the day or at high noon in order to make your subject pop out from the background really overpower the sunlight okay so let's just take a look real quick at those photos if as you can see there once I put the light on I basically darkened down as much as I possibly can pop in a stroke so that's what I meant by overpowering the sun it just looks like you are but you're clearly not and then I just want to give you this the shot this is what I did in late room uh if you go into the er and hugh saturation luminant and then you go into the blue channel and luminous you khun darken it down and so I just grabbed the blue and darkened it down a little bit to give me a little bit richer sky because I couldn't quite get it that dark in the middle of the day so sometimes I know when I've done the most that I can and then maybe it's a little bit in photo shop but I'm gonna try to get as close as they can in camera okay I got a couple questions on it if you want him it's through wait photo photo and w with a silver beauty dish work better for overpowering the sun than a white beauty dish yes it would it concentrates the light more it's more contrast e it would work better great uh mony h w p how about shooting bear speed lights with that work and that would work better yet just the quality of light might suffer but yes perfect then alison be kind of on the opposite direction could you do the same steps to overpower the sun with a reflector okay chances are no you're not gonna be able to catch that much light to be able to bounce on balance it out so I'm going to say for all intents and purposes probably can't do that and ah question from dan told you just for clarification where was the sun in these in this image which direction from the model ready let's go right here so it is basically this is basically high noon it is almost directly overhead right here it's pretty much as high in the skies it gets and you can see that because there's a light on the top of her hair and then pretty evenly behind her so it's like twelve thirty twelve forty five in the afternoon last week and so here's another instance where I'm showing you it's in the middle of the day but it also works really well cloudy days this was not a pretty cloudy sky whatsoever it was a very drab overcast sky and it was really really boring but the client wanted a picture of the skyline and when I was shooting her against a sky island it was just like it was bold it just looked really boring so if I go here and I make sure I close down one two hundredth of a second after ten I'm closing down darkening down that ambien and then popping the light and overhead so my goal isn't always it actually seldom is to just balance with the ambient sometimes I'm controlling the ambient if it's an overcast day and I want it to look lighter and brighter I might actually go the opposite direction over exposing ambient to trick the mind into thinking it's a nicer spring day uh if I had a client that was hiring me to shoot fashion and it was meant to be their spring line and on that day it was just like cold and rainy I would do that I would go ahead and have brighter ambience make it look brighter or when you have a situation where the the environment that exists is just plain boring or it's distracting you khun darken it down and your overpowering it basically you're making sure that your ambien exposure is darker than your strove exposure

Class Materials

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Keynote 1
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Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class was amazing. Lindsay Adler is a great presenter...I learned so much.....I love that she spoke about natural light..strobes and speedlites. Wonderful information. I purchased this and I am glad I did. Great job Lindsay. Jean


Lindsey Adler is one of the best and most engaging photography instructors in the USA. I highly recommend this lighting course. It felt more like a 101 and a 102 course than just a basic course. She teaches in a way that makes learning alot of fun and the amount of time & effort that she puts into her video and class presentations are second to none. Her classes are well worth their weight in gold and you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge!


Lindsay is amazing , I love the way she explains everything!! This course is filled with GREAT information and helps you better understand natural lighting,strobe and flash. Thank You Lindsay, please keep your classes coming!

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