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Strobes in Action

Lesson 28 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Strobes in Action

Lesson 28 from: Location Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

28. Strobes in Action

Next Lesson: Live Demos and Q&A


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

Strobes in Action

I try to make really nice photos when I am teaching like what I'm doing demonstration photos but it's hard when you're like all right let's just bury the shutter speed and bury the temperature I want to show you some like wow pictures but I figured instead of showing you like one or two from different shoots I tell you kind of what how I work a shoot and how I use lighting throughout so I've got two demos to show you um not videos just single photos and I'm going to talk through the gear I used where I placed it what I was thinking and why all right so um let's take a look at the gear that I'm using in this first shoot so in this first shoot I'm I had pro photo be ones I took two there is a shot where I used both almost the entire time I just used one um I used the trigger that I was just showing you I was shooting on manual not tl because manual is going to give me a lot more control we'll talk about that tomorrow I used the photonics par approach reflective umbrella that's the umbrel...

la that pops up its seventy two inches and then has diffusion so it basically acts like a big soft box you'll see it in the shot will be able to see what I'm talking about uh and then I also had a pro photo beauty dish with a grid as well to go on the second light when I needed it let's take a look this is from a high end family session that I was hired to do last week and by the way I'm going to put out into the universe I definitely do love doing these sessions so if there's individuals who want photos of their families I am in fort but what mind style is is we make it a production we get dressed up we tell this story it's your own fashion shoot so if you're into that on the person to call alright so s o taking a look here we rented out an old library in brooklyn and so we've got mixed light we've got some sunlight coming through the windows with pretty dim and then this picture is definitely much brighter than what it looked like in reality it's a very dim old life oh great so this is the modifier that I used the entire shoot so it's that pop up umbrella and the reason I didn't bring it with me here there's only one downside of it if it doesn't fit in standard side luggage because it's so tall so that's why I didn't come with me but it pops up diffusion goes in the front and the b one shoots through it so it becomes a soft box all right so what I decided to do is first I walked in and I said all right let's see what I can do with my ambient what do I want this like toe look like so I decided okay so I know that for this portrait how I like to shoot I don't want to shoot a fader of eleven I'm going to shoot the group shots at four or five six the individual shots I'm going to shoot it to o two point two because that's what I like to dio so I went ahead and what I decided for my ambient is it was so dim in there I actually overexposed the ambient from what it really looked like in reality so it's about a stop brighter than it actually wass but what that means is when I overexposed there's definitely some light from all of these different uh tungsten lights on the subject's face like there's warm light on their face so I had two directions I could go I said okay well what I could dio is if I don't want there to be mixed light because this light is daylight I could go ahead and gel my strobe and set my white balance to tungsten so what it does it cancels out all of the yellow or the orange in the same that's what you're supposed to dio but I decided not to because I thought that that warmth makes it look old like I wanted some of that mixed like I wanted it to look uh this is the theme of the shoot was time travelers so I wanted it to look like an old library with those old lights so we let it be so let me just show you kind of how this is what the scene looked like that's how we styled the family it was mom dad and three boys and she's a photographer so these air from my collection of old cameras any camera nerds out there that collect old cameron so do I they like my whole house uh yeah exactly all right so let's take a look all right so this is again this is about you be able to see the distance of that light so this is an example of not shooting outdoors shooting in an environment and balancing with the ambient so you very clearly khun see that yellow light on their face they're more or less in shadow but the what I chose over here is I chose one sixteenth of a second toe let light then and I s o twelve fifty because it is dark in there an f five the reason I selected f five is because they are not on the same plane there is depth there so I was focusing on this individual so I'd have some deaths in front and some depth and back if I focus just on the person in the front the focus falls off so it's it's something hyper focal distance like its holder discussion but I focused more or less on him so I could have depth of field they're um uh if you took a look out my meter when you're reading this if you did the ambient mics as well as the strove mix it's about a third of the ambient is the late on their face and the other two thirds is from that that flash you don't need to know that I literally just did it to taste I did it to what looked good because that's what I wanted to do so I'm just letting you know yeah the meter is going to help you get spot on but I just wanted to go for what felt right and I would say okay well I want I want more warmth in the background okay I could think aiken handhold toe a fortieth no I can't hand hold the fortieth needs to go back to a sixth sixtieth let's bump up my I s so it's that whole dance again so this is one end midge that we got and over here is that umbrella and it was about about ten feet away from them ten feet away is enough to spread and light these three boys but not dad because dad so far away that the distance is double the power is quartered he's so far away at that point that he's just too dim so this is the one shot we're back behind this young boy we had a pro photo be one with the beauty dish just to kick a little bit of light on him and we tried to mimic the shape of the shadows on these boys so that's an instance when I might use two strokes just because it's it's a group or there's there's so much depth that I can't light it evenly enough and I tried to light totally from the sign a lot more from the side instead of from the front because that's where I'll notice the late fall off from the side they're really not that much further for each one from that light uh so taken look again so here's another example I think that a lot of people in the chute strobes don't think you can shoot wide open you definitely can't I'm used to like in my studio I shoot f a f eleven all the time but when I go out on location I'm not using the light often to completely overpowered the light in the scene that's not my goal I want to use the light in the scene but I want to improve the quality and direction of light on the face because the light on the face you can see it hear from the ambient light is kind of yellow it's kind overhead doesn't have a lot of pop to it so in this instance that same exact light source is just off to the right of him and so it spills over onto them a little bit and so I'm shooting at one point four ice I s o three twenty so I had my flash at its lowest power it's turned down all the way it's a very very small space so I also know at this point I can't back it up so if that light is not dim enough what I have to do I have to go ahead and uh decrease my I s o but when I decrease my eye so the backgrounds going to get darker so I'm going to have to go for longer shutter speed but can I hand hold it so that's that's so this is where I ended up that I felt comfortable that I could handle uh hand holding it and get that right exposure all right so here's another example so you can kind of see the distances and direction of light this was the couple's portrait here and I am get a nice exposure for the background and then kick this in to taste I wasn't saying one point four let's measure at one point four I definitely let the ambient light late them a little bit and it's more like a kiss it was probably less than one point four in some of these shots all right so in this one it is stronger this one the it's f three point five that studio strobe was probably around for oh like it is definitely brighter than the ambien so this light is off to the side you can see you have a little bit shadows it's directional but it's still soft so improved the quality of the light because I made it soft the direction because I pulled it off to the side the color and the intensity because it was dark in there so all those things that we want to improve on location quality intensity direction of light that's what I'm doing here by the way this is one of the dresses that I purchased for my dress rental business dream shoot rentals I purchased it from like amazing designer in new york it is such a beautiful dress this is the first time I got to shoot it was really excited she was excited too and then so here's an example of a close up shot basically everything saying just about the same okay group shot just giving the idea of the distance when there's a group shot I'm going to back that up further for the two of them it was closer because I do I care about the fall off it for a group shot I'm going to pull it back so they're relatively the same distance from that light if I bring it closer the boys in the front will be really bright and then the father will be in shock and shadow he won't be as bright so that was the things that I'm kind of thinking about in my head how far back do I put that light how close do I put it I'm going to bring it more to the front than to the side because in the front that everyone's lit equally if I pull it off to the side someone else is going to be more heavily illuminated so I'm looking at those elements of lighting as well here's a picture of the monk and I'm shooting at one point for us was to say one sixtieth of a second I could not handle that one sixth of a second not even close to possible so that definitely has a lot of the ambient light on her face we're just a little bit of kiss of that soft box to make it softer and then also not to be terribly yellow you know it's kind of like when you're outside a natural light when you have you got a lot of really pretty phil from the grass but it's green so you don't really you just want to make it look less green or in this case a little at less yellow but I still want that tone in the background and so that's how this was lip and I have it kind of just straight onto her so that the light if I brought it off to the side it would hit if I had off to the side it would hit the bookshelves and now I'm gonna have daylight balance light on the bookshelves but if I bring it around behind me here I have much faster light fall off so it lights her and then these air double the distance continuously so the light falls off quickly so I'm thinking about that that same the distance to control where the light is in the scene and then here's another shot just change my angle a little bit but kept the light in the same place she before was laying here I have two over and shot from a different direction so now I have more shadowed more sculpted light on her face so that is just to give you an idea of one shoot that I would do and then here's another example of a family portrait the soft box is basically behind me just a little bit to the right so everybody's roughly on the same plane not off to the side otherwise wouldn't be able to let them all and so I want to talk about this number right here this is one of the few times where I would ever shoot a group shot around two point eight because it's a straight line and there on it so I know if on that straight line that whole family has their faces lined up on that on that railing they're all on the same plane so it's not like I have to worry about the death if somebody was in the front at two point eight the person that back would be out of focus but they're all lined up and my film plane or my sensors lined up with them so two point eight I can actually get away with in this instance all right so that was my family shoot and I'm gonna show you just a couple of shots from a recent editorial that I did and this one was definitely an adventure um we yeah rented a sixteen passenger van we all loaded in drove two hours into upstate new york at four thirty in the morning and we scouted this cave and it we had to carry all of our gear by we I mean them that I don't want them to think I'm taking credit because they'll give us that that ok I dont taking credit for it and they had to go like down a sharp rude mean into this cave with all this gear which is why my life my gear was actually relatively light but then I got a fog machine with with generator and a dry ice and so then it became not but I started off with good intentions I just got really good ideas and creative so we were we started off light and it didn't end that way eh so let's look at some of the shots is what this is what I brought lighting gear wise not other year okay I brought to profile toby once I only ever used one at a time um we actually used one when it was dark with the modeling light on as a light to see just not how they're meant to be but it was useful uh use the d one trigger I had a beauty dish and a grid ah high powered flashlight and a tripod so that's what all of these images were taken with all right so let's take a look at this photo this is the one that we see up on the wall here uh it was shot at an eighth of a second after two point eight I s o twenty five hundred does that give you an idea of how dark it was in there like insanely dark I'm shooting at an eighth of a second and I know I can't hand hold it so I didn't have a tripod but I'm not so worried about their being blur on her moving because the original scene of this I mean it is dark like there's no light on her there's there's no light on her face this is the beauty dish off to the right so I know that even an eighth in the second if she moves I'm not worried about it because she's frozen by the strobe it's like in that instance where I moved the camera I'm not worried about the subject being blurry because there's no ambient light she's on ly lit by the studio strobe which is so fast there wouldn't be any blur so what I did when I first got in here this is the first shot that I took went to a sixth of a second at five point six twenty five hundred and I'm like wow that's that's still really really really dark and that strobe isn't going to be bright enough either so I opened up to two point oh and it brightens everything up so I just kind of went in there and just tweaked it wasn't going to be that useful for me to meet her on her face because I couldn't actually get the light down that low it was going to be a lot of movement like just setting it up right away and trying to match it wasn't gonna work so instead what we did is they put this drove there we tested it with the better move it in still too strong move it back turned down the power so I mean if you look at the shots I have they bounce all over just trying to get just that right mix for what I was looking at I wanted to have a lot of light in the background but not too much so that's the mix that we ended up with um this is not strobe in the background that is natural light coming from just the sky and opening in the cave behind her and the worst part of that shoot was that I had them carry all that like the fog machine there's something called it's a a chiller I think and it keeps the fog low and dry ice had to carry this all down there and then the whole entire cave was filled with fog without the fog machine it's computer so that's all natural fog in the scene right there so one light a beauty dish off to the side um not gritted because she's wearing a white dress so I didn't want it to get really dark down her body because it would get kind of muddy gray so I left it the way it was okay so here's another shot yes yeah so is it just because of your camera that I don't know uh it's not has no nosey uh noisy okay great question so she's saying it doesn't look so noisy so if you look at that print up really really close you can definitely see the noise at that size but I'm ok with my camera I don't start to really be bothered by it until thirty two hundred it's noticeable it depends on its end use like if I knew it was going to be a huge print that would be viewed up close then maybe it wouldn't shoot at that high I s o but if this is going to be in a magazine eight and a half by eleven or you know it most eleven by seventeen I'm not really worried about it but yes some cameras will have a little bit more noise at that I know that I'm good with twenty five hundred just from lots of experience to get definitely check it out I don't think it's objectionable but you see it for sure and I use light room to reduce the noise there's also image gnomic has a noise reducing software that I use sometimes if it's really bad okay so this one all right check this out fifteen seconds exposure because it I'm shooting on a tripod and this is this this is the fog that's they're ok because this is the fog in this cave anyway so all of this light is from a high powered flashlight and the reason we have fifteen seconds is not for her she's lit by a gritted beauty dish just out of the frame here and the reason I greeted as I wanted it to fall the shadow down here for drama I didn't want to see the detail on the floor because I like this backlight if that whole floor's lit it's boring and I picked a grated beauty dish because a soft box certainly does not fit this mood at all but a grated beauty dish has some direction but it's not too harsh so we have it over to this side so I go ahead put my camera on my tripod and I'm shooting at s nine fifteen seconds could I wanted a long exposure that's why I'm shooting around f nine six forty some nice and sensitive to that flashlight and so what we do put on tripod to take a picture and I have was this was this jeffrey was issues even in this one okay send stephen he's standing right behind her and I have him tracing out behind her so the light would streak out in different directions and so the key for this particular image was the point like out through like crevices their negative space between her legs between her arms because that's what creates those streaks of light is that it's forced through the small spaces so that's what we ended up there and then here's one other version of that um same kind of idea she's still frozen in place by the strove it's a ten second exposure but same thing beauty dish heights the left I wanted it to be dramatic fall to shadow you know this is maybe a little bit more light than I would like there but there's so little of the ground it didn't matter to me on dh using the the flashlight here you actually see leonard sklar has pointed right back into the camera so it creates lense flor so this is an example of our dramatic shoot that I'm using studio strokes on location but I actually made the ambient light so the reason I wanted to show you this is I wanted to focus a lot unlike one o one things but just know once you get those concepts you know you can take it in crazy directions to the point where you're doing studio strobes and painting with light or mixing heavily mixing your ambient as well as your strokes they don't have to be separate they can actually co mingle to create a really cool effect

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
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!

Student Work