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Location SWOT Analysis and 10 Things to Look For

Lesson 14 from: Picture Perfect Lighting

Roberto Valenzuela

Location SWOT Analysis and 10 Things to Look For

Lesson 14 from: Picture Perfect Lighting

Roberto Valenzuela

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Lesson Info

14. Location SWOT Analysis and 10 Things to Look For


Class Trailer



Intro and Who This Class is For


3 Groups for All Lighting Scenarios


My Progress in Lighting


Analyzing Circumstantial Lighting


Circumstantial Lighting Q & A


Using a Reflector the Right Way


5 Behaviors of Light: Overview and Angle


5 Behaviors of Light: Inverse Square Law of Light


5 Behaviors of Light: Relative Size


5 Behaviors of Light: Relative Size Continued


5 Behaviors of Light: Color


5 Behaviors of Light: Reflective Surfaces


5 Behaviors of Light: Q & A


Location SWOT Analysis and 10 Things to Look For


Location SWOT Analysis: Examples and Exercises


Overview Q & A




Speedlites: The Basics and TTL


Speedlites: Manual Flash


Speedlites: Zoom Flash


Speedlites: Zoom and Rotating Flash Head and Reflectors


Speedlites: First Curtain vs. Second Curtain Sync


Speedlites: High Speed Sync


Speedlites: Optical vs. Radio Systems


Speedlites: Groups and Channels


Location Lighting Upgrade Examples


Indoor Lighting: Building on Ambient Light


Outdoor Lighting : Speedlights in Direct Sunlight


Outdoor Lighting: Using Speedlites in Shade


Outdoor Lighting: Romantic Look and Patterns with Speedlites


Indoor Lighting: Creating a Window with Strobes and a Curtain


Indoor Lighting: Moody Light with Speedlites and Gels


Indoor Lighting: Reflective Surfaces


Indoor Lighting: Shooting Against a Window


Indoor Lighting: Adding a Reference Point and Ambience


Indoor Lighting: Shooting into a Mirror and Creating Separation




Why You Need to Learn to Get it Right In Camera


Location Photo Review and Analysis


Intro to Reception Lighting SWOT Analysis


Reception Lighting Setup


Image Critique: Lighting Problems and Solutions


Don't Limit Yourself As A Photographer


Lesson Info

Location SWOT Analysis and 10 Things to Look For

We started out with you know, talking about caritas locations talked about the behavior of light we talked about all these different things it's been kind of a heavy time I feel like now it's a great time to put it all together so what happens is when with if you have all this in your head which I know some of you do uh if you have all this in your head how does that affect the way you see our location? Okay, so, um if you work in a hotel room hotel lobby a bar outdoors in the desert um everything that if you have all this in your head that the color characteristics of the surface is the size ofthe light sources on by the size I mean when the sun hits surface that becomes the light source and and this is hitting you so this becomes the light source the how reflective surfaces how close is that service? How far away's that surface where the other light surface is coming from if you have all this in your head how do you how could you possibly put it all together under pressure? Right? Li...

ke when you're under pressure not gonna go hold on a second here everybody give me twenty minutes to see the color off the surfaces we have ok brown grain it's too far closer like let me get a bigger life source okay, so when I was actually preparing for this class I said, you know there's something really important missing and that is you having the information helps you but this last segment helps you apply it and so I told my wife I have to create a segment that really puts it all together so you can see how quickly these things can be done and more importantly how many errors you will make on how that's totally okay because when you're under pressure you're not going to sit there and be like doing all this stuff there will be unacceptable margin of air you have to be okay with all the ways you're never going to take a picture so we're going to finish off with that I think if you pay attention on the segment you will see the amazing possibilities off you will see basically the the power or the potential of everything I've been teaching today but in play okay, so I called it that location swat analysis I'm sorry about the swat term that's a marketing term from my marketing teaching days swat is what you guys know what swat analysis is totally geeky swat is when you are about to enter a new market or a company or you're going to enter on you're gonna put for entering china whatever it is you always do, what are the strengths, the weaknesses, the opportunities and the threats of that location I just decided to apply to photography because he works perfectly well. Every time I walk into a location, I notice for things what are the strength of this location? For example, this is a hardwood floor. This is a light color it's reflective it's smooth so it will reflect evenly okay there's black carpet there that's not going to reflect that would be a weakness off this room if I want to make really lively photos that we have gray walls in the bag or kenna is those walls are gray kind of cool because he gives you that low contrast background with you can illuminate the subject right on the back and we'll be grace was not competing with you that's a strength I would say, um the ceilings are high that's the strength I could do certain things with it. What are the threats of this location? The threats are like this window could be a nasa it or it could be a threat if I'm shooting from where you guys are this way, this window could be a threat because it takes away from it could spill light in places I don't want also all these crazy lights all over the place. If you try to bounce light into the ceiling, you don't know how it's going to bounce back that's a weakness of this place so when I walk into a location I wanted to share with you that top ten things my eyes kind of scan through before I start photographing I had a student from the er what's it called brooks institute of photography she came, uh, toe shoot a wedding with me one time on uh that's the end of the wedding she told me I've never seen somebody do what like what you do know it was like crazy to see for me because I was so crazy to you just you walk into a room and in seconds you're creating this photos that just look out of this world beautiful and it feels like there's no effort to it I was like that's interesting you don't know that she's not well I do if I think you give me three hours on I just don't know how you can see things so quickly and react to them so fast that's what this is about okay in order for you to put everything we talked about into practice you have to know these three things. The first one is you need to understand the environment during or circumstantial light. The second thing is you need to have a thorough understanding off how light behaves so we talked about those five behaviors of light you need to know those very well on the last one the one that most people freak out about you need to understand how your camera your flashes in your equipment work okay for example you understand how was a house and exposure made if you turn on the flash that changes how an exposure is made because the aperture controls the light from the flash now on the shutter speed controls the light from the ambience we'll discuss it tomorrow but that's just an example of how your equipment works if you point your camera on your camera has a tt l'm eatery on you pointed towards the white surface you need to know how your camera's going to react to a very bright surface that's what I'm talking about so those three things master understanding the environment master how light works like how light behaves the inverse square law of light, the color casts and all that and also the last one no your equipment I know that sounds super silly but I don't know why that's so hard like you buy it read don't experiment you don't understand how it works um if you can't do those three things, you're gonna walk into any environment as a master photographer, not just a regular photographer, you will be truly at a different level okay, so let's talk about strength or weakness is these are the ten things I looked for when I walk into a room I worked really hard on this little slide because to find out what austin things where you know I do it subconsciously like when you walk into a room like and I do it but to write it down was a whole different matter even if my wife is like what's going on is like it took me a week to come up with three you know it's like that's crazy but here they are for you creative events I look for the first one where every word here really matters where is the brightest non direct light intensity on the environment on the walls or the floors or whatever it is nicky can you kind of gas why I said non direct because the light's gonna be harsher it's not the best last that's it so if you walk into a hotel room or you walk into a lobby or a cool italian villa I was just in italy it was doing this for the shipment in an italian villa and the owner was showing me that villa I know it's just like uh huh and how it just like scanning the whole thing on what I was looking for us as soon as she started talking and telling me about how beautiful the villages which I totally appreciate it I need to start shooting tomorrow had to leave at a certain time she was kind of like complicated girl I don't know what happened uh you're not complicated it wasn't you and I thought I said to myself where is the brightest point in this place that's that's not direct light like as long as the light goes through a window or something is not direct okay if you understand the behavior of light you understand why that one is so important if this war is illuminated very very brightly with some light called the call it the song call it a video I don't care what it is if this is illuminated a lot the more powerful the light here is the more shaping I can do with the light with the model okay um in fact tomorrow I'll show you the photos from that photo shoot I'll explain how everything was done based on what I'm teaching today the second one is I quickly scanned the location's for clean backgrounds on also clean color I mean for color elements for example if I was to shoot in this direction you have the reflector the little tray thing the cameras the diffuser is the black bean bags there's like a million colors there but if I shoot in this direction I only have this family of brown's okay, so if I'm shooting I say where is the brightest spot now where's the clean pockets off color elements on the clean backgrounds okay, so I would say here is good that white wall is good these great wall is good um that's it simple right third this one was a tough one I look around the room and I say where are they the natural light modifiers for example if I walk into a room I can say walls bounce walls bounce light so if I if I look around I'm like there's a wall that bounds is light right um curtains currents can close on kill the light took from coming into a room or I can open them all the way and make the light source huge or I can just close them and make a little little tiny edge of light like squeezing in all of these things are things I looked for shears shears are great because they defuse the light so if you have directs on hitting a window and then you have a little share here it makes the light a lot softer. Okay, good for women maybe not so great for many doors I put doors cuts and directs uh this is hard to explain. Can I borrow that whiteboard calling, please? Well, while he's bringing that over roberto what a question just come in about if you could just clarify late is considered non direct if it's coming through a window even if its direct sunlight yeah, because I mean it's direct but it's going through a surface so when a soon as it hits the surface of their light race kind of spread out a window it's not the greatest mortar fire but he does modify the light a little bit great. Thank you. So if you look for things like this I look for a room like this. Here is the sun onda song basically comes that basically the sun roof I'm not the greatest drawing there's a shadow here okay, the sun comes this way right vertical right but there's an opening here let's just say this is an opening like a garage like a garage, okay or whatever when the light comes in on all these are ambient light that's illuminating the rest of the scene squeezes into that room make sense if I was to break those windows right now which I totally want teo I removed all of that from their way have just one window opening and the rest are full of curtains all the light illuminating the other buildings outside it's going to squeeze in and he's going to come in this direction through the window that changes the direction of the light from that changes the direction of the light from up and down because the sun is here and this is the floor and the floor is reflecting light back up to light us coming in direction in a horizontal manner because if you open up a door all the light from the outside is now coming into you this way it's not coming into you like up and down as soon as the light comes in this way and you know the behavior of light your possibilities are endless endless you khun do crazy awesome beautiful photography and I will show you what I do myself is this clear or is anybody confused with this one? Clear right imagine my garage door you opened up the garage or the life of the outside squeezes into the garage you open up the door out of the creative life building and you feel the sun just going that life is coming is travelling left and right is not travelling from the sun on about bouncing from the floor this is very important so that's the other one I look for bed sheets bed sheets are great because they are our natural reflector so if you doing voodoo our sessions or whatever the bed sheet is a huge reflector for you and it can diffuse like because it's kind of a thin material light will hear it some light will go through it some light will bounce you can create different looks in fact what suit that would be great because you can do amazing soft lighting without going okay we discussed this one in the last segment I look for the surface characteristics over the location so I say smooth, rough, smooth, smooth, super rough and that's it as soon as I walk into a room I analyze analyze what's going on um if I was to photographed over you right now and I bounced the light on that white wall she will look beautiful but if I was to bounce a little against this to reflect the light back into her face it won't be so beautiful so I need to be aware off my surroundings for me to make that decision I would hate to waste the models time or waste my time so that's important no middle single I looked for the direction of light so if the sun if the son is here uh that's not the sun that's a person if the son is here and he hears the floor any costs it casts a shadow it casts a shadow um that would be the wrong place for that son because the shadow okay, I need to know where the direction of light this because if I photograph if the sun is hitting me this way and I put the girl or I put the subject here facing the sun I'm getting I'm hitting her with direct light that's not a bad thing because if I use my diffuser a knight if you see it or not angle the diffuser she's going to get the most powerful light in her face so direct light is not a bad thing if you're under, if you're watching online, please do not think the wrecks on light is bad. It's actually excellent. But you need to know howto handle it. So, for example, calling you in prison. Can you put your face like this? You're the son. You are the sunshine. You are ok. The sun is points on this way. Here's your subjects. If you defuse, this is strongest light path you're gonna have in any location, right? The stronger the intensity of light them or you can play with the way the light is going to look in your subject. When there is no sun or there's just clouds, everything kind of looks even. And then you have to add flash or very allies to givet dimension. But when the sun is powerful coming down like this, you can diffuse it not if you say you can put the diffuser close to your subject. You can put it far away from your subject. And most importantly, you could angle the diffuser towards the sun making that directs on rates. The raise a lot more powerful but still soft on the person's face. So I look for the direction of light for that purpose thank you have you guys ever read my first book picture perfect practice, by any chance? Do you hear what I said that if you stand in the direction of the shadow then you know exactly that the sun is directly behind your subjects when you do that, you you have a big hair light on the face is clean, but that doesn't mean you're done. You have to put a reflector in the front in order to give it that extra hot sauce. So that was you just like another photographer, right? That's? Why I look for direction of light when you start thinking that light can travel open down or left and right, you will start. You'll start to change the way you shoot because when you see opportunities where the light is going this way remember the first photo I showed me the two walls and the stairs that's almost coming here, but it was bouncing this way too. That's. Why? You need to be aware of these things. So the next one is I look for the shadows on the ground, on the shadows, on the walls. If you have shadows on the ground let's say you have a chair on the chair. Has this like, metal back bar things would you call the backrest? Let's? See, the backrest has like five metal bars. If the sun is coming this way and he hits that chair is goingto cast five shadows off off like xiao ched five strips of light or shadow into the floor if you can see that you can use that to photograph um someone if you have a tree here on the son comes and hits that tree it will cast a shadow off the tree on the wall. Honey, that tree has a cool branch and the branch is going this way it's almost like a little finger pointing this way and you can have your subject here on the tree shadow points at your subject so I look for where what were the shadows in the room on what's happening to the shadows ok a huge one if you are shooting in harsh light situation I walk I look around and I look for where the clean pockets of light so let's say you have trees and branches and palm trees and rocks and cars and what have you when the sun hits a wall you're going to see all kinds of messy shadows but there will be a little spot here that's a clean sparkle of light I see that and I I think that's an opportunity right there because if you put the girl in that spot you you put someone or whoever you're shooting it's gonna look super beautiful super cool clean pocket off light number eight I already discussed this one I look for rooms toe have access to the outside because if you open the door the light will travel from open down to left and right nine um this is a really difficult to see what this is a difficult one to see I look for natural separations between the subject and the background for example uh rachel you're wearing on kind of like a light color shirt right? That wall behind us is grey that to me is a natural separation because that color contrasts with your color of your shirts. However, if you look at mark bless you, mark is wearing a gray shirts so if I was photographing marc and I saw the great wall behind, I probably wouldn't go with that war because it's too monochromatic and I'd be like that's just gonna be like a floating head popping out of the out of the picture. So the remember the first photo again of the staircase and the two walls that's almost coming from above it would get gave her hair light that light created separation between her and the other background. So that's why I put here if you look for existing separations it can be done with light like the sun or it can be done with contrasts or it can be done with colors okay like the grey with a white and so forth couples actually really important on the last one and this is the one we're going to really hit hard tomorrow I look for what is my reference point off light. For example. Look at the light in this room. This light is kind of like a cold light. It's. Very white. So my reference point for this room is a cold. Kind of like, not totally cool. Just kind of like a daily. I balanced light source. So if I was photographing w sorry, though, it's, just totally your nickname for you. Father's photographing w I will create my light to match the reference point of the room. I see photographers doing crazy things, which is totally fine. It's art you can do whatever you want, but I see them playing with the flashes and the jails and the jailing that they chose for the location doesn't match at all on maybe that's what they wanted, but I don't know if they were thinking that far ahead. No, because you have toys. You have to use them. If you have jails and all this stuff, try to match it to something. Um, that read picture I took of w um that's you. If I was really taken a portrait of her really doing it, I would actually put two flashes on that white war and I would put red jails on them. Or I would put blue gels on them because red and blue counter each other. So if I was getting a red color cast on her, I would go with the red background and make it look all artsy psycho. Or I could go with the blue. I could make the white war, turn it into a blue wall using jails and keep the red color cast on her. And then I'm kind of playing with contrasts. These are the ten things that go through my head when I walk into a location and it took me a long time to come up with you. So you better know them. Okay, um, it's hard because, like I said, it's a subconscious stuff for me. It's really hard to call, so stay there and be like, what do I look for if this is what I look for? You're gonna laugh at me. But I had to I was at the italian villa where we're shooting and I had to because I was preparing this I had to walk out and be like, okay, I see this. It was like I had to figure out what I see consciously when it's an unconscious job, you know?

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

10 Elements to Look For at a Location

Ratings and Reviews


Im sitting in my office listening to Roberto with my earplugs on and I know I have already left 2 reviews but he's so funny…. my family comes into the office asking me "whats so funny" Roberto makes me laugh out loud with his jokes but at the same time, he is SO great at teaching. Im watching for second time to make sure all his good info is ingrained. HIGHLY recommend you take his workshop on Picture Perfect Lighting if you truly want to take your photography to the next level! WOW thats 3 reviews now…can you tell I am impressed

Maureen T.

I'm taking a portrait photography course at NYIP online. one of the mentors there recommended the posing book by Roberto. I ended up ordering at the library the posing and the perfect practice book. I fell in love with both books...ended up buying them and signing up here for the year membership just so I can take all of his photos courses. I spent most of my weekend doing perfect lighting course here I am in love with the way that he teaches! He makes something so difficult and challenging for me make sense. I also like that he challenges us photographers to be true professionals. I am thrilled to have discovered Roberto and already noticed my photography is better in the short time that I've been studying him.


Roberto has the personaliyy and gift to relate to others.He is honest and shared some of rhe disaters that occurred, even with high paying and important clients when he failed to follow his proven and tested approaches. He has shared from his extensive knowledge developed by hard work and effort to master his craft. His dedication in attacking his weaknesses and making them a strength is inspiring. I have purchased many CL classes and all have worth the investment so I hesitated to purchase this course because I didn't think there was much new information. However the clear teaching and extensive knowledge shared by Roberto in his unique style caused me to purchase it gladly and believe it is an exceptional value. Roberto has shared his extensive tools, but you will never be the master of the craft without putting in the hard work and testing that roberto testified to. Thanks again CL for bringing the best to us and Thank you Roberto for taking the time and preparation to achive excellance in in this class.

Student Work