Live Shoot: Big, Bold & Beautiful Light
I think all of us whenever we think about strobes, we think about huge modifiers and big umbrellas and pointing them around and doing stuff with them. And I think it's really nice to spread the light and again, we go back to, if I go back to, I call it big, bold and beautiful light. We're gonna use some umbrellas to mess around with some light and stuff like that. And again, let's talk about the softness of light and how light reacts as it gets closer to us and stuff so a large sun far away causes really hard light when it's direct sunlight, right? And we know what happens. When we have cloud cover, it closes up. All of a sudden, we've got a big soft box. We got a big huge soft box. So if we shoot into an umbrella and I've got these diffusion over the umbrellas. I'm creating a larger light to work with softer light, which is what? My thing, I like soft light. I'm big into soft light. I like it for the transitions and I like creating soft light. So that's kind of how I been doing it. Pl...
us, we've got, a lot of times we're shooting for a client. Let's say I'm doing a look book. This is a set up that I do for my look books and stuff like that where I use these big soft boxes. This is essentially exactly what I do in the studio when I do these fashion look books. And I do, I do two umbrellas. I vary the power between them. So I've got, so we've been fiddling with it and I'm doing, we've got the D2s now that we're rocking. The brand new pro photo D2s. We've got one at six and a half, I've got this one at 6.0. This one has a silver on the inside and this one's white. Not saying it's gonna make a huge difference because the sock is over it. If I take the sock off, we're gonna look at the differences when we do that and look at the contrast that it creates. That's why I put the silver up there. I liked it, the silver's gonna give you a touch more punch, little punchiness to your images. And I like my buddy Phil to be soft. I like, I like it soft. We want Phil to be a softer light. I almost went there guys. I know that you, I almost went there. So think about that. Cloud cover, this is why on a cloudy day I go up on my room in New York and I was like, any time I look out the window and I see direct sunlight I'm like I don't need to go up there and shoot. I see cloud cover, I'm like I'm good. Let's go, we got a big soft box. And remember, what were we talking about? What's the wall whipping quote? Nose to the, nose to the sun, let the shadows fall behind you. So if you got a big soft box overhead, coming down on them, it's not, it's gonna be softer, but it's gonna still create shadows underneath. You wanna get people looking up into it or you can go, you wanna get, you wanna watch that light as they change which direction they're looking. So I'm putting this light a little bit higher and a little bit angled and we'll see how it goes. Let's see what I've got here. Softness of the light is determined by the relative size of the light source and it's proximity to the subject. The bigger, the closer it is to your subject, it's bigger. It's a bigger source so the light's gonna be softer. It's like the clouds are a lot closer to us than the sun so it's a lot softer. That is another reason why I get those flex kits and everything, so really, really tight in there. All right so let's get, let's take a look and go capture one on this. And let's, let's bring in Ulin. And let's try some stuff. So this is a standard, simple set up that gets the job done for me. You can walk on there, that's no big deal. I got a guy. So that's the other thing is that, so one of the challenges and sometimes we put, I put four heads on the background. This is simple lighting for portraits. I don't need, I have a six light setup here. That's not very simple. So I could do it with two heads to be more simple on the background or I could just take it off the background entirely and shoot it on gray. But I'm concerned about when my work, I really like the background to go white and then the seamless to look really nice. And then when I come up here, I've got her feet and everything so I go with a low fill to kind of fill a little bit in here and then the umbrella's gonna fill her face as well. So I've got it angled down a little bit towards the floor because this light's so high there's nothing going on here. Now if I wanted to get fancy, I could bring another light in here or I'm gonna show you another trick on how to fill it. So we might try some stuff. But let's just start with a little bit of a build maybe. Or we'll just start, we'll just shoot her with kind of like the way we've had it. All right, we're good. Now I did switch the five DSR, which I love. So I got a five DSR, a Canon five DSR on here now. And I'm going at, I'm at 200 ISO. Do I need to be at 200? You sure? I could be at 100, but why would I be at 200? What would be the benefit of being at 200? What? How bright is it in here right now? It's kind of bright, right? What if I wanted to, what if I wanted to use some of the light that was in here? I love mixing light. If you look at the light on her right now, it's phenomenal. So I might start, I'm gonna teach you guys how I mix strobe with natural light. How would I do that? You guys know the answer? What would I do? I'm gonna get my settings down for strobe. So we're at one, 1/60th of a second because we're right under one just because that's my safety play. And I'm at F8. So what I could do is I could pull back the power on all the strobes and open, like decrease them so I can let more natural light in, but I have another trick, but what is it? You know.
The ambient light.
I could match the ambient light, but then why am I doing strobes? What I wanna do is I wanna match the strobe with the ambient. How do I get the ambient light into my strobe look? Come on. What?
I drag the shutter, right? We're doing, so I'm gonna drag the shutter to do that. So let's take a shot without dragging the shutter. And I'll keep it at 200 and maybe we'll do some adjustments and we'll just see, let's see how Ulin looks. Okay, let's just see and see if you got you head to toe and see what's going on here. I don't wanna get down there, and my glasses are gonna go flying on the floor in a second, let me put them in my pocket. All right, let's see right here. Cool. All right, I got her head to toe. I got full body. I got the focus. I got everything in the will, let's do a guest shot. She looks gorgeous. And boom shaca laca. All right. Maybe I don't need, maybe I, I thought I was rushed. I like it, I actually like it. I could actually shoot like this. So let's just do this. I'm not gonna extend the background. I'm gonna give a little bit more room around her. One of the tricks, if I was annoyed by the foot in there, I could just move it a little away from her. So I can do that and then. Because I saw it, I know I can get it out, I know my retouch can get it. But I saw it. Come a tiny step forward, right there. That's good. All right, let's look at this light now. I angled, let's get one where she's not blinking then we'll look at what, we'll zoom in and see what the face is actually doing. Let's just see if I can keep this, this foot out of it. If I wanted to get the stands out of it I could always put the stuff on a boom. But then again, we don't need to spend more money on that stuff. So I'm gonna actually pull a little wider so I can see a little bit more of the background. Actually, Ulin, take a tiny step back. Because we would have to go higher with the backdrop if we wanna her head and everything in the angle I'm shooting on. So I'm gonna do this. Let's try this. That's perfect. And I'm just using the 27 to 70 on the Canon and I'm adjusting. Let's give her a little bit more room around her. I'm not lame, my Hurley's isn't on her or anything when I'm, when I'm doing it. Now, let's zoom in and see what we got. Let's go our numbers first. We're right where I want. I'm not blown out on the background. I'm 250, I'm right where I wanna be. The area of concern is right here. Right? I'm at 230 here. I'm at 250 back here, I'm at 230 here. Now I could throw another light in there. I could just have my, I could have my retoucher bring that up pretty easy. Or I could allow some natural light to come in and do that. She's not really moving much. If this was a speedier thing, I would have to, I'd bring more lights in to do it, but let's see how the fill is on her face. Let's see what's going on here. Oh, I love the light. See the catch lights? I don't mind the catch lights. And I like the light, the light's pretty good. I am very limited on the shadows, right? Fill is doing a lot of work. I could ease fill up a little bit. But I like the light, you guys like the light? I can work with that. I could shoot a whole look book like that, easy. Let's try and see if I can bring this up by adding and it will get a little bit more light in. We're gonna drag the shutter. We're gonna play around here. Just to get that foreground. And I'm gonna open up the lens to show you the whole scene. We'll take the lights out afterwards, obviously. I did not drag the shutter. Hold on guys, everybody settle down. I'm gonna drag the shutter and I'm gonna bring it in at like, let's see how much we can bring in here. If I'm dragging the shutter, if she's not moving, let's see what happens. Look at this now. Right? I pretty much have a similar exposure there. Look at the foreground. And all I did, let me just check it. Let's see if we got some light in there. We got some light on her feet. We got some light on the body. And we opened up the, we opened it up a little bit. We didn't open it up that much. So there's another way to do this, guys. We can go down a stop on everything. I don't know if I have it set up so I can go down a stop on everything. 5.5, let's go down a stop on everything. 6.5, go 5.5. All right, there we go.
Can you explain what dragging the shutter is?
Okay so, I'm leaving the shutter, that perfect, Drew, thanks for asking and I'm glad people ask that question. So I'm leaving the shutter open longer than it needs to be for the strobe. So the strobe goes off, it hits her. At one 200th of a second, I can be done. And it goes on it's merry way, it's gone. But there still light hanging out in the room. Where is it? Right? So in order to get that in I'm leaving the shutter open a little long just to add that amount of light. So I like to do it in this scenario if I've got a natural light studio because then I can bring both in. Now if she's running around or moving, I'm not gonna do that. I'm gonna bring in other lights to light it. Or sometimes this is a pretty, it's a cream colored ceiling I might shoot a strobe into the ceiling to light the floor. I might, but again, in this scenario I wouldn't even do it because my retoucher would handle it. My client would be happy. What I normally do actually is, normally I, with a lot of the clothes I shoot, turn these off John. A lot of the clothes I shoot, I'm hot, I'm taking off my sweater. I'm going. A lot of the clothes I shoot, if you shoot a white dress and you shoot it on a white background and you're getting the exposure on the skin tone right you're gonna lose some detail in the white. And the separation between the white on the dress and the white on the background, the designers are like I'm trying to see my dress. I'm like, all right, we'll do a little light gray background and let's try that. I drag the shutter, I'm going light gray background. I'm in the same situation and I'm in ISO and I'm gonna go, I'm actually gonna go, we could go ISO 400 even in this situation. And then we could bring this down to five, six. Oh no, we can't. What am I doing guys? We were at F8, I'm gonna stay at 200. Let's not go crazy, let's stay in the zone. Let's try it with the gray. I'm just gonna go 56. I'm gonna help out by lowering the power that the strobe's hitting her at. I'm gonna go 45 here and I'm gonna go 40 here. And we're gonna try this. So we're just bring it down. And the thing I love about the Pro Photo is you have that tiny increment. I could fiddle with this all day. I like what I did in the first shot. Now I'm just mixing light to do it. At this stage of the game, I could bring a flex kit in and do it too. All right, let's try it. All right, we're gonna take another guest shot because I totally changed everything. Okay, I'm at 60th of a second, 56 200 ISO. Let's try it and see what natural light looks like before I shoot the strobe even. Well now I don't, did I move that light? It's all in my frame. Let's move it out a little bit. It's a big light, it's soft, I don't mind it a little bit further away from her because it's super big already. And I'm not going for that ultra contrasty business anyway that I was getting. Okay, this is, that's no strobe. So this is how much natural light we're getting in on there. So it's not much. It's really not much at all. I don't think it's gonna help us very much at all. I thought we had more light in the room. So in this scenario I probably wouldn't even do this. Let's forget that idea. Let's stay back where we were. If I really wanted to do that, I'd bring the whole operation up here. I would bring everything, I'd bring her closer to the window so I had more power. That's what I would be up to.
Peter. Ryan Parker has a question. Peter, is the key light of the same power as the background lights in this set up?
Is it, I think it's less because he key light is bouncing into the umbrella and then going through the diffusion material.
So even if it's set at the same number?
5.5? It may be set at the same, it's 45 now. I've been moving it. Let's go back up to where we were. We were at five and 5.5? You guys, I'm messing with my settings and I think the background was at 5.5, wasn't it? We turned them off. Hold on a second. 5.5, turn it off again though. I wanna see what the background looks like. I wanna see if the background can go a slight gray. So I'm back to one, 1/60th. I'm at F8, I think I was, I'm gonna try F56 at 200th of a second. Let's try that and Ulin just look here. Now she's so far away from me now, the connection between me and the subject isn't as much. So you see what happens with the light? That's why we want to get that back light going. Ulin, take a tiny step forward. Now let's say, let's say I was shooting like this. I'll also do this because I'm not gonna concern myself too much with the floor. I don't like the way the boots and the stuff like that go, but let's just say for kicks, I'm shooting like this. Take a look at this. Let's compare it to this. Do we have a nice gray background? That's a beautiful shot, beautiful light. So I don't wanna over complicate it. Once I got my light the way I want, then I'm just looking to solve problems, like where is the light really having issues? Let's go and turn on the background lights and see how this exact shot looks and then we'll go back and look at the floor. So these lights should wipe out a lot of the shadows that we saw in the shot before and that's why I got two of them. So I got one kind of low. Two of them kind of low, which we can aim the trajectory of them wherever we want. But see this, see these shadows on the floor? So the two lights are gonna create shadows, we're just gonna fill that. And they're at 5.5. This is a 5.0 and this is at 5.5 so they're all very similar in power. Let's give it a shot. Let's see how we're doing. I'm gonna do it in the same way I did it before and then we're gonna change the setting on the, let's check the setting on the. Now I'm not giving Ulin, anything to work with here because I'm messing with the light. Once I get it locked in, then I can start to direct her. But I'll make her aware of that. I don't like my people that I'm shooting sitting there while I'm doing this and they're just like, you're with me on this, right? You got it, okay good. I just, I wanna make sure that they know that I'm not, so let's look at the, let's do the same thing. If we're going for, where are we going? Oh, we're at 255, 255, 255. We're in good shape. Now let's go for the floor. Let's see how the floor looks. Again, and I'll vary my height dependent upon the height of the person and where I'm going and the camera and then I'll, I like the 24 to 70 because I just put it, with these types of things, I just put this on, I just zoom out till I like the framing. And then I'll lock it in there maybe for a shoot once I figure out where I want. And I'll usually have a mark or something where they, actually I shoot my pysche all the time and there's always little scuff marks, but it's got this amazing paint on it so when you shoot it everything vanishes. But you could see the scuff marks. So I'll just put either a little piece of tape for wherever I'm shooting or I'll say just stand on that little scuff mark that barely shows up anyway. Okay, here we go. Ulin, right here. Beautiful. Good and let's take a look. I like the way, see how we eliminated these shadows? And this is really, really nice. Because going up here and working here is fairly easy. It's down here that I'm worried about because the, and that's why I'm angled like that. So I'm liking what I'm seeing here a lot. And I can, I would shoot something like this all day long. And now, since this is 255, it took away the shadows down in here. I'm just gonna go pull back on these because they're already at 255. So let's pull them back a half stop. Let's try at 5.0 and just see what that does and if I can get into my 250 range, it's gonna match the front a little bit better anyway. And now I'm also at 1/60th of a second. I'm at 56 and I could start to work with Ulin now. There we go, we're getting a little bit even more, let's see what it is. Is it still two, no now it came down a little bit. It could come down a little bit more but I really like the way it looks so I'm gonna keep it there. And then I'm just gonna go and start to go to work. Yeah.
Two fold question. One is are we trying to get total white, head to toe all the way through the back of the frame? Or are we going to accept a little bit of gray on the bottom of the frame?
We're gonna accept a little bit of gray, if we can. Because if I'm at 238, for me to get it to 250 is no problem.
So around, I'm not talking about is your is good enough to touch it up, but for a look book, do they wanna have straight white or are they okay will a little bit of color at the bottom?
Usually, no. Usually for the look books, they a lot of times, and some of the clients I work with, they don't want a retouch either. So they want it to look perfect right off the bat. So I'll shoot and I'll show them. I'll say this is where we're at, this is what I'm getting. And a lot of times, I would bring, I would bring in a light just to light the foreground evenly and then we'd get it and we go off and run with that because I don't want them, they're like, we're on a budget, we don't need a retoucher. Because usually, if I'm shooting a look book, oh my gosh, sometimes it's like 50 looks. Yeah, I mean it's crazy. And they're like, we're not gonna go through and retouch all of this so we just want it to look as close to what we need.
And we're getting our white reading as 255 all the way across the board. It'd actually be telling us that we're over exposing, we wouldn't know so we might bring it down, you'd like to keep everything around 250?
I like to keep it around 250 and actually, if the dress is white like I was saying before, go 4.5 on these, John. So I actually don't want the background, sometimes when I'm shooting that kind of stuff I don't want it to go white, so I definitely want it around 250, Ulin you're doing great. Little positive reinforcement for her. She deserves it, she's standing there. All right, so now it's evening up really nicely on me. And now I'd probably, that's probably where I'd be. All right? And it's a simple lighting set up. You've got, I mean the strobes in the back are just lighting the background. This is the light that I couldn't do when I was in L.A. on that job. This was all I had to do and I just couldn't figure it out. I don't know why. I don't know what I was doing. But this is a very simple setup that works. You put two umbrellas in front, big. Get them large. You can adjust the angles of these however you want. You can figure it out. Like right now, I'm above the head, I'm at a little bit of an angle. If I wanted to flatten this out, I could do something like this and turn it and we're gonna talk about feathering in a little bit and getting some shots. I could change fill, so fill's a little bit flatter. And maybe we don't want fill so low. And maybe we want, we wanna aim fill a little bit so Ulin's a little bit back in them. Let's see what it does, see how it changes. Now these are only a half stop apart. It's not gonna be a huge difference, but let's take a shot and see what we get. All right, Ulin, that's great. Perfect, I like it. I'm not giving her much direction because she looks good. If they look good off the bat, just give them positive reinforcement. All right, so do you see how the foreground changed because I brought fill up? I was getting, fill was doing some work down here. I keep touch, I should stop touching my neck. Fill was doing some work down here. Does that bother me enough not to do it? I don't think so, hold on. But I liked it the other way. Let's look at the face and let's see the difference. I actually like it. I could probably open up a little bit. I've a little bit less skin tone. Ulin's like that's a five DSR showing 50 megapixels of all my glory, will you move back a little bit? All right, so I'm just gonna open up a little bit. Let's take another shot and let's see if we can, we can brighten it up a little bit. There we go, now the skin tone looking pretty good. I like it. I like where it's going. I like what's going on. And it still works and now I'm not so concerned with the floor because this came up.
If I was on a budget and I wanted to do this with one strobe on the background, how would I do that?
If you wanted to do this with one strobe on the background? You'd probably have to do the shoot through, you could put a strobe behind that, hide it, shoot through it the way that we were. But then the bottom of it have to be white. You'd have to get enough light through it, that would be kind of difficult. The other thing that you could try, you could put a boom overhead and aim down into the corner and hope for the best. (laughing) There's a couple ways to get around it, but it's really hard to light something like this that's that big. It's a nine foot seamless. And to light it with one strobe evenly is pretty tough. Good question.
Could I do it with a diffusion material?
You're gonna, you have to figure it out. So you're not gonna see the diffusion material. If you want it to be like a seamless, like a psyche wall and have the sweep with the curve, you're always gonna get something in the curve. You're gonna have to retouch whatever's in the curve out. You know? But we could do, I mean we could bring the big sucker in here and put it right there and put one light behind, excuse me, and get the same thing. But again, you got more work after in post. Which isn't really that hard. But still, that's what you're working against. So you're always trying to find out, find these options that work best for you with the equipment that you've got. And since this is simple lighting, just take that head off of there. Take that, turn that off, just turn it off. Act like it's not there. Act like it's not there. All right, we don't need two. We're gonna lower this one a little bit. Are we lowering it? I can't lower this one because that ones there. I can only go a little bit lower? Okay, well I might lower it a little bit more, but hold on. Let me, we don't need this anymore so I'm gonna take this sucker off. I think you can get away with it with with two lights, I just like this move because, you can go a little lower with that. And you could see, if you guys look at this backdrop, do you see the top of it, how it's lit up? Top is lit up more. That's a moment where I could relight this whole thing, go to a higher ISO, open up because the depth of feel when I'm this far away with a 24 to 70 on, it's not a factor for me. I don't need to worry about and I could do some stuff. Are both of those on? Let's just see what it does. Now I took away a light so I'll probably go, go up to 5.5 on this. Since we took away a light, we'll just add another, and we'll just see how we do. Okay, Ulin, right here, perfect, fantastic. I can work with that. And did we miss anything? Not really. Okay? So that's a four light set up, you would need to do something like that. Now let's just say we don't have four lights and we only have three lights. We're gonna get, fill is too expensive so we can't afford to have fill around anymore. Wanna get rid of fill. So we're gonna, fill's done. And we're gonna get our trustee V-flat. And we're gonna replace fill with our V-flat which doesn't cost very much because we went to the art supplies store and we bought it and we taped it together and we put it right here. And we're gonna get the same effect without a light. All right? We're getting more, we're simplifying. You still need your key light. You need your background lights if you're gonna do it evenly with you. What's the other option? The other option is moving Ulin against the background, using the inverse square law to get her close to the background so the background goes almost white. And then, I would actually do this, do it like this. Hold it like that. Now move that on to the actual light so I can put it right there. And if you looked, I mean you can't see anything. I don't know how you could look. (laughing) But you could see that I'm shooting the key light right into the bow, right into the V-flat. Let's take a shot and see how it looks. See if we need that. Or if that's necessary. Ulin, that's just great. And we have a similar look, it's not the same. It's a little less punchy. Can you guys see that? Let's move the V-flat so you could see it. It's a little less punchy. I'm getting a little bit less on the floor. But again, does the client, is the client gonna freak out or no? Maybe not. And you're building your base so you don't have to go crazy. Like I said, you need to build this up. As you have the income stream coming through, you could start to buy what you need to buy.