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Live Shoot: Perfect the White Background

Lesson 23 from: Build your Lighting Knowledge

Peter Hurley

Live Shoot: Perfect the White Background

Lesson 23 from: Build your Lighting Knowledge

Peter Hurley

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Lesson Info

23. Live Shoot: Perfect the White Background


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Natural Light Overview


Live Shoot: Maximizing Window Light


Live Shoot: Use Reflector to Enhance Natural Light


Live Shoot: Back Light Your Subject


Live Shoot: Back Lit Subject with V Flats


Live Shoot: Utilize ProBoard with Natural Light


Continuous Lighting Overview


Lesson Info

Live Shoot: Perfect the White Background

I said at the very beginning of me starting this course that there was frustration on my end of things because of the way the students were lighting things, the students that I coach, were lighting things, and it was frustrating to me. One of the biggest frustrations is when they light a white background. You know, it really, you know it frustrates me when the subject goes into what I call flaresville. You don't wanna live in flaresville. My work cannot live in flaresville. I'm gonna show you how to perfect a white background, okay? We're gonna work on it, and we're gonna get 'em looking really good. Ulin, can you come on up? So I've got, we all know that if I shoot the flex kit on continuous lighting, we're gonna get a gray background without strobe. So I've got a air remote there. Ulin just step a little bit this way. Right there, that's beautiful. And I put Ulin's hair up just because, why did I do that? Who knows? Who knows? Because I want a little wrap around her face. I want it t...

o wrap really nicely. So let me take a shot, let me make sure I'm tethered. Let me make sure I am rocking and rolling. And hold on a second. Okay, here we go. We're in, we're in. I'm gonna take a shot and we are gonna go back to our settings for the flex kit. So I'm on 30/30/50? Are we 30/30/50? 30, 30 and the bottom is-- 30/30/50 is where we should be at. That's my base settings for the flex kit which are in the PDF. If you get the course, you get that. And we're gonna take a shot and we're gonna look at, this is the way I do it. I'm doing a build here, guys. I build. So we're gonna do a shot and then we're gonna introduce the strobes. That's perfect, Ulin. Beautiful. Now, there's our light. Oh my gosh, is she gorgeous or what? Come on. Do I know how to pick 'em. There we go. Okay, so we got a nice gray background. We're not in flaresville. We don't have a, I'm gonna teach you a little trick. See how she's got, I'm not gonna have the makeup and hair person come in and primp her. We're running and gunning here, this is about light. I'm not worried about it. Look at the hair just kind of getting a little messy. Watch this. When I add white, she's not gonna touch her hair. When I add white to this, it's gonna start to blow through this hair and the hair is gonna disappear. I love it. It's one of the things I do. Whenever I see somebody with messy hair, my makeup artist can't quite get to it or the hair stylist isn't quite getting it, I just boom, white background. Blow a little light through, it disappears. Let's see if we could do that. So we're gonna start low and we're gonna work high. This is how I want you guys to do it. I also would like you to shoot and Capture One. and you can get 10% off Capture One using the code Shabang. All right? Or if you join the headshot crew, you could do it for two free months inside the perks section, there's a three month free trial of Capture One, shabang. But the reason is, I like to do this. I like to get my numbers. So we're 125, 132, 165, 133 on the background right now. I don't like to go 255, 255, 255. But let's go towards it. I don't wanna go over 250 on this with white because then I'm gonna go into flaresville. So we're gonna start low and we're gonna work high. We're gonna turn on the B1s. Are we on channel one? I'm on channel one. You want me to turn them on? You can turn them on, go nuts. I can adjust them. I should be able to adjust them from here. They're both on the channel. We're at 2.0, let's turn off the modeling lights. We're gonna go no modeling. We don't need modeling lights on a white background. The white background looks perfectly fine on its own. Go ahead Could you explain the color values you were just talking about? You said you wanna go to 255, 255, 255. That's white. Color value is white is 255, 255. RGB is 255, 255, 255. I don't like to go above 250 when I'm shooting. If I'm not quite white when I look at it, guess what. I've got a guy. It's gonna be really close. It's not that hard to do. So first off, I'm shooting, if you look, let's first do this, if you look I'm shooting with my camera directed at Ulin. So where's my background? If my camera is like this, where is the background? Where's it gonna be? So I want this area to be lit evenly. Where are those lights pointing right now? They're pointing this area. Does that help me right now? No. So what I'll do is if I'm doing a job where I've got, now we can do it with one head, it's fine. But I can also put two heads on here to make it even down here and up and up and up top if I'm shooting head to toe. All right so I'm gonna go up a little bit and I'm gonna go, I liked, I liked the heads about at shoulder height so right about there. And then if I'm gonna take, the center of the background's gonna be here, I'm just gonna step on this and try not to rip, center of the background's gonna be about here, I do not want, remember what happened when we added light? We get more light. If we add light to get it, we're gonna get, what we're gonna do is we get a spot. If I point that right at me, which would be centered and point that right at me which would be centered, I'm gonna get a spot right here that's a little bit brighter than over here. I don't want that. I want those two to mesh in the center. So I want this one right about here and this one right about here. You got them, let me see. That's good. And this one can come over a little bit. So that's about where we want it. Now the other issue that we have is that I might, with these heads, these have built in 77 degree reflectors on them. So I don't know if Ulin's gonna get flare off that, I'll check it. We're gonna check it. We'll give it a shot, but what's my favorite thing? What do I like to have? What do I put in here to stop this from doing that? A V-flat. A V-flat. I don't want grids because grids is gonna make a spot on this. But I could put a V-flat here and block it which I usually do, but for now we're gonna, we're gonna bring the V-flats in if we need them. And this is the reason why I'm making, portable V-flats are gonna happen if you guys really push it. I want them to happen. I wanna invest the time in building them for you because I need them, but we wanna make sure people want it and it's a product people want and that you'll use. So we'll do it, but it's gonna take a little time and some energy to do it. But I want it because guess what, if I'm in a, can I bring a V-flat with me? No, but I should. So I don't, so what I do is when I don't have a V-flat, I either shorten my footprint, which I'm gonna show you how to do. We're gonna do that next. Or I move my subject further away from the white background. So let's just make this happen. We're gonna go, we're gonna start, we're not, two is like the little, the smallest power. Let's start at three, start at three. We're gonna start at three. I don't think three is gonna make it white so let's just try it. I don't work up and go down. I work down and go up, you with me? Because as soon as I get to where I want, I stop. I'm not going beyond that. I'm gonna show you what happens. We're gonna go take a one way trip to flaresville. If you start up and don't come back. Hold that smile, love it. There we go, I love it. Oh my gosh, guys. That was my fault. I wasn't, I turned the, when you turn the camera on too fast and you shoot, it just does not, I did it fast. Here we go, we'll try it again. That's it, perfect Ulin. Beautiful, gorgeous. Now look at that. What'd we get for percentages? You guys remember? Look at this. Look at the percentages up here. We're looking right here in Capture One. This, I love that. This, I love having this. I take my guest shot, I look at these settings and I'm watching this. It just got lighter. But three is not enough. Can I, I'm on a master, hold on. What group are we on? I'm going master. All right, I'm right here. I just pressed the button, those suckers went up. I'm lazy. I didn't have to move. All of a sudden there are four, I'm going up one stopping, one, they're not stops. Are they stops on the B1? Yes. They're stops, all right well let's see what happens. Good. That was four, that wasn't enough. Let's go to five. Here we go, let's try it. We're working, I wanna speed up so I get this going. Look at this, now we're getting there. Look at these numbers. We got one at 248, we're not quite there yet, but we are close, are we close? So look at that, that's still gray, right? All right, we got work to do. I'm not gonna go, I think six might bring us over the top. Should we try it? Is she, have you noticed any flare? But look what started to disappear. Was I right or was I right? Come on, you could tell me. Hold that, that's it, good, good. All right, did I do six? I went six. Oh my gosh, okay. I'm at six. I got one at 255, one at 253, one at 251. That scares me because I think it's, I mean that looks good, right? Let's compare it to before. Because I'm starting to light up her face. You see that? Just watch the face. See how the face, see how the face is getting lighter? And look at me. And she's getting some something from that. She's getting something right here. You see it? What is this? You see that? Get me some V-flats. I need some V-flats in my life. All right. I like my V-flats. We need V-flats in our lives. Okay. Go ahead. Peter, on the V-flats that you're thinking about designing and your pro boards, how do we increase our influence on getting West Cut to work on those? By emailing them or-- Right now they're probably listening in and going, yes. Yeah, I mean it's a design thing. I think they're an amazing company and I think their products are fantastic and I think they're cranking right now. I mean, we're, the flex kit has gotten such a huge response. But they've got a ton of good products and they're growing rapidly and I think they're just doing a great job. So it's a matter of us putting some time in to get it done. So I think, I don't wanna inundate them with emails, but maybe some social media, like a tweet at them. Tweet at them, say we need some portable V-flats, that would do it. (laughing) Something like that. But look how beautiful Ulin looks. So now we're gonna see what the heck this is and get rid of that and hopefully that does it with the V-flats. And we are at, we are at, yeah. I was watching, look at this. See this? Attention to detail, guys. You could shoot a whole shoot and not notice that. Let's see what happens here. So now I'm at two, I'm gonna back off a little bit. I'm at 60, I'm gonna go 57, is it at 57? 57, put that one up, one didn't go. We're at 57? 57, you ready? So what I do is I get it up. I watch my numbers and I bring it back. How easy is it to get from 250, 250, to 255, 255, it's pretty. I could do that after, I'd rather have the integrity in the shot. Hold that, Ulin, beautiful, good. Let's look at it. Oh, holy smokes. Look what happened, look what completely disappeared. I told you I need V-flats in my life. That's amazing. And look at our numbers. I'm okay, this is where I wanna be. That's right where I wanna be. You know what's happening? You know what really bothers me? This pisses me off, I'm sorry. I had to get serious about this because this really bugs me because you do it. Go 10, this is what you do. You're doing it, I know you're doing it, you gotta stop. Go 10, go 10 on that. This is what you're, now for a fashion shoot I might do this. If I want it to look like there's some massive amount of light flying all over the room. There you go, hold that Ulin, good. That is a one way ticket to flaresville. All right? Now you may not be doing it that severely, but you are doing it. Look at this. I'm at 255, 255, 255 and she's a mess. All right. Even now, I was at 57 to make it perfect. Watch what happens if I just go, let's say I go up to seven. Go to seven, go to seven, seven and half. 7.5, you're not really paying attention. You think you got it, you're not quite sure. You're not paying attention to your numbers and you're still getting a little flare because you're losing contrast in the hair. You gotta watch what's going on here. You're getting flare, you're getting, I mean I do, look at Ulin's, look at the genetics we're working with here, people. This is gorgeous and that's, why did, you know why I put her in a pony tail, right? I put her in a pony tail to get this wrap around. But you know, it still, do you see the flare in the hair? That is why you don't go 255, 255, 255. All right, you just don't do it. You don't do it. So let's go to 6.5 and see if we'll bring back the hair a little bit. I'm urging you not to go to 255, 255, but it will probably look good. But I'm just telling you, in every scenario it's not gonna be phenomenal. You ready? There you go, hold that Ulin, perfect. Hold it. Okay, see how we got the contrast back in the hair? We're at 255, 255 and we got a good looking shot. We're still, how many increments past where I'd really like to be? Even though I like that. Even though I like it, I'm still seeing a little bit of flare in this area. All right? But that's where we wanna be. Now let's imagine, let's imagine, I'm gonna talk about something that happened when I was just a young buck and I was just terrible at this. And I, and I shot, I shot, can we go, go to, go to, go back to 5.7. Has anybody ever had this situation occur, hold that, Ulin. Have you seen that in your life? You've seen it, right? So I was a young photographer and I was modeling in Italy. And I was, actually Ulin, you're good. Thank you, thank you very much. And move the V-flats, move the V-flats. I just wanted to take that shot to talk about maxing speed. What'd I seek at, what'd I shoot this at? I shot it at 1/500th of a second. Actually Ulin, come back in here. (laughing) Sorry. What's the sync speed on a mark four? 1/200th? Let's try one at 1/320th. And see where it is. There it goes, it goes down and let's try 1/250. And let's just not let her get too bright. Good. All right, 1/250 and there it is. Okay. Now, thank you. Okay. Guys, you have to know where your camera syncs at. Now I know at 1/200th it's gonna be gone. But every camera is a little different. I don't wanna even come close to it. If I'm shooting at 1/200th, I might as well shoot at 1/160th and never even worry about it. Let's say the camera hasn't been serviced in a while and it's just a little bit off, I don't wanna see that. And sometimes it's really hard to notice. If you're outside and there's a darker background, you might not even notice that that's here. You can't really see it in here, right? You might not notice it. So you just wanna make sure you get this right. All right. I was, my story about this was I was, I got back from Europe, I bought my camera. I was shooting with this guy, Maritzio Montani, which I mentioned the other day. She shot me outside with lights and the whole sky went dark and I was like, this is cool. Oh my gosh, how'd you do that? So I got to BNH and was like, I need lights in the sky. I was like, I never, I don't know what light I need but they have to have batteries. And my first strobe set was a, was Lumidines. So let me show you what I shot with Lumidines and then actually I'm gonna show you max, let's talk about perfecting the white background. Let's talk about maxing speed for a minute. You gotta know this. So when I was shooting medium format I had a leaf shutter and phase is at 1/600th of a second. Canon 5DSr, 1/200th of a second. I shoot slightly slower than the maximum. I wanted to just throw that in there so you got a little sense of it. Before I go into my pictures, I'm gonna shorten the footprint, so I'm gonna tell this story and then we're gonna shorten our footprint. I, and I'm gonna need Ulin back for that in a second. I was, I bought these lights, I was going outside. So I had at 645 with film, I had a Polaroid back and I was going in Central Park with a buddy of mine who was modeling and I had these brand new lights. And I get up on this rock and I made it look like we weren't in Central Park. And he's climbing the rock and he looked all cool. And I shot the Polaroid and I waited two minutes and I tore it and it was black. And I was like, something's wrong. And I did, I don't know what I was doing. I must have changed something. I'm fiddling with the lights. I shoot it again, two minutes later, black. He's like, what's going on? I'm like, I don't know, I have no idea. His brother's there, he's like, have you ever worked with a strobe before? And I was like, no. He's like there's this thing called the maximum speed that you can shoot, I said, really? Well what do I do. And I gave him the camera and she turned the shutter speed down, I shot the picture. I was like, there you go. There you go. So I had, luckily his friend was there. I'm in Central Park lugging a bunch of gear around, not getting any pictures and I mean his brother, his brother told me this and I never forgot that story. So I don't want you to ever screw that up. So I always go a little bit under what the camera settings say. And then it's even better now and I'm gonna show you later, when I shoot with with the B1s, or the D2s with the, I can do high speed sync on this. So I can actually go above because of the, because Pro Photo has given us that ability. So I can go above what this thing's rated at because of the way the flash behaves. And we're gonna look at that later. So for now I just wanna shorten the footprints so I'm gonna show you. If you're shooting in a small room, these need to be here. If I, if my room was half this size and I needed Ulin here, I would have to have these here and all of a sudden it's gonna get hard to get her hard of flare. So I can't have her here with those there with flare going on. So what I do is I do this, this is what happened, remember that room in that video, the first room I shot in? It was like a 10 by 10 box. I didn't shoot the white background there because the box wasn't white, it wasn't, this is like, I mean I couldn't fit the strobes in there. I couldn't even do it. So I had to figure out how to shorten the footprint. So there, and if you, this is a really good way to do it if you had one less strobe head too. Because if I put, can we bring that around? Let's do it. Let's do it. This. Just go that way, we'll go that way. You don't need this big massive ridiculousness to do this, but this is, I used, I didn't actually use this in that 10 by 10 foot space. I got this afterwards. Yeah. Perfect. But you can use a sheet, a sheet works really well. Whatever, as long as you can get light through it and it's gonna, this is gonna be really nice. So we're gonna go like this. We're gonna move this back here. We're gonna use the white background as the fill. And now I can actually bring my lights up here, shortening my footprint. So now I'm in a more confined space. I can put Ulin right in here and I can get an awesome shot. Now the lights went closer to the background. So you think 5.7's gonna work? You know what we're gonna have to do? You know what we're gonna have to do. What are we gonna do? We're gonna work low and go high. I do the same thing, it's the same thing, it's the same routine every time. So we're gonna work low and we're gonna go high. We're shortening our footprint. We got limited space. We're gonna come in. Beyond shortening the footprint, I like the way it looks. I love it. I shot like this for years and then all of a sudden you have a bigger space and you're like, well I don't need to keep this up in the studio everyday. I don't wanna take it up and down. I actually have mine, I keep this on auto poles in the studio, though. Can you move it a little bit that way just so we don't see, not that, not that. The yeah, just because there's a seam there. We'll stay away from the seams. Keep going, keep going. Don't be afraid. Okay, there we go, we hit the light. Ulin, can you come on up here? So guys, we're gonna start low and go high, right? So let's start at four, I think that's safe. Is that safe? Maybe. You don't think it's safe? Should we work lower? Let's go, four is safe. Come on. Ulin, come on. Four is safe. 4.0 John, just throw it on. I could do it if I knew what the numbers were and do it, there we go. All right. Now we got Ulin. She's right up against it. The other reason I like this, it'll wrap more. We'll get more wrap about the face really nice. But again, we wanna work low. Let's go 3.5, I'm getting scared. (laughing) I could do it, but now if you move that one, I gotta move this one. All right, we're doing 3.5. We're gonna work low and we're gonna go high. We're working low. I'm gonna re, I'm gonna set my settings so I don't screw it up like that. You guys are not gonna do that anymore, right? You got it? All right, we're going one 1/160th. We're going, we're going back to where we were setting wise and we're gonna try this. All right let's give it a shot. Shortening the footprint, people. Good. Let's see what we got. Okay, let's look at our numbers. Look at that, we're not there. But we're working low and then we're going high. Oh, I can do it from here, I'll do it from here. I'll do it from here. So I was at 3.5, I'm at 4.5 now. Okay, let's try it. There we go. Ulin, you're just doing great, good. What did I tell you about the hair disappearing? Did the hair disappear or did the hair disappear? That's a little tidbit of information that you could, but you go, oh well I like the gray background, but the hair's a little messy. I'll always, boom, instantly go to white. Look at what's happening. I'm starting to get a really nice soft light wrapping around the jaw. It's really nice and soft and it's coming for more around the side and let me look at what's going on back here with the height. The height is good. I can actually, I'm pretty good with the height, I like where it is, I like what's going on. We're at 4.5? I don't think 5.5's gonna, I think 5.5's gonna, we're gonna go into flaresville, aren't we? Let's try it though. We'll be risky. Should we go, let's try it. Okay, here we go. All right, here we go guys. There we go, good. Let's try it. Oh, it's beautiful. It's beautiful, okay. So look, now we're getting. Look at the light wrap. Unbelievable, unbelievable. And we still got some contrast, we do have some flare though. What's our number at? We're not quite at 255 so let's just bring it back a little bit. Let's bring it back. What are we at? 5.2, you think it's good? So it's a half stop less then we didn't have the scrim. All right, let's try it. Good. Perfect. There it is. Now I got the wrap. The contrast is coming back into the hair a little bit and I'm happy, is that beautiful? There we go. How much did I move up? And I can move up more. I could shorten it more. We could really jam it in there, let's do it. Let's say you're in a jammed in area. Move this back, move this back. Let's really jam it in there, keep going. Get it in there, stop fooling around. I haven't laid into him at all today yet. Ulin, take a couple steps back. Keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going. I'm shortening the footprint. I'm gonna force her to jam herself into this area. That's it, good. How much, I want a measuring tape. How much did I just shorten this footprint? I just went from way back there. Imagine a confined space. Can I still do the level of work that I need to do? Here we go. Let's find out. There we go. And I could actually, there we go, hold that, perfect, good. Can we work there? But now since the, now we're in flaresvill a little bit. So we gotta go down a half stop, at least. We good? 4.7. 4.7? 4.7 because I moved it back, now the lights are really jamming up against there. It's even beautiful though it's still too much for me. All right, let's go. We got it anyway. Okay now we're in business. Are we in business? We're in business. There you go. I'm happy. My numbers are there, I could go a little, a little bit less, but that's about the numbers there. Guys, how much room do you need now to create this beautiful work? Just 10 feet. Isn't that amazing? So now I wanted to show you that. That was one of the thing I really wanted to show you before I, before we moved on and I talked about my start of all this. So Ulin, thank you very much. Cool. Is there anything in the, Drew? Come on, fire up something. What do you got? We do have a question about people who don't have a bunch of extra strobes laying around. Using the inverse square law, can you blow the background out that way or are the other techniques? Well I can use one back there, no problem. I could still get it with one. Okay. Let's say, let's do this with, let's just, Ulin just come back up. I'll just take one shot real quick just to show you, to answer that. I'm gonna make her work. Let's do this with the three light source. I don't wanna do it with two, but I'll do it with three. I'll do a three light source shot. It's gonna affect my lighting a little bit. It's gonna change things up, it's gonna mix it up a little bit for me. That's gonna be, and it's not gonna be the same. But it's gonna work and it's gonna be pretty and I'm gonna go more like the setup I shot yesterday. Just put one light in the center directly behind her and we'll keep it at the power that it was at. Just keep it at the power that, again working up, it probably needs a little bit more, but let's just do this real quick to answer that question. And now I just saved you, you've got one strobe or I'm not gonna do it, but you could throw a speed light back there. You got it? That's the answer, you could throw a speed light back there. You could do the two speed lights in front with the West Cut rapid boxes. And you could shoot something like this. And now I'm gonna go, come forward a step, Ulin. That's perfect. Back a tiny bit. Good. I'm just watching the light on you. Okay good, let's try this. Let me try, hold on. I'm gonna drag the shutter a little bit. Because I took lights away and I don't wanna change, okay still beautiful, I need more. What power is that on in the back? 4.2. Okay, give me 5.2, it's still not enough. Go 5.2, I can actually, go five. I'm gonna go four, actually what is it at? 5.0 Let's try 5.0. Let's just give it a shot. There you go. Okay so you get me? You could work in there like that. You could still get a similar result. I could fine tune this, but think you guys get the gist of it, right? You ready? Okay, so now what do we do? We got a three light set up that looks pretty darn good. You could build a business around that. Got me? I'm looking for photographers, guys. Join the headshot crew. (man speaking softly) Can you AB the the three and the two lights set up? Three and the two light, like these? Is that it? That's it, yeah. I mean that one's a little brighter. You want me to fine tune it? You get the gist of it, right? It's pretty close, though. Okay? Cool?

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with RSVP

Gear List
7 Peter Hurley Discount Codes

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Setting for Peter Hurley Westcott Flex Kit

Ratings and Reviews

Hannah Walker

I truly enjoyed this amazing lighting class. Peter Hurley shows you how he achieves his signature look using all forms of light shaping tools from natural light, to speelites and high end strobes. Seeing first hand how the placement of the subject to the light source and your lightning set up is so important to avoiding the hazards of flat light and haze. He teaches you his unique methods and secrets on how to make eyes pop and get the best color contrast without harsh shadows. You will leave this class energized to hone your own creative vision with light and shadows using the methods taught by Peter. It was a privilege to learn from a master like Peter Hurley. Thank you Creative Live for another amazing class!

pete hopkins

Peter Hurley is the real deal. Not only does he know and share a ton of really practical knowledge of studio lighting for headshots and fashion, but he cuts through the crap and tells it like it is. He is very encouraging and serious at the same time. He had our attention from Day 1. and never lost it. *Bonus Gold - You've got to check out his Hurely-isms. They are priceless! Aside from the new bag of industry tools to work from, Peter gave me a real, sober perspective on what it takes to be PROFESSIONAL fashion photographer! And CreativeLive provided the perfect setting as well. The whole CL staff were warm and inviting and the food was great! I highly recommend CL and P. Hurley to anyone who wants to learn from the best of the best! I can't wait to start shooting with my new skill set. Sign up for CreativeLive! Take advantage of all that they have to offer! Build a foundation, own your light, and Shebang!!! You'll be at the top of your game in no time!

Student Work