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Understanding Light

Lesson 8 of 34

Light Modifiers

Mark Wallace

Understanding Light

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

8. Light Modifiers

Lesson Info

Light Modifiers

Okay so what we're gonna do now, we sort of worked with a reflector to bounce light in, it's bright, right? You guys are like, "Aah! He's killing me." So what we're gonna do now is we're gonna have Lex come over on this side and you guys if you can come over here. And this is, I'm just gonna take a shot, I'm gonna switch back over now because of the way that the light isn't backlit, I'm gonna switch back over to aperture priority mode at four five. And I'm gonna just take a shot. And also look at my, I'm casting a shadow when I'm coming over here so I have to be aware of that. This is where zoom lenses work very well. So I'm going to take a shot of Lex here. And this is gonna come in and we're gonna see that we still have an exposure problem, we have a white balance problem as well. But this is a tiny bit underexposed, and we're gonna explain that right after this, why is this underexposed? The reason is this big white background but I'm getting ahead of myself, we're gonna fix that. B...

ut Lex looks pretty good with hard light. But we wanna get rid of that really nasty shadow, we wanna soften this up a bit, we wanna make this a lot more pleasing. So who is strong and wants to do this amazing thing? Alright, it's you, you ready? Okay so what we're gonna do with this, this is called a California Sunbounce, this is a translucent material, I think they call this a sun swatter. To swat the sun. So this also has a pole, and John maybe you can get that pole but for now we're just gonna hold this and what we're doing is creating shade. See how we have shade on Lex? No shade, shade. And look what that just did for her, yeah you guys can zip around if you wanna look. See what that did for her entire body? So this is a head to toe shade. So we have that, hard light, soft light. So we're gonna shoot this with this here, and we might even be able to, nope, you're gonna have to lift it up. Gonna have to lift it up. I know. It's not so light, is it? It is, it is light. It is light? Oh okay. Yeah, it's very light. Cool. So on this, we're gonna have to try to figure out how to get it up and over, there you go, so maybe you can hold right here. Yep, making sure. As long as she's in shade, we're gonna have that nice soft light. And this is taking the light down by about a stop, maybe two stops. About half as much light over here. And so instantly what we've done is we have fixed her squintiness, squintiness, and we have softened the light. And what we can also do is Lex, come forward quite a bit, keep coming. Keep coming, keep coming, keep coming. There we go. By bringing her forward what we're doing is now we're getting much more directional light, and we're increasing that catch light. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna take a couple pictures, one with her really close to this and one with her far away, 'cause remember, the effect of size of light matters no matter what. Okay so light, very close, we have, in fact I'm gonna back up so I don't have you so distorted. (camera shutter clicks) Perfect, and now let's have you go back. There we go, that's good. And then we'll try to get this. (camera shutter clicks) okay, these are very close shots, and you guys can put that down for a second. And then if you can zip over there that'd be great, hello. So what we're gonna show here, we're looking at two things. The direction of the light and the size of the light, how it affects the specular highlights. So this first shot here, this is, well it's a gorgeous shot. This is where the light was very, very close. And notice something here, we have, the directional light is easy to see, we have this nice light fall of that comes over here. On the second shot here, this is where Lex was farther away, and we just don't have that directional quality of light that we would want to have, so it's not just enough to put this up and block the sun, we have to put it up and block it and get it into a position that shapes the light on your subject's face. And this is true, it doesn't matter if it's a person, a product, or anything, don't ever forget about the effect of size of light 'cause it makes such a dramatic difference. The other thing that I'm going to show you is, and once you'll see this you'll not be able to unsee it. But look at, remember we talked about the shape of Lex's face? With the way that we lit, see how large this cheekbone is compared to this cheekbone? So when we look at her in normal life they're the same size but because of the way we lit, now when you look at it, this cheekbone looks much, much larger than this one. Can you see that? And so what we would need to do, being a model is so fun, right? Here's all the flaws that you have. What we would need to do is we would maybe have Lex turn her head just a little bit that way because we wanna really pay attention to what the light is doing to alter the shape of her face 'cause in real life she doesn't have a giant cheekbone on her left side. You can see, she's got normal face. But it's the way that our light was falling on her, it sort of distorted it and once you see it, it looks obvious now. So that's something else that we have to really pay attention to is what's going on with that cheekbone. What's going on with your cheekbone? It's crazy. So there's that. Okay thank you guys. Oh one more thing we have to do, sorry. We didn't show this. We did not show this. This is a, just a larger white. And so if we were shooting more of a full body shot and we wanted to bounce light, we would use something like this instead of this small reflector that we had here. And the same thing is true of the sliver, we can use the other side which is a silver reflector and that will give us much more light for a much greater distance and again our effect of size changes. So that's why we have different sizes of reflectors and different silver and white and black and gold. 'Cause we can change the color and the specularity. That make sense? Okay, you guys have a seat and Lex you can have a seat. Now would be a great time if there are questions. There are questions? Yes there are. Of course there are questions. You guys have any questions? I do. Okay, let's hear your question. When you are moving from the very reflective versus the more white, when do you decide which one to use in which situations? It always depends on how specular you want those lights to be, those reflections. And so for me if I'm shooting something that has to be really fashiony and more contemporary, I'm gonna use the silver reflector and that's usually a full body shot like in an urban environment and we're blasting a lot of light. I almost never use the silver reflector for butterfly light which we're gonna show you tomorrow, or for portrait photography 'cause I want really nice soft light so silver is, for me, is generally reserved for really hard specular outdoor fashiony kind of work. But it really is up to the photographer, I know that there are, I believe Dixie Dickson, she's a bikini fashion photographer on location all the time I think she shoots mainly with silver reflectors and gold I'm not sure but it changes based on what you're trying to accomplish. Yes. I remember you said something about on a darker complexion you want more specularity. Would that be around the body or basically just around the face? And whereabouts in the body or the face other than the eyes? Tomorrow when we start shaping light with light modifiers from studio strobes we'll show you some of those specular highlights but specifically it's usually on the chin, and on the cheekbones for portrait photography. For other types of photography it's the edges and the highlights where things protrude. And so, let me see if I can find a example of this. If we had something like this, and you can see this in like motorcycle, in car ads, look at car ads, they use specular highlights a ton, they'll even add special lights that have long, look at any nice car ad and you'll see these lights that are reflected all along the body of the car and you'll see that the edges of the product, whatever that product is, you'll have lots of strong backlight. And so what it's doing is it's really defining the shape, it's sorta like what we just did with Lex where we had the light coming from behind to highlight her hair, same type of thing, so something like this that's got a lot of black in it, this when you just shoot it with light coming from the front, this is just gonna look like a blob of blackness. And so to add some dimension to this then we would add specular highlights to the edge of this or maybe where this pops up so you can see the features, it really depends on whatever the thing is that you're shooting but what you're trying to do is you're trying to take something that's just a blob of shape and add the form to it, the three dimensional work to it. One of the things that I have to work with with models a lot is I have to inform them to not wear all black when they come to a photo shoot, especially for workshops, or all white. And the reason, there's two reasons for that. One is the metering is thrown completely off which we're gonna talk about, so there's that. And then the second thing is if you don't have enough time to add all those specular to show the shape, it just looks like a square, so people can have an amazing shape, a great outfit, and when you shoot it, you're square. And so we have to work around that, in fact I think, and when we go to the street today we're gonna shoot with, you have a long dark coat? Yeah and so we'll be working with some specular highlights on that. That was a long answer but did that, does that help? I just have one tiny more question. When you shoot people that are two different complexions side to side then you have to compensate and meter for each one of them or how do you go about it? That's pretty rare for me to have that situation, in fact I don't think I've ever had that situation, but if I did, I don't know, it depends on how much time I had and what the budget is and all those types of things are but let's say I had somebody that was very dark complected and somebody that was pale. What I would have to do probably in that scenario is light them individually as a group and so what we can do is we can use soft boxes with grids and hard lights with grids and what the grids do, and we're gonna show this tomorrow, is it takes the light and it makes it very specific, you can say only go five degrees from here. And so that's where the light shaping really comes in where you can really really affect that stuff. But probably if I had a dark and a light complected couple or people what I would do is i have this set up where I have two lights coming from behind that highlight the cheeks and one giant umbrella from the front that gives the high key very bright feel and that looks great for both complexions, so that's probably what I would try to do in that situation. I don't know, I'd have to see what those people look like. Okay, internet questions? Or more questions here? You direct. Oh yes, yes. I would like to know, maybe there's some photographers out there too who don't have assistants to hold reflectors or flags and they're just out there in natural light shooting, do you have any tips or tricks for them in natural light? Yeah I so do. Find a friend that will hold your reflector. (laughter) I would say if it's just not possible there are some things that you can do. For example all these things that we have, you can mount them to light stands. The problem is then you have to put sandbags on them 'cause they're gonna blow over and it's really difficult to adjust. If you don't have an assistant to help you, you're gonna work at maybe a quarter of the speed as you would if you just had somebody helping out. So I look at those types of things in terms of return on investment. And so I think if I'm gonna go and shoot for fun then I can just deal with not having an assistant and putting things on light stands and that's just the way it is but if I was at a paid shoot and let's say somebody was paying me not very much but let's say it's a senior portrait or something and maybe they have $200 to spend, something like that. What I would do is I would either increase that price to maybe $ and find any high school student or somebody, 'cause it doesn't take a lot of skill to hold a reflector and an umbrella if you just learn a few things. You can direct somebody, almost anybody to do that job and it's gonna be faster than trying to do it yourself and I would guess that you could find a teenager at least for 25 bucks or something to do that job for an hour or so and then what you'll have happen is you'll get more photos that are usable to sell to your client and in less time you'll make more money because you're more efficient with that you'll sell more proofs and you're gonna make that 25 or 50 bucks that you invested, you'll make it back right away and then what will happen is you'll get more business and you can get there but it's not very much money to hire somebody to just hold. It's not like a digital assistant where you have to pay them a lot of money they have to know medium format stuff and capture and that stuff, it's just hold this, so yeah you should be able to find somebody or if you haven't been a member of a photo club in your community, find one. And there's gonna be some photographer that would love to help hold an umbrella or a reflector to figure it out. There's gonna be somewhere somebody's gonna help you, yeah. Tips and tricks is find an assistant. Yeah, find an assistant, that's my answer. Alright, what other questions do we have? That was like a VAL, VAL we call them around here, VALs. Voice activated light stand. Yes. Voice activated light stand. So Mark we have a couple people wanting to know a little bit about, from Bruce and Anuk Dubai about how you deal with color temperature when you're changing from the silver to the white do you redo your color checker, or...? Yeah, so absolutely and it depends on the quality of the material, so California Sunbounce is very high quality stuff. Pro Photo is known for calibrating their materials to get neutral colors. But a lot of reflectors intentionally add gold to warm up the photo and so what I'd do, if possible, shoot raw, and then adjust in post. But do the same thing, get either a color checker initial white balanced with the light modifier in it, the fusion or the bounce, or make sure that you get that color checker passport with that, yeah you always wanna do your color balance, your white balance with the actual light that you're shooting in, so absolutely yes.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers. 

The success of every photographer — artistically and professionally — is based on a strong understanding of how light works. Join photographer Mark Wallace for a three-day course that will demystify the fundamentals of lighting and give you the concrete skills you need to get a powerful image using the right lighting every time you shoot.

Mark will cover everything you need to know about hard, soft, directional, and diffused light. You’ll learn about reading natural light and manipulating it with tools like reflectors and diffusion panels. Mark will also guide you through working with light in a studio environment. You’ll explore using basic studio lights to manipulate and shape light and working with strobes and speedlights. You’ll also learn about shooting on-location and how to balance shape, and color ambient light and light from a flash.

By the end of this course, you’ll be equipped with a whole new understanding of light that will help you to shoot more efficiently, capture consistently well-lit images, and reach new creative heights as a photographer.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Presentation 1

Presentation 2

Presentation 3

Zone Lighting Basic Setup

Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Claudia Ochsner

This is an excellent course. I recommend this course to every photographer, of any level who want to put money into lighting stuff. Mark Wallace has a gift to teach and to truly enlighten his audience about complex issues in photography. The money for this course is well spent, the time is more valuable than hanging around in forums and ask questions to others who don't have a clue as well. The products used ( partly promoted ) are very "American" - I have to say that as Swiss. Because you know there are two other brands which could compete at the top level of studio lights as well. Just kidding - But seriously - many thanks to Mark, John, Lex ( Gosh - you are so beautiful ) , CL and their team to help me to reach out for a new level in my photography. I am now going to push my boundaries, well knowing that understanding light is science, but for sure not rocket science.

Rose-Marie Gallagher

This was an outstanding course! Mark presented TONS of quality information, starting at the very basic concepts and working up from there. He is interesting to listen to and very understandable. Great examples that expand the learning. Highly recommended! Thanks for bringing Mark's class to CL...I hope there will be more.

a Creativelive Student

This is probably the first Creative Live course I have purchased that I've watched in its entirety. Every single solitary video. I feel so strongly about Mark's teaching ability that this is also the very time I have written a review. I first came across Mark Wallace on Adorama TV. Interesting and so knowledgeable. So I explored and found other tutorials by Mark on Pocket Wizard. So when Creative Live offered this three day course - I bought it without hesitation. Mark makes the difficult - easy to comprehend and the un-understandable - understandable. I have learned so much from him and I haven't even met the guy! There are so many questions I'd like to ask - that doesn't mean that the videos were lacking in any respect. Rather, time constraints prevented Mark from covering topics he wanted to cover. I am definitely going to purchase the original Mark Wallace Creative Live course on Speedlights. I am also voting for a course: "28 days with Mark Wallace," so that we can tap into his genius with Lighting. How about it Creative Live? Bravo Mark - a very successful course. I am looking forward to the next one.