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Understanding Light

Lesson 19 of 34

Light Modifiers for Speedlites

Mark Wallace

Understanding Light

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

19. Light Modifiers for Speedlites

Lesson Info

Light Modifiers for Speedlites

For this, we talked about off camera flash options a little bit earlier, so I'm not going to go over that, but let me just show you. Maybe we can turn on one of these lights just so I can show you what this umbrella adapter is so you can clearly see it and see exactly how this works. And then I also want to show you some of this road gear that we're using 'cause I love this stuff, and we're gonna have you come out in like five minutes, not even that, just a couple minutes. Yeah, that'll work. Okay, so on this... And maybe if you can get me a normal umbrella. Yeah. And I'll show you how this works. On a normal umbrella adapter like this, there are a few things that I would highly recommend that you do. It has just a place to go on a normal light stand, and then there's a little, usually a metal top to this. I'm going to have you hold this. One of the things that I do to all of my umbrella adapters if they're metal, and I don't know if you can see this. There's a piece of black Gaff ...

tape on the front of this, and the reason for that is on the bottom of the flash, if this metal part and this metal part are connected, it makes the flash fire. And so when this is all metal, sometimes when you're putting the flash on the stand, it'll (mimics explosion). It'll go off. Yeah, so you can make your flash fire just by touching these two things together, and you don't want that. So, oh, if the flash was on, maybe it would do it. Flash fire. There you go, so yeah. What happens is sometimes you're putting on an umbrella or something, so I just put that tape. Yes? What should you be looking for in an umbrella hot shoe? I have so many of these things, and they're not all created equal. These that I brought today are just plastic. I prefer there's some metal ones. I think Manfrotto makes those. So, those are really nice. So, if you can get the metal ones, I think it's Manfrotto that makes it. That's terrific. The other thing is I always make sure that I get if possible a metal top. So, where the flash slides on, if you don't have a metal top over time it just wears out and it's useless. And the other thing I like about this one is there is a little screw on the side, and what that does is when you lock the flash on there, you can actually twist this, and it locks the flash on to really make sure it doesn't fly off, 'cause I've had flashes fly off of these things a million times. And this little screw on the side makes all the difference in the world. Yeah, so there's that. The other thing is when you have an umbrella adapter, there's a hole here for the umbrella to go through, and I want to show you that when you put the umbrella through it, it doesn't go straight through. It goes at an angle. So, there's an angle where it's saying this side is... Whoops. This side is taller than this side so it's at an angle. The reason for that, let me grab this flash, is when you're putting your flash on there, you want the flash to be able to hit the center of the umbrella. And so if you have it the wrong way, what's gonna happen... We'll do this. Is the flash is gonna fire to the top of the umbrella, not the bottom of the umbrella. So, it will do this number of thing, and it seems obvious now, but I've seen so many people do it. Yeah, so it's actually firing to the top of the umbrella, not the center. So, make sure that you put the umbrella the right way through your umbrella adapter. So, it's just like this, and that's how it works. So, that's an umbrella adapter, and the nice thing about umbrella adapters is you don't have to use umbrellas with them. You can use softboxes and all kinds of things, and so that's what we're gonna do. We're actually not gonna shoot with an umbrella today. We're gonna shoot with some grids and some other things, so I'll give you this back. All right, so the other thing that we're gonna be using, we're gonna be using two modifiers today. Did you have another question? No. Oh, you're, "I'm just scratching." I'm going to shoot with two other modifiers today that I use a lot, and we're gonna show you how to build out a really cool portrait if I can put this on here in the dark. I think night vision is something that all photographers should get so they can see in the dark. But we're gonna shoot with two different modifiers. One of them is this little guy right here. This is called a Rogue grid. It's made by Rogue. Also, the same guys that make ExpoDiscs and stuff. And so you can see that this is a little, teeny grid, and this is a little, teeny grid right there, and when you put these together, this one right here is a 25 degree grid, and this one right here is a 45 degree grid, and when you stack them, you get a 16 degree grid. So, by modifying how many of these you have together, you can have lots of light, less light. And this is what we're gonna use to do some specular highlight work when we create a portrait of Lex. It's by ExpoImaging, not Rogue. Yes, ExpoImaging makes Rogue gear. So, the brand is ExpoImaging, but it's called Rogue. So, it's sort of confusing. ExpoImaging make the ExpoDisc. All right, so what we're gonna do is, we're gonna start shaping light using some of these little light modifiers, and we're gonna create some portraits that I think are gonna be pretty cool. And so, what we're gonna do here originally, is we're gonna use this right here. This is the Glow. The Glow Octabox. And so, the way that this works is there's a little stand that comes with it, and this all comes together. This little umbrella adapter and this little stand and the Glow Octabox here. GlowPop, I think it's called. Can you hold that for me, just for a second? And what we're gonna do is we're just going to put together some of the principles that we learned earlier to see if we can get some different looks with different lighting principles. So, we will start by throwing this through here. Just like that, it's on there, this is on there, and all we're missing is Lex. So, we'll have Lex come out. This is gonna be very fun. All right, and we're on the modifying the light section. I guess I should do that. Okay, so we'll do this. And what we're gonna do first is we're gonna just do a simple portrait with just one light. Just a single light, so I'm gonna turn off my flashes so we're only using one flash, perfect. And we're just gonna use this softbox here. And to do this, we're going to do basic. We'll try closed loop light, and one of the things with speed lights is you don't have any kind of modeling light all the time. So, you don't have a light that's always on, so you can see where you're positioning the light. So, it's a speed light. You sort of have to guess at first, and this will come with practice. So, I'm gonna look straight at Lex. I'm gonna put this at about a 45. I'm gonna raise it just a bit, and 45 degrees from the camera, 45 degrees up, is pretty close to where you want to be for Rembrandt light. And so, this is pretty close. I'm gonna bring it in just a bit. I'm angling this down, and I'm trying to illuminate just a portrait. So, we just want a portrait. We're not gonna do an entire full-length shot. I have that about right there. Now, on some... Got it, thank you. On some cameras, there is a depth-of-field preview button, and when you push that, it makes your speed light strobe like that. So, that's the equivalent of a modeling light, and sometimes if you have your flash on your camera, it will do that, and you're like, "What's happening?" It's because you're bumping that little button. So, you can do that a couple times, but when you do that, what's gonna happen is it heats up the flash and it kills the battery. And so, only do that a few times. All right, let's kill this light for a second, and we can see. Ah, now we can actually see what's going on there. So, I'm gonna take my first shot here. I'm gonna see how this looks in the dark. (camera clicks) Kablamo. Sort-of nice. It's very simple. So, we have this nice, soft light. We'll see it coming up here. But what I want to do is I want to start shaping the specular highlights. I want more out of that than just this dark shadow here. I want to see if we can give some flavor to our model here. So, what we're gonna do, Lex, is we're gonna have you stand out about halfway. That's cool, about like that. And we're gonna move this softbox out. The nice thing is we're using TTL metering, so we don't have to actually do a lot of stuff. And then what I'm gonna do here is I'm going to turn on both of my flashes back here, and what I'm trying to do is, I'm trying to illuminate her jawline and cheekbones, just right on the sides. So, what I'm doing is I have a grid on each of my lights, and I'm gonna raise these up to about her cheekbone level, and to see where my light is hitting, I'm just gonna fire this strobe. Kapowie. And I have it back far enough, this angle of light is far enough back that I'm trying to make sure I don't have any light falling on her eyes. I don't want to have this out to the side. I just want to have a highlight on her hair and her cheekbones, and I might have to raise this up a little bit so we get light on her hair, but let's do this. I'm gonna bring this back just a little bit so we're about at the same angle. I'm gonna fire this. The grid is a little bit wacky on this one, so I'm gonna fix it. I'm shooting Jim. There we go. Looks like we got it there. And this is one of the big differences again between speed lights and studio strobes is not being able to see what you're doing exactly. All right, so the other thing that I've done here is on this controller, you can put things in groups. So, I've put these two flashes in group B and this flash in group A, and that way I can control these two flashes independently, and we're gonna start working with this. So, I'm gonna have Lex look straight forward, and we're gonna take just a nice test shot. A nice test shot. (camera clicks) Kapowie. And what I'm seeing here when this comes up is I don't like the amount of light that we're getting from our kickers. So, those specular highlights, the lights on her cheeks, it's just too much. It's too much. So, what I can do is I can go into my controller here, and I can actually go into my group, and I can take the flash exposure compensation down. So, I'm gonna take it down by three stops to say I just want a hint of light, just a hint of light. (camera clicks) Boom. And now, watch what happens to the specular highlights when we go from lots of light down to just a hint of light. It's much better. Now, we have some issues here with our styling. And it's not the issue. The issue isn't the styling. The issue is how I'm working with the styling. If we look at her hair on the left hand side, and I'll just go in here and zoom in on it, look what's happening to all of our shadows here. We're getting this sort of cobwebby look on that side, and so for this, this probably isn't the best choice of lighting because of these hairs that are coming through here, because we're getting some different effects. So, let's try to do something different. And for this, I think we can actually turn on our lights. And we'll see if we can overpower the ambient light here. So, another thing I like to do. Let's do some on axis butterflyish light. So, I'm gonna move this straight on here. I'm gonna raise this up. Raise it up. I'm gonna do this. John, we might need that silver reflector, yep. Silver reflector. Okay, so one of the things you can do with on axis light with a small softbox like this is you can actually just shoot straight through it. Okay, so I'm gonna turn off this, and we're gonna only use two flashes for this. Only two flashes. And for this shot, to sort of constrain the ambient light, I'm gonna shoot an aperture value. We're gonna go up to F9. So, if I want to have everything in focus from nose to the back of the head, I've noticed that at about 70 millimeters, I need to shoot at between F9 and F11, around there. And so, because I want to have all of Lex's face and hair in focus, that's about what I'm gonna do. We were shooting at two eight to really have this nice, shallow depth of field. Now, we're gonna expand that depth of field. So, before we use that, I'm gonna go back. That was on group B, and I had it set to negative three exposure compensation. I want to reset it so it's back at zero. So, we can start from scratch here. So, I'm gonna go in here to my little group setting, and I'm gonna set it back to zero. Okay, so all of my lights are set back to just normal, no exposure compensation. I'm gonna let you hold that for... Actually, what I'm gonna do is... Oh, I'm just teasing you. Let's take this. Here's a little trick that I'll show you. If you have an assistant to help out. What I'm trying to do is figure out where that light should hit the background, and if I go over there and make the adjustment, I'll never figure it out. I mean, I will, it'll just take me forever. So, what I really need to do is I need to look through the lens and then have somebody else position that light. So, John, what I want you to do is go over there, and then I am going to take a look at this. So, what we're having here is we have a vignette behind Lex's head. Do you see that? So, what I want to do, though, is let's move that just to the left, just a hair. So, just rotate to the left. Will you have the camera in the same spot? Camera's gonna be in the same spot. I have it. Yep, try that. Trying this. (camera clicks) Cli-click. I think it might need to go a little left again, but let's just take a peek, and as it comes up, perfect, just like that. And now what we're gonna do is we're gonna add that reflector. So, let's get this silver reflector here. That'll be pretty cool. I feel like we're on local news. It's like that light's about to explode behind us. It's really cool. All right, so we're gonna put that silver reflector up. We're in the same spot. Lex looks great. (camera clicks) Click. And now we have... Let's put this back down for a second. Now we have that butterfly light that we talked about earlier. And this is gonna come up, and look at how her eyes look so bright and sparkly, right? And so what we can do with a shot like this is we can do some post-production to it to make it even punchier. I really like it, but we can go in, we can take a peek. You can see that it's crystal clear. So, with an aperture of F9, everything is gonna be crystal clear, extremely sharp. So, if we wanted to do some, you know, beauty shots, whatever, or a magazine needed to see it, this would work great. We can also go in here. I want to go into the develop module. One of the things that Lex has is our blue eyes. So, what I want to do is I'm gonna take the saturation of the blue and aqua, so I'm gonna go in here and see it. Let's make her eyes look a little bit more saturated. So, we're taking those blues up. And because there's not much blue in this image, it doesn't really affect anything except for her eyes, and so we have that. And then if we even wanted to isolate this even more, we could put an artificial vignette on this if we wanted to to sort of bring that in, and that's cool. The other thing we're seeing here is in her hair. Notice we don't see a lot of detail in the hair here, so we've got some shadow issues that we might need to fix. So, we can go in here to the shadows and open those up just a bit, and we'll see a little bit more of her eyes or her hair. And so we got this extremely easy, fast speed light portrait using the same principles that we looked at earlier, just basic butterfly light with the grid on the background. Looks really cool. All right, are there any questions? We're gonna do some black and white stuff, and I don't think Susan and Jim have any questions, so we're gonna keep on keeping on. So, soft light is great for color, but what about some black and white, really amazing images? So, what we want to do here is take this flash. I'm gonna turn this guy off, and maybe we can move this to the side. We're gonna work with one light. I'm working with one light here. And then Lex, we're gonna have you just stay out, just a little bit. Yeah, perfect. And what I'm gonna do here is for black and white photography, we want small light, right? Very hard light, and that's what this grid is gonna help us get, and so what we'll do here is we're gonna get this to be about... Let's do a 25 degree grid so we can sort of control the light on her, and then John, let's get the other grid for a second, and we're gonna do something that is... I don't know, we'll try to make it fun. We'll try to do a black and white image that has some eighties flavor. Do you want the grid or should I put on the flash? Oh no, the flash with the grid on it. We're gonna do some eighties goodness here in a second, and we'll see how it works. I know you love the eighties. Long sideburns. Yeah. The eighties were a decade where people lived, if you want to know. Like, I know. All right, so here we go. I'm gonna put this on 45 degree grid. All right, now this is gonna be sort of fun, because I can't see what I'm doing because I don't have a modeling light, but we're gonna work with it. Gonna work with it. So, I want nice side light to show form. I'll put it up about right here. I'm just gonna pop this light really fast to see what we're getting. This is one of those situations where your metering might not work very well because we're going to be illuminating her, and it's going to be extremely high contrast, so this is one of those areas where we might have to use our flash exposure compensation a lot, but let's just see how well this works. So keep that flash off for now, and let's build out a black and white image to begin with, and so, we're gonna just see what we have here, and we're gonna see the light, and what we have is just way too much light. We're gonna see that we have way too much light falling on Lex's face. I don't like that. And also, as we predicted, our exposure is off. And it's off because what the camera is seeing is this really dark top and really dark background, and so it's trying to pump in too much light, and it's overexposing Lex, and we don't want that. We don't want to have you overexposed. Boo to that. All right, so we're gonna move this over here, move it back down just a bit, and that is how much overexposed. I don't know, but we can look at the histogram. I think it's about a stop overexposed, and we can see that our flesh tones should be around or just above the middle, and they're coming all the way out to the right, so that's about a stop overexposed. So, what I can do is go in here, take my... I'll show this to the camera, so you can actually see what this is doing. I'm going in here, and I'm hitting the group button, and then I am going to different groups, so that is on group A actually, and then I'm pushing the button saying go down by about a stop. So, it's going to tell that flash to underexpose by a stop. I'm gonna try this one more time. (camera clicks) Kachink. All right, now we're getting some coolness to this image. The exposure looks much better. One of the issues that we have here, though, and even when we convert this to black and white, she's starting to look like me, with no hair, right? That hair is dark, and the background is dark, and so we want to be able to pull that out of it. So, what we can do here. So, we'll take this flash, and this is on group B, and we have this, a little grid on here, and we're just gonna throw some light opposite this onto the back of her head, and that will help to separate her from the background. I'll see if that's illuminating everything. I think it needs to be a little bit larger of a grid, 'cause we're constricting the light so much that we're not gonna get everything, so we'll put this at about a 45, and I'm gonna throw this to you, John. Ready, oh, yes. He catches it, of course. He catches the plastic thing. A thousand dollar meter on the floor. Ten dollar plastic thing, got it. Got it, okay. So, I'll put this back on. It works great, and we're gonna flash this one more time. I'm just looking. What I'm doing is I'm looking when I pop the flash to see if the flash is hitting all of her hair. The first time, it was just a small spot, and so I need to make sure that we get all of it, and it looks like we are. And we'll see when we have modeling lights how much more wonderful they are. So we can actually see what we're doing. Okay, we're gonna try this shot here. The problem is this second light here is probably going to be overexposed. Why is that? Because it's just hitting the back of Lex's hair and it's trying, it's gonna try to illuminate the front of her, and so, 'cause the camera doesn't know that it's behind, and so it's gonna pump out way too much light, probably. So, let's take a look and see what we get, (camera clicks) and as expected, what we're getting is way too much light on the back of her hair, and it's too far to the side. So, this is too far to the side. So, we're getting spill on the side of her head right there, and we're not getting much light here. So, I'm just gonna move that light. Maybe John, you can do that for me. Just move it a little bit more on axis, and then we'll shoot one more here. And what I'm gonna do is that's on group B, so I'm gonna do the same thing. I'm gonna go in here to my group, go down to group B, say hey, underexposed by about two stops. Does that look like it's still pointing at her head? Let me just take a look. Yeah, looks like it. Looks like it. (camera clicks) Okay, and that looks like we helped ourselves a bit. So, let's see, there we go. And the exposure changed again. Why? 'Cause it's TTL, and it drives you crazy. That's why I love to shoot in full manual mode, because it never changes. So, on this, for some reason, when we added these two lights that light came into the lens and thought, oh, we have enough light, and so it actually changed the output of this light. And so that's one of the joys of TTL metering is it's a pain. So, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna take this light, and I'm actually going to increase the power of that light here by doing the same thing, going in, raising that up just about a third of a stop, and then you're gonna smile 'cause it's so much fun, yeah. All right, so we had this really, really low key portrait, and remember, this should be black and white. We want this to be black and white, and so we're gonna go in here to our develop module. We're gonna change this to black and white. We're really gonna take these blacks in a little bit. We'll take the shadows out just a little bit, and we have this sort of really dark, dark black and white image. And the thing that I would, you know, if we had a little bit more time to work with this, this shadow here, I don't really like it too much. I think we should work a little bit more with the direction of light here. This light here, again, needs to move back so we have a little bit more on this side, and there's a bunch of things we could do to dial this in, but I don't want to just keep dialing and dialing and dialing and everybody goes whoa, and falls asleep. Do we have questions at this point? Okay, let's hear the questions. We do, all right, you know, I'm gonna start with... Let's see... I had it right here. Yes, Justin Denver would like to know. When it comes to grids, what does 45 degrees mean compared to, say, 10 degrees? The way the light spreads out or funnels in? Thanks, wonderful class as always. The way the light spreads out. So, this is... I'll do a simple demo to show you this. We're gonna take this light right here, and we will take a picture of the background. So, what I'm gonna do here is I'm going to throw this light toward the background, and we will put a grid on here that is... Oh, this is going to be... This original one is going to be, let's say, 16 degrees. So, we're gonna make it as constrictive as possible, and we'll do this really fast. And then John, if you can get the other one sort of preset with a 45 degree grid, just get a 45 degree grid set, then I can do that, and then if you can turn that flash off. That would be great. All right, so this one is set to 16 degrees. I'll put this on here. Is this single grid 45 millimeters? Yeah, that'd be great. Perfect, so I'll trade that out for this in a second. Okay, so we're gonna put this on here. Now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna shine this on the background here as much as possible, and we'll see how this works, so. I'll give you something to focus on. I want to see if I can just get the white, so we have... Oh, I see, to focus, got you. To focus, then. I see what you're saying. All right, we got focus, thank you. (camera clicks) Kablamo. And I'll shoot one more where we can actually see it. Yeah, so you know what, to make this work so we can see it, John, let's have you actually hold this light like this. We'll do that; that will work. Like that. All right, try one more time. Trying one more time here. Perfect. (camera clicks) All right, so that is a 16 degree light spread. When it comes up here, you'll clearly see. This is a very, very refined light shooting across. 16 degrees. Now what we'll do is we'll just throw a 45 degree grid on there. I'm not moving it so it's in the same spot. Oh here, let me give you that. It'll be fine. We'll do this guy right here. This is a 45 degree grid. And we'll just take a shot. (camera clicks) Kablam. And you'll see how that light now spreads a lot more. So, a 45. So, that's the answer. Thank you, great demo. Would you like to take another question? Yes, I have lots of time for questions. Okay, cool, we have a great question from FashionTV from Singapore, who says, "Mark, "without a constant modeling light on these speed lights, "do you have any practical tips on feathering the quality "of light from the small flash units "before it hits the subjects?" Yeah, I don't So, yes, and you'll see. You saw me struggling with this. It's like, where is this light? Where is it? We don't know. And so, for small strobes, several things are going on here with speed lights, and I'll see if I can show into this camera over here. See if we can see this. There is a thing that we can do here, and what we can do here... I'm gonna see if I can change this zoom. Okay, so I don't know if you can see right into this lens right there, but there's an element inside of this flash that's moving back and forth. Does that show up? (audience signifies agreement) Okay, and what that's doing, and John, you know what? Let's just do another demo of this, the zoom. It is changing the spread of light out of the front of your speed light. So, at a wide angle zoom, at 24, it's really wide, and if you say to 200, it's gonna shrink. 'Cause what it's trying to do is when it's on the camera, it's trying to mimic the angle of view of the lens that you have, so 24 millimeter lens, you can see a lot. With a 200 millimeter lens, it doesn't see very much. And also it focuses the light, because it's thinking, well, a 200 millimeter lens, it's gonna be shooting way over there, so it focuses that light to throw the light farther. When we take this off the camera, then what we're gonna do is... I think this is my flash. Then what we're gonna do is have this. We can manually control that zoom, so when we put that into a softbox, we might want to fill the edges of the softbox or be a little bit more constrained to do hard light. And so for feathering light, to get back to the question, it really depends on what the zoom is for the light. So, come on over here. What I'm gonna do is to change the zoom, first button right there, so let's get it to the smallest. So at 200? So 20, and then yeah, so hold it like this. We're gonna take a couple more shots here to try to show you the same kind of thing here. Is it ready to zip? Yep. All right, ba-bam. That is the light coming up. That's a 24 millimeter zoom, I think, that we started with, and no photo selected. That's interesting. There it is. You can see how that is really spread, and the light's coming out of both sides. And then now let's do a 200 millimeter. Wrong button. Got the wrong button going on? I know, these things are so tiny. And then it goes back to zoom. Yeah, so you just push it once, there you go. Now rotate that all the way to 200. All right, now we're gonna get that to 200. And watch what happens at 200. Pakoom. You can see that that goes from a very, very wide flash to something that is very constrained. There it is constrained. There it is, powie. And so, to feather the light, get back to the question. I would get a model or somebody in a studio, and I would play with the angle so you can sort of know where that is without having the pressure of doing that live, you know, in front of somebody. And the other thing you can do to sort of feather the light is to hit the depth of field preview button, and you'll actually see this going, and that will help you to sort of go, "Oh, where should it be?" And you can do that as well, but that feather is gonna totally depend on what the zoom of the flash is, so if you get used to doing it, you know, sort of by eyeball it one way, if the zoom changes, that's gonna change everything for you. Okay, what other questions do we have? Yes? So you just now you used a grid as sort of an accent light or a room light. Do you use strip banks at all? And can you talk about when you would choose to use that? Do you mean like a thin strip light? Yeah, so Lex, why don't you come out, and I'll sort of walk through that. I have a few strip lights. So, I'll have you just stand in front of me like this. So, what happens is if you want to... In fact, let's do it to this camera right here. If you want to... I'm just like moving her around. If you want to have some nice highlights of chin and around, you know, arms and stuff like that, I just use really hard light. And so what happens is you don't have a nice, soft transition to the front of the face. And what can happen is you can get some really nasty shadows if you have little hairs and things like that. If you use strip lights, strip banks, then what you get is, you get a nice specular highlight that's vertical, and you also get a nice transition onto the face, and so you don't have that really hard look. And so, for more beauty and fashion photography, those strip lights, especially for beauty photography, work better than just hard light, and the hard light stuff works better for more action, sports, kind of, you know, I'm Danica Patrick in a racecar kind of stuff. The really colorful, beautiful, lots of makeup and hair stuff, the strip banks are gonna work better because you're accenting the shadows, and for somebody that's like in a darker outfit, maybe leather jacket, motorcycle kind of stuff, then the hard light's gonna work better, 'cause it's gonna accentuate all those dark areas. Or like the product stuff that we talked about yesterday with the black top to the water bottle. So, it depends. If you have something that's light skinned, lighter colors, then I would use softer light. Something that's darker, then I would use harder light. Thank you. All right, any others? All right, ready for one more? Oh yeah, I'm ready for as many as you have. Awesome, so this is really inspiring to me because I'm a speed light user guy, and I didn't know that there was grids and modifiers, especially the grids for these speed lights, and I know there's a lot of people out there who are saying, "My gosh, which way do I go? "Which road do I go down, studio strobes or speed lights?" 'Cause you're showing how to modify both. Can you tell us as far as the speed lights are concerned and using these modifiers, what are the pros and cons to putting your money into this type of a setup? Well, I think it really depends on the type of shooter that you are. So... I shoot in a studio 98% of the time, maybe more, and rarely do I go on location to shoot. And when I do, I use the Profoto B1 pack, or I use the Profoto Acute B, which is a battery pack version of the thing we used this morning, because I have all the modifiers and stuff. Those are very expensive, very heavy, and you have to have light meters and stuff, so it's something that for my workflow, works spectacularly well. If I need to go on a plane and do a photo shoot somewhere else or do an event, it's very impractical for me to pack all of that stuff. And so if I was a photographer that traveled a lot and did a lot of location work, then I would use speed lights. That's what they're for is for traveling, moving about, and being at weddings and things like that. Speed lights are made for that kind of work, and so you really have to decide. Am I a location shooter that needs a lot of portability and lightweight gear? If so, speed lights are for you. If you are a studio photographer that's using, you know, larger light sources that needs a lot more punch and needs to have to shoot more shots per minute and have your flash ready to go, then studio strobes are for you. In my experience, I've shot a lot with speed lights, and I've shot a lot with studio strobes. Studio strobes are so much easier. So much easier. They seem like they're like very complicated, 'cause they're big and fancy and everything, but to get the results that you want from a studio strobe is just, you just do it. It's so... 'Cause you can see what you're doing. It's consistent. You don't have the TTL metering to worry about. And with speed lights you can also do manual metering, but the consistency of a studio strobe, for me, it makes it worth it, and so, yeah. I chose that path about... 12 or 15 years ago. I had to make that choice, and I thought, I'm gonna do studio strobes, and I've never looked back. But Joe, he's a friend of mine, he obviously is Mr. Speed Lights, so he shoots all kinds of stuff, and so we do dueling videos sometimes on Adorama TV about like, "Do this with a studio strobe," and he's like, "No, do this with a speed light," and it's sort of fun to see the kind of stuff that he does. He does amazing. I don't know if you guys know Joe McNally, but his stuff with speed lights blows my mind. I don't know how he does it. I mean, I do, because he has videos, but all right, what's the next question? Okay, we'll just ask one more kind of follow up question before we keep going on. So, multiple people have talked about the zoom setting that you prefer when you're using the grids or the modifiers 'cause we talked about zoom, but-- Yeah, so when I'm using a grid, I generally want the zoom to be around 70 to 100 millimeters 'cause it's very directional light coming straight into the camera, and so if you have it at a wide angle, it's just wasting light 'cause it's just going nowhere. And so I want all the light I can get out of that, so I'm gonna zoom that to about 70 to 100, maybe even 200, 'cause all the light's gonna be restricted and coming straight out anyway, so why not match the speed light to the grid that I have on the front? So yeah, it's gonna be toward the longer end of the lens.

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.