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Understanding Light

Lesson 9 of 34

Understanding your TTL Meter

Mark Wallace

Understanding Light

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

9. Understanding your TTL Meter

Lesson Info

Understanding your TTL Meter

We're gonna talk about something else here that is loved and hated by everybody, and it's TTL metering. And TTL metering stands for through the lens metering. Let me just see if I can describe, I have a very scientific way of describing how this works and that is this. It's just stupid, TTL is stupid because our camera uses, it's used the same basic method for metering light for a long, long time. Now there are new metering modes that will help with this, but basically what the camera is doing, and I'll just show you this. Our camera will actually, this is how it is, look for something that is 18% gray, which is 100% wacky. So what's happening is, a normal scene if you take all of the highlights and all the shadows and all that stuff and you put it in a blender and you mix it up, when you mix all that light together what you'll get is, everything averages out to about 18% gray which is a little bit brighter than these walls right here. It's about this color right here. It's just a ligh...

t gray. And Kodak actually figured this out, they went and, I don't know how they did it, but they put all these scenes together, millions of scenes, and they found out that on average most of the time, 98% of the time, that scene when you mix all the values of whites to blacks and everything together, it's gonna be 18% gray, and so that's the standard that all of our cameras use and all of our light meters use. They assume that everything in that scene is gonna be 18% gray. The problem with this, is that your camera is really stupid. So what we're gonna do here, yeah, your camera is stupid, is we are going to do a little test, and to do this correctly, John I'm gonna have you come out. What I'm gonna do here is, and you can try this at home, I want everybody at home to try this. I'm putting my camera on an aperture value, I've got it in aperture priority mode, and I've set my aperture to 4.5. And what I'm gonna do here is I'm just gonna zoom in to this white wall right here, okay, so I'm zooming in to the white wall and I'm going to take a picture of the white wall. (camera clicks) Okay. And I don't wanna show this yet, don't show this picture yet. So now if you can grab the black wall here. Oh, they showed it. Don't show it. I guess you have to show it. We're gonna bring this black panel here and we have an absolute black wall. And if you go and stand in the same place. Face me, there we go. I'm going to try not to see my shadow, I'm going to fill the frame. That's good right there. (camera clicks) Taking the same picture. All right, now I wanna show those two pictures side by side, and I think we're done with that. So we had a totally black wall and a totally white wall, I shot both of them, let's look at these pictures side by side. So the color temperature is different, but they're both gray. Both of them are gray. And what happened was, this white wall right here the camera assumed that it should be gray, even though it's white, and so it underexposed it, it exposed it as a gray wall. And for the black wall, the same thing, the camera assumed that that black wall should be gray and so it overexposed it, and so it also came out gray. And so the camera in some scenarios will get things very wrong, and so Lex I wanna have you come out here again for just a second, and I wanna show you how this can be very problematic. So what I want you to do is to stand just right there, with our natural light, and let me show you how this can go wrong very quickly. So, I always love saying that, let me show you how this is gonna go wrong, and then it doesn't go wrong. So I'll try, I'll try to make this go wrong. So what I'm gonna do here is I'm gonna have mostly, and let's have you move about right there, yes. Mostly white background. (camera clicks) Okay, with our mostly white background what's gonna happen is we are having an underexposed Lex, because there's so much white in that scene, the camera is doing the same thing that we essentially did before where we said oh, this should be gray, even though it's white, and it's gonna cause us issues. And so what we're gonna do with this is I'm gonna actually fix the white balance really fast. I'm gonna kick you out, kicking you out. (man mumbles) Oh, oh gotcha. So what we're gonna do here is on this, in the develop module, first thing I'm gonna do is fix the white balance just by clicking on the background, boink, 'cause it was white, so we just were able to do that. So sometimes you can use something in the scene to fix your white balance very, very quickly which is really cool. So the other thing we wanna do, we can look at this histogram here and see how the histogram shows that the whites are underexposed? That should be much closer to the edge. And so what I can do to fix this, if I know that I have a lot of white in the background, I can use something called exposure compensation. And so I'm going to tell my camera with exposure compensation using the light meter inside, it's saying hey, this is what's exposed correctly, I'm telling it to overexpose intentionally 'cause my camera is stupid and I'm saying hey, what you think is right is not right, so overexpose that, which is actually correct. So we're gonna do the same thing, I am overexposing this intentionally, and now watch what happens when this pops in. This will pop in here, boink. And also, by the way, I wanna show you guys something else. Notice how that we have blue, and red, and orange, all these colors here, and they don't line up the same on the histogram. What it's saying is the red, green, and blue are out of sync as far as their luminosity, and when I fix the white balance, watch for this. Again, this is color theory, but. (clicks tongue) See how they all go together? (claps) So it's fixing all the colors at the same time. So this here we're seeing a much more, there we go, much better exposure. So our 18% exposure is totally wacky, and so we have to fix that. John, do we have the light meter? Yes. Can you see that for a second? I will show this. Yeah, any of these light meters. Perfect. So there are two different types of metering. There's through the lens metering, which is what we just saw, and that is reflective metering. So the light hits the subject and the background, reflects off of that, and it goes into our camera's lens and based on what's being reflected the camera's trying to figure things out, and that's not the best way to meter light. A better way is to use this, this is a light meter and it does incident light metering. And what it does, instead of assuming that this is white or black and averaging it to gray, it actually looks at the light that's falling on this thingy here, this is called the lumisphere. And so what the actual light is coming in here, it doesn't matter if this is black or white or green or gray, it doesn't care, you'll get an accurate measurement on this, and so we're gonna show you a little bit later on how to use a light meter, but using a light meter will give you an accurate exposure every single time because it doesn't try to figure out, it doesn't get things wrong based on white or black. That make sense? So it doesn't go oh, that's white and it should be gray, it just says oh, this is how much light is coming right here and (clicks tongue) that's the exposure that should be made. And I know that, thank you, I know that we have a lot of discussions about this where people are like oh, why would you ever use this when you're shooting out like at a wedding or an event? That's crazy, it's just too much. Most of the newer cameras have really good TTL metering, most of the time. But there's a photographer that if you watch this film, it's called War Photographer, it's by, James Nachtwey is the photographer. And there's a scene, and I wish I could show you this scene, but he is in the middle of this horrible war situation, there's all this chaos and stuff going on, and you see him shooting, stop, pull out a light meter, meter the light, adjust his camera, and keep going. In the middle of a literal war. I'm like dude, if that guy can meter the light, then (audience laughs) I can meter the light. So, yeah, I mean it seems like it's crazy, but a light meter will always be better. So, let me show you really quickly how our light meter in our camera works. So when our light comes through our lens what happens is, inside your camera there is this little mirror right here, and that mirror is what SLR stands for, single lens reflex, so it's got this mirror that pops up. So what this guy does is it puts the light into this thing called the pentaprism and that's how we see, sorta like a little periscope. But some of the light goes up here, and this light, or this thingy right here is where the TTL meter is, it's actually in the pentaprism in the top of your camera, up here. And so that's how our camera meters light, and then this right here, this is the auto-focus meter, so some of the light goes through there, it comes down here, and it actually helps us focus. And so, this by the way is why your camera, if you're in live mode and you're seeing what's coming through the back, this is up and it's blocking the meter and it's blocking the auto-focus. And so they figured out how to do some metering in live view but the auto-focus, if you're wondering like why doesn't it work in live view? The reason it doesn't work is because the auto-focus sensor is blocked and it can't work, so that's why. Okay, so we have enough time, I can actually show you how to use a light meter. And John, let's do this, let's use the little Sekonic, the 358. And the light meter I'm gonna show you I don't think is sold anymore. I mean, you can buy it, but not for long. Yeah, so they've been replaced with a newer and better, more awesomey, that's a word, light meter, but I think this is the best light meter ever built. And so if you can get one of these before they go away forever, this is what you want. They're affordable and they're really easy to use. So on this, which camera can get a close up, like a real close up? Any camera? 'Cause I have to show, okay, cool. All right, so on this, and I'll try to keep this as steady as possible, what we can do here is there are different modes on a light meter, and so what a light meter is built to do is to meter normal ambient light, but also lights from strobes. So the first thing you have to do is to tell your light meter what kinda situation are you shooting in. So you do that using this little mode button, and what I'll do is I'm gonna roll this over, and so it's on the little sunshine, and I'll come over here so you guys can actually see this. There's an actual little sunshine up there, you see that? See that sunshiney, little sunshine? ♪ Sunshine. ♪ See it? Okay, so I'm telling my light meter we are measuring ambient, natural light, that's what we're measuring, we're measuring, not a flash, but that. So then the next thing we have to do, there are three things that are involved in the exposure triangle. They are ISO, shutter, and aperture, correct? Yes. And so when we're using a light meter we are gonna be shooting in manual mode 'cause we're going to set the ISO, the aperture, and the shutter speed based on what this tells us. But we use this in a similar way that we would use our cameras in aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode. And what I mean by that is the first thing you do is you tell your light meter what ISO your camera is using. And so we're gonna shoot at an ISO, ooh, in here of 1600, 'cause it's really dark. How do I know 1600? I don't, I'm just guessing. So 1600. So what I'm gonna do is, and there's a little button here that says ISO, I'm gonna push that and I'm gonna set this all the way up to 1600, so this is gonna stay there. So I need to set my camera to 1600 as well. And then what I can do here under mode, right now I have this little T that has a square around it, can you see that? So it's got a little T around it. And what that's telling me is, why don't you put in the shutter speed you're using and when you meter it will tell me the aperture value that I should use. Or, I can go to the next mode, which is I'll put in the aperture value I wanna use, and the meter will tell me what shutter speed. So you can do either one. So you set the ISO, and then you put in either the shutter speed, and it will solve for aperture value, or you put in the ISO and put in the aperture value and it will solve for shutter speed. Does that make sense? So in here, because we have really low light, I'm gonna put in my aperture value and let it tell me the shutter speed, 'cause I'm gonna guess it's really slow. Really slow, in fact the other thing you can do is when you take a meter reading you can change the values and see, like I could say oh, what should my ISO be to get a decent shutter speed without ever picking up my camera, which is also really cool. So Lex, we're gonna have you come out again and we are going to take a photo. We're gonna use this light up here as the main light, and what you have to do is, this lumisphere should be up, it can go up and down. Needs to be up, and you need to point it to where your camera is. So I'm gonna be shooting from about right here, so I'm gonna point this to where my camera is going to be, that's very, very important, and this needs to be as close to your subject as possible, and so what I wanna do, I'm gonna push you to the side, is I wanna have this where her eyes are because her eyes are the most important, for me, from an exposure standpoint. But if I jab her in the face with this, that's no good. So what I will normally do is I'll put this right underneath the chin, because when I put it underneath the chin, notice that this is now in line with her eyes and so I get the same distance, and also, putting it under the chin when you're working outside in natural light, sometimes if the sun falls directly on a lumisphere it can give you incorrect values. So by putting this underneath the chin, what it will do is it will actually give it a little teeny bit of shade, and so you'll save yourself that hassle. I didn't know that. Sekonic called me, they're like, we love how you tell everybody to put it underneath their chin, 'cause it fixes this, I'm like oh, I didn't know, it was just so I wouldn't jab somebody in the eye, that's why I was doing it. So I'm going to put you back this way, and then I'm going to, remember I'm not metering it to the light I'm metering it to where the camera is going to be. And so what I'll do is I'll take this, I'm gonna point it to where my camera's gonna be, I'll click the little button, and this tells me 80th of a second is what I need to set my camera to. So 4.5, 80th of a second, ISO 1600. What if I wanted to be at a shutter speed of, let's say 125? All I have to do is push my ISO button and change my ISO until my meter tells me 125, and it tells me oh, I would have to be at an ISO value of 2500. So you can just take one reading and then change one of the parameters to get, it'll solve for the third. And so once you have that one reading you don't have to do a bunch of like, what if this, what if this, and so you can instantly take a reading and go oh, to have my shutter speed fast enough to shoot in this environment I need to be at, oh, that ISO, and (clicks tongue) off you go to the races. So let's try it. So this is at 125, 4.5, ISO 1600, or 2500. The other thing with these guys is sometimes you have to calibrate your meter to your camera and this one has not been calibrated to my camera, so it could be potentially off a smidge, because every camera and every meter are built to slightly different variations or specifications which is why once you have your light meter and you calibrated it and got it dialed in correctly, which you do with the gray card, you just keep it as your own and you never let anybody else have it, 'cause it's perfect. Okay, so we're gonna try this. This is, and Lex I'm gonna have you hold this for me. So the ISO was 2500, so I've got that. The shutter speed was 125, is that right, is that what it says? 125. And the aperture value is 4.5. All right, and now we're gonna try this. We're gonna see it, see if it works. (camera clicks) Perfect. All right, now this is awesome. Watch this. Out of the box. Boom, perfect exposure. Spot on, they're just like, it's perfect. And so that's the joy of having a light meter, is once you have it, it is perfect, and you don't have to worry about if the background is white or black whatever. Also when we had that really bright light shining on Lex here, and while we're trying to figure out, like, zooming in and doing all that kinda stuff? What I coulda done was just point the light meter to my camera, click, (snaps fingers) and we would've had the exact correct exposure without me trying to figure out all the TTL craziness, 'cause it doesn't care that there's light coming from behind it just looks at the light that's falling on the lumisphere itself. Make sense? Light meters, I love them, I live with them and they're awesome. Tomorrow I'm gonna tell you different, but today light meters are it, what we need to have. All right, do we have questions? We have questions, thank you very much. Any questions from studio audience. Why that model of light meter? Okay, why this model of light meter. So, John, can you bring the other one as well? So this light meter, there's two reasons. So I don't use this one, even though I'm telling you to use it. I use this one. Here's why I'm telling you to use this light meter. This light meter here is a more sophisticated meter, it's this light meter with extra stuff added. That extra stuff is not used by most photographers, and it's gonna add a couple hundred dollars to your meter price, easily. So what this light meter, the reason I would suggest to use this one, it's very, very durable, it's very, very rugged, it's weather sealed, it's extremely easy to use, and it will last you for years, and years, and years, and for the money it's just, I haven't found a better meter for this price. This is the only meter that I know that's better than this one, and it's the same meter with more stuff and a few hundred bucks more. So, this one will work with ambient light, it will work with speed lights in manual mode, it will work with radio triggering, so you can trigger stuff using these things called PocketWizards, all that stuff's built in so it's a really sophisticated meter. Sekonic has two new light meters. The L458 I believe, I did the product launch so I should know it. So L458, and it's a touch screen light meter and it is really sophisticated, and so what you can do is you can, if you're using speed lights with the PocketWizard system you can control your speed lights remotely from the meter, so you can turn 'em on and off and you can adjust the power up and down, you can do a bunch of things. And so if you're a speed light shooter, that meter is spectacular. The problem with that meter is it's not as intuitive as this one, this one's just so easy to use, and because it's a big, huge touch screen the battery life is short. So like two or three studio sessions, and if you forget to turn it off you're running through batteries all the time. So if you're not using speed lights that is not the meter I would recommend, and if you're using speed lights but you're not using the PocketWizard system I wouldn't recommend that one either. But if you are, or Alien Bees with the PocketWizards or any of the stuff that uses the Mini and Flex, it's born for that, so it's pretty awesome. And that's the meter that's replacing this meter I think. So there's not been any official word, but just based on my feelings and some inside knowledge I think that's probably what's happening. So yeah, very affordable. What this guy has that this one doesn't have, and others don't have, this actually has a spot meter built in, and what this allows you to do, and I'll let you, I'll pass it around, you can see it. You actually look through this and it has a targeting reticle, think that's how you say it, but I believe it's a one degree spot. So let's say that, and this applies to something called the zone system which would be another three day course, but let's say I want to take a photo of the, I don't know, something far away. The Grand Canyon, let's just stick with that, but something like way over two miles away and I wanna make sure I have the metering exactly right for that thing over there. I can't run over there with my light meter and be like, (mimics walky-talky static) and then have a walky-talky, roger (mimics walky-talky static), right, that doesn't work. But with this thing what you can do is you can actually look across and you can take readings from very specific points, and it's using reflective metering, which is basically what our camera does, but in a much more controlled way and so that's what's actually costing you the extra few hundred dollars. And then the other thing you can do with this is you can do things like, this is my black point here, and so you can look at that and you can take a reading on that, and then you can say this is my white point and you can take a reading from that, and you can point a bunch of things along the way and this actually can be calibrated to your camera and lens and it is calibrated to your camera's dynamic range, and so as you're taking readings you can plot on a scale where those different things are falling, and so you can see before you ever take the photo if everything's gonna fit. And so let's say that I take a reading here and take a reading here, and this falls beyond the range of my camera, it will actually flash and tell me that on the meter and then I'll know I need to either adjust this or this and so for really complicated lighting set-ups in a studio or on location, you can solve all of the light problems just by using this before you ever shoot. By the way, the new meter that Sekonic has also has that ability where you can calibrate it to your camera's dynamic range and see it on a scale, it's really cool. There is something called MAC-On-Campus, Google it. So it's the Mac group for college students, and I actually taught a couple of courses about this and doing that specifically. It's free on MAC-On-Campus somewhere, I don't know exactly where, but you can see that video, and I think it's about 20 minutes, something like that. But it's a free thing that we did for college students, but anybody can watch it. All right, givin' away free content. Okay, who else has a question? All right, we do up here. So this is from Fashion TV. Mark, and this is from earlier. If we have different intensity of light, weak light or strong light, and we use a smaller or bigger reflector, what's your workflow on that when you're choosing a reflector, how do you-- In relationship to the strength of the light? The intensity of the light. So I think I know where this person's coming from, because you can get these kits that are like portrait lighting kits, but they're like 60 watt lamps and they're not very strong and they have these, you know, don't buy those, just don't buy those. I'm not sure if that's what they're asking or not, but for that situation I always recommend that you get the gear that is right for you, meaning not the $100 lighting kit, 'cause it's you get what you pay for. But as far as the reflector and the size there are several things that I consider when we're doing reflectors. So John, can you bring me the Magnum reflector? I think it's out in the hall, and that normal reflector-- About the fold-up reflectors. Oh, the fold-up reflectors? Just any reflector, like-- Oh, I'm thinking of a totally different kind of reflector. Yeah. I'm thinking, but yeah, could you bring me the Magnum and that, and the Beauty Dish? Yeah, exactly, just the size of that modifier. Yeah, so talking about this right here, we're talking about, the consideration there is the effective size, soft or, sort of what we did with Lex when we brought her close and far away. With a really small handheld reflector you're not gonna be able to cover head to toe a full fashion shoot, so if you're shooting a person, a bride let's say, and you wanna get the entire dress. With a small reflector, even one that's like this collapsible one here, it's gonna be difficult for you to get the entire dress in the reflection, so you can see this other one is about twice that size. So bigger is always better when you're doing more volume, because again, if you're shooting an entire portrait head to toe you can't get super, super close, you gotta get far away, and we know that when we get far away the effective size of our light, if it's a reflector or whatever, becomes smaller and so we need bigger and bigger reflectors. So it's all about specular highlights or direction of light and getting an even coverage from head to toe. So we have that, and then can you also, there's a Beauty Dish out in the hallway and it's on one of the lights, and it's got a grid in it. But we're gonna be talking about tomorrow these kinda reflectors, and these reflectors go on studio strobes, and you can see that they're shaped totally differently, they're different sizes, the insides of these, these one's have this sorta like this pebbly stuff, this one has a different kinda look. John's gonna bring me a different thing here. Out. Here we go, thank you. And we have something like this, and you can see that this is a different shape altogether and it's got a totally different surface on the inside. So all of the stuff that we've learned today as far as the effective size of light, specular highlights, all of that stuff, direction of light, is gonna change based on the type of reflector that we put on our light and you'll see that this is gonna be great for black and white photography, or a large group shot from far away. This is gonna be great for beauty photography. And you can see this is specular, this is not. This is highly reflective, this is not. This is a smaller, this is a larger. And so all of that stuff, the size and shape and direction of light, it never ends, it will be consistent across speed light, studio strobe, natural light, always the same. Okay, yes? So from (mumbles) says, when we use light meter with ND filter, how do we compensate the reading with the filter strength? Could you kindly explain how to use light meters with the different types of filters, and your workflow. Yes. Perfect. Can you bring that, the small light meter, the little gray guy? All right, so, and this is another reason I love this light meter. Let's say you're using a light meter with a nine stop neutral density filter. We haven't gotten to neutral density filters yet, but it's the sunglasses we talked about. So we know that if we metered this, and then we have a shade on our lens, basically we have to figure out somehow how to get this reading to actually reflect the filter that we have. In other words, this is nine stops off, 'cause it doesn't know that our camera has sunglasses on. So watch this. All you have to do is push ISO one and ISO two, I don't know if you can zoom in on this. (clicks tongue) And as soon as I do that this says adjust, and then I can say hey, let's go up by nine stops, I can just keep going. (vocalizes) And you get the idea. I'm not gonna go all the way there 'cause it takes forever, but I can just adjust that, plus or minus, based on the filter that I have on my camera, take a reading, and it's gonna do the math for me. I know, it should be harder than that, but it isn't. You just say oh, I've got a nine stop or a five stop neutral density filter, adjust this by five stops, or nine stops, or two stops, or whatever you have, boop, and done. That's it, easy. So yeah, the light meters are awesome. You can also do the math manually, and so the way I do the math manually is this. On most cameras, each click is a third stop, on almost every camera made one click is a third stop. And so I will sometimes use my camera as a calculator. For example, let's say that I am shooting at 2. and I know that I want to figure out what is four stops more in aperture value than 2.8? I don't know, so what I can do is go one, two, three clicks, that's one. One, two, three, that's two. One, two, three, that's three. One, two, three, that's four. Oh, what is that? F11. And so my camera is now a calculator, and I do that all the time when I'm trying to figure stuff out. Yeah, mainly in aperture values 'cause they aren't as straightforward as shutter speeds, which just double in value, or half in value. All right, do we have other questions, or is that, yes, we have a question. You shoot a group of people, do you expose for just the front row, or I mean, do you split the difference? You now have bonus points. Yay! Okay, 'cause you introduced actually tomorrow. So one of the things that we are going to learn about tomorrow, I think it's tomorrow, is the inverse square law. And so one of the things is, I'm gonna have you three come forward, come forward. Feels like church, come forward. So I'll have you stand right here, and have you stand, I'm gonna move you right here. (vocalizes) Right there. And you come stand over here, right, right over here. Okay, if I have a light over here shining, right, and let's say this is a big group of people and you guys all face this way, right, and this is rows deep of people, maybe they're on bleachers, something like that, or maybe it's a group of 15. Two things will happen that are an issue. One, you are gonna cast a shadow on you, right, and we're gonna have shadows all over the place, that's not so good. And then the light hitting you is gonna be much brighter than the light hitting you, so you're gonna be shadowy and dark, sort of creepy. So we don't want that. So what we wanna do is we wanna have light that is even from you all the way back, right? Everybody even amount of light, and we wanna try to do this in a way that the light is coming from so many different directions, wow, it just floods in and we don't get any shadows at all. And the way that you do that is just a giant light and using something called the inverse square law which is tomorrow, so you'll have to wait for the exact answer to that, but we are actually gonna do this, we're gonna bring everybody we can get and we're gonna shoot this big group photo, and we're gonna do it with one light, just one, we're gonna shoot a huge group. I've done this with, I think the biggest group I did was 60 people, one light, no shadows, perfect. So we'll show you, yeah, and it's, once you learn this inverse square law thing you're like oh my gosh, I just saved so much money. All right, thanks guys. Okay, cool. So what I need, John maybe you can help me get these guys outta here so I can white board. So all shade is not create equal at all. And so if we have a big building, like this, and here's the sun, good, that was nothing, here's the sun, here's our building, pretend like that's a building, and we have a person down here, yay. And the sun is shining, it's gonna cast a big shadow right here, that's shade, right? And so, and this is the ground. So this, and let's say over here we have nothing. This is normal shade, and if you had another building let's say pretty close, and this sun was sort of low, you're gonna get shade everywhere, that's just normal shade. It's just soft, diffused light with the light sort of bouncing around between the buildings or wherever it is, and that shade is gonna give you a different type of light than something called open shade and is there an eraser somewhere? I hope so. It might be on the little level there. If not, I'll just use my... So this is normal shade. Open shade is different, and the reason that open shade is different is, ah, thank you. Is open shade is directional, it's very, very directional. So let's say that we have, and this is gonna be easier to see outside. Let's say that we have this same building, maybe a little bit smaller, and the same person, but over here there's a big pool of water. And what's happening is, the light is coming here and it's very, very bright and so this is just throwing all kinds of light this way. And so what we have, so we have shade right here like we did before, but over here we have a highly reflective source of light. And this could be a sidewalk, it could be some water, it could be a big white building, it could be anything, but what's happening is this light from this area that's being reflected, is actually coming into the shaded area and this is open because this, we have shade on this side and nothing on this side so that's the open part of the shade, and so what you can do is you can take your person, put him a little bit closer or farther away from this source of light, and what you'll get, because that person is in a soft shady light you'll get soft light, but because you have this big, huge thing reflecting a lot of light, you'll actually get spectacular specular highlights in the eyes, 'cause that will all show up, and you'll get some directionality of light on the person's face, or the subject, even though they're still in shade, and so if you wanna get rid of that you just move them back into the shadow. If you wanna get it a little bit more pronounced you move 'em to the side. If, like, let's say this is the white building and I'm in shade, I could even have somebody to the side. Now they're in soft light, but they're getting light reflected and then you're gonna get the directional light on a person's face even though they're in shade, we have this big source of light that's just outside of the shade that's gonna give us that direction of light that we would not get in full shade. Does that make sense? Okay, good, 'cause we're gonna see that when we go outside, hopefully, if the sun's still out. Is the sun still out? (groans) It's cloudy. Okay, we might not get open shade today, we'll have to see, we might just get shade. But we'll see what happens when we get out there.

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.