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Understanding Light

Lesson 26 of 34

Working with Multiple Lights

Mark Wallace

Understanding Light

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

26. Working with Multiple Lights

Lesson Info

Working with Multiple Lights

The next thing we're gonna do here is talk about what happens when you add more than one light to a subject. So, a lot of times you'll have a scenario that we just had where you have light on one side of a person and shadows on the other and you might have a shadow coming off the nose of somebody and you're thinking, oh, I'll just pop a little light in there and it'll get rid of that nasty shadow. That won't work. And wanna show you why it won't work. In fact, what it'll do is it will start causing big issues in your lighting setup that can be frustrating. So, we're gonna set this up really fast. And, take us just a second. So, this is working with multiple lights. We're gonna use normal, hard lights on this. And, as we set this up, you will see that you've probably dealt with this before. Alright. And these reflectors go to about five. Goes to five. Alright. Turn this guy on. Alright, any questions while I'm setting this stuff up? I think we're good but -- You guys have any question...

s in the audience? Everybody's doin' alright? Whadda ya think, Jim? Yeah, I got one for ya, Mark. Okay. Deerfield Photography says, I know you talked about modifiers yesterday, but what are the properties of the beauty dishes that make them preferable to soft boxes in certain circumstances? The light is more directional from a beauty dish; that's one. And so, you get more directional light, you get more, so... There are two concepts in art, shape and form. And it has to do with the direction of light. So, Lex could you come out just for a second again? So, what happens, and we talked about his a little bit, I'm gonna blind you just a bit. So, I want you to stand, if you could, right there looking straight forward toward the audience. (grunts) And see if I can get this soft box off here. And so what happens is, if you have a two-dimensional object, like this speed ring, oh, my gosh, alright, here it comes, yes. Alright, here we go. (person claps) Thank you. By the way, this is one of those things that makes me complain about light stands. If there a little bit, yeah, I'm gonna stop. But, (laughs) yeah, if they're not tight and they move around like that, it's harder to manipulate the lights. Okay, so if we have this to the side right here, we know we have contrast. We talked about that. If we have a light that is behind, we have this silohuette. And, normally, if light was coming straight from behind, we'd have a silohuette and you would be totally black. And, that is called shape, if you have a silohuette on something. Shape is something that we can easily identify even though it has no three-dimensional properties. So, if you can do a profile shot. Let's do you this way. So let's say we have Lex this way and we have our light behind her, we would see her profile and, if it was a true silohuette, we would know it was a person, 'cause we identify with that shape. This is children's art. We know that their mushrooms are actually trees. Right, they're not mushroom clouds, they're trees. And their little, square, boxy, pointy things are houses, and their whatever things are dogs. No tree, house or dog looks the way that kids draw them, right, none. But we know what they are because we identify with those shapes, okay. So, two-dimensional things are strong in shape and those things tend to be monochromatic because they're usually silhouetted. So, if you come back around here. If we take our light, and we move this way, sorry about this, it's coming in, here we go, we'll try to make this a little less painful for you. If we move this way, and it's hard to see with all these lights on, but what's happening is we go from a light that's silhouetting her to a light that's now casting some shadows. And what that does, it takes a two-dimensional object and it makes it three-dimensional. And that three-dimensionality is called form. And so, when you go from shape to form, you do that by the direction of light. And then, what was the question, because I know I was going somewhere to answer this question. It was... The beauty dish. The beauty dish, yes, thank you. That's what it was. So, the beauty dish, why use the beauty dish. The answer is it's all about that thing, which is... how do you create form on a face. How do you create three-dimensionality on a face. And what a beauty dish does is, it's a little bit harder light, and so you get shadows right here on the cheekbones, you get shadows underneath the chin, you get shadows behind the ears, on the nose. It's a little bit harder, more directional light and so it makes people look a little bit more three-dimensional; it's great for form. But, it's still large and soft and so it doesn't make everybody have horrible skin and those kinds of things. So that's why a beauty dish is better in some circumstances than a soft box 'cause a soft box is so flat, it gives light so evenly everywhere, that you're losing some of those shadows which create form. So, that was a long answer to why to use the beauty dish. Thank you. Okay. You know it's a long answer when you forget the question when you're there. Okay, we need to turn this guy on in a second. Alright, so what we're gonna do here is we're gonna talk about the problem... (man talking softly) Um, no, but we're gonna shoot with Lex in a minute. (man talking softly) Oh, no, we're fine. So, here's the problem. We'll have the (mumbles) just staying right there. He's just gonna hide behind the monitor. If you have one light, it behaves very, very... obviously predictably. Thank you. That's the word, predictably. Not enough coffee yet. Light comes in, hits something, and that something is going to cast a shadow. Right here, we got this shadow that's being cast. And so, sometimes what we want to do, is we want to add second light to fix this shadow. Let's say this shadow is on somebody's face and it's caused by their nose and we want to fix this, we don't like it, so we'll add a second light. Let's add the second light. So, what happens here is you didn't eliminate the shadow at all. What you did is you created a dark shadow in the center and you just created another shadow. So now we have our light, we've got a shadow, we've got light, we have a shadow, we have light, and then we have a dark shadow, and we've created all kinds of problems. And so, the answer to eliminating shadows is not always adding another light because you're, in a lotta times, creating even more shadows. And the reason for that is, let's go back, don't turn that off yet, but this shadow right here the thinking is when we add the second light that will just eliminate the shadow 'cause that light's gonna wash that away. But, remember, one plus one doesn't equal one. So when we add this light it's creating light that's coming this direction and this direction, so we have this shadow here. But when we add the second light it's doing the exact opposite and creating a shadow here. So, this light is lightening the shadow but we have, one light plus one light equals two lights together here, two lights together here, two lights together here. The shadow from one light here being washed out a little bit by that light. The shadow from a different light here being washed out by a different light and then an absence of light in the middle and it just creates all kinds of wackiness. So how do we fix this issue. And so what I wanna do is we're gonna actually create a really, not-pleasing portrait of Lex with these kind of shadows. And this will be her nose. And it'll be awesome, we're gonna start seeing shadows all over her face and we're gonna try to figure out how do we fix this if we're not using really broad, diffused light. What's the solution to that. Are you ready? Okay, yeah. She doesn't know. She never knows when I'm gonna do stuff like this. Okay so let's bring both of those lights out, John. So Lex doesn't have a very big nose. We're going to have to work hard on this to make it, yeah, you're welcome. So, yeah with me it would be like shadow all day long. Right, it's like (groans). Alright. Awesome. I'll take this. Take this guy here. John you're steppin' on that. Alright, I'm just gonna unplug this for us right now. Alright (groans). Okay, so we're gonna duplicate what we did on the wall except for we're gonna do this with Lex. It'll be great. On her face. It's gonna be wonderful. Gonna be great. And these lights aren't super bright so it won't hurt you too much. Alright (groans). Okay, so we have this light over here. And, John do we have enough cable to reach? Yes, I think so. Think so? Okay. I've got that here. Yeah, we're gonna need an extension cord at some point. Yup. Not enough extensions cords. It's gonna go right on the other side. Right on the other side. Here we go. Okay. And this guy over here. Sorry. It's great. Just gonna use two lights, right? Yup, just two lights. Turn it off for a second. There's a plug, extension cord behind you. Perfect, perfect. We like to do workshops with lots of moving parts. The more moving parts the better. Okay, so we're gonna create this shadow. It's nice and flattering. It's great. It is. It's awesome. Alright, we're gonna see if we can actually make a shadow. There we go. Making a nasty shadow. Okay, and we'll do the other side. Can you turn that one off just for a second? Make a nasty shadow on that side. Okay, we're gonna start with that light. We'll meter. So, we'll meter this light. Here's the light meter; it's in my pocket. And that's at nine, so we're gonna shoot at nine. I'm gonna let you hold that. So we'll shoot this at F just so we can see the shadow and the problem. Sounds like a C.S. Lewis book, the shadow and the problem. Awesome. Okay, now we have very high contrast light with the nasty nose shadow. There it is. Rookie way to fix this, we're gonna add a second light. And if you could meter that for me, John. Thirteen. Thirteen. Watch this. This is not gonna have any shadows, I just feel it. I feel it. Yeah, no shadows. Look at that, it's wonderful. We'll try to get even harder light than this. So, what we're seeing here is no shadows at all because our modifiers are making this light too broad. This'll make it even harder, even harder if possible. Harder light. Nine. Nine. Nine. Yeah, and if we can't get the shadows to be horrible, alright, so don't smile 'cause we want to see if we can get more, yeah, be mean, here we go. Okay, let's see if we have the shadows that we don't like. One of the problems with this is we're working in such a small environment and it's so highly reflective we're getting lots of light coming in. And if we don't see those, the last thing we can do is add some grids. Might do some grids to really eliminate that light. We are seeing a shadow here and a shadow here. Just a little bit. It's not as pronounced as I'd like to do that. Let's see if we can get some grids on here to really -- (mumbles) Um, let's do 10 degree grids. Wanna really try to introduce some shadows on there. Here's the -- Got another kit? Yup. Yeah, another 10 over there. When demos go wrong, that should be another Discovery Channel thing. This is one of the things, by the way, we didn't try first before we did it here 'cause I've done it a bunch of times before. So, we're gonna get a grid, are there questions as we're setting up this awesome demo to show you how to control shadows that don't exist. (woman laughing) This is how you control shadows that don't actually exist in the shot. This is sort of like, you know, when your car isn't working right and it's got a weird sound and you take it to the mechanic and then it doesn't make the sound and you drive a couple of feet and it makes the sound again. Okay, let's try, I'm gonna bring this back a little bit. Alright, can you meter that for me? Three point two. Okay, so here's what we're also gonna do. I'm gonna increase the light considerably so that we're shooting at like 22 or something. Eighteen. Eighteen, okay. I feel like we're having some, we're introducing light from the studio. Okay, let's see what we have here. Let's see what we have here. Yeah, so now we're starting to see these shadows popping up on the side of the nose. Can you see that? Okay, let me check my computer to see if it's even more apparent. Yeah, it is. Okay, so, instead of being able to just, sometimes, in this situation we were able to add just a second light, sometimes when we have that problem with shadows showing up, adding a second light doesn't work. And the answer is, what's actually happening here is sort of frustrating, is it's better to have more diffused light to fill in those shadows. So, what's going in this scenario here with a lot of the things that we're encountering is A, we're pretty close and so the effective size of our light is pretty large. And so the light is actually wrapping around. You also have a very small nose, so that's an issue. Maybe we can do this. Your nose is too small. Things that most people never hear. Your nose is too small. Grow a nose. Let's see if we can do it this way. So we have that. The other thing that is happening is we have very reflective surfaces here. So let's try, I'm just gonna shoot this and we won't have to re-meter it. We won't have to re-meter it. Yeah, so now we're not even seeing those. But the... the solution is to do what we're accidentally doing. And that is finding a way to wrap that light around the subject. So let's just say we have a nasty shadow that we can't eliminate because we have somebody with a big nose. Your nose is too small. Your nose is too small. Watch this. We're gonna shoot and we'll have no shadow on just one light because of some kind of crazy Lex powers. Can you meter that for me? Thirteen. Thirteen, okay. Alright, so this, we have this very, very large shadow on the opposite side of her face. In this scenario, let's say when we added the second light we actually did get this nasty shadow over here 'cause we didn't have any light bouncing around any of that kind of stuff. The solution to this is instead of, either we want this shadow, right, if we want it, then fine, leave it alone. If we don't want it, we need to change the properties of light that we're using. Make it larger or change the direction of light so that this shadow goes away. So let's try to make this light larger by just doing what we did before. Take out the grid; zoom this back a little bit. I'll move it in just a hair. And then, let's meter that light. Thirteen. We'll see that shadow is not gonna go away. It's going to get maybe a little less pronounced. Like that. If we take this light and put it on axis, this is normally what I do to eliminate a shadow. I would do that and we'll meter that. Go ahead. Ten. Ten. We still have a little bit of side light there. But that's going away. But the most effective thing to do is make this a really large light source. And that's just gonna wrap around the subject and eliminate that altogether. So, it's frustrating that this demo it's not working out, because, trust me, when you add multiple lights in a lot of scenarios you will get those cross shadows. By adding more lights, it just doesn't work. So I don't wanna spend too much more time trying to create a problem that doesn't exist in this environment. But, I wanna make sure you understand the principle that if you do have those shadows and you're trying to eliminate them the way to do that is not necessarily to add a second light. In this situation it actually worked okay. But, it it to change the direction of light or change the property of light. So, if you don't want the shadow, then use all the rules that we learned to eliminate those shadows by making it a larger, wrap-around light or change their position. That's the best way to do that. Okay, so that was a fun, non-working demo. Are there questions on that? Medic1811 had asked a question a while back and this is with shadows or how do you light the background to eliminate shadows or do you ever use a green screen for that? Oh, okay. Actually, Lex, we need you to come back. I'm sorry. Kidding, kidding. Okay, great question. So, shadows on the background. So, we'll do this. We're gonna light Lex with a nasty shadow in the background. And here's the meter, John. You can meter her. So, in fact maybe we'll try eliminating the shadow in the background with a second light. Nine. Nine, okay. So now we're gonna have a light and a shadow. So, here's the problem that we have. Big shadow on the background just like that. So, there's a couple of things that you can do. Thank you. So, I'm just gonna plop some light onto the background from here and we'll see how that looks. So, I'm shining this right were the shadow is. Thirteen. Thirteen. So, that is at 13 which is, and I'll widen that out. So now, try that again. Four point five. Four point five. Try it one more time. By the way, did you see that? We went from F13 to 4. and all I did was zoom this light with the reflector. So that is an amazing amount of difference. Five six. And then one more time. Five six? Yeah. And then try it one more time. Ten. Okay, so 10. So the background light is brighter than the key light. So, when we metered that we said, and this metered at what? This was at nine, is that right? I believe so. Let's try. Yeah, so our key light was at nine, our background light was at 10. And so this should, our background should be brighter than our foreground. And let's see what happens to that shadow back there. It goes away but it introduces a problem. So, watch this. So, it eliminates the shadow because the light on the background, the light back here, is brighter than the light from here, and so this basically goes to completely white. This is not a good thing to do necessarily because when we look at the edges of hair, it does this weird thing to hair. You see that? And the brighter this gets, the weirder these little, fine threads of hair become. It almost looks like the hair has been burned a little bit. Yeah, because light is reflecting from that background and two things are happening. This is really bright, light is reflecting, it's coming through her hair and creating all those issues. That light is also going all the way to the lens and it's lowering contrast on our image. So that is something you can do to eliminate the shadows in the background. Just make sure the light that's hitting the background is brighter than your key light. But, if you have a white background, you can have some issues. If you have a dark background, you can start seeing the shape of the light, so that can give you some issues. The other thing you can do to eliminate the light on the background is to change the height of the light. So, right now, we see our background, we see the shadow on Lex very clearly. If I raise this up, again I'm changing the lighting style here, if I change this light this up a little bit, and let's go ahead and meter that. Seven one. Seven one, okay. You'll see that that shadow has migrated from right next to her, which was what we had earlier. From there, to really bright, to now it's down in the corner. So we're changing where that shadow is based on the position of our light. The other thing that you can do to eliminate a shadow is to move your subject farther from the background. And so, the farther you get away the more that you can isolate those two different things. And then we can start working with the light on the background and making it not so quite as bright as it is right now. And you can sort of have a nice, white background that's not reflecting so much light into the lens. Yes. Would it be a solution to put probably two lights on the background to kinda counterbalance? Yes, and we're gonna learn about something called angle of reflection which is influencing how much light is coming back into the lens. Normally what I would do if I was shooting on a background, is we would be using large umbrellas. The large, white umbrellas are used commonly to do that and you would do a couple of those. Or, some soft boxes. And the reason for that is it changes how the light reflects from the background to the subject. The other thing you can do is this is semi-glossy, sort of a flat white. Seamless comes in different flavors of reflectivity. So, you can get a really highly glossy background and less glossy. I usually get the less glossy 'cause I don't want that white to be reflective as much. So there's like super bright and there's normal white. Thanks for now. Okay, other questions? Okay. Yes, sir. From pmd... can the separator hair light be used from a low angle. Have you ever used it from down below? And what instance would you do that and why? Yeah, you can use it from the, 'cause you know what, you really can't tell a lot of times where the direction of light is when it's coming from behind. So, somebody was asking like how you get the boom stand, right, how do you do that. Sometimes you don't need one, you just put a light on the ground shining up. And what that does, it does two things. A, now you don't need a boom stand anymore, and B, you're not worrying about light shining into the lens 'cause it's just shining up into the ceiling. So that works. The one reason that I don't do that a lot is then you don't get the light on the shoulders. You don't get that and you don't get it on the top of the head. And so if you want a hair light, and you wanna highlight somebody's hair, then it needs to come from above. But if you just need separation, then below works just fine. In fact, we're gonna do one that's on the ground in a little bit.

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

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Presentation 1

Presentation 2

Presentation 3

Zone Lighting Basic Setup

Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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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.