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Understanding Light

Lesson 29 of 34

Zone Lighting Part 2

Mark Wallace

Understanding Light

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

29. Zone Lighting Part 2

Lesson Info

Zone Lighting Part 2

Now what we're gonna do, is we're gonna turn on this fill light here. So I'm turning that on, just by turning on the zone. We're gonna have you look straight forward. So we had one look there, let's get a different look. Beautiful. Alright, and then give me that, not a smiley look, but a serious- Hold on, you're making me laugh. Oh no. Got a laughing model, that's no good. Don't make me laugh, okay. Wellington. Okay. With this- (laughs) With this shot here, we have sort of a smoky look, that I like. I like that. And what we could do, is just move this beauty dish to the side a little bit more pancake-y light, like that. And now let's shoot that again. Beautiful. Ah, look at that. But what I want, is I want to see the highlights on her cheeks, because she's got some great highlights on her cheeks. So we're gonna add those highlights to the cheeks really quickly. So again looking smoky, there we go. And now we have the highlights, but to me it's too much. Those highlights are too...

much. So John, let's have you come out, and then what I want you to do is to take the master dial there, right by the sync for it, just roll it down, all the way- Its at minus one now, so we can do down one more stop. Yep, and then click test there. Okay, now hide. And now hide. And now hide. Okay, perfect Hiding. Perfect. Ah, I love that. Now look at what we're getting there, with these highlights on her cheeks. Very, very nice. What we could do with that, is let's drop out the fill light. So drop that out. And now we're gonna go with beauty dish, and just highlights on cheek bones. Which is sort of cool. I like the fill light helping out a little bit, but you can see that this is, I keep getting the background back there. We'll do it one more time. Good. Yeah, so that's with no fill. So I'll show you with fill and without fill, and you can see that we have a very different look. So that's three looks that we have. Then what I wanna do, is I'm gonna turn off my kicker lights here, and we'll turn on my background light. We're gonna do essentially the same thing. And now what we have is something that I don't really like. This, and by the way, the reason I keep getting the background, we're working with a much narrower setup than I normally have. Usually this is about a foot wider. And I'm shooting back a ways. And I can't, because, here we are. So, if I'm shooting farther away, my, basically my lens, there we go, my lens, the angle of view would be narrower, and I wouldn't be hitting the sides of that background, but because we're sort of smooshed together, I have to use a wider angle lens, and I keep hitting that background. So that's one of the reasons we keep seeing this back showing up, because I'm only shooting at about 100 millimeters. Normally in this setup I'd be shooting at about 200 millimeters, which would put me back where these guys are hanging out, which is no good. Okay, so that light back there John, it's just a bit too bright. So let's take that down just a smidge. And we're doing this by taste. I'm doing the Tamar Levine metering method. So, take it down by about two thirds of a stop. Good, dump that. Okay, I'm gonna trigger it, boom. Alright, now we're gonna, and you can just stay there for a second. Yeah. Alright, firing that. And you can see that's a little bit more pleasing. I think that works John. Okay. So we'll compare those two shots. And see the shot that's a little more gray, I think works better than the shot that's a little bit more white. We're having less light. It just doesn't make her look underexposed as much. So let's do this. Let's actually add in, with that, we're gonna now add in the kicker lights. So now we have this really sort of high key look, which is groovy. And then what we're gonna do, is we're gonna turn off that background light, turn off the kicker lights, and we're gonna do a vignette. And we'll see how we do on this. I'm gonna widen this out a little bit, so we actually see some of the edges. And so, John if you move that just to the right a hair. To the right. Yeah, clockwise. Yeah. Try that. Just a tiny bit more. Hang on a second. Perfect. And then just raise it directly up about four inches. Try that. Perfect. Alright, now what we're gonna do, we're gonna shoot a vertical portrait. And, you are giving me exactly the look I want. This is perfect. Perfect. I love that. So, here's another totally different look. So check this out. We have this look. We had this look. We've got this look. So we're shaping things in ways, and if we had more space we could really isolate these different zones, in ways that work for us. So, I wanna show you, I'm gonna turn off my key light and show you just what the different zones look like. So this is just that vignetted background. We've got that. This is just the background light. And notice how that is a perfect silhouette. Perfect silhouette. And that's what we wanna see. We want no light spilling on the front of her. We're gonna turn on now the highlights on her cheek. And on this one, we're actually getting some spill on the background, which I don't like. So normally what I would do is, we would fix the angle of those V-Flats, to make sure that we didn't have any light spilling on the background. That should be a completely black background at this point, but it's showing up a little bit because we're too close to the background. If we opened them up a bit it might- Yeah, we could open them. Normally we'd just move them forward, so we'll leave it like it is, but that should be absolutely black on the background. And the other thing that we're seeing here, is we're seeing, her face actually has a little bit of light, and so what's happening is this floor is glossy, and so that light is actually reflecting off the floor, and it's showing up on her face a little bit. So that should be completely black as well. And so, if we had more time we would do some things to fix where the light is spilling. But, we'll take it. And then we have, we're gonna do just this fill light, really fast. So I'm gonna shut off that light. And we'll see what this looks like. Oh I have to turn it on. I've gotta turn it on. Alright, now we'll try that one more time. Look right at me, perfect. And this is what that fill looks like. And this fill looks a little too campfire-y for me. What we might wanna do is raise that up just a little bit so we get more of that light in her eyes. But that's where we are. And again, just the key light. I'll turn that on, and we'll turn this guy off. And this is just the key light. Look straight at me, perfect. I think I got you mid-blink. Yeah. Perfect, thank you. Yeah. And that's just the key. And did you wanna grid the beauty dish, or no? Yeah, and then we'll do a beauty dish grid, but before I do that, I'm wondering if there are any questions so far. Do you guys have any questions? I'm peeking out. This is awesome. Yes. I will say- Peeling back the onion of lights, to get the whole picture, is pretty awesome. It's pretty fun, huh? Yeah. Yeah, and the thing that we're seeing here, I feel like, can I come over in this, does this work? Yeah, that works. Okay, yeah, so the thing I like about this setup, it's very, very flexible. And, we haven't even worked a lot with it, with changing the angles. So that spill that was coming around, on the background and on the front of Lex's face, we could start moving these in different directions to make them a little bit smaller or larger. If you take one of these, and make it really, really narrow, and put a light in there, you're getting essentially a strip light. Because it's a tall, narrow thing. If you put it out really wide, you're getting a large softbox kind of feel. And so by changing that bookend, the different angles, not only are you changing this effective size of the light, you also change the angle of reflection on that. And so, had we had a little bit more time, and it's, we have the time, it's just really boring, honestly. If I go in there, and I start doing three inches here, and taking a picture, and three inches there, what will happen is everybody will go get lunch, and we don't wanna do that. But that's sort of where we would be, if we were in a shoot, in a commercial setting, or in a studio setting, doing some stuff with friends. Normally in a, on something like this, let's just say that somebody hired me to do jewelry shots, or whatever it was that we're gonna use these for. What I would normally do, is I would say, "Do you have a model?" Yes, it's Lex. We'd bring Lex in the day before, or at least the morning before, and we would do all that boring stuff. We would set everything up. Have it preset. Have her sit down, and then, and every person has a different structure of face, and so the light is gonna behave differently. If you have a round face, those V-Flats we have back here might need to be adjusted differently than if you have a square face, because of the way that the light needs to surround and highlight, and so we would do all the adjustments, and tweak it, and get it just perfect, and then when the client came in, we'd sit down the model, and we'd start taking pictures, and they'd be like, that's amazing. It just worked, right out of the bat. Without them seeing a lot of the work that goes in behind the scenes. That, by the way, is one of the frustrations I have with making hundreds of online videos, because I only get to show the successful part of, here's how you do it. Bum, bum, bum, and click, click, click, and it works and it's great. Because if you left in all the stuff of, oh gosh, we can't find a cable, and this isn't working, and the battery's dead, and all that stuff, nobody would watch the videos. But that's the reality of it. There's all the stuff that everybody experiences, and so a lot of the videos that I create, and other instructors create, they're sort of misleading, honestly, because it sort of makes it look like you just set it up, and shoot, and it works. It never happens that way. You set it up, and it's close, and then you tweak and do some things, and fix the cables, and replace the batteries, and drink your coffee and eat your granola bar, and then shoot, and then it works, and then you film that part. So, yeah, yes. Do you kind of normally work in the progression we've just seen? Starting at the front, expose your model, and working back, or do you have- Yes. I start with the key light. Because what we did with the three light setup ... By the way, this is a three light setup. We have a key light, that beauty dish. A fill light, the thing coming in. We have kicker lights, or separation lights. Or, separation lights in the background, or separation lights with the grid. This is a three light setup, even though it's six lights. It's still the same thing. Yes. It's just amazing to see how you didn't move the model, you didn't move the camera. It was on the stand the whole time, and yet it was amazing the depth of, the number of looks you were able to create just by removing lights, and having the V-Flats, because of the depth and the dimension that added to the pictures. Yeah, and there's still stuff we could do with this, that we didn't do. So, that white seamless background back there, there is a system called an Expan system where you can put multiple seamless paper, and roll them up and down. And it's very inex- I think it's like $300 for one of these things. So, the Expan system, it's made by Manfrotto. We could have put black, white, blue, red, and had all these different colors back there, and then based on the outfit that the person was wearing, we could roll up and down these different colors, and we'd get dramatically different effects, and we could use something called color contrast, so red dress, blue background, blue background. If we had different colors, we'd combine those for complimentary colors. So we could have done that. The other thing we could have done, that we don't have space for here, is normally I even have more lights. We have these umbrellas that are sort of on the side, toward the back, where we can illuminate the background evenly, without a lot of stuff coming back. We would also push this out, so we'd have more isolated zones. We, we'll do this in a second, but we could also grid the beauty dish, take the beauty dish off, change that out for a softbox. We could have full length shots, actually. This actually does work with full length shots. We don't have enough room for it here, but we could do a four by six softbox in the front, or an octobox. So this setup, which is not crazy actually, when you sort of think about it, one setup and many, many, many different looks. Yes. So hypothetically, let's say that she was an athlete, and you wanted to get more body, and more muscle form, and she was more ... So, specular highlighting, getting her kind of a fuller body shot, how would you alter this setup you just? A couple of things. So, right now, a lot of the modifiers and lights are on the ground. And so, one of the things I would do, like the ProfotoAcute2's are in the middle, and I don't know if we have boom shot we can show. Inside here there are two lights, and they're strung together with a pack in the center. And then we have the softbox way back there, that's on the ground in the center. And then we have these two lights on the front that are on booms. And so, the two lights in the front we can substitute something that's a little bit larger. Probably what I would do, is I would use a seven foot umbrella parabolic, on the front, about eight feet, ten feet, where we can't stand because there's a wall there. So I'd be standing with that huge parabolic umbrella, because it's very directional. So it's already gonna give you nice muscle tone. And then what I would also do, is probably build out a platform. So, we have these flats in our studio, that are four by eight foot sheets of plywood, framed out, so they're very sturdy. They're three quarter inch plywood. And then what you can do is you can just take two by fours, and raise those to different heights. You can also get Wenger stage if you have tons of money, but you can build these things out. And so that's what I would do, is I would build a small stage, and you can do that in an hour or so. Cover that with whatever floor I would wanna do. And so, then that would raise her, and all the stuff on the ground, when I shot directly, you wouldn't see that. Or I would take multiple packs and sort of hide them and tuck them away, or do some things like that. Or maybe not use the softbox, but use umbrellas on the side, so we have a clear path. The problem is, full length shot, you're gonna see that floor, and you've gotta take care of it. The other thing I might do, is take the seamless, and bring it all the way out. So the seamless are usually 100 yards, something like that. So you'd have plenty of space for it. Maybe 50 yards, I don't know how long they are. But long enough. Do we have other online questions? No I think we can keep going. I have a comment from S. Ferris who said, "Mark Wallace is rocking light shaping like Spanx on the Oscars runway." (laughter) That's some awesome sauce for Tina, so that's just a special shout out there. That is awesome sauce. Alright, so I think we can keep going. Okay. We have a lot more to cover, don't we? So no, we're close to being- Oh we are, okay cool. I think, what I want to do is work with the grid on the softbox of the beauty dish. Softbox, beauty dish, what are we talking about? Beauty dish, grid, and I wanna do that to see how that changes the look, and then we'll try to do some more pancake like, but you had a question really quick, yes. Real quick, ballpark cost of everything that you are using right now? Okay, let me do it. Write this down, maybe you can write it down. So we have a B1 back there, that's the most expensive light I think we have. It's $2,400. We wouldn't use that normally. We just had to, because that was the only light we had available. Got it. We'd normally use a D1, that'd be about $1,000. Okay. I think. Ish. Big ish on all of this stuff. So, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, $10,000. Plus the V-Flats? Including them. They'll throw those in for free. (laughter) About that. But, that's a ridiculous amount of money for this, right? You could do this in a number of ways. You could rent the gear. So we're using Profoto gear. One of the reasons I use Profoto gear is you can rent it in any major city. Anywhere in the world. And so I think the rental on this, we're at about $100. All of this equipment? Around there. Maybe Lacey knows, or Kate. I don't know if they're ... Somebody back there knows. But I think it's around $100. Okay. Yeah, so, I say $10,000 for all this gear, but really, it's gonna be around $100-ish to rent, depending on where you are, what city you are. If you're in Manhattan, it's gonna be a little bit more than it is if you're in Seattle, etc., but yeah. Around there. Alright, we're gonna work with our beauty dish. I'm gonna come back here in the cocoon. And, John, can we get the grid outside of that? And I'm gonna take a drink of water. You still awake in there? Is it cozy in your fort? It's toasty. Is it warm in there? A little. Okay, cool. Let's put this all, well if you can do it that'd be great. I think so. We're just gonna put a grid on our beauty dish. And see if we can get a little bit different look. Am I close? No, up a smidgen. Here, let me come to this side. Okay. That's not quite in, now it is. There we go. What I'm gonna do here, just to change things up a little bit, I'm gonna make this more of a clamshell lighting style. Just a bit more. And then the other thing we're gonna do is, Lex, we're gonna have you take your black jacket, and I'll take that. And what we wanna do is we wanna show, this is more of like a Dove beauty commercial, kind of a look. Okay, so this we're gonna have it more directional. And Lex and I have done this a few times, so can you look and tell me if it's on axis? Yes. Looks good? Okay. And then we'll move this guy a little bit. So it's more of a clamshell type light. Okay. Move this over just a hair. Just a hair. Alright. And I just moved it over, didn't I? Yeah, it moved a smidge. Moved a smigde. Up. Yep. Move this back here. Again, one reason I like Matthews stands, the bases don't run into each other. I'm gonna stop complaining about these stands. Okay. That's good? Yeah. It makes a huge difference. And there, just a small problem. Yeah, little bit. (laughter) Ah, I wonder what that is. So go ahead and lets meter this and I'll, I will- You want to rearrange, or you're just gonna ... No, I'll work with it. I'll make it work. Ready? I'll make it work. One more. That's at nine? Nine, yep. Okay. And this is, this is firing? Yep. Okay, so we're at nine. So we've lost quite a bit of light here. With the grid. With the grid. That's okay. And I'm gonna shut off ... So, I'm gonna shut off everything except the zone A, and zone B. And then we will do our best to get this shot. Beautiful. Hold that right there. See if I can focus. Okay. So let's take that, the acute pack, and we need to take the power down. So it's on full on B? Right. So just click that so it's on half. Half, yep. The B switch, click it to half. There we go. Okay. Now we're gonna shoot this again. And we might even need to take it down a little bit more. Yeah, take it down to- To a quarter and then dial up? Take it down to quarter. If that doesn't work, we might even switch out. Or I can dial it up, or you can ... Still too bright? We have still lots of room to go on that pack. Yeah, so then take the A and B switch, and click it down. Just click that, yeah, there you go. That's all you have to do. Yep. Perfect. I'm giving John directions on a pack, that I have used- that's what I want, right there. Okay. That's what I want. Here's the shot that I was looking for. That is a beauty shot. Very, very cool. You can see what happened between these two things, is I was flooding this with light. So we got rid of, I think that backlight was actually firing. Not sure. Yeah, I think the very, very backlight is firing there. Which one? On the floor? The softbox, yeah. Because I don't want that to fire. So it should just be A and B. Go ahead and fire. Nope. It's not? Okay. No. Okay, but that's the shot that I want, is this one right here. And see what we've done? So we added a grid to this, and I'll come back out so everybody can see me. I added a grid to the beauty dish, and so that constrained the light, so we get more shadows to this. And then we took the power of these V-Flats down considerably. We took it down by I think four stops, something like that. And so instead of having these really well defined highlights, notice that we just get a kiss of light, just a really shallow kiss of light on the cheeks. And it just gives us a touch of specular highlights, which gives us that form that we're looking for. So instead of overdoing it, and just having like, ah, big superhero kind of ... We just really gave a soft touch. And for my money, that is much better. And you can imagine if we had some jewelry, some diamonds or some earrings or whatever, this is gonna look phenomenal. It's gonna be great. Quick question, a lot of people have been asking about strip boxes with grids, versus the V-Flats. So Anub Dubai has asked what's the advantage of the V-Flats versus the strip box with grids, and people were really excited to know that they could use this instead of the strip boxes. Yes. The strip boxes with grids are better, because you can control the light much easier. You can really control where the light falls. They are much more expensive. So these things here are like $30. A strip light with a grid is gonna run you, some of those are like $600 each. And so, if you can rent them, fantastic. And use those over the V-Flats. But, in a pinch, a V-Flat can give you all kinds of stuff. We used it yesterday to build that little box of the speed light, to get a nice flash. You can use these as temporary walls to bounce light using a speed light. You can use them in the studio, instead of a softbox or a strip light. You can use them for all kinds of things. You can use them outside as a reflector. And so, the efficiency and the versatility of a V-Flat, compared to a strip light, or a strip softbox, it's a big difference.

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.