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Starting with the shoot

From: Lighting for Photographers: Flash Exposure Fundamentals

Video: Starting with the shoot

A lot of times, theory and concepts are easier to understand if you can relate them to the real world. So to start off this course, we're going to do three different shoots in a pretty unique venue. It's an old warehouse with an edgy industrial look. We've chosen the place because it offers visual variety and the opportunity to take complete control of the lighting environment. We've also hired a model and a make-up artist to be part of our fashion shoot. In addition, you'll see me working with a photo assistant. I could do this alone, and so could you, but a second pair of hands really helps move things along.

Starting with the shoot

A lot of times, theory and concepts are easier to understand if you can relate them to the real world. So to start off this course, we're going to do three different shoots in a pretty unique venue. It's an old warehouse with an edgy industrial look. We've chosen the place because it offers visual variety and the opportunity to take complete control of the lighting environment. We've also hired a model and a make-up artist to be part of our fashion shoot. In addition, you'll see me working with a photo assistant. I could do this alone, and so could you, but a second pair of hands really helps move things along.

As I work, I'll talk about the aesthetics of lighting a shot, and you'll hear me doing some of the lighting calculations aloud as they guide the decisions that I'm making. What I won't talk much about are the mechanical lighting theories and the concepts behind my decisions. We'll do that in a more controlled studio environment. But we will review the three shoots and look at how the physical behavior of light inform my decisions and determine the results. As I discussed each scenario, my focus will be on initially lighting the subject with one bare speed light.

You'll see a few things that aren't covered in the discussions throughout the course. For instance, as you watch you'll see that I added background and hair lights but I pretty much limit myself to lighting the model's face and body with the key light only. I do this to keep things as simple as possible. From time to time, I do add light modifiers to the key light to improve the quality of that light. Let's take a look at some of the highlights to get us thinking about the payoffs of learning how to shoot speed lights or small strobes in manual mode. Everything you'll see in these shoot movies was unrehearsed, without the benefit of TTL, a flash meter, or do-overs.

You'll see that I do the math to create the basic lighting setup by the numbers. Then I'll fine tune the shoot, making minor exposure and aesthetic adjustments by intuition that's based on my understanding of the properties of light. As you practice the basic concepts and play with the information in the next few chapters, I think you'll see how using small strobes becomes easier and much more intuitive.

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