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In this course, Rich Harrington and Abba Shapiro give beginning photographers a brisk look at using strobe lights in a studio setting—lessons that easily translate to the field and locations, inside and out. Learn why shooting with strobes and continuous lighting makes such a big impact on your photographs, and how to buy a good, affordable starter kit. Rich and Abba also show how to set your gear up, trigger your lights, and make modifications with accessories like reflectors, umbrellas, and soft boxes. Finally, learn how to make the most of what you have in a series of lighting challenges.
Let's continue our look at using different light setups. Abba, we have a three light set up here, what was the motivation as we designed the set? >> Well, in this case, I wanted to do something that's just a pretty shot, a portrait, something you might see for a school portrait perhaps. And so, I wanted nice, soft, gentle lighting. And I wanted something on the background that would break up that black or that gray. So, we used a bunch of different instruments and focused two lights on her, and then one light on the background.
>> So, the goal here is that you want your subject to look good. But don't forget about the backdrop, even in this case with the simple backdrop, we still wanted to go ahead and break things up a bit. And actually, to that end, we added a modifier to the background light to really enhance it. Abba, what do we do there? >> Well, I mean, some people call this a cookie but, it's basically a piece of foamcore with holes cut in it, and you can cut in different shapes and you can buy these, you can make these. But the idea is that when you shine a light through them, you get this pattern.
And depending on how far the light is away from that cookie, it can either very crisp or it can be very soft. >> So, we have this overall look going right here. I'm very satisfied with what we have going on. We've also introduced a few modifiers. By using what's called a flag. Essentially, an opaque piece of fabric. You could also just use a piece of cardstock. We've blocked off the light so, it doesn't fall onto the backdrop, or it doesn't spill over into unwanted areas. We've really used some of those modifiers you learned about earlier, to control our light.
So, let's take a walk around the set, and just point out some specifics. Abba, I see we have a soft box on the front of this light. What's that going to do? >> Well, this is the primary light source that I was working with. And the idea here is that I wanted a nice big light. A nice soft light, that would fill her face, and I wouldn't have harsh shadows. So, this was my choice. >> And I see here, we've taken an opening on the front of the light that was probably about eight, nine inches, and we've now spread it across several feet. So, that's going to really soften that up, right? >> Absolutely. By having this large diffuser on becomes a very soft light.
And if I wanted it to be even softer, what I could do is move it closer to the talent, because that will give me a more gentle wrap around them. If I moved it further away, even though I have this nice little box on it, the appearance would be much smaller. And it actually will work just like I had a focus light. So, you don't want to put any kind of a soft box and then, move it really far back. >> And what's nice here is, with the opaque sides, we're controlling that light, putting it a little bit more directional. You could achieve similar results, although you'd have more spill if you just put a silk or some translucent material on a frame on front.
But, this works really well and this is one of those investments that people are probably going to make early on in their kits. Let's take a look at the fill light. Our fill light here also has a modifier on the front. We're using the beauty dish, and with that highly reflective surface, spreading the light out, you've also placed some diffusion over the front. Why so much diffusion? >> Well, sometimes I switch back and forth. If it's a woman, a lot of times I will use diffusion, it softens it. I have a lot of focus with the beauty box. The beauty box allows me to create a nice soft light, but it's very focused.
So, it doesn't fall onto the background. But it can be harsh when it hits the person's face. So, that's why I like to put a diffuser on the front, just to keep up with that same of a nice, soft light from the front. >> And, how about our power ratio here. How much less powerful is this light than our key light? >> Well, this can vary. A lot of times, I may bring it down one or two stops, depending on if I want stronger shadows. Or if I don't want a lot of shadows, I can almost match them.
But I still think some shadows gives you that depth. So, at least a stop is a good place to start. Remember, what's happening here, is we want to have a dominant side to the face but because we're shooting a feminine subject, we don't want to overdo it. So, we're not going to have harsh shadows, but there is going to be a little bit of directionality. Now, this is great. We're doing a standard two light setup. But because our backdrop was just a simple piece of paper, we've decided to push that a little bit further. We already mentioned that we put some gobos on there, or a cookie cutter pattern. These are a piece of cake for you to make. Just be careful with those razor blades. But as you see here, it is putting some pattern on to the back wall, very simple. And this is easy to do. And let's see how all these results come together to make the shot. Now why don't we have some fun? You're, I want you to loosen up, don't worry about anything. Yeah, there you go, you can smile, you're allowed to blink. and we can just, talk a little bit as we shoot. You can tell me a little bit about, maybe some of the things that you like to do. What's your favorite activity? >> I like to swim. >> You like to swim so, that's a really good activity in the summer because it's been really hot. So, swimming, have you been swimming all your life? >> Since I was eight. >> So, you've been swimming since you were eight, that's great. Let's have a nice smile. There you go. Hm, 'kay. >> I think the shot turned out great. I really like how everything balanced out nicely. Good, you know, use of key fill light. Really good balance. Describe the backdrop. This is the same gray paper we saw earlier. But it looks like one of those fabric backdrops that people buy, a dedicated muslin backdrop. >> Yeah, and that's be beauty of working with gray paper is that, with gray paper I can throw a gel on it and a pattern, and can make it look almost any color I want. And in this case, I put on an orange because I wanted to have a warm tone. We tend to think of, like, that golden hour, and. She's normally very, you know, golden in her face and I wanted to reflect some of that in the background. So, I felt that putting that gold gel on it really smoothed out the image. Before I had that gel on it, it was kind of blue and stark and it just made it warm from beginning to end. >> And remember, adding gels to your kits are super easy. You can pick up a pack of these very affordably at any lighting store online. Incredibly versatile. You can use them for color correction, or to stylize things. And this is one of the smallest expenses you'll have. But it'll significantly extend your kit. I think this worked out great, Abba. I really like how all the pieces came together. Let's do one more three light setup. But this time, we're going to switch to a male model. And we're going to go ahead and do something a little bit more edgier. This is going to be a sort of, a sports-oriented portrait. And instead of the soft, even light, let's try some hard shadows. >> And we'll use the same three fixtures. And I bet we'll get something completely different. >> Excellent.
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