You are on page 1of 63

Strobist

::: Apparatus minor Cogitatio magis Lux melior :::

Lighting 101

http://strobist.com

ver. 12-2013

Introduction
Welcome to Lighting 101. You may not realize it yet, but you have just stepped through a door that may change your photography forever. Over the past fe years, over four million people from nearly every country in the orld have begun their lighting education right here. !nd if they can do it, you can do it. "hotography is literally riting ith light. !s you read through Lighting 101 you#ll learn ho to control every aspect of your electronic flash. $f you can imagine it, you#ll be able to create it. You#ll learn ho to ta%e the removable flash that you probably already have on the top of your camera and use it off&camera to ma%e beautiful, more three&dimensional photos. Once you learn the basics of controlling light, you#ll 'uic%ly see that most lighting is intuitive, easy and fun.

The Good News: The Gear Doesn't Cost Much

(Photo by Strobist reader Sam Simon)

(asic lighting gear is also refreshingly ine)pensive. $f you have a camera, lens and flash you have already done the spendy part. *he gear needed to ta%e your light off&camera is very ine)pensive compared to your camera, your flash or even a single lens. (y getting your flash off&camera, your images become more three&dimensional, more te)tural and more professional loo%ing. !ll of the photos on this page ere made by +trobist readers , ho very recently may ell have been e)actly here you are right no - just lighting ith small flashes. .lic% on a reader#s picture to learn a little more about ho it as made. ,*he uncredited ones are mine, mostly culled from my career as a staff photojournalist at a series of ne spapers.- !nd don#t orry if you don#t understand the terminology yet. You ill soon. (Photo by Strobist reader Ken Brown) *he difference bet een their photos and yours

is that they already %no ho to use their flash off camera. *hey %no ho to synchronize it ith their shutter, position it, modify the 'uality of the light, change the color ith gels and t ea% the balance of e)posure bet een their flashes and available light. Which is e)actly hat you#ll soon learn in Lighting 101. *hat may sound difficult, but $ promise you it isn#t. Learning ho to light is incremental, creative and fun. *here is almost no math involved, nor (Photo by Strobist reader Benny Smith) any difficult technical %no &ho . $n fact, good lighting is less li%e math and more li%e coo%ing. $t#s li%e, you taste the soup and if it needs more salt you add some salt. You#ll see that hen e learn to balance a flash ith the e)isting, ambient light.

Understanding Your Flash


+o let#s tal% about the basic gear you#ll need to learn ho to light, beginning ith your flash. /enerally, most people at this point ill have a 0+L1, a lens or t o and a typical flash. ,$.e., the removable %ind that mounts to the top of your camera, not the built&in pop&up %ind.- $f so, you have already bought the e)pensive stuff. *he gear to use that flash off&camera is surprisingly, refreshingly cheap. (ut before e get to that, let#s ta%e a moment and tal% about your flash. 2222222222

(Photo by Strobist reader GreggBK)

The Bare Essentials


+o, here#s hat your flash absolutely has to have3 *he ability to or% in manual mode, and to do so at different po er settings. ,i.e., full po er, 4 po er, 5 po er, etc.!nd that#s it.

6ost flashes, including the one you probably already have, include that capability. !nd that#s the only thing that is mandatory. $f your flash has that, s%ip buying another flash for right no until you have a chance to play ith the gear you already have. You may really be surprised at hat you can learn to do ith it. +o ta%e a 'uic% loo% at your flash and see if it can go into manual mode, or 767. $f your flash has manual setting that you can vary, you are golden. 6ost of your major allet pain has already happened. ,Woo hoo82222222222 IMP !T"NT N TE3 $f your flash is more than, say, 10&19 years old, do a little research to ma%e sure it is safe to directly hoo% up to a modern digital camera. +ome old flashes can fry the electronics of a digital camera. !nd once that little bit of magic smo%e escapes your camera, it is almost impossible to get it bac% in: 2222222222 +ince e#re going to learn to use that flash off&camera, e#ll have to synchronize it ith your shutter so your flash ill go off hen you ta%e the photo. ;ormally, this happens ith electrical connections on your flash#s hot shoe, hich is the built& in electrical connection that is completed hen you mount your flash to your camera. When your flash is off&camera, that physical connection is no longer there. (ut you can electrically sync it ith a simple ire, called a sync cord. +adly, your flash almost certainly does not have the jac% for this e)ternal sync capability. (ut no orries, you can add it for about <19 buc%s. !t the other end of the sync cord connection, your camera also probably does not have a =7 jac%. (ut a second, same <19 device ,pictured at left- ill add the capability to your camera, too. *hen you can use a cheap =7 audio cord to sync your flash. *his little doohic%ey also adds an old&style 7".7 jac%, ,it#s on the other side and not visible in the photo above- hich means it ill marry just about any camera to just about any off&camera flash. >or that reason, $ li%e to call it a ?niversal *ranslator. (ut no need to orry about that no @ e#ll get to it later. Aery important3 We are not about spending unnecessary money around here. 1ela) in %no ing that most everything in the basic %it from here is going to be ine)pensive. +o you got that going for you, hich is nice. 2222222222 !nd that#s the basics on your flash. Let#s loo% at the gear you#ll need to turn it into your o n little portable lighting studio:

" Beginner's #ighting $it


$n this post e#ll tal% about the small, ine)pensive gear %it that you ill need for going off& camera ith your flash. !nd this is all you really need to ma%e the jump into being a lighting photographer. You can see it in use left. $t ill allo you to do some very cool things as a photographer. (ut as you can see, it is e)tremely portable and light eight, too. ,Which ma%es sense to this B0C guy ho does not ant to carry around a lot of gear.+o here are the basics, i.e., hat you#ll absolutely need3 %& " #ight 'tand

(udget about <B0. *his folds or e)tends, and holds your flash in the position here you ant it. *he main choice is compact or full&size. $ recommend compact, as they ill go from seven feet ,e)tended- to about 1D inches ,folded-. *hese models ill also hold your flash at about E1 inches off the ground, hich is cool for lo shots. >ull size stands typically go to eight feet, but only fold to about three feet so they don#t travel as ell. "lus, they cannot get your flash very lo to the ground if needed. *he vast majority of people go ith compact.

(& "n U)*rella 'wi+el (udget about <19. *his is a small brac%et that attaches to the top of the light stand and holds your flash ,and an umbrella, usually- and ill tilt to any angle. *hey are small, cheap and rugged. With one of these you can also mount a flash to any type of a standard, 9FG7 post ,li%e a photo clamp- if you are not using a stand. >or this and the light stand above, $ also recommend Lumo"ro models as they are ine)pensive, ell&made and guaranteed for five years. L" has built a great reputation as an off&camera lighting supplier, and for good reason. ,& "n -tical .hite/ 'hoot0Through U)*rella

Hust li%e in the photo up top. (udget about <E0. $t ill be your very first light modifier. !nd even after E9C years of shooting professionally, it#s still a go&to choice for me. *he most versatile umbrellas are those that open up in the B07 range. $ can recommend the Westcott White 0ouble&>old ith removable blac% bac%ing or a normal& fold hite shoot&through version. *his double&fold umbrella goes from BI7 to just 19 inches hen folded. Which, of course, ma%es it travel very ell alongside the compact version of the stand listed above. Or you may ell prefer the single&fold ,standard- umbrella hich is, $ thin%, a little stronger and more durable but does not pac% 'uite as small. $f you haven#t guessed yet, e are building a small, light %it that ill sling over your shoulder ,on in a small bag or pac%- and let you ta%e your ne 7studio7 ith you any here. $t#s really %ind of a pic% #em. (oth or% fine. *he only thing ith lighting umbrellas is that they are just as fragile as normal umbrellas. $f you use care they ill last you 'uite a hile. (ut you can#t be rough ith it and e)pect to hand it do n to your %ids. 1& " '2nc $it (udget <I0&<B0. *his three&piece %it ill marry your off&camera flash to your camera and sync it to your shutter. $t consists of t o ?niversal *ranslators ,seen on previous page, one for the flash and one for the camera- ith a 1J&foot sync cord ,fitted ith a =&inch plug at each end.You can go ith ireless, and eventually you probably ill. (ut shooting ired is the simplest, most reliable and cheapest ay to start. $t also becomes your bac%up ,important- should you move to ireless later. *rust me, this is the ay you ant to start. 2222222222 $f you have been running the math in your head, e have totaled out at about <100, give or

ta%e. *hat#s amazing to me. !s much as 0+L1s, lenses and high&end flashes cost, just the addition of about <100 ,and some basic %no ledge- can get you from 7meh7 to gorgeous, studio&style lighting. !nd you can easily ta%e that light any here you ant it to go. (y the ay, here#s the actual shot from the setup photo sho n at top3

Two 3er2 Good 'tarter $its


(elo are t o pre&pac%aged options for beginner %its as described above. $ recommend 6id est "hoto as a source because they are reputable, reasonable and carry the full line of Lumo"ro gear. ,*he E& and 9&year arranties are a big deal, and to my %no ledge no other brands have it."lus, hen things do go rong $ have found 6"KL to be responsive ,to the point of bending over bac% ards- via phone, email or on * itter. Life#s too short to deal ith needless stress. .ompact&+ize Mit ,N<10O+tandard&+ize Mit ,<10GNote: If you do not yet have a flash, for a long list of reasons explained here, I recommend the current model LumoPro LP180 Quad sync speedlight! It is less than half the cost of the Ni"on and #anon flagship flashes, t$ice the guarantee and, fran"ly, a %etter flash! 2222222222 +o that as a lot of gear tal% to thro at you. +orry. (ut e just anted to get you started off on the right foot, ith the basic e'uipment and not spending more than you needed to. While e ait for the ne them... toys to arrive, let#s start learning about them@and ho to use

#ight 'tands

+o the idea is, you ant the capability to light ithout brea%ing the ban%@or your bac%. !nd as you#ll soon see, your ne portable studio is easier to cart around than even a pricey ultralight tripod. !bove is a ,O.9&foot- L"J09, hich $ consider to be the best compact light stand made today and hich you probably by no already have on the ay as a part of your starter lighting %it. .ompact light stands li%e the L"J09 generally have five sections ,so they fold up very small@ E1 inches or so- and are ideally suited for photographers using light eight, speedlight&based lighting gear. *he L"J09 uni'uely comes ith folding spi%es for e)tra stability hen you are outside in the ind. >olded up, they ill ride in a small roller case. Or you can add some O&rings and a strap, as detailed belo , and thro a hole 7portable studio %it7 over your shoulder. $ love hac%ing or modding my gear to ma%e it better, and this little tric% is one of my favorites. *hro this strapped stand over your shoulder , ith a compact umbrella attached, as you#ll soon see- and it it#ll ride just as comfortably as a camera. +eriously, you can hi%e five miles ith this setup and bang out a %ic%&ass lit portrait hen you reach your remote destination. $f and hen you get further into lighting, you#ll li%ely end up adding to your stand collection. 6aybe some bigger stands, or a boom arm to float a light out over someone. (ut you cannot go rong ith a compact, 9&section stand for openers. *his is the one you ant to start ith. $ have a boatload of photo support gear and these things still get used more than any other. *o drill them, pivot one of the spi%es ,if your stand has them- out and drill a 5 hole at each end of one of the legs. *hen stic% in some decent sized O& rings ,this ill ta%e a little prying- and strap it up. $f you carry it upside do n, the natural forces ill %eep it closed nicely. *his piece of gear is not complicated. Kssentially, a light stand e)ists only to do one thing3 oppose

gravity. $t holds your light at a place in three&dimensional space. "retty simple stuff. >or portability, solidity, price ,and 9&year arranty- the <B0 L"J09 is tough to beat.

U)*rella 'wi+el "da-ters

*o attach your flash to a light stand, you#ll need an umbrella s ivel adapter. *hey are also called umbrella adapters, or just 7s ivels.7 *his pretty straightfor ard. *hese are rugged and cheap at about ,<19-. *op to bottom, here#s ho they or%. "& The Cold 'hoe ?nli%e a hot shoe, this has no electrical connections. $t just holds a flash. ,Or, in many cases the ?niversal *ranslator that ould give your flash a sync jac%.- *hen you put the flash on top of that. *his cold shoe ,on the L"JII- has an e)pandingFloc%ing clamp, hich ma%es it sturdy and also lets it fit the foot of some eird flashes hose feet are slightly oversized.

B& The U)*rella Mount *his is a hole and clamp hich holds the optical umbrella ,more on that in a bit- hich you ill use to soften your flash#s light. Kven if you are not using an umbrella , hich you ill not do all of the time- you need this to attach a flash to a light stand, or anything els that is tipped ith a 9FG7 male stud. You put the umbrella shaft into the hole and clamp do n the scre . "retty simple. $f you are doing it right ,i.e., not bac% ards- the umbrella shaft should point about ten degrees up ,instead of do n- to offset the fact that the flash is a little off&center due to the mount. C& The Tilting Mechanis) $#ll bet you can figure this out by yourself. You loosen it, tilt the flash andFor flashFumbrella combo, and tighten it bac% to loc% in place. *his model has a toothed grip for an added margin of no&slip safety. D& The #ight 'tand Mount *his is the female receptacle and loc%ing %nob that holds the hole assembly to the top of your light stand. Or anything else ith a male, 9FG7 stud. E& The E4tra 'tud +ome s ivels ship ith an e)tra stud. ,*he L"JII does.- *his has a female, threaded 57 ) E0 hole at one end and a IFG7 hole at the other. With a little ingenuity and a bolt of the right size, you can figure out all %inds of positioning devices andFor brac%ets that might support a flash in a tight or unusual spot. *his stud ill marry your fran%enstein lighting creation to the s ivel and allo it all together. /o nuts. you to connect

'2nching Your Flash


When your flash is connected to your camera, it syncs automatically. When it is off camera, you have to ta%e care of this yourself. !nd there are several ays to do it. $n the photo above, $ synched everyone else&s flash to my camera to to get 7one of those luc%y moments.7 K)cept it asn#t luc%. $ made it happen over and over again for this shot. 6ore on that in a minute. The .ire $f you are a beginner ,and presumably on a budget- you#ll ant to sync your camera ith a simple ire, also %no n as a sync cord. You#ll sometimes hear it called a 7". cord,7 from the old ". jac%s. (ut you#ll ant to go ith the cheaper audio patch cord version.

!s e said before, using a universal translator on both your camera and your flash ill allo you to sync it ith a simple audio cord. *he translator ill add the =&inch jac% to both your camera and your flash. ,$f you are using an L"1J0 flash, you already have the jac% on your flash and ill not need the second translator.*his is about as cheap and simple as it gets. ;o batteries, no sometimes&fic%le ireless radio issues. (ut you are limited in range to E0 feet or so, depending on the length of your cord. +till, go this ay first hile you are learning. >or the record, $ al ays have a sync cord ith me at a shoot as a bac%up, even hen $ am using ireless remotes, as e#ll tal% about belo . .heap, and very reliable. '2nc .ith a 'la+e

$f you have more than one flash, you can sync the e)tra flashes to your original off&camera flash ith optical slaves. ,$f you#ll remember, an optical slave fires your flash at the e)act instant it sees the light from another flash.Which is hy, from this day for ard, you should not buy a flash that does not have a built&in optical slave. $t#s that simple && just don#t do it. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you do. $n the photo at top, $ used a ireless remote ,more on that in just a minute- but slaved all of the other peoples# flashes to my flash. *hus, every time $ fired my camera all of their flashes fired, too. Was it a coincidence they just happened to all be in position to create glamorous light for my t o subjectsP ;o it as not. $ positioned them e)actly ho $ anted. $t as for a live 7shootout7 in front of a cro d in 0ubai in the ?!K. You can see a full post && ith video && on that here. ,Opens in a ne indo to preserve your L101 post thread.+uffice to say, having flashes ith built&in slaves ma%es all %inds of cool things possible. $ ould never buy another flash that did not have a built&in slave. .ireless '2nc 3ia !adio !nother popular method of syncing is via radio remotes. *his is not cheap, but if you get into lighting to any real degree this is here you#ll end up. >or instance, a sync cord ould have made it pretty difficult for me to get this shot3 ,You can read all about ho made, here.that photo as

Qere#s the thing. You can get cheap remotes, or you can get good remotes. .heap remotes, hich run about <100 for a set, are not ,$6Onearly as reliable as the ine)pensive sync cord %it you probably already have on the ay to you no . *he /old +tandard for standard remotes are the "oc%etWizard "lus series. *he entry level model, hich $ depend on every day, is pictured belo . $f $ am not mista%en, it#s the Oth generation of remote trigger for "oc%etWizard. $ have been using "oc%et Wizards for over E0 years, as do the majority of or%ing pros $

%no . *he latest models are far better ,and cheaper- than the ones $ started ith in the early 1DD0s. !nd here#s the %ic%er3 these things are still compatible ith the "oc%etWizard remotes from ay bac% hen $ started out. $ love that. ,.onversely, $ loathe 7forced upgrade via planned obsolescence.7You#ll need a "oc%etWizard on your camera and one on your flash. !nd they are <DD.DD each. /iven that, $#d still suggest you start ith a sync cord ,and slaved flashes if going multi& flash.- !s you gro into it, ireless remotes ill li%ely ma%e sense for you. !nd if they do, do yourself a favor and invest in a good one. *here is little more frustrating than a fic%le remote trigger, hich is hy the pros usually end up at "oc%etWizard. You can spend more ,including more advance models of "oc%etWizardbut a "W "lus L is $6O the very best value in the orld. $t balances price, 'uality, reliability and non&obsolescence. *hin% of it this ay3 You#ll s ap out your camera probably ten times in the lifetime of service you#ll get from a good 'uality remote. .hoose isely, and ith the long run in mind. 2222222222 O%ay, e are almost done ith the basic gear. +orry to hit you ith all toys and no techni'ue, but it is good to be getting an understanding of the stuff you have coming so hen it arrives you can be ready to roll. +o let#s tal% ne)t for a minute about your very first light modifier:

Using U)*rellas
O%ay, no is here things start to get a little more interesting. Let#s tal% about your first 7light modifier.7 !n umbrella ill almost certainly be your first light mod. ,$t is included in the jump starter %it, if you presently have one on the ay to you.- *hin% of your flash as a very brief&but&po erful flashlight. !nd li%e a flashlight the business end of your flash is only about t o s'uare inches in area. *hus, hile it gives out a lot of light instantaneously, that light is very harsh. *o some degree, that may be hy you previously have been unhappy ith your flash photos. !n umbrella ta%es your harsh flashlight and essentially turns it into a indo . K)cept e are tal%ing nice, soft indo light that you can position and control@in intensity, in location, in angle, even in the color of the light itself. "hoto umbrellas are cheap, portable and super useful. Which is hy you#ll ant ant an umbrella as your first soft light source. *here are t o general %inds && the reflected umbrella and the optical hite shoot&through umbrella. $ strongly prefer the hite ,shoot&through- version as it is more versatile. $n particular, because you can bring it right up ne)t to someone#s face for both po er and softness. $f you are going ith the compact light stands, you#ll probably ant a BI7 shoot&through umbrella, hich is pictured above. $t folds do n to about 1B7 so it transports very easily along ith your compact stand. You can ball&bungee it to your strapped stand and have a nice, transportable light %it. *hey are cheap ,less than <E0- small and easy to transport. (ecause of the telescoping shaft, they can be a little fragile. (ut use care, and they ill last. $ used to use the reflected umbrellas ,they have a hite or silver lining and a blac% bac%ingbut $ almost never do any more. $ pretty much stic% to the shoot&thru#s DDR of the time, hich is hy e chose the hite shoot&through model for your starter %it. 2222222222 ;o , let#s loo% at ho to use them. ,!hh, the ne techni'ue@and results8gear finally begins to transition into

+hoot your harsh flash through an umbrella and you get softness and control. +tic% it in close and you get light that is tailor&made for portraiture. *his is a very simple ay to ma%e your mugshots loo% more li%e they ere shot by a professional and not by someone from the 0epartment of 6otor Aehicles. With a short telephoto, and umbrella#d strobe and a areness of your ambient light, you can ma%e any headshot loo% more li%e a cover shot.

(ac% it up a little bit, and your ne

7portable indo 7 can also light some of the environment3

$t is safe, classic&loo%ing light that is easy to tote around. *otal no&brainer in the bang&for&the& buc% department. $n the photos above, the umbrella is being used from hat can be considered to be a 7classic7 position && B9 degrees up and over to one side. *here#s nothing rong ith this, and it is probably ho you ill start out using the light source. *he danger is, you don#t move past that and your photos start to all loo% ali%e. *hat is the blessing and curse of an umbrella && it is easy to loo% good ith it, and it is a very safe light source.

(ut, as seen above, umbrellas also can be used to create more unusual and dramatic light. !nd that#s here $ li%e to hang out no . *he portrait of cellist .aleb Hones is a great e)ample. ,.lic% here to have that assignment && including a behind&the&scenes video && pop up in a ne indo .- We ere flying the umbrella just over and behind his head. (y doing that, e created a light that as less predictable, and more ethereal.

!n umbrella on a small light stand is light and portable enough to be flo n over someone by using an assistant as a 7voice activated light stand7. *his gives you all %inds of opportunities for different lighting directions. Wor% the angle. *ry different orientations. /et out of the B9&degree rut. You#ll be surprised at hat an umbrella can do.

*a%e this portrait of "at 6orrissey, above, shot in Kdinburgh. (y flying the umbrella out over him ,but, unli%e the cellist, slightly in front- e create a more mysterious 7character7 light. You can see the location of the light by loo%ing at the reflection in "at#s eyes. !gain, atypical position for an umbrella light. (ut, $ thin%, more interesting than the standard 7B9.7

>or 0ancer Massi 6attera, above, e too% an opposite tac%. *he umbrella is being used not as a %ey light, but as a 7fill7 light. ,0on#t orry, you#ll learn more about multi&light setups soon enough.- *he umbrella is coming from belo . $t is actually positioned on the ground in front of her3

;ot typical, but interesting. *hat umbrella is filling at about t o stops under the main e)posure level. Massi is being lit by another, hard light source at upper right. *he umbrella, on the floor, is bathing Massi in soft, 7bottom light7 and %eeping all of the hard light#s shado s from going to blac%. ,.lic% here to see a full run&thru of this shoot-

Long story short, umbrellas are a great choice for a first soft light modifier. (ut even better@ and if you allo yourself@you can gro ith them and get into far more interesting light.

Bouncing o55 o5 .alls and Ceilings

$ am thin%ing many of you already use your on&camera flashes creatively by bouncing them off of a ceiling or all. *his is a great techni'ue, and one of the most common ays to get a taste of creating good light ith your flash.

+o hy bother to ta%e your light off of the camera hen you are just going to bounce it off of a allFceiling any ayP S (ecause you move around hen you shoot, hich changes here the light hitsFcomes from in a room. S (ecause lighting on manual from a set location gives you consistency in e)posure, light direction and hardFsoft 'uality. S (ecause it is a 'uic% techni'ue to half& ay set up and begin shooting hile you decide hat you really ant to do ith cooler light. S (ecause or%ing ith the light off camera is a good habitFethic to get into, hether you are just bouncing (Photo by Strobist reader Leon Tolner) off of a allFceiling, or using a plastic diffuser ith a half tungsten gel through an office&plant coo%ie ,e)plained here- to ma%e a slic%, layered 'uic%ie portrait in an other ise drab, flourescent office. *his techni'ue is easy, heavy&use, bread&and&butter stuff. !nd, you ill notice, e are tal%ing pure techni'ue at this point and not hitting you up for yet another piece of hard are. #(out time, huhP OM, then. +o this gives broad, room&filling light and is good for setting up a forgiving zone of directional light. +mooth and flat, but crisp, too. *his is the strobist#s version of 'uic% and dirty. *hings to rememberP >irst, atch your all color. $t#ll color cast your light. You can fre'uently use it to advantage, as in the arm light the all %ic%ed bac% in this artist portrait.

?se the lens angle adjustment on your strobe to control the size of the patch of light illuminating your subject. Hust pop the flash and eyeball the hotspot on your bounce surface. *he above photo of the county sheriff had the flash set on G9mm, bounced off of the ceiling near the subject. ;ote the fall&off through the bac% of the frame.

.onversely, this shot of a midnight Qarry "otter fanatic as lit up into the ceiling behind me ith the strobe set to EBmm. +o this just casts a ide, soft s ath of light.

Bare0Bul* #ighting

(Photo by Strobist reader Janaka Rodrigue) !s you have already seen, e can the hard light of your bare flash and soften it ith an umbrella. We can further soften it by bouncing it off of a all or ceiling. (ut e can also turn it into a IJ0&degree glo ing light source. *he old&school term for this is 7bare bulb7 lighting. *hat#s because older flashes ,and most current large studio flashes- have the ability to totally e)pose the flash tube, allo ing the light to radiate in all directions. Your speedlight can#t do that as is, because the grain&of&rice&sized flash tube is permanently housed in its internal reflector an covered ith a plastic fresnel lens at front. (ut e can diffuse the light after it leaves your flash to create omnidirectional, bare&bulb style lighting. *hat#s just hat +trobist reader Hana%a 1odrigue did above, using an ine)pensive lamp globe from a hard are store. (y stic%ing the speedlight inside, the harsh light turned into a soft, glo ing orb. Which made for a beautiful, ethereal portrait. 6any flashes come ith a small, hite dome ,sometimes called a +to&>en- that ill convert the flashlight&stlye light into a into a bare bulb&style light. $t is omnidirectional, but is it still small and harsh. (ut it ill absolutely ma%e your flash act li%e a bare light bulb. $n fact, $ used that same techni'ue here@that#s a speedlight in the ti%i hut, not a light bulb3

+ee ho the light illuminates the inside of the ti%i hut and spills in a natural gradient across the groundP $ made that happen by using a small dome on the flash to imitate a bare light bulb. $ made the photo of my parents to celebrate their 90th anniversary. You can read in more detail ho it as made, here. !lso, bare&bulb modifiers can actually give you softer light@as long as you are near alls andFor a ceiling for that omnidirectional light to bounce off of. *hat#s the secret behind commercially produced larger dome diffusers li%e the Light+phere. *hey or% ell in small rooms ith nearby alls, but they are not ell&suited for open spaces. Hust saying that so you %no hat they can and can#t do. "lus, ne)t time you see a edding photographer using one outside ,and they do that a lot- you can feel just a little bit superior. ;ot to say they are not useful. (ut you don#t have to spend <100 on one, either. You can get one for under <9 at your local .hinese ta%eout@and they come full of hot&and&sour soup as ell3 Hust ash it out ,or not, hatever, $#m a guy after all- and cut a little 7L7 in the lid ith an L&acto %nife. *hen it#ll slide right onto your flash for a friction fit. *hese are great to e)periment ith. ;eed light to fill a room in all directionsP (are bulb is your mod. /onna light the inside of a fridge to simulate that 7late&night&snac%7 glo P 6ade sure you#ve already ordered the hot&and&sour soup first. *here are tons of different ays to modify lights, and many have 0$Y versions you can try for ne)t to nothing. Qec%, e#re just getting armed up here.

(ut for the moment, let#s ta%e everything a ay and play ith that harsh bare flash that has previously been the reason all of your flash pictures loo%ed li%e, ell, flash pictures:

6ard #ight
+o, e have spent a decent amount of time on soft light modifiers. +oft light generally comes from physically large sources or modifiers@thin% umbrellas, alls, overhead clouds, etc. (ut hard lights@ hich come from small sources@can loo% really cool, too. $t#s just that hard flash gets a bad rap because of ho mad it loo%s hen mounted right on top of your camera.

*a%e the 'uic%ie portrait $ did of the bas%etball player, above, done for my ne spaper. $ have the flash off of the camera, ay over to the right. *his creates a shado that $ then used as a graphic element in the photo. +till just the one flash, just in a different location. 6ind you, this photo ould have loo%ed pretty bad if my flash ere mounted on the camera. (ut it ould not have been the hardness of the light, but rather the location that did the damage. !fter E9C years as a lighting photographer, hard light is to me far more interesting than soft light. Kspecially hen you are able to use multiple hard light sources.

*a%e this product shot for instance3

*his product shot loo%s completely different ,and, to my eye, more interesting- for having been shot ith hard light sources. *hey sculpt the jac%et and reveal form and te)ture. Let#s loo% at another3

(Photo by Strobist reader Danny Bird)

!nd just as in the photo up top, this photo uses a subject and a all, but more than one hard light. ,>or details, clic% the photo.- *he hard lights combine to partially reveal and sculpt the subject. !nd they are far more appropriate than ould be a soft, portrait&loo%ing umbrella or the li%e.

Often the %ey to success ith your hard light images is to control the lighting ratio ,i.e., relative levels of brightness- bet een the lights and shado s. *hin% of that hard shado created by the hard light in the photo up top. $t is harsh and abrupt, but not completely blac%. $ can still see detail in the shado s, such as in the all and on the shado side of his face. $ li%e to thin% of a hard shado as the e'uivalent of the light abruptly falling off of a ledge. *o briefly press the ledge analogy3 *he depth of that ledge you just fell off of is the difference an interesting e)perience and, ell, a fatal one. $t#s not about the ledge. $t#s about the depth.

$f you ant to dip your toe in the hard light ater, try balancing your flash close to the ambient ,i.e., normal continuous- light level. *he fact that the hard shado s ill have good detail in them ill lessen the chances of getting a bad result ith hard light. (ut the edgy effect ill still be there. 2222222222 O%ay, so e have loo%ed at soft light ,umbrellas, all&bouncing, etc.- and hard light. (ut there are all %inds of ays you can modify and shape the light. ?p ne)t, t o of my very favorite ays to do that...

Two o5 M2 Fa+orite 7i5 a #ittle Unusual8 #ight Mods


While e are on the subject of the 'uality of light, here are t o of my favorite light modifiers for creating interesting light for portraits. $ use them a lot@both individually and combined ith each other. *he first is a ring flash adapter. ! ring flash is a donut&shaped flash, ith your lens stic%ing into hat ould be the hole of the donut. *his allo s the light to come from all around the lens a)is, hich does a couple of things. >irst, it ma%es smooth, shado less light ,on the subject at least-. +econd, it creates a uni'ue, signature shado on any all or bac%drop that might be Photo by Strobist reader James directly behind the subject.

adelin

You have probably seen that loo% before in fashion and or modern portrait photography. ;o you %no ho it as done. 1eal, professional ring flashes are: very e)pensive. (ut you can turn your garden&variety speedlight into a ring flash for a lot less ith something called a ring flash adapter. Kssentially, these are very sophisticated reflectors that bend light around your lens before releasing it.

6y favorite of the ring flash adapters is something called an Orbis ,seen above-. $ li%e it because it is the only model of ring flash adapter on the mar%et hich ,a- can be used ith nearly any hot&shoe style flash, and ,bhas a better 'uality of light than the others. $ use it a lot, both by itself and in combination ith other lights. $t as invented by Hames 6adelin, a long&time reader of this site. !s such, he has set up a tutorialFspecial offer page here +trobist readers get free shipping and 10R off, here, ,*han%s, Hames8-

$n the montage above, shot by +trobist reader Kd 6c/o an, you can see ho a ring flash adapter can 'uic%ly give a cool loo%Ftheme to a series of portraits. $t#s a uni'ue vibe, hich or%s ell on its o n. (ut $ tend to also use a ring flash in conjunction ith other lights. ,6ore on that in a minute.-

#ittle Bitt2 'o5t Bo4 ! soft bo) is simply a bo) that emits light. *hey usually run from E)E feet to as big as B)J feet. (ut filling a bo) that big is a lot to as% in terms of po er hen using speedlights. +o another of my most&used light modifiers is a tiny ,as in G)Dinchesversion of a soft bo), hich happens to be very useful for lighting portraits from up close. *hat#s it above, providing the light for a self&portrait. ,!s you can see, $ li%e to e)periment ith my light mods:-

(ut these things are super useful. *a%e this photo, for e)ample.

*he small soft bo) is being held just out of the frame to the left, and is hat is responsible for the great 'uality of light sculpting his face. +oft bo)es of this size also fold do n to almost nothing ,G)D7, and maybe half an inch deep- so they pac% great. *hey are also very ine)pensive. 6y favorite tiny bo) is the LumiTuest +oft (o) $$$ ,!M! +(&$$$-. $ use the crap out of this mod@especially for close&in portraiture.

9ust #i:e a !eese's Peanut Butter CuOften hen $ photograph people, $ am or%ing 'uic%ly and ith very light eight gear. !nd $ fre'uently use the Orbis and the +oft (o) $$$ in combination. *hese last t o photos are all good e)amples of that. +een right, $ photographed poet Linda Hoy (ur%e using a flash ith an +(&$$$ as my 7%ey7 ,or 7main7- light off to the left. >or fill light, to get that very controlled intensity of shado , $ used a second flash ith an Orbis 1ing flash !dapter.

0itto this portrait of blogger +iany 6eades, shot in London. +ame combo, same general light locations, actually. *his as shot in a shaded courtyard but the light,s- gave me the ability to create a little sultry late&afternoon style light.

+o, lots of cool toys and gear to thin% about to get your mind spinning. (ut no , let#s ta%e a moment to learn about balancing the light from your flash ith the e)isting ambient light. >or most people, this ill be hen you start to really see the control you get from learning to use your small flash li%e a professional:

Balancing Flash and ")*ient/ Pt %

'ditor&s note: (o understand %alancing flash and am%ient, you should have a good, %asic understanding of f)stops and shutter speed! (hat stuff can %e found in lots of places *+oogle it, so I am not going to totally restate it here! 2222222222 F;sto-/ 'hutter '-eed and Flash While fFstop and shutter speed both control e)posure, for our purposes it is important to %no ho they do so differently. +hutter is a time&based control. >Fstop is a diameter&of&the&lens& hole based control. +ince the light from your flash is pretty much instantaneous, it really does not care about the shutter@as long as you are at or %elo$ your camera&s top -sync- speed . Which for most cameras is either 1FE90th or 1FE00th of a second. ;ote that there are fancy, flash&pulsing methods hich ill allo you to sync at higher shutter speeds such as 1F1000th of a second. (ut ,a- they have their dra bac%s, and ,b- getting into that no ould be needlessly comple). +o just set that aside. Two E4-osures 6a--en at the 'a)e Ti)e Kvery time you ta%e a flash photo, you are ma%ing t o e)posures simultaneously. You are ma%ing an e)posure of the ambient light, and an e)posure of the flash#s light. Whether you ta%e this into account or not, it is happening every time. *he ambient e)posure is controlled by the fFstop and the shutter speed. *he flash, being instantaneous, is controlled by the aperture.

*he photo up top is a good visualization of the fact that t o images are being made at once. *he shot of 1obert, a soldier in the ?.+. !rmy, as made ith a slo shutter speed. (ut $ also included a flash, hich happened instantaneously and froze 1obert irregardless of the shutter speed3 *hin% of it as t o overlaid e)posures3 >rozen, instantaneous flash e)posure, mi)ed ith a slo &shutter&speed ambient e)posure. (oth are made at once, and both light sources are additive to the e)posure. +o you have t o e)posures to consider in every flash&lit picture3 the ambient and the flash. $ li%e to find my ambient e)posure first@nothing fancy, just trial and error. Once $ have that e)posure ,in hich, remember, the shutter speed must be at or belo my camera#s sync speed- $ have a starting point for my final, lit image. ;e)t, $#ll 7dial do n7 my ambient e)posure. *his means nothing more than changing my camera#s settings to undere)pose the ambient. Qo muchP *hat#s your choice. !nd it ill determine the contrast range in your final, lit picture. 1emember, hen you move your flash off camera, the difference in location produces shado s in your image. *hat#s hat ma%es your subject loo% all cool and I&0. !nd the depth of your shado s@your contrast rangeU your drama@ is determined by the underlying ambient e)posure. #et's Gi+e This a Test Dri+e (elo is a portrait $ shot of Hessie, a local social media entrepreneur. We are going to use a second flash here, to light the bac%ground. (ut the light balancing principles are e)actly the same. *hey or% hether you use one flash, t o flashes or a hundred flashes. O%ay then. Let#s get her in some shade first, because it#s much easier to balance a small flash indoors or in shade rather than competing ith the full sun. ,(ut e#ll get to that ne)t post.Qere she is, e)posed for normal ambient light in shade3

*he e)posure here is fF9.0 at a 1F1J0th of a second. >or the record, e are at $+O E00 on the camera#s overall sensitivity setting. $t#s o%ay, but %inda 7meh,7 rightP +o before e even add any flash, let#s cran% her do n a little bit and create some 7drama7 in our final image. $ am going to close do n my aperture and drop her by a little over E fFstops. +o $ am going from fF9.0 to fF11. ;othing else has changed3 K)actly hat you#d e)pect, rightP Kverything is dar%er. (ut there is still legibility every here & no big blac% areas. *his legibility is important in the final image. !lso, notice that since e closed do n the aperture e no have more depth of field and the all in bac% is no more in focus. We have created a 7safety net7 of dar%ened ambient e)posure. When e add flash, no part of this image ill get any dar%er. +o e#ll end up ith drama "L?+ legibility. ;o , let#s bring in our flash. ,>lash es, actually.- We or% ith manual flash@for predictability and repeatability. One less variable to scre up. !nd because of this, adding the right amount of flash e)posure to a photo is simple and straightfor ard. $#ll bring in a flash, on manual po er, in an umbrella positioned out of the frame and from camera right. *a%e a test shot. $f the flash is too dim, $#ll turn up the po er. +ay it as at 'uarter po er ,on manual, as nearly al ays- hen $ made my first frame. $f too dar% $ might turn it up to half po er. Or vice versa if it as originally too light. !lso, $ am going to do the same thing ith a second flash bac% on the all. Hust to ma%e the all pop a little bit.

!nd here is the result3 Wo , rightP +ame e)act spot as the first shot above, hich as properly e)posed open shade. *hen e dropped do n that e)posure to get the sort of 7safety&net7 ambient&only e)posure. *hen e lit Hessie ,and the bac% all.*his is balancing and flash, in a nutshell. $f you don#t understand it, re& read the above. (ut be a are that it may not really ma%e sense until you get out there and actually do it. When or%ing this ay, $ li%e to thin% of my flash as a main ,or 7%ey7- light and the ambient as my supporting ,or 7fill7- light. The Process: %& /et a full ambient e)posure. (& 0rop it do n to create some 7drama7. Qo much, is up to you.

,& (ring your subject bac% up to full e)posure by adding flash. It's "l)ost Not Fair Qo often have you heard this, usually ith a tone of superiority3

7I am a purist, I only shoot availa%le light!7 ,*ranslation3 $ am scared shitless of flash.!s an ambient light photographer, you only have one 7correct7 e)posure. 6aybe a little iggle room if you are being interpretive. (ut as a lighting photographer, $e control everything in the frame, independently of the other areas, %y ho$ and $here $e expose and add light! $ have been doing this for almost three decades, and $ still thin% that is the coolest thing ever. $f you ant more detail on the Hessie shoot, it is laid out in more detail ,but also assuming a little more %no ledge- in the On !ssignment section, here. Other ise, let#s flip the process and use flash to control the harsh shado s created by directional ambient light. +ame process, just bac% ards.

Balancing Flash .ith ")*ient/ Pt (

(Photo by Strobist reader Brent !illiamson)

O%ay, no let#s get out of the shade ,or the indoors- and do battle against full sun ith our off& camera flashes... When last e met, e tal%ed about the idea of balancing flash ith ambient. We ere using the flash as a main light and the ambient as fill, but you do not al ays have to do it that ay. +traight fill flash is very simple these days, ith **L flashes doing the heavy lifting ,i.e., thin%ing- for you automatically. (ut doing it the easy ay usually means %eeping the light on the camera. *he goal here is to start to replace the blah concept of #fill flash# ith that of #balancing light.# !nd, more important, to separate the idea of fill flash fillFbalance from the rote use of on& camera flash. *he process of using flash to augment , hich is a better concept than fill- sunlight is very straightfor ard. >irst you are going to start at your camera#s highest synch speed, because that#ll get you the most flash&friendly aperture. !nd thus, the most fle)ibility from your small flash. While you#re at it, dial your !+! do n as lo as it ill go to get better 'uality, too. ;o thin% about your lighting direction and angle. !s opposed to the idea of fill flashing, on& camera, from any angle outside ithout regard to the sun#s direction, using a strobe on a stand effectively gives you t o lights to play ith. You can balance. You can cross light, You can do both. You#ll have more fle)ible ,and consistent- results using this approach. When you just fill flash from on&camera, true, it does bring up the shado s. (ut hile the flash adds detail it really misses out on the opportunity to improve the depth and 'uality of the light. +o hy not do both at the same timeP +tep one3 *hin% of the sun as your main light source, and your strobe as a secondary light. You are not just getting rid of raccoon eyes no . You are or%ing ith t o lights. You have

fle)ibility. You might even have style. .hoose your angle of attac%. 6aybe you have the sun behind you ,on the left side- at a NB9& degree angle. Why ould you have your fill on on camera hen it might loo% better lighting from the upper rightP On&camera flash limits you. !void it if you can. 6aybe you turn the angle around and shoot the subject in profile. +ay he is facing to your right. You could have him loo%ing into the sun, hich is angled to come from slightly behind his face to provide rim light that is nice, but ay too contrasty as is. Hust move your strobe over to the left side, elevate it a little, and you have a cool&loo%ing, t o&light setup.

*hat#s e)actly hat $ did for this 'uic% portrait of the son of the e)iled +hah of $ran, made for *he (altimore +un3

Whatever the angle, the techni'ue for balancing is the same. We are basing the e)posure on the ambient this time, and bringing the flash up to fill shado s andFor provide light from another direction. !ssuming a sunny ambient light level to balance, set your camera at the highest synch speed ,i.e. lo est aperture- to provide a lo er aperture and ease the burden on your flash. ;o , get your base ,ambient- e)posure. We#ll call it a E90th at fF11 at !+! E00 for the sa%e of argument. ;o , ith your strobe on manual and on a stand, set it to some here around a 'uarter to half po er if you are or%ing close. 6aybe half to full po er if the flash is further a ay. $f you are not lighting a large area ,and you usually are not- zoom the flash to a O0mm or G9mm lens angle to ma%e it even more po erful. "op a test frame and eyeball it. $f your flash&lit area is too bright, dial the flash do n or move it bac%. $f it is too dar%, dial it up or move it for ard. *he thought process is the same hether you are balancing sunlight or starlight. ,!nd hen you thin% about it, sunlight is starlight, isn#t itP- Hust start ith a good ambient e)posure @ in this case, e)posing the stars @ add a little flash to give detail here you ant.

$n this case, the underside of a natural arch3

(Photo by Strobist reader Joe Stylos) +ince e are not e)actly s imming in ambient light here, the starting point ill be a little different. $nstead of 1FE90th of a sec ,or 1FE00th, hatever- to control the sun, e#d probably anna start ith our lens ide open and choose a pretty high $+O to get the fastest reasonable shutter speed for the night s%y. +olve your most pressing variable first, then go from there. (he process is the same! 2222222222 *he important thing to remember ,and hy $ told you the angle stuff first- is that this is no a starting point to turn your outside 7fill7 strobe into a true, useful second light source. K)periment. $ used to practice my outdoor lighting s%ills any time $ as assigned to shoot a simple headshot, !M! a mugshot, for the paper. What you have to remember is that they don&t "no$ you could do a perfectly good job by just stic%ing them in the shade for I0 seconds and bolting. .uah ha ha, you are no$ my lighting model for 1/ minutes!!! OutsideP "lay ith fill light and angles. ,You might ant to grab something safe in the shade first just in case.$nsideP +et up a 'uic% umbrella in a corner here one all is your bac%ground and another is your fill card. $#d turn a mug shot into a head shot, hich is just a more professional ay to do it. $ ould get some good ,lo &pressure- e)perience ith my lighting. !nd they#d loo% better in the paper. $t#s a in& in.

!nd, contrary to hat you might thin%, most people ill be secretly flattered by the effort you are putting in to ma%ing a better photo of them. !nd one more thing. >or you ne spaper photogs, stop thin%ing of them as mug shots from this point for ard. ! reporter trained mon%ey can do a mug shot. +tart shooting head shots. You#ll improve your 'uality and get into a habit of using light effectively.

Using Gels to Correct #ight


+ome you may be starting to realize already, but $#ll say it aloud3 When lighting a photo it is not about absolute light levels. $t#s aboutrelative levels. You can adjust for just about any overall light level you have by simply changing the overall e)posure on your camera. +o that zeroes the 7absolutes7 out. $t is the relative light levels that define the loo% of your photos. !nd for shorthand, e call this a 7lighting (Photo by Strobist reader Siddarth Si"a) ratio.7 $.e., hat is the ratio of brightness bet een the highlights and the shado sP /uess hatP Lighting color sort of or%s the same ay. Only instead of adjusting the e)posure, e can instead adjust the camera#s hite balance to zero out the color of a light source. >or instance, if you ere in a fluorescent room, you might balance on the 7>L7 hite balance to ma%e ambient light photos. +ince >L lights are in fact green ,mostly, but pretty variable these days- your camera ould compensate by shifting the color balance about I0.. units of magenta. ,*hat#s the complimentary color of green. +o if you used flash in that environment, and as 7mi)ing7 the balance ith the ambient, your flash ould appear : too magenta. Your camera is balanced for >L, and there is a daylight&colored light source. Your flash. +o that light ould react to the color shift in a not great ay.

Qo do you fi) thisP You turn the flash#s light green, li%e a fluorescent. !nd you do it ith the special green 7gel7 ,!M! 7 indo green7 pictured left. What about those orange&tented tungsten ,!M!, 7incadescent7- lightsP What gel ould they getP Qint3 $t#s the other gel in the photo above: You get the picture@orange tungsten ambient light, you compensate in the camera by going to tungsten W(. !nd the camera adds blue to the image. +o you need to ma%e your flash orange to match. !nd you do that ith a tungsten gel, also %no n as a .*O gel. ,.olor temperature orange.*hey can also go the other direction ,physically converting a tungsten source into daylight- by using a .*( ,color temperature blue- gel. +imple to mount, you just tape or velcro them to the flash. Leave a little space to vent the heat from the tube3

Qec% there are even commercial versions, complete ith commonly used gels. (ut, as far as being able to ma%e your light pretty much any color you a mi)ture of colorsP !re you starting to see lighting possibilities yetP 2222222222 h/ and Chec: This ut antP Or multiple lights

$t appears as though the photo up top brings our last t o topics right into perfect e)ample. $t as shot by my friend +id +iva in 0ubai. Qe balanced his e)posure by shooting ide open at a high $+O ,to get a good shutter speed- and e)posing for the street lights. Which loo%ed e)tra cool hen out of focus. *hen he added a little light into the directors face ith a small off&camera flash to bring his face bac% out of the shado s. (ut those lights in the bac% included tungstens, so he did the hite balance s ap&and&gel, too. .amera on *?;/ W(, .*O gel on the flash. (ingo. $s it starting to ma%e sense yetP

Oh, and to get the cool, limited spot of light on filmma%er 6ahmooud Maabour#s face, he used a small snoot to restrict the light. What#s a snootP Oh, that#s just one of several different types of lighting restrictors, hich e#ll be tal%ing about ne)t. ,+eeP *hese cliffhangers are orse than Lost, rightP-

'noots and Go*os and Grids


;o that you are getting comfortable ith the idea of shooting a light into an umbrella or ceiling, creating the lighting ratio and being color correct, it#s time to start stretching a little. +ometimes hat ma%es a photo sing is not so much here the light is, but here it isn&t. !nd, given that you already have a basic, off&camera strobe setup, you can ma%e the gear you ill need to restrict light for just a fe pennies. 1emember hen e tal%ed about putting the Aelcro on the sides of your flash headP $t holds gels fine, but you can also use it to attach lighting mods to your flash. ,You don#t have to permanently attach Aelcro to your flash, either. *here are removable Aelcro 7grippers7 for mounting things.One of my favorites is called a 7gobo.7 /obo is short for 7goes bet een optics,7 as in something that goes bet een the light and your lens. +ome people also call them cutters, or flags. Whatever you call them, they are there to partially bloc% light. *o ma%e a useful&sized /o(o, .ut a piece of still cardboard to ma%e a rectangle about B)G inches. +tic% some Aelcro ,the 7hoo%s7 side- at one end and at about a third of the ay from the other end. *his ill allo you to attach it to the side of your flash either ay so that you can choose ho far it stic%s out. $ also cover mine ith a layer of gaffer#s tape. *his is the cloth& bac%ed tape that is idely used in the photo industry. $t holds great and does not leave any residue. $t is not duct tape. ;ot even close. *hey are not interchangeable. ;o , you have a sort of 7barn door7 ,really, that#s hat it#s calledthat can bloc% the light from your flash in the direction that you choose.

+ay you are using your flash to sideFbac%light something. Your flash, being small and not&too& po erful, is just out of the camera frame. *he /obo could be stuc% on the side of the strobe closest to you to %eep light from flaring into your lens. You can also use one on each side of the flash to ma%e light that spreads vertically, but not horizontally ,or vice versa.- You can %eep light off of a bac%ground this ay, as you may be lighting it from another source. You can ma%e them out of cardboard or you are into the 0$Y loo%. *hey just slide into the lid or bac% poc%et of a 0om%e bag and eigh almost nothing. ;o brainer. $f you ant to restrict the light even more, you#ll ant a snoot. $t is nothing more than a sort of tunnel for the light to go through that ill restrict it is all directions e)cept for the e)act direction the strobe is pointed. Hust shape the cardboard into a rectangular&shaped tube that ill slide over your flash head. 6a%e a fe & J7, G7, 1E7 & the longer the tube, the tighter the beam of light. ;o cover it in gaffer#s tape to ma%e it more durable and light&tight. ,(y the ay, hen you shoot ith a snoot, set your flash on its most telephoto setting. ;o sense in asting po er by sending a ide beam of light just to bloc% it ith the snoot.Qo much do snoots restrict the lightP Let#s do a test3

*his is a flash fired against the all ,B feet a ay- at the 7G9mm7 zoom setting. ;ote the pattern of the light.

*his is the same setup, ith an 97 snoot on the flash. When doing a portrait, the aim of the snooted flash is obviously a bit critical. Qo here the beam ill hit ithout a modeling lamp on your flashP can you tell

Kasy. You as% your subject, 7.an you see the front of my flash through the tube from here you are sittingP7 $f they can, the light ill be falling on their face. 0o a test and t ea% it as necessary using the bac% of your camera#s display as a guide. 2222222222 $n the frame at the start of this section, $ used a snoot to light the face of the .KO of .iena, a digital fiber optics company. $ li%ed the holes and the daylight that streamed through. (ut the blinds ere light grey, and thus no contrast for the light holes if my main light hit the blinds. +o $ restricted it ith a snoot. ,You can read more about creating that particular shot here , here there#s an e)ample shot ithout the snoot, too.On disadvantage to a snoot is that the fall&off area of the light#s beam is not very elegant. $t#s %inda of abrupt. $f you ant a more elegant, gradient fall&off to the light beam, you#ll ant to use a grid spot instead of a snoot. Qere#s an e)ample3 1emember our dancer shot from a fe pages agoP *he umbrella as on the ground, acting li%e a fill ,or secondary- light. *he "ey ,or 7primary7- light as a flash ith a grid spot. $n

this case it as a Qonl +peed /rid ,in the 1FG7 size-. /rids are a little more e)pensive than snoots, and generally not orth 0$Y#ing. (ut they give %eautiful gradients at the edges of the light. You can see ho 2222222222 the edges of the %ey light gradate very nicely above.

+o, restricted light. *he ta%ea ay from this page is that no e can have more precise light that e can sculpt. You %no that cool shaft of light you li%e to e)ploit hen you see it coming from a indo or somethingP ;o you can ma%e it any time. *his is a very useful style of light for cool portraits, but you have to be a are of your ambient level. .ran% up the shutter speed for more drama, or open it up for more detail in the unlit areas. *he choice@and control@is yours. >or many beginners, this is a ne techni'ue that ill open up loads of possibilities. +pend an evening e)perimenting ith it at home to start to understand hat it can do.

Te4tural #ighting 5or Detail 'hots

*his is one techni'ue $ li%e to use hen $ am loo%ing for one or t o more photos to glean from an assignment. 0esigners appreciate the fle)ibility of being able to use a ell&done detail shot in a layout, and you ill sometimes be surprised by ho ell they are used. *his is especially the case hen they have strong relevance to the story or are e)ecuted particularly ell. *he %ey is adding depth and te)ture to hat may be a boring, t o&dimensional object. *o do this, you#ll be placing the item some here so that you can get the strobe to e)actly the same

height to let the hard light ra%e across your object. You can use a table, or you can simply set the item on a floor and place the flash on the floor a fe feet a ay. (y far, your biggest variable ill be the height of the flash to your object. ;ail this variable do n first. Little moves ma%e big differences n the ay a seemingly t o&dimensional object e)presses its true three& dimensionality. >or that reason ,and more fle)ibility- $ sometimes li%e to use a table to get the subject $ am shooting off of the ground ,and place the flash on a nearby light stand. *hat ay $ can control the relative angle and height very precisely. You#ll be surprised at ho much te)ture you can bring out in a 7E&07 object this ay. 6ove the flash a ay a little. You have po er to burn & you are shooting ith direct, hard light & so there is no sense in getting light fall&off if you do not ant it. ?se a arming gel to mimic late&day light if you ish. "lace boo%s strategically bet een your light and the objects to create interesting shado s. ,$f you do this, consider having the light come in from the direction of one of the corners of your frame. *hat ma%es for more interesting compositional lines.!ctually, $ use this 7single plane7 %ind of lighting for more three&dimensional objects, too. You can get more comple) ith it, adding multiple light sources and pieces of paper to diffuse the light3 !s ith anything else related to lighting, the only limit is your imagination and creativity. !re you a freelance editorial shooterP *his table&top ,or floor- lighting is a techni'ue that can 'uic%ly 'uic%ly boost your income. 6ost assignments are billed on a day&rate&

against&space basis, meaning you get paid more if they run more pictures. "age designers love adding detail shots to layouts. You#ll be surprised ho often spending 9 minutes on ma%ing a nice one can net you another hundred buc%s on the day.

Cross #ighting
.ross lighting is nothing more than using t o light sources that oppose each other in their direction. $ say light sources, instead of strobes, because $t is important to remember that if you are photographing outdoors ith one strobe, you really have t o lights. 1ather than just trying to do damage control on hat the sun is doing to your subject, start to thin% in terms of using the sunlight as your main ,or secondary- light. *he photo above is of a fifth grader ho, using herself as a human shield, saved this tree at her school hen construction or%ers building a nearby par%ing lot ere about to mista%enly bulldoze it. +he as a hero in the story. !nd $ anted to visualize her that ay in the photo, so $ shot up at her from a lo angle. *o get a clean bac%ground, the sun had to be coming from the upper& bac%&camera&right direction. $ could have very easily fill flashed her if $ as just trying to undo bad sunlight. (ut if you are or%ing ith a small stand, it is just as easy to use your strobe more effectively. $ placed the strobe on manual ,at 1FE po er- up on a stand coming from the upper&camera& left, and had her face the strobe. K)posure as 1FE90th, of course, to ma%e life easier on the flash, ith the corresponding aperture to properly e)pose the s%y. ;o , the strobe becomes the main light, and the sun becomes the rim light. Waaay better than on&camera fill flashing. *his cross lighting scheme is pretty forgiving ith respect to subject movement, too. !s long as you are or%ing on the 'uarter angles ,roughly splitting the difference bet een the t o light sources- you are going to be fine.

When $ shoot high school bas%etball $ li%e to cross light, too. $ use t o +(#s, one at the top center of each set of bleachers, aimed in a cross pattern at the top of the %ey. ?sing them at 1FE po er ith a 90mm thro ill usually get you an honest, crisp&loo%ing fFE.G at !+! G00 from the mid&court line to the other bas%et. $t can be helpful to use e)ternal battery pac%s for these strobes, as you are gonna be firing off a lot of half&po er frames. !!#s get eaten up pretty 'uic%ly this ay. "lus, you#ll be aiting bet een shots.

Bac: #ight as Main #ight

When you are deciding ho you are going to add light to a scene, don#t forget to consider the idea of adding only bac% light. !nd try not to thin% of it as such. Learn to thin% 7separation7 light. *hose of us in the ne spaper biz need all of the help e can get hen it comes to repro. !nd using a separation light can really ma%e a photo pop. !dditionally, if the light is strong it ill create shado s that ill create leading lines into the direction of your light source. One caveat is that you have to hide your light from your camera. !s mentioned before, one good techni'ues ,especially in a dar%ened room- is to mount the flash bac% ards and turn the head around. *his ill let you use the recycle light as a guide to help %eep some item in your

frame bet een you and your flash. *he shado s should tell you hich performer $ am using as a /o(o to bloc% my flash. $t#s the guy in the middle. $n the photo belo , the hidden flash#s location ,behind the guy- is revealed by a red dot. You can also see that the shado s al ays point to the flash3 One other thing you should notice ith this photo. *his small, shoe&mount flash is about a hundred feet a ay from the %ids rehearsing their end&of&sho theatrical bo . *hese little strobes put out a lot more po er than you might thin%, especially hen or%ing in lo light conditions. !s you get a little e)perience ith your lighting, you ill become less and less afraid of the dar%. *he dar% is your friend. $t is full sunlight that is hard to compete against ith small flashes.

6eadshot in a Corner
!s ne spaper photographers, e shoot a lot of headshots. *hat#s just the ay it is. $t has al ays been thus. While you can loo% at it as a mental vacation ,really, a trained mon%ey could shoot a ne spaper headshot- they can also be an opportunity to practice ith light. *hing is, your subject probably does not %no you could bang it off in about I0 seconds in some shade. +o hy not use the assignment as a lo & pressure chance to or% on your lighting s%illsP *o that end, $ offer the 'uic% and easy, one&light corner headshot. *he concept is simple, but it allo s you the chance to play ith ratios to see ho they affect your photo. K)hibit 7!,7 right, is actor (ruce Ailanch, in drag, prepping for his role as Kdna *urnblad in Qairspray. !ll you need for a headshot that is crisp and detailed enough to get bigger play is an umbrella#d strobe, a stand and a neutral corner. ;ot the bo)ing&type of neutral corner, but one ith hite or grey alls.

$f they are tan or some other armer color, you can get a ay ith that, too. (ut purpleP ;ot so much. You#re going to be using the side all as a reflector, and the light ill pic% up the color of the all. ;o , bac% to the ratios. *here are t o ratios at play in this photo. *he first ill control ho bright the bac%ground is. *he ratio ould be the 5lash0to0 su*<ect0distance:5lash0to0*ac:ground0distance& +imple Knglish3 if your strobe is much closer to the subject than it is to the bac%ground all, you bac%ground ill be dar%er. *he fill light for the headshot comes from a reflection off of the other all of the corner. $n this e)ample, the strobe is at camera left, at a nice, safe, boring B9 degrees. !t camera right is a all. ,*he other all that comprises the corner becomes our clean bac%ground.+o, the second ratio at play is that of flash&subject&distance3flash&reflecting& all&distance. $n other ords, the further your reflector all is from the flashFsubject combo, the dar%er the shado side ill be. Qo does this or% in practiceP +imple.

>or openers, you are shooting at the high synch speed of your camera ,probably 1FE00th or 1FE90th- to minimize the ambient light in your photo. 0ial up enough po er on your flash to get a or%ing aperture of fF9.J or fFG. +tart ith 1FB po er on your flash at $+O E00 at a B&foot light&to&subject distance and adjust from there. *his ill give you sharpness and %eep room ambient from scre ing you up. $f you cannot %ill the florescent lights ,sigh, there are al$ays florescent- you#ll have to gel green and balance for them if the ambient is encroaching on your photo. +ay that you start ith the subject t o feet from the side all, ith the flash three or four feet a ay ,in an umbrella- and the bac%ground all four feet behind him. "op a test frame. Or better yet use your hand ,placed here his head ould be- to 'uic%y get into the ballpar% before your subject sits in his spot. $ shoot my left hand a lot hen testing light. !djust your flash po er until the subject ,or your hand as a stand&in- is ell e)posed. ;o , play. Wanna ma%e the bac%ground lighterP 6ove the hole shootin match ,subject and lightto ard the bac% all. Wanna ma%e it dar%erP 6ove it a ay from the bac%ground all. +ame idea applies to the fill light. 6ove subjectFstrobe combo to ards the side all for lighter. ! ay for dar%er. $t#s pretty simple once you try it.

Your head shots ill loo% good. !nd you s%ills.

ill be gaining speed and confidence in your lighting

#ighting 5or Glasses


*his one is gonna be 'uic% and dirty. $f you already %no ho to do a portrait ithout having to orry about reflections in peoples# glasses, just scroll do n to the bottom and move on. (ut if glasses have been giving you a 0evil of a time, this is gonna be one of those Qomer +impson 70&1h27 moments. !nd if you are having trouble ith it, don#t feel bad. $ did, too. *he problem is that if you are going to the trouble to light someone, you are naturally inclined to have them face to ard the light. Which is fine. ?nless they are earing glasses. *o avoid refections in glasses, simply light from one side and have the person face the other! *here is no need to be shooting all of the ay in profile, either. ! flattering, IFB angle ,subject to camera- ill or% just fine.

(ut honestly, you do not have to go even that far for your angle. Hust a smidge ill or% fine. *he important thing is to light him slightly from one side and have him loo% slightly to ard the others. What if you have more than one person in the photoP ;o problem. *he principle still or%s. Let#s try it ith an 11&person group shot3

(am. Loo% at that. ;ot a shiner in the bunch. !nd four of them are earing glasses. !nd $ %ne $ as o%ay before $ tool my first test shot. Light is coming from camera left @ speedlights in t o big umbrellas. (ut loo% at my group. !ll five,8- people earing glasses are standing ,or sitting- on the left. 3nd facing slightly right. !re there still reflectionsP Yep. (ut they are falling harmlessly out into space at far camera right. ,>or the record, there is a second flash at bac% camera right adding that splash of rim light.*hin% of the light hitting the glasses as a pool ball. $t#s going to reflect off of the glasses, no matter hat. *he thing is to position the glasses so that the angle is such that the light reflects off into space. 0oesn#t really matter here. Hust not to ards your camera. $f the subject is loo%ing a ay from the light, that#s a piece of ca%e. *hat#s all there is to it. 2222222222 ! little fun story3 *here are other ays to do this, too. +ome more complicated. +ome ... less elegant. $ read about a edding photographer in .hina ho has everyone ho is earing glasses ta%e them off and replace them ith one of the sets of glasses out of the bo) he brings. 1nly he has removed all of the glass from those frames . .lever as hell, actually. (ut $#d thin% you#d ant to be pretty early in that line rather than last. (ecause $ can#t imagine that the empty frames are all that great loo%ing...

#ong0Throw 6ard #ight

Qere#s another little tric%, and one more lighting techni'ue e)ample before e move on to your learning ho to 7reverse engineer7 others# light. !nd to get you started thin%ing that ay, $ am going to guide you through reverse engineering this photo. >or lac% of a better term, $ am going to call this techni'ue 7long&thro hard light.7 *his photo, li%e the bac%lit %ids ta%ing a bo onstage, is a good e)ample of just hat %ind of a or%ing distance you can acheive ith a small shoe&mount flash. *he light in this case as a ;i%on +(&EG on a stand, at full po er, G9mm thro , about a G0& 100 feet from the budding gymnasts. $ as or%ing at !+! G00 but the light ma%es the photo crisp and gives the illusion of a lo er !+!, in my opinion at least. *his as also shot ith an early ;i%on 01, hich did not do nearly as ell ith high !+!#s as do today#s bodies. OM, let#s brea% do n the light as e e)plain the techni'ue. Loo% at the picture. Was the light on the right or the leftP $t as to my left, as the shado of the obscurred, bac% center gymnast on the right side of the bac%ground should sho you. Was the light hard or softP Well, you already %no that. Qard. !s it darn ell had better be if you are thro ing a shoe&mount flash 100 feet. $magine ho tiny that actual light source loo%s at that distance. *hat#s ho hard the light ill appear to the subject. What as my lighting ratioP *he tonal value of the shado s of the gymnasts on the all, compared to the lit portion of the all, should clue you into the fact that $ as or%ing my ambient about 1 1FE stops belo the strobe.

7+o, gyms are not daylight&lit,7 you say. ;o, they are not. ;ot here $ live, any ay. *hey are usually ic%y sodium vapor color. *he closest $ could get my flash as to gel for florescents on the flash, dial it in on the camera, and dial the hite balance compensation do n to &1 ,a bit armer- to try to 7spac%le over7 the inconsistencies a bit. $f $ had missed it badly, here ould you see itP $f you said the color of the ,ambient&lit- shado s on the alls, bro nie points for you. (ut the gymnasts ould have loo%ed a little bit hin%y on the shado side, too. What about the gymnasts in the foregroundP *hey are closer to the flash, yet they are not as brightly lit. What givesP Qere#s here the tight beam spread of the G9mm setting on the +(&EG pays off for a second time. (ecause it has a controlled beam spread, $ as able to 7feather7 the light, or aim it a fe degrees high. *his put the %ids on the balance beam in the main path of the light and the %ids in front in the fall&off, bottom portion of the beam. Why did $ do itP "urely sobjective choice. $ anted to emphasize the %ids on the beam, instead of the ones in the foreground. *hey ould have been brighter than the beam %ids had $ not feathered. *he success of this photo is not the final product ,$ li%e it, but it is not the end all- but rather the difference in hat the photo ould have loo%ed li%e & really bad & if $ had shot available light in the dar%, cavernous gym. ;o on&camera lighting techni'ue could have helped much, either.

'tro*e;")*ient Balance = " 'horthand .a2 o5 Thin:ing


O%ay, so by no you should have a decent understanding of ho you can balance flash flash ith ambient light. $n this segment, e#ll give that process a little shorthand language to help you understand other photographers hen they tal% about the ay the lit a photo. Qere, $ ant to accomplish t o things3 %& *o set you up ith a ay of 'uic%ly understanding andFor communicating ho a given photo as balanced, and (& *o not have to repeat full, detailed number&by&number al%&throughs on this process every time e mi) flash and ambient. Which is just about every lit photo e shoot. 2222222222 >irst, a little confession. Lots of times hen $ am e)plaining to someone ho a photo as lit, they ill ant to %no everything && shutter speed, $+O, aperture, flash po er settings, etc. $ have to be honest ith you && most of the time $ have no idea hat those numbers ere. $t is not that $ forgot them. $t#s just that $ didn#t care enough about them hen $ as ma%ing the photo to remember them, so they never registered. ;o %idding, if you as% a professional "H, 7What#s your favorite >FstopP7 Qe or she ill %no you are tal%ing about the amateurs that sidle up to us at a football game. We are really not that numbers oriented. *ruth be told, $ don#t thin% in terms of absolute >Fstops and shutter speeds. *hey are not hat is important. $t#s the relationship %et$een the different light levels that is important. *a%e the photo of my friend +hadi, above. $t as shot on a hazy, colorless afternoon in 0ubai. Qere as the process to ma%e this photo3 %& >ind the e)posure for the ambient. ,*hat#s easy & just grab a shot on auto or zero out a manual e)posure.(& On manual mode, set the camera to undere)pose the scene by t o stops. ,& +et the camera to tungsten W(, to shift everything from dar% grey to dar% blue. 1& Light +hadi from the front ith a flash ith a .*O gel ,plus an additional 1FB .*O gel for e)tra armth.-

>& 1im light him ,from behind, lo - ith t o ungelled flashes, at about t o stops do n compared to the main flash. *hat is the actual relative e)posure level hitting +hadi, already accounting for the fact that that the flashes ere ungelled. ,*he gel eats light from the %ey flash. +o the rims might have actually been set I to I 1FE stops do n in terms of absolute po er settings.2222222222 $f $ ere tal%ing to another pro about this photo, $ ould li%ely just say this3 -4e dropped the am%ient t$o stops, shot on tungsten, #(1&d the "ey light *plus an extra 5uarter cut, and left the rim lights ungelled, a%out t$o stops %elo$ the main!*hat sentence tells me everything $ need to %no , because it starts ith an assumed reference3 *hey properly e)posed %ey light. What ere the e)posure settingsP .an#t remember, and don#t care. $t#s just not that important. What is important is the relationship bet een the flash e)posure and the ambient e)posure3 !bout t o stops. !nd, just to ma%e things more comple), the fact that e did the tungsten& ambient shift, overgelled the %ey and left the rims straight. ?nderstanding this shorthand ay of thin%ing drills into your head that it is the relationships bet een the lights that matter && not the absolute settings. *here are t o po er ratios to thin% about here3 *he relationship bet een the %ey light and the ambient, and the relationship bet een the %ey light and the fill ,andFor bac%ground- flashes. /iven that our first e)ample as a little comple), lets al% through some familiar photos, thin%ing and tal%ing in shorthand about the balance.

-6odium vapor am%ient! 6hot on daylight, underexposed the $ind tunnel %y 1 7)8 stops, %are flash %ehind the fan %lades a%out a stop hot!+o, this tells us that the reference point for the e)posure as actually %et$een the e)posures for the flash and the ambient. *his photo is undere)posed by 1 EFI stops for the ambient, and the flashed area is one stop overe)posed. 6y ambient is 1 EFI stops do n && on the rong color balance && and my flash is a stop overe)posed. *his photo should really suc%, rightP Qonestly, if one area of the frame ere 7correctly7 e)posed, it ould not be as interesting. *he important thing is that $ chose these relative brightness levels, ithout being chained to my camera#s ambient meter or the 7proper value7 of some incident flash meter. ,You can read more about this photo, including those unimportant fFstops and shutter speeds, here 2222222222 Let#s try it again3 -6hot on daylight setting in a tungsten room! 'xposed for the flash under the orange %o$l on #hris& face and dropped the room %y a stop and a half!What#s my reference pointP *he flash#s e)posure on .hris#s face. $ put the flash under the bo l on lo po er, shot a couple of frames until $ got the aperture right. ,Kasier than adjusting that flash.- !nd then dialed in the shutter to set the ambient to a stop&and&a&half do n. *echnically, $ supposed $ should have shot in tungsten, but hy get rid of all of that surreal colorP (esides, have you seen .hris Qurtt#s natural s%in

tone at midnight in a bar in a 0ubai hotelP $#m just sayin#. *hin%ing about your flash and ambient in terms of their relative ,as opposed to absolutevalues not only ma%es you 'uic%er at reverse engineering photos, but ma%es you 'uic%er at pre&visualizing and creating them, too. 2222222222 +ometimes you are or%ing so far above the ambient that it is not a component of the e)posure at all. Yes, you need to communicate that. (ut given that you are far enough above the ambient for it not to be an issue it really doesn#t matter if you are five stops over, or t elve3 -4e "illed the am%ient9 um%rella at camera left, go%o&d to control the reflection on the loc"er9 ring light fill a%out t$o stops do$n!What as the $+OP *he fFstopP *he shutter speedP *he flash#s po er settingsP 0on#t remember, don#t care. (ecause all you need to %no to reproduce that loo% is in the short description above. !nd if you start thin%ing about your photos this ay, you#ll find that the lighting design comes easier and easier. ,6ore on this assignment here 2222222222 O%ay, one more3 -'xposed for flashes in chopper one in front ca%in, t$o in %ac" and dropped the am%ient %y three stops!*hat is all there is to it, and tells you everything you need to %no about lighting and e)posing photo. !gain, the absolute settings do not really matter, from a reverse&engineering point of vie . *hey are yours to choose based on hat depth of field ,or rotor&stopping shutter speed- you ,6ore on this assignment here -

ant.

+o, does this stuff ma%e senseP $t had better, because you are going to be seeing a lot more of this lingo in the future around here. 0on#t orry, it is not li%e the posts are going to be three sentences long from here on out. ,You ish...- *here is still a lot of stuff to thin% about hen you are creating and lighting a photo. $t#s just that e do not really need to re&invent that heel any more. $nstead, $#ll just give you the info in a ay that helps you to thin% on your feet better and lin% to this page for the ne bs. $ realize that the vast majority of the people ho read this site are amateurs. (ut as many times as e#ll be going through this process, e should start tal%ing and thin%ing li%e pros. !nd if you just dropped in and this is all /ree% to you, definitely give the (alancing >lash and !mbient posts another read...

!e+erse Engineering

ther 'hooters' #ight


+o, you#ve or%ed your ay through most of Lighting 101 ,seriously, you#re in the home stretch- and you are hopefully starting to get a grasp of basic photographic lighting. You might not thin% you are an e)pert, but you also bring a lifetime of subconscious light analyzing e)perience to the party. When you see someone standing out in the sun, you pretty much %no here the sunlight is coming from just by instantly processing the ay the surfaces on their body and face are reacting to the light. You %no hether it is a cloudy day, or a sunny one, or noon, or late evening or hatever. +o really, you are reverse&engineering light all of the time. $n this same ay, you can learn a lot about ho a photograph as lit just by loo%ing at it. *hat#s because light has to obey the la s of physics. You cannot hide ho you lit something. Kverything about the light @ style, color, direction, size, beam spread, etc., @ is on display for any shooter ith the illingness to figure out.

$t may ta%e a little effort at first, but you#ll get used to it. !nd stic% to fairly simple photos at first, or just try to reverse&engineer the main ,or 7%ey7- light in the frame. *rue, sometimes photos ill be composites or heavily "hotoshopped and the light on#t ma%e sense. (ut don#t feel bad, as that is li%ely more of a bad reflection on the photographer ho shot the photo than on your engineering s%ills.

+ometimes hen you are creating light you ant to have a logic to it. *hat is to say, you are creating light that could have e)isted and ma%es sense. *hat#s the case in the fencing photo, above. (ut sometimes you can go off the beaten path and create light that has no real logic but just loo%s cool, or theatrical or even ethereal3

*he %ey light in those t o photos is the same @ a speedlight stuc% in a large paper Hapanese lantern and suspended overhead by fishing line. (ut the fencer light is believable and logical and the soprano in the oods is more theatrical. i.e., that light is probably not really going to e)ist in the oods at night. Kither ay, most of the time you should be able to analyze and figure out the light that has been used by others. Hust loo% at it and as% 'uestions.

Qere are some starters.

T3 What direction is the light coming fromP !3 *he shado s ill tell you.

T3 Were there multiple sourcesP !3 ,O%ay, this one is pretty easy.- $f the light appears to be coming from multiple places andFor directions, yeah, probably multiple sources. !s you progress further into lighting, you#ll li%ely become interested in using multiple lights.

T3 $s the light falling over a small, restricted areaP !3 +uspect a snoot, or a grid.

T3 What is the easiest ay to chec% the style of the front light in a portraitP !3 1eflections in the subject#s eyes ill tell you a lot about the frontal lighting3

Loo%ing at photos can intuitively tell you other things, too.

T3 Was the light nearbyP !3 .hec% ho fast it falls off as it travels across the subject. >alls off fastP "robably pretty close. >alls off slo ly or not at allP "robably further a ay.

T3 0o the highlights transition smoothly to the shado sP !3 $t as probably a soft light source. Qard transitions signal harder light sources.

T3 $s that light strobe or continuousP !3 *ric% 'uestion. ?nless there is movement over time involved, you can&t tell. Light is light. !nd you#ll learn to use that to your advantage. >or instance, in the photo above , hich as ta%en in a nearly pitch&blac% room- there are six light sources3 a flash on his face, another filling the entire scene and t o in the rafters bouncing off of the ooden ceiling. *he other t o are the fire and the red&hot metal he is or%ing on. *hose count, too.

T3 Whoa, ho neon blueP

did they get that overcast s%y so

!3 +et the camera balance to tungsten, hich renders the formerly neutral clouds blue. ?ndere)pose the s%y ,to, say, a stop belo medium grey- for more of an effect. *hen, .*O& gel the flash lighting your subject to render the light hitting it as hite and you have the effect. (oom, instant moody atmosphere. *here are no secrets hen it comes to light. Only physics. !nd as for the light bulb image above, it as done completely in&camera @ no "hotoshop. $f you ant to ta%e a little side trip and see ho it as done, chec% out the On !ssignment post on this image,here.

Pre03isuali?ing Your #ight


*he big problem ith flash is that for many photographers it is a leap of faith. $t happens so fast you can#t really see it @ or hat it#s doing. .ontinuous light is so much more comfortable, because e can observe it real&time. One or%around for this is to use a big, heavy e)pensive flash ith a 7modeling7 light built in. *he modeling light mimics the much more po erful flash ,same location as the attached flash- and sho s you hat the flash ill illuminate, and ho . $ am going to try to tal% you out of that, to start. WhyP (ecause flashes ith modeling lights are bigger and more e)pensive. !nd either they have to plug into the all or they need pretty heavy batteries. !nd besides, ith a little e)perimenting you#ll find you don#t need that crutch of a modeling light. Qere#s hy. You %no hat hard light loo%s li%e. +unny day. You %no hat soft light loo%s li%e. .loudy day. You already have a lot more intuition about light than you thin%. You just have to hone it a little, as e tal%ed about in the last post about reverse&engineering others# lighting. $t#s the same thingU e are just approaching it from the opposite direction. You are trying to visualize hat your light ill loo% li%e ,i.e., hat it ill illuminate- %efore the fact, not after. You#ll ant to %no things li%e, a- here ill the light fall, and b- ill there be reflectionsP

1eflections are pretty easy. Light or%s li%e a pool shot. Light ill reflect off of a subject at the same angle ,but in opposite direction- that it struc%. *hat is hy e learned to light eyeglass earers at an obli'ue angle. *he reflections are still there. *hey are just diverted to bounce harmlessly a ay from the camera vie ing angle. You can also pop the flash and 7eyeball7 the scene & especially shiny or glass areas & to chec% for reflections, too. Hust ma%e sure you are loo%ing from the same position from hich you ill be shooting. $t is easier than you thin%. *ry it. ;o , here ill the light fallP What ill be illuminatedP *hat one is different, and is the main reason most people use modeling lights. !nd there is a really easy or%around to this 'uestion. You are already used to al%ing around a loo%ing at your scene from a fe vie to choose your camera angle. ,You should be, any ay.different points of

You need to get in the habit of doing this ith your light, too. ! good time to do it is hile you are setting up your lights. +imply vie the subject from the position of your light. When you are loo%ing at the scene from your light#s position, you see exactly $hat the light

$ill see! 6a%es sense, rightP !nd ith a little practice, this ill eliminate your need for a modeling light. $t is a very fast procedure. Kspecially if you are folding the process into that of setting up the lights. $ %no it may sound a little eird. (ut just try it.

It's Not 7"ll8 "*out Flash

/uess hatP You made it all the ay through Lighting 101. *his is the last lesson. !nd you are probably a little sto%ed about your ne &found s%ills. You might even already be playing ith your starter %it. ,$f not, you are totally ready to.+o $ am going to suggest something to you that may sound a little strange3 $t#s not about flash. "hoto&graphy is, literally, riting ith light. *hat#s hat e do. !nd you have just enough flash and lighting %no ledge right no to be pretty dangerous. (ecause your photos are going to loo% better, more polished, more professional, etc. (ut don#t ma%e your your photography all about off&camera flash @ or even all about light. $t#s also about content and moment and emotion and gesture and setting and, yes, light, (ut the point is that it is notall about light. !nd certainly, it#s not all about flash. $ say this because since starting +trobist in E00J $ have seen literally thousands of talented ,and other ise perfectly normal- photographers become infatuated ith their ne found

lighting s%ills to the point here all they thought about as the light. +o off&camera flash is all they are paying attention to. Which is not good. Lighting is a tool. !nd you are learning ho education and training than the average photographer. !nd that#s great. (ut it is important to ma%e your lighting %no ledge light additive to your previous e)istence as a photographer and not a substitute for all of those other cool s%ills you used to bring to the table. $n other ords, use your ne and gro ing s%ills to nurture your o n e)isting s%ills as a photographer. 0on#t let lighting ta%e over and subsume your creative vision. *he very last thing $ ant to do is to %ill that individuality you had before you got here. Hust let lighting ma%e it better. 2222222222 !lso, ta%e time to just loo% at light. $ mean real, ambient light. 0aylight. $ndustrial light. (lue hour light. /olden hour light. !ll %inds of light. 0iscover it. +tudy it. Wallo in it. !nd ma%e sure you %eep shooting ith natural light, too. *he photo at the top of this page, ta%en on my first night in Qavana, is natural light. (ut $ sa ,and continue to see- it differently because $ am a lighting photographer. *here#s a base&fill of blue&hour evening light, a couple of stops do n. !nd the unseen hidden street light ,at upper bac% right if that all asn#t there- is very arm. !nd it#s dominant over the blue @ as far as it reaches any ay. *he the fluorescent lights coming from inside the building at left are just as rich and green as you#d e)pect fluorescent lights to be. !nd if you ere creating this light , hich you#ll soon be able to do ith a little practice- hopefully you#d have the sense and good grace not to 7fi)7 those fluorescent lights. *he green is beautiful in this conte)t. *he palette in this picture or%s because it could literally be a painter#s palette @ some blue paint, some yello , and a section of the t o mi)ed together to ma%e a goopy green. !nd that#s the point of observing and respecting and discovering beautiful light. (ecause any light you can see, or imagine, or remember can be created ,or re&created- ith flash. !nd that#s frea%in# a$esome. to use it. !t this point, you already have more

One Last *hing... Only one in ten people ho start Lighting 101 actually finishes it. +o good for you for stic%ing ith it. !nd your persistence earns a little&%no n per%. $n E011 $ produced a J,C1- 0A0 set entitled Lighting in Layers, currently in its Jth printing3 $t#s an immersive ride&along on several shoots of varying levels of difficulty and all lit ith small flash. *he 0A0s are not for total beginners. (ut you are not a total beginner. Qaving completed L101, you %no enough to dive into these if you ant some more detailed and visual training. *hey sell for <19D.DD, and you can get much more info ,and a previe video- here . !nd as an L101 grad you can purchase the hard&copy 0A0 set, shipped free any here in the orld, for ?+0 <100 instead of the regular <19D.DD. Hust order them from 6id est "hoto and use the code 7L101/1!07 ,no 'uotes, please- at chec%out. !nd please, don#t post this discount code. $t#s an 7atta&boy7 ,or &girl- just for the people ho made it all the ay through L101. :P03(': 3ugust 7018: If you are a mem%er at Lynda!com, you already have access to the videos, here *han% You for 1eading Lighting 101 $ hope you enjoyed it, and learned a lot. You have the basics that you need to be a lighting photographer no . !nd $ also hope you#ll join us regularly no to follo and participate in the ongoing conversation e are having about light. We#re nearly E,000 posts in no , and counting. !nd you certainly understand enough to follo along and learn more. ;e posts go up once or t ice a ee%. You can just sho up ,al ays elcome- or subscribe via email , e#ll never spam you- or follo via 1++ to %eep up automatically. *han%s for reading, 0avid Qobby