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Special Effects Intro

Lesson 19 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

Special Effects Intro

Lesson 19 from: Incredible Engagement Photography

Pye Jirsa

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Lesson Info

19. Special Effects Intro

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is about using special effects in engagement photography to enhance the quality of the images.


  1. What are the top three special effects tools that can be controlled within the camera?

    The top three special effects tools that can be controlled within the camera are aperture, shutter speed, and focal length.

  2. How does aperture affect the appearance of light in a photograph?

    Aperture controls the shape of the light coming into the camera. Closing down the aperture tightens up the beads when water is sprayed on the lens, while opening it up creates big blurry blooming effects.

  3. How can shutter speed be used as a special effects tool?

    Slowing down the shutter speed can create a smooth appearance of water, capture motion of people or objects, or create a whip pan effect.

  4. How does focal length affect the look of a photograph?

    Focal length can change the perspective of a photograph by making backgrounds appear far away or closer to the subject. It also affects the feel of bokeh elements.

  5. What are some other special effects tools that can be used in engagement photography?

    Other special effects tools include flash, tripod motions, compositing, bracketing and HDR, tilt shift, prisms, spray bottles, LED lights, sparklers, free lensing, pano and brenizer effects, and fog.

Next Lesson: Shoot: Backlighting


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Posing Guidance for Him


Posing Guidance for Her


Foundational Posing


Posing Touch Points


Couples Body Language


Posing Three Point Check


Posing Tips with Demo


Lesson Info

Special Effects Intro

Now, we kind of have done up to this point, we focused on natural light, and modification of natural light, and that's cool. We did a few different shots in each scene, we did a couple shots here, a couple shots there, and a couple shots here. And Trevor and Kenneth both brought up a good point. This corner, I don't know if you guys can see it that well on camera, it's not generally a place that a photographer would go and hey, I wanna shoot in this corner. Like this isn't a nice area. But hopefully what you've guys is seen is through the usage of our tools and posing and the light, what we show and crop and show on camera, we can get to some pretty great results. By understanding light, shaping it in there and kind of getting everything set. Now we're gonna go a step beyond. So we kind of said the catch line of this course was kind of, see differently. Seeing things differently is one of those things that we try and train our people on, as they come in the studio, is to see the world ...

through the eyes of a camera. And it's one of those things that's easy to say, not necessarily so easy to do 'cause it'll take some practice. But what we're gonna do now is, I'm gonna go to the slides. And we're gonna play to the location now with special effects help. So we talked about this. The better your location and existing light is, so you go to this side, the less need that we have for special effects. It doesn't matter, it doesn't mean that we don't use them, like we still use sparklers, and all sorts of cool stuff, we still use all these things even when the location is great, it's just the need for it isn't really there. It's just we choose to do that to make our images look a unique way. But the more, the poorer the location is, this is when we really need to pull out our magicians hat, we need more special effects. So we're gonna kinda assume, I really like the shots that we did against this wall, I thought they turned out fantastic, I liked the shots going this way, I like the shots in this corner. But now we're gonna show you how different those things can be as we add special effects. And what are the special effects tools that we use. Here's our 15 favorites. You'll notice that we put aperture, shutter, and focal length as the top three, because these are three things that you actually control within your camera. And they're kind of things that we consider special effects, right? So, for your aperture. Obviously we know that we're controlling exposure. But I usually say that there are, there are, with every one of these different functions, there are two things that we're controlling. An artistic element, an exposure element, right? We all know the exposure element. Close down the aperture, you get less light in, you open it up, you get more light in, you get more depth of field. That's the exposure side, sorry. Exposure side. The artistic side is the depth of field. So the artistic component of that, we open it up, we get blurry backgrounds, we close it down, we get more depth of field, we get sharp backgrounds. But then, there's also another component to that. Which is, what does the aperture make your light look like? Your aperture is gonna control, like as we do things like spray the lense with water. And yes, we are gonna spray the lense with water. As you do things like spray the lense with water, as you shoot into the sun with the sunlight coming into the frame for flare, or for whatever it is, your aperture controls the shape of the light coming in. So, you close down your aperture, and you'll see that when we spray the front lense with water it's going to tighten up the beads, and the beads become very small. As we open it up, we get these big blurry blooming effects. Same thing, when we shoot into the sun, if we want the sun to be a starburst, we go to like f/14. And then at f/14 when it comes through, we get a star shaped sun. As opposed to at f/2, or f/2.8, or f/4, if we shoot into the sun, it just looks like a circle. So that's that component of aperture. Shutter speed. Well, you guys have seen a lot of our stuff, we incorporate a lot of motion into our shots. So with that motion, we're slowing the shutter down to say, make the water appear smooth over the ocean. Or to get people to look like they're moving through a frame, which is one of the shots that we're gonna create in this class. Or to get cars to look like they're rushing through, or to do a whip pan, which we'll demonstrate in our nighttime class. So, shutter, we can either choose to freeze, or to show emotions. So that's a special effects tool. I want you guys to think first. As you guys think of your tools, think to what you have readily available first as you go through, and then think to the more abstract. Focal length. With focal length, we control how much we wanna... You guys have heard of compression, yeah? Compression, the funny thing is, we talk about certain things like distortion and compression and bokeh, did you guys know like bokeh and compression, these are all lense distortions, or effects. They're all classified under, a distortion is something that makes it look differently than it actually is. So anything that makes it look different than how you're seeing it with your eyes, is basically a distortion. We just use it to our advantage. With the focal length, if we're shooting wide we can make backgrounds look far away, we can capture tons of stuff. When we shoot tight we can get the backgrounds to come up closer to a subject, and it also changes the feel of bokeh elements. The interesting thing about, it's kind of like it's a fun debate but, in general there's a discussion about compression where the longer the lense, the more compression you get. We say that because when you look at the image, if you shoot something on a 200mm lense, it looks like it pulls the background forward. In reality all it is is cropping, and the background stayed exactly where it is, it's just that tighter crop on the thing makes it look as if the background is closer. So that's the effect it has. We can add flash. So the thing with flash is to kind of imagine what would a scene look like if we remove light from one area and then add it to another, okay. So we're gonna do flash, we're gonna use tripod motions, we're gonna use tripod to create motion, we're also gonna use tripod to help us to plate things. So we're gonna do composite work with tripods, very simple type compositing. And that leads us to compositing, which is where we're gonna take multiple shots, blend things in post. If you do it right, you could get shots that you couldn't create in real life, you can do in five minutes with the right type of compositing, which we'll show you. Bracketing and HDR, this is number seven on our list because although I kind of organized theses in somewhat of most useful to a most abstract. Meaning like, I'm not busting out fog on every single one of my shoots. You know what I mean like, that's tough. We do that on high production value shoots, high stylized sessions that we'll actually break out the fog and do that kind of stuff. But we kind of go in this order. Bracketing is great, it just means work in post production. So if I can do something with flash, and get it right in the camera, I'll usually default to that. Bracketing gives me a little bit of a different option of how I can post produce it, but it's a great tool. Tilt shift. Fantastic tool for getting blurry effects, really cool. Prism, spray bottle, spray bottle's one of my favorites actually, that should have been like up top. I love prisms too, you can bend light, get really cool flares with them. I actually brought, so, we'll probably do some demonstration. But this is an amlong crystal, I brought the box so you guys can see, when you look on Amazon they're like 20 bucks. But it's a really nice just glass prism, we use that. Things like this are made popular by people like Sam Hurd, they do it a lot in like bending and getting reflections, that was really cool. LED lights. Oh, look at these guys. These are fun for front foreground element effects. So we'll dangle these in front of the camera to get foreground effects. You can do other cool things, like you can slow the shutter down, put it on a tripod, and go like this, and shake it in front you'll actually get really cool motion effects. Sparklers! I love sparklers. On multiple levels, but they're great for photography, too. So just like regular sparklers, these are little guys, we got big guys. But we're gonna do some sparkler effects. Super inexpensive, very easy to carry with you, you just need your lighter and then that's all you need. And then free lensing. Are you guys familiar with free lensing? I have four different free lenses here. These are just old lenses that I broke the backs off of, you guys can find tutorials on how to make a free lense very easily, but you hold this over the DSLR when you're shooting to get kind of blurry tilt shift effects and like kind of a haze. We'll do some of that to. Fun. Pano and brenizer effects. Really cool, panoramic style effects that we can create, I don't know if we'll, we'll probably show you actually one example in the post production side. And then we have fog. And I also brought this stuff. This is, a friend of mine came up with this stuff, it's Atmosphere Aerosol. So we use fog machines generally, for all of our shoots. But I know that fog machines are cumbersome and they're, like you have to have an assistant, and we have to take a generator with us, like a small generator that we carry to each shoot. We don't mind doing that, but that's like $1000 to $ of cost, this guy's like ten bucks. And you can just buy some and lay down some fog in a room like this, and it'll stay for a good amount of time. So if you guys need fog effects and you want something that is portable these are really great. Okay, so we'll do some demos on that too.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Pre-Shoot Videos
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Presets Installation Guide
Gear Guide
Favorite Software
Lightroom Presets

Ratings and Reviews

CPR Photography

I think Pye Jirsa is one of the best, if not the best, instructor for photography on Creative Live. He is very personable, smart and approachable. He has a perfect blend of personality (comments, laughs, tangents..) to the amount of instruction. He asks the questions for you, because he knows you are thinking those questions right then. He's very good about identifying settings, gear, etc.. and not leaving us in the dark about how he "got the shot". He goes into great detail. His instructions flow, but are linear, which is helpful. He's very organized, and you can tell that he really put a lot of work into his presentations (slides, video, test shoots, live teaching, graphics, etc..) I have been listening to him for like 10 hours straight, and still haven't gotten tired of him. He keeps things moving, He's very funny too. Nice job, I've learned so much. :)

a Creativelive Student

This course was AMAZING. I'd say int he past year or two I've fallen into a slump. Uninspired by my surroundings and uninspired by my clients. As a result, it showed through my work. My posing suffered as well and more than a handful of times some of my shoots became more than awkward. Then I bought this course and watched most of it in the course of a day. I walked away inspired, blown away, and renewed. The next day I walked into an engagement session confident. I gave my couples a quick overview on posing and then we just had fun in front of the camera. Immediately afterwards they texted me about how amazing their shoot was and how relaxed I made them feel about posing. The photos turned out fantastic to say the least. I've since shot several more engagement sessions and each one of them has been amazing. If anything, this course should inspire photographers to think outside the box and provide you with the necessary skills to take incredible engagement photos. Thank you Pye and Creative Live! I cannot speak more highly of this course. I should also state I purchased Pye's Natural Light course on SLR Lounge: this course is a wonderful addition to that. If you already own the natural light course and are hesitant about purchasing this one, don't. Buy it and reap the benefits!


This is by far one of the best courses I have taken. Pye makes learning fun and easy to understand. I feel like I have learned so much throughout the course, that I have truly advanced my photography skills. I am so excited to get out there and try so many of the techniques that he showed. I would love to take another course of his. The pricing for the course doesn't even compare to how wonderful the education truly is, I really got more than my money's worth on this one.

Student Work