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Live Shoot: 2 Light Set-up

Lesson 18 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

18. Live Shoot: 2 Light Set-up


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How to Make Senior Photos Stand Out


What is Lighting in Layers?


Build a Lighting Foundation


Layer One: Main Light


Layer Two: Fill Light


Layer Three: Accent Light


Layer Four: Additional Light


Lesson Info

Live Shoot: 2 Light Set-up

We'll get set up now for a two light set up with pretty neutral light just using the soft lighter umbrella. Dan I'm wondering if you can explain again, I know you have on camera flash on the slides as well, but the difference between using that B one and an on camera flash or speed light. The look, as far as, just what's the difference for somebody out there? The difference in using a speed light versus a B one, if you're using the same modifiers, there isn't a difference which is why it's important to remember, that it's not so much about which actual light you own as much as it's about the modifiers and how you use it. Because if you were to put a speed light on this stand at this height through an umbrella or B one, nobody's gonna be able to tell the difference if you're using it correctly, both of them. It's the consistent use and correct use of the equipment you have, not so much what equipment you have. Again, that's why I tell people, if you have the equipment, there's no ru...

sh to go out and rush to buy new stuff, you just need to learn how to use what you have already. Is five point six aperture pretty typical you use in this studio setting? In this studio, a lot of time, I'll use like five, six or eight, if I want something to be really sharp and have a lot of detail, depending on how I'm gonna process it later, sometimes I'll go up to 11, 14 things like that, I know there are photographers, who shoot things close to F and they have that hyper sharp, almost three D quality to their editing and let's say you're using a really wide lens form really close and you're shooting somebody, I don't know. If you're really close to somebody with a wide lens, then if you have that really sharp aperture going, then you're gonna get more in focus and the whole image is gonna be nice and crisp. For me, I like that medium range, especially for studio stuff of seniors. I'll usually pick something around five, six or eight, I don't wanna go too wide open for two reasons. One, I don't necessarily love a shallow depth of field in studio, I don't love that look and two, a lot of times, I don't have my lights, they're not able to turn down enough power to be able to shoot at one point four, one point eight in the studio, because I don't use high speed sync. Yes? For your style of shooting, do you prefer umbrellas to boxes and if so, why? Okay, I was gonna say something earlier and then I lost my thought, but two reasons. I do prefer the umbrellas, because I like the quality of light of having my light be reflected and shot into the umbrella and then back through that diffusion source, I feel like it's softer and more consistent, it doesn't have as much of a hotspot and two, I generally hate setting up soft boxes, I either feel like I'm gonna lose an eye or a limb or something's gonna go crazy, because there's so much tension on those rods, and I know they've made improvements, but to be able to construct something as simple as this and just set up an umbrella, everybody knows how to set up an umbrella, it's just easy, the storage is easier, not dealing with rods, you're not dealing with speed rings and all that stuff, it's just this and most lights have an umbrella slot. Those are the two main reasons, just the lack of hotspots, the more even quality of light and the ease of use. Cooper, you can come back over here. I'm gonna have you stand and now we're gonna do fills. Some of you guys are gonna be blocked, you'll have to watch it on the monitor, but actually, we'll just switch the light around. We're gonna move our light to this side, we're gonna go with this umbrella, let's see. We'll go with more of a harder quality, because we don't need to put the sock back on there. We'll raise it up. Since we'll have him standing, I want him to stand, that way you, guys, will be able to see, cuz if you're sitting the light will have to come down. We're gonna tilt it, just get all of our basics set. Come up here just a little bit, there you go. Again, feathering the light in front of him, the back edge, everything I talked about over and over. And now we know the channel of this light's also on one A. I'm actually gonna turn the modeling light off and what we're gonna do is, we're gonna take a shot with the 50, overload this cart here slowly. We're gonna take the shot with the 50, we're gonna meter, we're just gonna keep shooting at five, six, that's not a meter, that is. And again, I need to remember little things, like this is still on TTL, so turn it back to manual or else frustrations happen, that you don't know why they're happening. We got that and we're at 200th of a second, ISO 100, this light's all the way turned down, so we're gonna go up to where I think It'll be close to five, six, we'll see how good we are guessing. Four, five, little short, go up. You can see. Five, six, there we are. We're back to correct exposure, put our trigger back on. We're gonna take one shot, I'm gonna have you stay right where you are, but turn this way, feet too, yeah and then just drop hands in pockets, that's perfect. You'll be looking right at me and this is just gonna be a standard shot from about the thighs up. He's wearing black, so he's gonna absorb a decent amount of light, one, two, three. Something didn't happen there, cuz of that. There you can see how much ambient light's coming in the room, none. One, two, three. There we go. Alright, there's our shot at five, six and you can also see how the light, how it's feathered, how it's hitting the background a little bit, it's cuz I'm further away. But this is at five, six, properly exposed, according to the meter. Now what I'm gonna do is, we're gonna introduce a V flat. I'm actually gonna move this guy over here, move some of our stuff and we're gonna bring in the V flat, because we want a little bit of fill, but we don't wanna start messing with the second light. We have our shot without any fill. With the V flat, we're actually gonna turn this almost inside out, because I'm gonna put this as close as possible and just we're catching all this light and reflecting it back and close enough, where it's not in the frame. What you'll see is a before and after of no fill, which is on the screen now, versus the same angle, same general idea, one, two, three. A shot, where we've introduced that fill. Look at the shadow side of his face and what you're gonna see here is a little before and after, we didn't change the F stops, we didn't change the light power, we didn't eve change the pose. All we did was add fill. It wasn't confusing, because there wasn't another light, we didn't have to thing where do we put it, it's just like when you're outside in the sun with the reflector, you put your reflector the opposite side of the sun, because you're reflecting. Super simple and it's really effective and it gave us a nice refined look on a one light setup. Again, it's still a one light setup, just a lot of people look at it and think it's two, because there you go. What I'm gonna do now is we're gonna get rid of the V flat and we're gonna start talking about lighting ratios with a secondary light. Don't worry, it's not gonna attack you, maybe, I don't know I'm actually gonna leave this here to kill the reflection from the wall, so when we're measuring light ratios, the only fill, that we'll be getting is from our secondary light. This is gonna be used just to absorb the light. We're gonna bring in a second light for this, just because it's handy, we'll use the B twos. And it doesn't matter, a lot of people think, since the B ones have the same power, then I can just turn up the digital meter on the B one, so it's one stop above. The reason why that doesn't work is, because the light's way farther away, a different modifier, so many other things, that it just doesn't work that way, so it doesn't matter what lights you use. It's just, as long as you're properly metering. We're gonna set that up, I have another umbrella, sorry. Right here, yup. We're gonna use another Photek. This is the smaller one and this is what I use for fill a lot of time, so I always keep it with my lights. It's the exact same light as that, it's just 10 inches smaller in diameter. For comparison, same light, same brand, same everything, just 10 inches smaller and I like that, because I can still put a sock on it and have soft fill or I can leave it like this, but when I'm using fill above my camera and I don't have a lot of ceiling height, unlike this room, I can use a smaller umbrella and still get the light I want. We're going to turn this on. I'm gonna shoot from the same spot. We'll air with this, we'll go a little closer. Just so we can keep everything in a compact area and that way everybody can still see the monitor I still want my fill to be at a similar height, that's not always the case, but for this, I'm filling shadow on one side of his face, so I'm not so worried about the light height as much, plus I wanna shoot from underneath it. What we're going to do is I'm gonna turn this off to start and we're gonna shoot from, I'll stand, we're gonna take one shot real quick, nothing else has changed, let's, just for purposes of education, let's meter and make sure nothing changed, because as we're gonna be using these ratios, I want it to be pretty well exact. Again, we're going for five point six. He hasn't moved, boom. Changed a little bit, so here we go. Keep going, the there way, five, six. We know that's true. We'll turn the meter down here, put our trigger back and we're gonna take one shot, so you just stay right there the whole time, we're gonna take one shot with our 50 at 200th of a second, ISO 100 five, six. Looking right here, I'm gonna go from just below the hands up, one, two, three. We'll see here, this is just the standard shot. This would be with no fill and no fills even coming off this wall, because we're eating it up with that black V flat. Now we're gonna turn on our fill light. Fill here is gonna be on, we're gonna start with, we'll go with the four to one lighting rig. Actually, we'll just start from the top, we're gonna go with the one to one lighting ratio. Basically, I want both the highlights, the lit side from our main light and the shadow side to both read five point six. We're gonna take two readings. We're gonna take one from where we did before and I don't know what this is at yet, because we haven't metered. Both lights are firing, we already knew this was five point six, because of that shot. Now we wanna read the shadow side. It's five point six, this time it might go up, because of the fill. Yeah, so what we need to do is balance them out. Bingo, we're back to five point six, we're turning this up a little bit and now on the shadow side, we're at five point six. This should look pretty evenly lit, based on what we know about a one to one lighting ratio. Alright, looking right here, one, two, three. Alright, let's look at the screen, there we are, pretty even, right? We know that, because our meter told us from both sides, he's at five point six. What we're gonna do now, that was one to one, we wanna go to two to one. If you guys remember, two to one means we go down with our shadow side by one stop. I'm gonna attempt to do that on here and just go down one stop. Sometimes it's inexact, just because of the main light. Now with that being said, the highlight side of his face was at five, six, if you go down one stop to this side, it's gonna be at four. We're gonna meter here and now we're gonna meter. This went down, it affected the whole shot, cuz your fill is hitting both sides of his face, so it was at five. I'm turning this one up a little bit. We wanna get five, six, too much. There we go, five, six and we want this side to read four. It says five, so we need to go down just a few clicks. It says four, five, four, almost there. Should be golden, hold it out, four. We're at five, six on one side four, that's a two to one lighting ratio. What we'll see is we're gonna go from this flat type of light, nothing else has changed, except for we need this, didn't even make myself look dump yet, alright. One, two, three. Now you'll see his shadow will start to happen on that side. Again, I'm gonna do one more, have your chin up just a little bit, yep. One, two, three. Yeah, just to keep it consistent. Let me, okay. Here's one to one, two to one. You can see, that's with no fill, just so you can see the difference. One to one, two to one. And you can see our fill is also lighting the background. Now, the last one we're gonna do is to two to one, we're gonna go to four to one, so you just double it every time. Now we need that to read five point six, this is down two stops, we're gonna be down at two point eight. We'll go down a stop here, good catch. Alright. We want this to read five, six. Boom, five, six, we want this to read five, eight. It's still too high, cuz I turned that one up. This is gonna look almost like we have no fill. What it's gonna come down to? We're at four, that's back where we were. That's why you can see why, sometimes when you can just use a reflector as fill, it's a lot less confusing, but we're also trying to get exact light measurements here, which a lot of times we're not trying to do. We're at three, two, so I'm just gonna go down another third and we should be golden. Two, eight, now we're at a four to one lighting ratio. Let's hook this guy back up, same pose, same look, looking right towards me, one, two, three. You're gonna see quite a bit of shadow, there we go. It's almost like we're not using any fill at all. I didn't measure to see what the ambient fill was on that side of his face from this one, but it looks to be almost the same. That's why you can see an eight to one lighting ratio is almost essentially not using another light. It just depends what you like. If I was doing business portraits and we need that nice neutral light, I'll do more of a one to one ratio, where this is starting to sculpt the light a little bit and then this is adding a lot more drama. It just really depends what you want with your fill and again, the source of your fill, we're using both the same light with the same material and all that, it's kind of a silver-ish umbrella, but it really just depends what you wanna get from it and how you wanna use for fill. You saw before how we did, again, oops. Just going with no fill to just a reflector, how easy that was and essentially, that looks like about a two to one light ratio, from what we know looking at that. It's almost the same thing.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Lighting Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting Terms Guide

Ratings and Reviews

pete hopkins

awesome teacher and awesome technique. after soooo many webinars, it's really great to see someone break it down to the bare bones of lighting with exceptional quality results. i can listen to Dan all day. no pretense, no over the top emotional pleas, no drama! did i say awesome!!!! Plus, I'm a huge fan of the B! and B2 systems. Freedom is key. Now I can shoot anywhere, anytime. Thanks Dan.


This is by far the best class on senior photography I have found on creativelive. Dan explains the technical aspects in an easy to understand format. He does a great job going through studio shots, outdoor shots, editing and marketing. He's given me some great ideas and inspired me to be more creative. I am going to rewatch the lighting set up for the "hero shot". It's super cool!

Tristanne Endrina

Dan was great. His class was very comprehensive but easy to follow. The slides he used weren't flashy. Instead, they were simple and he went at a good pace. I left feeling like I could really pull off the lighting techniques he taught. I'm excited to put what I learned into my photography. :) Thanks, Dan.

Student Work