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Live Shoot: Accent Light

Lesson 19 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

19. Live Shoot: Accent Light


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: Accent Light

So now that we've messed with the... our fill light. Reflector fill, our V flat, two lights, umbrella plus fill, light ratios, our accent light is next. So we're gonna introduce that. We'll do one quick accent light, just so I can show. I'm gonna have you grab a seat. We'll get rid of this. We're gonna do one light as a main light, and then just an accent light. So you can grab a seat right here. I'm gonna take this, and instead of having this big umbrella we're gonna go back to a little reflector, so a small source. And we'll put that here. Actually you know what we're gonna do, we're gonna do the beauty dish with the grid, because I really wanna control where the lights hitting. So for those of you who haven't used a grid, if you ever wanna see where it's shooting, if you can look through there, if you're square on to it, you can see white. If you start to turn it, anywhere you can't see white anymore, the lights not hitting. So that's how, so the tighter the grid, this is a 25 deg...

ree grid, so meaning the light will have a 25 degree spread. Generally there's, you know, 10 degrees, 20, 30 and so on. This is pretty standard for a beauty dish as a 25 degree. I have down to 10 degree for the magnum reflector, 'cause sometimes I want it to be really specific. And also I'm using that light from further away. So 10 degrees over, you know, 50 feet away ends up being a wider spread of light from that distance. So we're gonna start with just kind of a standard placement for our accent light, and that's behind him. I'm gonna raise it up just a little bit. And you can see, it's aimed right at him. By putting the grid on, we don't have to worry about this affecting our background and we don't have to worry about getting flare into the camera. I'm gonna start by just doing something more extreme. We're gonna crank it up. So one test flash. Okay, and we're gonna meter just for five six again. So everything else is the same, ooh, and we had him sit down so we gotta move our light. So we're gonna come on down. Keepin' everything about the same. Angles the same, heights right on. Feathered in front of him. And now we'll go for five six. Five six, so there we go. We'll shoot... We're gonna do this reverse. I'm gonna go turn that off to start so we can do one portrait, clean lit without any accent light. And we'll do this from fairly close up. So I'm gonna have you rotate your body a little this way a bit, there you go right there, yup. One, two, three. Alright, so just a basic portrait. Now what we're going to do is turn this on. And we could even just do a quick meter reading so you guys can see, you know, lighting ratios work in this reverse way too where this is at five six, so now we'd measure the light back here. It's a four five, so I'm actually gonna turn it up. The grid does eat up a little bit of light. So you gotta remember that. We're just gonna go with one to one. So we're at five six back there. So the same amount of light's hitting the back of his head as the front, so our accent light's gonna pretty prominent in this shot. Alright one, two, three. Alright, so you should start to see that. So that's, you know, they're both exposed for five point six. Obviously the quality of light's a little different from where it's hitting. That would be something I would use more on like an athlete or something like that. If it were more of a... Something I wanted subtle, we could go to four to one. So I'm gonna turn this down. Since this light's the only thing hitting there, I'm just gonna turn it down two stops. A little test flash. And now you should see the light will end up being a lot more subtle. So one more, one, two, three. Right, it's just a little touch of light. So this might something that I use when I want more subtle light as opposed to, you know, if you have your football player or in this case a water polo player. Something that's, you know, adds more edge. So for instance, when I was talking about photographing the Vikings players, it was something more like this, you know, they were standing there in full pads after practice so we wanted that light to chisel that arm, shoulders, jaws, all that stuff. Where something that's, you know, a little more professional portrait, might be just a little more subtle to create separation from hair, and you know, shoulders, face, from the background.

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