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Live Shoot: Large Soft Light Setups

Lesson 16 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

Live Shoot: Large Soft Light Setups

Lesson 16 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

16. Live Shoot: Large Soft Light Setups


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: Large Soft Light Setups

Now we're gonna go with the softer setup. So you kind of saw this was a pretty soft light. It's the 46 inch soft lighter. I'm gonna show you what something really soft looks like. You wanna go and change into that denim shirt? Yeah we'll do the denim one next. So while he's changing, I'm gonna set up this big Pro Photo umbrella, you'll see it is quite a bit larger than this guy and we're gonna put it on the same light. And we're just gonna show some really soft light set ups. So we'll deconstruct this 'cause we're basically done with it for now. Um, the question is from Linus, who said how do you decide about the height of the light or are you just looking at the shadows, the catch lights? You're moving it up and down or is that learned from general experience? As a general rule on deciding on the height of the light because I, as I said earlier, I kind of want to mimic that light that you see, you know when the sun's how you want it at seven o'clock in June. Right. But the oth...

er thing I'm looking at, is by keeping the modeling light on, I'm looking to see when those catch lights haven't disappeared in his eyes so when we started I moved the light down a little bit. Right. I noticed that he didn't have any catch lights in his eyes so again, you're options are you can either chin up and if that starts to look unnatural, then you need to move your light down, basically just until the point where I see the catch lights and uh, rarely do I ever go lower than that. Hi, I was just wondering if you're using a flash and not something that has modeling lights, how can you tell where those catch lights are? Uh, okay, to tell where catch lights are when you're using a flash without a modeling light, you're just gonna have to take a test shot and look. And you know, I mean that's really your only option but and a lot of times, I don't even turn the modeling lights on because with these running on batteries, if I'm on location, maybe if I only brought one battery, modeling lights are the killer of batteries so a lot of times I do exactly what I just suggested you do and I take a shot, I look to make sure the catch lights are there because I don't turn on the modeling lights a lot if I know if I'm not gonna have a lot of battery power. Um, so you'll see here, this is the big Pro Photo umbrella. So, uh, then there's also a soft with that one too, which makes it even softer, you'll see the interior of this is white, so it's gonna be really soft. It's also gonna eat up a lot of light so what one of the things you'll notice is we have that light at power 6. and it was you know, three feet from him and that was giving us 5.6, I'll guarantee you we'll have to turn this light up a lot because to light with this umbrella, you need more power. So we'll put this together. Maybe. And uh, yeah, it's always tricky, alright. A question, Dan, from Photobomb is, how does this all change if you want to do full body shots? Do you need a larger light source or can it be done with the same size? Okay so that's a good exercise in the inverse square law, in that if you want to do full body shots and you still want light from head to toe, similar to making the background lighter, you just need to move the light, well you can use a larger light or you can move your light further away from your subject and you'll get less fall-off so the light will be more even from head to toe. So the further you move your light back, the more even your light's gonna be. Alright, so we'll put this together and you'll see it's essentially the same idea, the soft, the Pro Photo design versus the Photek design's a little different, in that this is more of a cinch and not Velcro. Uh, and rather than have little grommets that go over each rib on the umbrella, in fact, if I could grab somebody to, yeah, I, this one's bigger than I thought. So what we're gonna do is, it just has elastic. And it goes right over the umbrella. So it is a little less time consuming to set up but with an umbrella of this size sometimes having a second person is not a bad idea. And then you'll see here, there's just this cinch. And now we have a gigantic super soft light source. And we're not gonna need nearly as much tilt with that either. So when Cooper comes back, we will get set up. I'm gonna, we're just gonna have a gray background here. And I'm gonna set this up with him standing. So we'll get rid of the stool. And we're gonna do this with and without the V-flat. So to start, we're not really gonna need this. This is gonna have so much light that we're gonna be pretty good there. And you can see even with this aimed, you know, like if we were photographing me with this aimed at my back, there's so much light gonna be wrapping around that it's gonna be incredibly soft. So if you wanna step in here Cooper, we're ready for ya. I'm gonna instantly turn that up just 'cause I know. You're gonna be standing right here. He's a little taller than me so we gotta raise it up. You can up another half step that's perfect. So again, we feathered, you can see here, there's the rod to the umbrella, we're definitely feathered in front of him. The edge of that umbrella is even with his head. And we're just gonna let this light wrap around and this is where you can see having this umbrella unscrew is handy because that could easily be in my shot. I'm short enough where it's gonna be over his head and it's an easy Photoshop job but uh, on the other umbrella I had already taken out so we'll just leave this one here for now but we have the same height. Everything else is the same. So we will meter one more time. Again, we're gonna go for 5.6. So everything's set up how we want it. Put our meter in, test our light. It's a little bit bright. We're gonna dial it back just a little bit. So maybe this umbrella doesn't eat up quite as much light as I thought. Apparently, the channel got changed here. Let me turn this back to 1 A. So all these air remotes work on different channels from old numeric and alphabetical. And there we go, so I wanna be on 1 A. Okay, apparently it can go all the way to eight. Let me get down to one. I think this thing actually decided to have a mind of its own. Sorry. Get this dialed in. Almost there. Perfect. Okay, now we should be rolling. Hmm, no, oh here we go. There's bingo. Sometimes you just gotta trouble shoot. So here we go, re-meter. We're at 4.5, go up. 5.6, so there we are back to where we want to be as far as exposure. And we will start shooting. So I'm gonna, I'm just gonna have you do hands in your pockets, fix your collar, it's a little bit flipped up, uh, yep there you go. And then just drop, yeah that's perfect, just like that. So this is gonna be real nice soft light. We'll, uh, we can go back to the tethering on the screen, perfect. And I'm gonna shoot from a lower angle because of this umbrella rod. A lot of times like I said before, I do shoot with apple boxes in mind, so I always have these around the studio so, I'm constantly sitting on things and standing on things and all that. So we'll start here, plus I do like this angle. And he can pull it off, one, two three. So he's in the center of the frame. Bring in it just a little bit so you can see. So you can see just how soft that light is and how much it wraps around, this would be one, you know if we adjust it just a little bit more, up the shadows, the other thing, let's see, I'm gonna have you stay right where you're at. I'm gonna shoot one more like this and then I'm actually gonna have you turn and face away so you can kind of see how, so you'll be looking right here, yep. One, two, three. And now I'm actually gonna have you turn completely this way, shoulders open to me, yep. And then, do you guys know the difference between broad and short lighting? Thank you. So broad lighting is how Cooper's standing right now, you can see if the light, I'll shoot one just so we have it. One, two, three. If your subject has their face turned between you and the light. So look straight at me. Our light is coming from this side. He's now faced square to me. Anytime his nose goes more towards the light, he is now being lit from the short side, meaning the short side of his face is where the light's hitting and the broad side of his face is falling into shadow. That's short lighting. Broad lighting means, Coop, I'm gonna have you look out this way so look at right about here. Now the broad side of his face that's facing the camera is catching all the light and the short side is falling into shadow. So you can see how people with different face structures, facial structures, especially you know if I'm doing portraits of a lot of females especially, I'll short light them because it's such a more flattering light, where if we're doing something that's more masculine, like or somebody's who face can handle the light broad lighting isn't as big of a thing. So I mean, even look there. That's broad lit and obviously he has jaw that's made for broad lighting. So now look back this way once but stay in the same spot. Eyes right here, one, two, three. So this will be the same pose but short lit. So you can see it's just that side of his face falls into shadow where the image immediately before, it's just the broad side of his face is lit. So does that make sense? Yeah, so that's just something to keep in mind. It's the same thing when you're shooting even by a window, inside with window light, you know a lot of times you want to turn the person's face back into the window light. Because for one you get the catch lights and two it's more flattering. So, you can obviously do that with studio lights as well. So that's kind of an example of that. I'm gonna switch lenses out to a 70 to and really zoom in and show how soft this light is. So you're gonna stay right there. I'm gonna switch lenses. And I'm still gonna shoot from this low angle. But I'm gonna shoot at almost 200 millimeters. Alright. And I'm gonna shoot from the same low angle. Alright, so looking off this way once. Yeah there you go, keep, even further out. Yeah right there. So I'm zoomed in pretty far. There we go, one, two, oops. Oh yeah, if I'm ever selling gear, don't buy it. Because this stuff is well used, so. You can hear it crying as it focuses, one, two, three. Alright, so you can see how soft that light is. Now I'm gonna have you completely turn this way. Yep, just like that. And now almost look over your shoulders open a little more. And look at off this way, yeah right there. So this is more broad lighting but still close up. One, two, three. So there you go and now head this way. You're looking right at me. So nose to me a little bit. Right there. A little bit more with nose. And what I'm doing is I'm watching to see where the bridge of his nose crosses the eye because I don't want that. So now I can see all both of his eyes. So we're gonna shoot that, one, two, three. Perfect, so this is another example of short lighting versus broad lighting. The light's so soft, it's pretty subtle but there you go. So you can see how we went from the 50 you know, I've been sitting essentially in the same spot to the 200 and a lot of people think that it's unflattering, oh you don't want to take somebody's picture from a low angle, I mean he's standing and I'm sitting but with the 200 and how much compression you get, it's still a pretty flattering photo. So that's good there. So that's basically, as far as soft light goes, it doesn't get much softer than this. It's basically a huge window.

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