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Live Shoot: On Camera Flash

Lesson 17 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

17. Live Shoot: On Camera Flash


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: On Camera Flash

And now we're gonna go to the on-camera flash look. And one thing I wanna talk about is lens choice. Again, that's where I spoke about using a or 35, generally, for those shots. I'm gonna start with the 50, and we're gonna talk about how the shadows can change on the wall. And I'm also gonna switch from using the B to the B2. And that's gonna be done strictly because of the weight of the light. I don't wanna have to handhold this light over my camera the whole time because, with the battery and everything else, it gets pretty heavy after a little bit. So, we're gonna wheel this out of the way, if I can find the right dial. (coughing) Bada bing. And with this, we're gonna take it off the stand because I'm gonna handhold it. And there's two different ways we can do this. I can either do it 100% bare balled and just hold it or one of the other things I like to do to get a little more pop on the light is put a seven inch reflector on there. This, you can see it's really specular 'cause it...

's that silver metal material, and this'll add even more pop to the light. We'll shoot a couple with each one. We'll start with this. And let me put the 50 on. The other reason you don't wanna do this with a 7200 is you're multitasking here, and this is not a workout. Do you use back button focusing? I go back and forth between half shutter press and back button. There are people who, if you don't back button focus, they will want to slap you, I'm not one of those people. So, I'm kind of in between. When I started, I didn't even know back button was a thing so I've always been a half shutter. But a lot of people who, like if I'm using Reynold cameras or working with other people, they're like, oh, it's back button. So, a lot of people swear by back button focusing. They think it's sharper. They think it's more consistent, but I don't really have a preference. But I feel like the people who are, you know, real opinionated on it swear by the back button focus, but I just don't really have much of a preference. All right, so, we have the 50 on now. Everything's set up. This is one of the spots where we will use TTL, and I'll show you why. Because he's going to be moving when he comes back. So, what we're gonna do is, I'm gonna set the pack down here. Looks like we're gonna move slightly. This should be good. So, we're gonna be shooting on white. I'm gonna keep him pretty close to the white so that way we'll be able to see the shadow. With the light, again, we'll turn it on. Maybe. There we go. And I'm gonna be holding, and this is another time where, when I've assisted people or you have an assistant. It's not the worst idea for them to hold the light for you. You know, so they can focus. And as long as you keep it square to wherever you wanna shoot and the same distance away, it doesn't really matter. In fact, the whole reason I got this idea was I watched a behind the scenes video of a shoot for, like, GQ or something. I don't know. This is probably eight or nine years ago. And the assistant was just holding this exact setup right above the light the whole time, and I had already seen the pictures in the magazine and I really liked them. I thought, those look awesome. They just have this real specular poppy quality to them, and then I saw the video and I thought, oh, that's how it was? 'Cause they were on location, you know, in a park, running around. And the assistant was just holding the flash right above the camera the whole time. And it's something that's so simple to do. A lot of people think, you know, it's a little raw and gritty. But if you have the right subject, you can definitely pull it off. And it adds an edge to the light. I'm wondering if when you were picking the outfits, do the outfits have to do with the type of light that you're using as well? Yeah, so one of the, that's a great question. So, when I was going through his outfits, knowing especially in the fact that we're demoing different lighting setups, when I was thinking, okay, we're gonna do a soft light setup, I'm thinking, what is more subtle? What is more deserving of that soft light? And, to me, that's why I went with the denim shirt. You know, it was a little more dressy. It was also, I don't know, just kind of the look I wanted that, you know, of the clothes he brought, I thought, soft light is something that that was deserving of. As opposed to the hard light where I thought, let's do, you know, if he would've brought in a leather jacket or something like that, we would've used the hard light, but even the white shirt, we can just go that high contrast bright white on white with a lot of shadow. And it will be a little tricky, but that's also part of the reason I wanna do it. All right, he's back. So, come right over here. You're gonna stand right here. Don't lean back. This is not a real wall. That has happened before where people lean back, and they just keep leaning back until they are on the floor. So, this is paper. I'm just gonna have you standing, like, right in here. Just hands in pockets, almost, like, be touching this 'cause I want you as close as possible. I'm just gonna have you looking right at camera, and I'm gonna instruct you to look different directions and turn different directions. But it's 'cause I wanna show where the shadow's gonna go. So, you can stand right here. You'll be looking at the camera the whole time. Just kind of straight face. Again, this is where I do use TTL because I'm so close to him when I'm shooting that any subtle movement will be amplified by the light. You know, because if I'm gonna move from two feet away to four feet away, we're gonna lose quite a bit of light. So, I'm gonna shoot with TTL mode on. It's also at, I'm gonna shoot once with it just neutral, meaning there's no exposure compensation with the light. So, we're gonna do one of those with TTL on at 5.6 just to keep it consistent. So, again, my focus points for my camera, and where it's metering is gonna be right on his face. I'm gonna have to scoot back a little bit 'cause the 50. Turn just a little bit sideways, yeah. And then unroll the bottom of your shirt. Just kind of let it, yeah, there you go. And just do one hand in your pocket. Yeah, there you go. You can just look straight at camera. Yeah, there you go, that's perfect. And I'm gonna be cropped just from below his hands. So, one test shot. One, two, three. And this is on TTL mode. Yeah, we can go back to the tethering. All right, so, you can see here that it definitely has a different look, but what I like and what I knew I was gonna have to adjust is the TTL was just making sure it was properly exposed. I actually want it to be overexposed compared to what it wants to do. So, on our trigger here, it's on TTL mode. I can go up. We're gonna go up an entire stop. So, now I'm gonna shoot another one, focusing on the same point from the same crop. One, two, three. And this should go brighter for us. Yep, it did. So, just to show you a little back and forth here. If we go one shot earlier, you can see how much darker it is. And now it's just opening it up. I'm actually gonna go a little bit brighter. So, we're gonna go plus a stop and a half. And now, since we're on TTL, everything is smart here. It knows that if I move from here to here, it's gonna compensate with the light power. So, it's always just gonna be a stop and a half over. So, this is one of the main times I like to use TTL because I don't wanna have to keep metering, especially if we were doing something like a photo booth or, you know, something where someone's moving around, and I want that energy and I don't wanna kill the energy by thinking, stop, I gotta re-meter. So, we'll shoot a couple. I'm gonna do one more. Now that I've turned it up another half stop. One, two, three. All right, so, there we go. That's how I want it to look. And that gives me that leeway from when I'm editing. Nothing is blown out, and nothing is in too deep a shadow. So, I can still push that image especially to skin tones and not worry that he's gonna turn magenta or red because he's blown out. It's also not so dark that anything's lost. Now, what I'm gonna show you is, as I move this light around. So, if I shoot from right here, we have the shot with the camera or the light right above the camera. Watch how the shadow's gonna move. I'm gonna hold the same angle. And now that shadow's gonna cast off to hit to our right. Now, if I wanna go over here, I'm not a lefty nor are my hands on backwards here. One, two, three. You almost smiled. One, there you go. So, we can move that shadow around just by moving the light a little bit. And depending on what you're going for, it also changes the shape of the light on his cheeks. You can see his cheek is definitely in more shadow here. Keep looking where you were out there versus here where now, I didn't really frame that up right, but you can see how much more light's on his face. So, it's almost more sculpted the other way. 'Cause this is the difference between broad lit and short lit. What I'm gonna do now is move in just a little bit closer. It's gonna be a little bright, but you'll be all right. All right, one, two, three. So, again, focusing on his face. It's a little bit bright. Sometimes that happens with TTL. It's not perfect, but, again, I'd be willing to deal with that. I'm gonna do this a little bit different. One, two, three. And then I'm gonna show you the difference of, there's not a huge difference, but I'm gonna take this off 'cause this is actually amplifying the light a little bit because of that silver specular quality, we're gonna shoot the same shot from right here. One, two, three. With the silver off. And you can see, it's just slightly, there's a little bit less edge to it. So, depending on what you want, we're gonna leave it like this for now. What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna have you turn completely sideways this way. And then, yeah, keep your hands just like that. You're gonna be looking over your shoulder. Almost back, yeah, down there. All right. And we're still on TTL so it's compensating for us. All right, eyes right to me. Right there. Now, I'm gonna have you square up to camera. Kind of a wider stance. Feet square to me, almost, yep, just like that. There you go. One, looking down over your, this way. Yep, now I'm gonna have you switch hands so the different one's in your pockets and, as I move back and forth, TTL should be helping me out as far as, you know, exposure compensation. Now I'm gonna have you turn completely this way, and stare straight at the camera. So, I'm gonna go down from a lower angle. But, again, because, here's another little trick. When you go down to a lower angle, I don't necessarily want my light to follow me so I'll kind of hold it up just a little bit. One, two, three. And now we're gonna move back in. One, two. Now I'm gonna have you look way back towards the door. Last two shots. You're gonna stare right at me, and I'm gonna hold this light way off to one side, maintaining the same angle. We're gonna cast that wide shadow. Little less shadow. And then now back on camera. One, two, three. Okay, so, you can relax. I'm gonna scroll through those real quick. So, again, these are just raw. But you can see, moving that, that was as far as I could reach out versus a little bit less. It's similar to how we had our light move around that radius. You know, and I was just subtly directing him where I wanted him to look. It was based on where I saw his eyes going. The mood of this shot, it wasn't necessarily, like, some smiley thing, you know, I kind of wanted it to look a little tough and gritty. Plus, he can pull it off. So, you know, again, sometimes TTL isn't perfect. But... It's a little bit dark there, but it was definitely working when we were up close. And before too. So, I'm pretty happy with that. So, as far as shooting white on white and having that high contrast look, he's also a little bit more tan. So, you know, it'll really glow. So, we talked about... Let's do, we'll do one more of these. That's why I have that. We're gonna shoot with a so we can get extra wide. Again, these are all the lenses I own. This is a 17-35. I haven't bought a lens since, like, 2006. So, it's been a minute. So, what I buy is purposeful, but at the same time, I feel like I have a good range of 17-35, 50, and 7200. It pretty much covers everything that I need. And, again, it's on the Nikon D810. All right, so we've switched to a, I usually shoot this at 35. Especially with this type of look. So, if we go back to the tethering. And, now you'll see, you can, Just do both hands in pockets, just thumbs out a little bit, and turn a little bit this way. Like feet too. Yeah, just so you're comfortable... There we go. So, with the 35, it's a totally different look. There we go. Get focused in here. Okay. Right there. So, I wanna see how this looks. I'm gonna go up even more on the TTL. We'll go up to two stops over one. Two, three. There we go. I'm pretty happy with that. But you can see it's just a different look. So, I'm gonna have you actually lean towards camera. Keep your feet in the same spot. Hands... Not leaning so much this way as, like, almost at the waist towards... yeah, because you can exaggerate how people, how people, especially with a 35 millimeter. And if we're doing more active shots, we can do even more. And that's what we'll get into with direction next. You know, you can really, you know, 'cause I didn't move any. He just leaned towards me slightly and because you're using a wider angle lens, it distorts it a little bit. But it's kind of a different look where if you were to stand just like that, and I go lower, oops. If I go lower, he's gonna just look taller and more lean, you know. So, it's just a matter of, you know, I changed angles by, like, eight inches and it totally changed the look of the shot. And then if I were to use something, you know, like, seven, I wouldn't actually do this, but this lens has the capability to do a really wide. And you can do, you know, we can almost do a full body here. Just for something totally different. Again, but now, look at, he looks really short, but he's taller than me. You know. Or you can almost do the reverse. Look out towards the crowds, and now we're just kind of going with this, like, Goliath aspect to it where he's gonna end up looking, you know, monstrous- that's not sharp at all, but you know. But, you get the idea of how the lens choice really affects the shot, and this is something where I can't do this with the 7200. Because between the TTL and the aspect of this whole thing. It just doesn't work.

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.

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