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Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

Lesson 38 from: Studio Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

Lesson 38 from: Studio Lighting 101

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

38. Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

Work with three go-to lighting set-ups for drama (which also work well for men). Learn dramatic light with one light, two or three.


Class Trailer

Day 1


Studio Essentials: Shutter Speed


Studio Essentials: Flash Exposure


Studio Essentials: White Balance


Light Principles: Inverse Square Law


Lighting Patterns


Shoot: Demo Lighting Patterns


Quality of Light and Modifiers


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Diffusion and Grid


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Umbrellas


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Softboxes


Shoot: Choosing a Modifier - Extra Stuff


10 One Light Set-ups: 1 and 2


10 One Light Set-ups: 3 to 5


10 One Light Set-ups: 6 to 10


One Light Set-ups: Pop Quiz


Day 2


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 1


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 2


FAQ for Purchasing Studio Light Part 3


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 and 2


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 6


10 Two Light Set-Ups: 7 to 10


5 Two Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


5 Two Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5


5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 1 & 2


5 Basic Three Light Set-Ups: 3 to 5


5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 1 to 3


5 Intermediate Three Light Set-Ups: 4 & 5


10 Common Lighting Mistakes


Day 3


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 1


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 2 to 6


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 7


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 8


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 9


Solving 12 Common Problems of Studio Lighting: 10 to 12


Portrait Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Beauty Lighting: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Lighting Groups: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights


Your First Studio Lighting


Lesson Info

Lighting for Drama: 1, 2, and 3 Lights

Last type of setup, which is drama more dramatic lighting, set ups a little bit more contrast, a little bit more shadow and men, some of the considerations I might think of when lighting men. So what we're going to have them do is I'm going to put a black background up there is going to put a v flat behind the subject to fake having a black seamless, by the way, whether I shoot white or black or gray, I always shoot seamless. It just is the easiest for me to control the light as soon as it's a fabric or a muslim, I end up having to worry about wrinkles except for if it's I'm going for that look, otherwise I would just use paper all right, perfect. So let's, take a look at the first one. All right? So the very, very first one is one light, a beauty dish and a silver reflector. But the silver reflector in this case is used for separation to separate the subject from the background. So may I have my male model, please? And let me get you a chair that would be great. Thank you. And I'm als...

o in the ground, the grid when I'm shooting for drama and I want there to be more shadows, I tend to use a grid more often and what it does is it focuses the light, so that doesn't spread out as much and also it'll make its low light doesn't reach the background. So if I were shooting on a gray backgrounder honestly, even this white, if I use a grid, I could make the background appear black, so it gives me more flexibility so we're gonna add a grid in this instance, I'm using a beauty dish because it has a little bit more chris shadows then I would get with a soft box but it's still flattering light on the face for a portrait, you take a seat perfect and I'm going tio pump that modeling lined up a little bit where says hi there go got it perfect so I can see the modeling light you can set it at full power or proportional so it's matching the actual output like you could see how different lights comparing output I'm just hearing all website can actually see looks great and I wouldn't have you being my reflector man. All right, so what I want is I want some kind of dramatic lighting, either group or rembrandt and short, like so short light is when the shadows fall towards the camera, so I'm gonna turn you this way that same pose but this direction great is something like this perfect and I am going to test the exposure on his face to start off with ensuring that just even more that way literature right good and a nice towards me and see perfect a little bit bright, clean clothes and it's a tiny bit. All right, so what you'll see is just a sliver of light underneath his id to create rembrandt like, but of course, that side of his face totally disappears, so we're going to try teo and the grid might make it difficult. We'll give a try. What we're going to try to do is catch a little bit of light for a little bit of separation. I don't need a lot, I just don't want to totally blend in. It might be problematic with a grid because the grid focuses the light them so much that it might be almost minimal by the time it reaches that. So I'm gonna bring you anything closer and head back to where it was no looks good, ok, excellent. So what you're doing? It's the whole it's a billiards thing again, though you're trying to line up that reflected to catch the light from your your beauty dish if he stood further back and off to the side he's not catching a lot, you have to actually watch for it, and this is why I turn off all my ambient light right now, it's hard for me to tell if it's working till I take the photo if I were using modeling lights on ly, I would be able to see, so this gives me a pretty nice crisp highlight even without a second light. Silver is what I would use to give you that contrast, especially if you're working with a grid whites not going to catch enough light to do anything but just suddenly gives a separation. So this gives us some nice shape and you have the nice rembrandt light. So this is dramatic lighting set up number one rembrandt light short with a silver reflector at kind of equal distant back to capture that highlight I'm going on to the next lighting setup that was lighting set up number one you're going to lighting set up number two it's going to be beauty addition barn doors part of the like the restrictions of this setup is that notice how john or the light stand whoever I had whatever had had to be right here to catch the light because it's a grid if you have another two or three feet back, there wouldn't be any light to catch any more plus by the time that kick back at your subject wouldn't reach so yeah, I could get that nice lighting pattern on his face but only for a tight head shot if I want any more flexibility, I need two lights, so want to leave it in the exact same place I could do this short light I could do this more broad light, rembrandt but we leave in the same place. But now we have barn doors so I could shoot mid length or full length. But you put your head in the same place again. Great. Someone do one close up and to head back towards a light a tiny bit right there. Great. And I can vary the power. They actually look relatively similar, but I have just so much more flexibility here I can shoot a wider shot, for example, and I wouldn't have been able to do that with just the reflector and I get uneven highlight that goes down his back notice what the grid does is the grid cuts off the light so it is almost completely dark by the middle of his body and his feet would be in solid shadow. It's a creative effect. It could be right or wrong and let's say I wanted to highlight here, but I did want to see a little bit of his clothing. No problem. I could add another light below really low power just to give him a little bit of separation, but you would know the attention was meant to be on his face okay, so what I would like to do is I'm gonna have use about for a second. May I borrow you? Great. I said we're going to do ah sexy would wash shots here okay? And take a look at the same lighting setup that's perfect and aiken everyone perfect. I would have to raise my light up because remember take it perfect and I'll just sit right here. I still remember it would have to raise this light up because you need the light to be about nine inches or above the models head and she's wearing heels and at this point it close to the center of your face but you want me to move in today but how about the height that good, good, perfect. So I still want some shadow and this is all about shape and form. If there's no back way, I would have you turn that off real quick what'll happen is you play your face to that that side good. What will happen is this nice dramatic lights and down good, but I lose the curve and her back, which is what's so beautiful and feminine there I mean, you lose that shape so I know I need to have something to carve out from the background a silver reflector would not work barn doors is what I need and she's wearing black so I know I need something with a little bit more oomph to separate her out from the background all right? So I'm going to have you play right there players your elbow, ford the reason I had her do that when she pulled her elbow back a cast, a shadow and then the barn doors weren't working to my advantage anyway, so I'm playing with my pose to make sure I can see the highlights I need that was perfect other hand up to your neck great and people pop up your front means that a little bit I know it's a giant heels and arch her back a little bit mark it's trust insisted I I knew exactly what I was asked you to do is not easy good it's cool relax intervening too all right, so now this curve is what's beautiful we like to see curve and women and also separates her out from the background it's nice and bright but not too chris I'm watching for this highlights to not become pure white and I like this. I think this is dramatic, but I would also like to see maybe another highlight on the other side of her body and that would be three point lighting, so I'm going to pop over to that, so I'm going to take another grid, another barn doors to create three point lighting one bar owner from either side and noticed the height that we have the light it doesn't have to be that high but the reason it's that high is because we wanted to illuminate her shoulder what if perhaps you just wanted to highlight here you're just trying to draw attention to the lower part of her body you could do that you could lower the light and focus the light and just put a highlight there and that's I see that a lot and glamour photography all right so I want to turn off my main late great perfect and I'm going to take a look before I use my main like to pay attention to what those room lights are doing and so we take a shot so you can see how the barn doors are affecting the shots so right now he has the barn doors open your mind that's what he has the burner is open now close them even more good this closes in a little bit and another way to make the highlight more narrow is instead of having the burned her off to the side can you put it back even further right onto the seamless and the angle it back at her by moving further back and inwards and angling that late to have a back forty five that narrows the highlight is well the actual distance and angle also having her further up if she takes take two steps back now the lights are like cross split lights so it's very, very restricting lighting I have very specific areas sheikhoun stand so pop back up here again somewhere on right there perfect and I'm going to move that lead anyway so let's take a look it so far just those room life and handle neck perfect public you can get whatever stands you want militia into your knees so whatever is comfortable, okay, good. So this is just a curve great and now I'm going to pop on a life. I'm going to start with the beauty dish and they want to switch over the grid so you can see a difference of beauty there should be more for portrait grid might be if you're going for incredibly dramatic like film knew our style so great and great there so she has more separation put your hand on the side of your face other side your right hand side great, perfect and had a little lower. Great. All right, so now she separates from the background for what I often do is I pump those up even more and you can switch that for me, john uh, ten degree I'm going to pump up the power and this even more to show how far you can push it, how bright I could make this so this is going toe be on the verge of being too bright, but it's going to be dramatic someone and narrow these beams of light, bring them around from behind a little bit lower and pump up the light. So before I get that light firing, I'll give it a test. Perfect let's see how the highlights are looking? Okay, so now you'll see the difference will be a little bit more crisp. A little bit more narrow. I can go even brighter than that if I want. So I'm going to actually open up a tiny bit perfect. So I'm going to go for really bright highlights carve her out from the background and even if I didn't add another like, can you turn your head in china for more time? Head tio, can't you head that way really, really far? You might have to switch if this light this lead on the left hand side were higher. I could just shoot her in profile and not use the main light it all right, so I'm gonna put you to look back at the grid let's, pop the grid on and give it all a good test here. When you're taking a meter reading, if you are from a grid you have. An inch her to toe work with. If you are even this far over, it could make a massive difference in your meter reading. So be careful with grids. You wanted to point straight back in this case. That the light. So I'm gonna try it right there. Twelve point seven. You ancient times. A little. Ok, perfect. So, let's, take a look at this. So all you will see are the curves of her body and a spotlight on her face and it's a little bit hard to see the spotlight with this ambient light. This is why I was modeling life. I'm gonna have you look into the light this time, her fiction down a little great. And if I shoot this in black and white, this becomes kind of a film you are. Look to it. Let me switch to monochrome as you can see. Great and she's carved out from the background spotlight on her face. Nice light on her, john, her entire body all about curves. It would be really dramatic. And I pump up the contrast a little bit more in post right now, we're using attendant degree grid. If we wanted more focus on her face, I could switch to five or I could move that grid in and just have a spotlight here as a side note I know that you know how to use grids I did a shoot where this girl she had a fake gun okay was like for a tv promo she's holding the gun there I had another light that was just lighting the great the gun with this lighting setup because everything else falls the shadow the gun would disappear without that so you can build your lighting and and he switched to five just to give you an example so it's going to be even narrower here we go they're now wow so now it's just in the middle of her face great look straight towards that like beautiful all right and watch this no longer on your shoulders and under chest watch just on the center of her face really beautiful really traumatic you look great you have one more lighting setup to go through and so this last one is going to be dramatic but high key and I you can leave the grid even I'm going to turn this around if we remove the black v flat we are going to have her in silhouette but with a spotlight on her face and I shoot this sometimes for fine art nudes as well so would be a lot of curve and then this is a highlight on the subject's face so I'm going to back this light up and this is going to be for lading that background wait wait and I'm going to move this one bacca's well, great and if I'm going to just for timessake believe the barn doors on and point them at the background normally what I would do for this that would switch to those umbrellas feather them across so I could get nice even lighting. So let me just flip this over here and I'm using the barn door to make sure that I'm not getting a spill of light on her all right test that so way to test this to get a and exposure and I might need to put aside anglican ok? And you will begin to see a little bit of phil ideally building black v flats this wall and these curtains up here are catching a little bit of light and filling it in going to close down just a tiny bit perfect it's really nice pose good ok, so I've got a pure white background ideally, I would have a silhouetted subject that would be a black me slack close and I can pop agreed on her face, especially in black and white if we just make it a little bit higher contrast that has a ton of drama to it. So can you play your eyes this time that to the light great and we're watching carefully that modeling like a tiny bit higher right on the center of her face great right there hold that and so now the image is all about curve with a little bit of pop of light on her face and open up a tiny bit marquis turned up just a little great and I'm gonna have you switch legs he popped the other knee ford and lean that hip out yeah, good and I'm going to try to arch your back just a little bit just for a second ms tessa and chin up and feel the light on your face right there see how little movement she has to work with? Ok, great. And I would have you switch legs again great and yet cross that anyway in perfect that's what? It looks good. Okay, great. So you guys get the idea even that little movement moved her the light a little bit higher. So if you're playing to the five degree grid, every tiny movement would do one more let's do something that's like a dramatic side shape tucking me in great. And john, can you put that light and a tucker need all the way to the other knee even though it's like almost impossible perfect great and then put the hands I consider pinky perfect. Okay, and then if you can even cross your legs actually you could even cross him well, maybe not in that outfit, maybe not good, good all right, perfect that was it was in between expression will wrap up with a perfect expression and just pick your eyes back at me okay perfect so you could with the flat's make it go two solid black so that everything is just a curve and then just highlight on her face so that gives you dramatic lighting with one two three light's high key low key and this could be done with a grid or it could be done with a beauty dish and a great as well so this is the last time as far as questions go that I will have a lighting set of available so if anybody has any questions you want to see anything left with lighting now is the perfect time to do it because the end of the day I'll be talking about saving money on the gear you purchase my recommended gear etcetera studio audience yes ebony like this is the lingering last minute high pressure questions there are so many questions but again lindsey the one a lot of questions that people are asking out there are things that we have been covering over the course of the three days I think this was so valuable to see everything that you've done put into action in rapid fire so I think that's great cool, cool oh but we do have a question so on that last lighting if you were actually being paid to show the outfit you would put, like a ah light in front, a low light in front. Exactly if I've seen to that last plating senators who was all about that lingerie. But I did want that soon or look with the highlight on the face. We would put one of the clamps right here with an octo box per se or a small soft box to kick some light in really low power just enough so you can see the detail on dsi, the shape and texture a little bit more. And, you know, for example, if you had and outfit that you wanted to catch a shine on the front of it, it doesn't have to be connected to this particular stand. I could move it at a different angle for a different effect assed faras the dress because it did have that shimmer. Would there be a light that you could use but keep that nor effect and have it kind of, like sparkle louder, maybe have it, like kind of a shallow depths of field. Maybe make it look like it's dropping off. Ok, so I'm going to take us a side step from one o one real quick. Okay, so that my little sidestep, this is two things first of all, I have shot that identically and that dress so that dress is actually from a company I own called dream shoe rentals. I rent alvin guard dresses and headpiece and all these things, the photographers to help make their dream shoots the reality so that's one of those that I picked out, and then john photograph me and that sparkly dress the other day. It was fun to that anyway, so for something like that, I could do that still knew our dress are still new artifact, but instead of using a soft box, I might use a light with a little bit more contrast to it, like a silver dish pulled back far and turned down because the more speculate that light is the bright, the more contrast that has it will just pick up a few little sparkles on the dress instead of giving it even light that you'd get from a soft box. The other thing of how I photographs that before is this is the stepping away from one o one is you could take a constant like or you could take one of these lights with just the modeling light on and change the channel so it won't fire. I could put that here so that its lighting the dress and if I use a long shutter speed, it'll pick up some of that sparkle. And then if I wiggle the camera, I could get the sparkles toe wiggle and get that without having to go narrowed up the field. I still get a little bit of a blur from it, and so I just got an editorial like that for a magazine last week and it's amazing what you can do in camera, mixing constantly and strobes nice do want tio say that this has very many votes, and people actually have been saying this over the course of the three days, I wish there was a continuation of this course where you showed us how to figure out what lights and modifiers were used in fashion magazine we need apart due so lots of people asking I'm requesting for like you've just done the one o one let's, get a two a one and on and on so good and I get to your house. I have touched on some more advanced slaving and other of my classes, but I'm happy to do a really advanced, funky one in the future intestine. Actually, we also have been seeing people asking about your lighting guide that you sell on your website and what's the difference between that and are those more advanced versus what we're doing here and the lighting descriptions people will get when they buy the class that it was more one on one so what we did here is we will have, like thirty five or forty set ups that are one, two or three lights, but it's very, very basic essential modifiers. Get your soft box beauty dish strip light, where, as the lighting guy that have for sale on my store gets a little bit more complex, we've got grids. I have gels, some of those types of things that would be a lot more complicated setups, but I have the diagrams. I have a picture behind the scenes of every shot I have the inches to the light. I have the height above the subject's eyes, so you can recreate it even if you weren't able to watch me created live. You have everything you need right in that guide.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Keynote 3
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


If you're on the fence about this class I can easily answer your concerns. BUY IT. Lindsay provides top notch professional education while keeping things interesting. Her words are precise and direct. I actually felt GOOD just watching and learning. I mean, like someone surprised me with a cupcake kinda GOOD. After the class I could immediately see improvements in my photography. The best part is that I learned enough to see the wrong in my setups. Knowing what's wrong is just as important as knowing what's right. She is funny, easy going, energetic and filled with knowledge. I would also highly recommend her Posing 101 class as a must have addition to this course. I feel like I have learned more than I could possibly use. I will be going through this course over and over again just to make sure it all sinks in. There's THAT MUCH she offers that you will always learn more with each time you watch. I hope this helps someone make the decision to up their game. That is exactly what it did for me.

Jason Ashley

I loved this course! Lindsay spent so much time with explaining each set-up in-depth that anyone picking up a camera could understand how to accomplish their lighting goals. This course covered so many unique (but, most likely to come across scenarios) and how one would approach the challenge and how to successfully accomplish with incredible results, not average-sub-standard or basic results, but above entry-level standards, high-level, money-generating lighting expertise! ZERO laziness in her explanations to the point where she is constantly refining her course in the middle of the 3 days. Her passion gleams throughout each days lessons with so much energy. You know she really wants her students both in-person and through the screen to be successful in whatever type of lighting they choose to dabble in. I am so happy, I have bookmarked, and i'm so happy and fortunate to have this course to reference for hopefully –everrrr. Thanks!

Beatrice Palma

Hi, I am Beatrice from Italy. I think this class is superb. I finally understood what are the guide lines to follow, I tried for years but never found such a good explanation. Lindsay is a wonderful teacher, she explains in a simple way, she shares a lot of knowledge and she shows in practice what are the results of every single choice. Thank you so much, it was really amazing and super interesting!!!!

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