Case Study 8 | Less Is More | Transcription

Hopefully, this kind of strikes a chord with you all because we’ve been focusing so much, especially in the last two chapters, on refining, refining, refining subtlety and seeing those small things that make big differences in your images. Less is more and oftentimes less is more. Remember that you want to work within the existing light and simply modify as you need.

This is one of those cases where our existing light is absolutely beautiful. When we got Yoko into these scenes, in these trees, it looked fantastic. We have a whole sequence of shots in these scenes that look absolutely beautiful. The start and basically how we get these shots is simple. I decide on what I want to go for. I want a more natural look to the image. I want this flair coming through. I want all that look and this rich, dark wood in the tree behind her, and the nice, beautiful branches. What do we do? We simply set up for that, we expose for that.

That exposure is set to 1/100th of a second. We’re on the 50mm. This is actually a 24 setting but we’re on a 50 millimeter, 1.2L, 1/100th of a second. I’m shooting this actually at 1.2 because I want to get as much blur in the background as possible. I love the tree and I love the way that that looks. I think that adds a lot of interest to the image. I’m at 1.2 ISO 100. Again, our magical five stop. That’s the magic number when you’re shooting in the middle of the day and you need to get your synch speed down to 1/200th or lower, it’s a five stop ND so we have a Singh-Ray 5 stop on.

This is the exposure that we get right there and it looks fantastic. You know, a lot of photographers would shoot this. They’d shoot at maybe one to one and a half stops brighter and just expose for her skin and they’d call it good. That’s fine, that’s a technique in and of itself. Making it look brighter and more airy and that look is totally fine but I want it to have a little more richness to it. With that, all we do is I have a silver. The balance is actually quite far. The silver balance is placed probably 10-15 feet from where the model is and 10-15 feet from me. I’m right at the edge of what is reasonable for on camera flash balance.

With my balance, again, using a grid to control where the light’s going. For this one, I believe it was far enough away that I wasn’t getting any spill anywhere and I wasn’t getting enough light so I actually just took off the grid to shoot the shot. If you are getting spill towards the model, then by all means you can put the grid on. If you’re not, then you might as well keep the grid … Take the grid off and get as much light as possible when you need to bounce this far of a distance, or use a snoot to control and throw that light all the way.

It was difficult. Why? Because, again, when we’re outdoors like this, using this little test button in an outdoor situation, really you don’t see anything. You’re not seeing a bright enough light until you fire the shot. I took a couple test shots and once I got the light in the right position, once I got everything working … I started working with Yoko and posing her and moving her in different positions. I noticed that we’d get this beautiful light coming through. It kind of kicks and we get these highlights that go between the legs, around the arms. I’m working with her form and her body so that we can kind of see the shape of her body through this dress.

We get these images that look surreal and look fantastic and almost other worldly. It looks absolutely beautiful. The difference between this shot and this shot is such a small change but it works so nicely. In this shot, we have this beautiful kiss of light that just adds a little bit of contrast and a little extra polish and punch to this image over here on the right. Whereas this one kind of falls just a little bit flat. Everything is equally lit in this shot, which means that there’s not attention … If everything is equally lit, then our attention doesn’t go to any one particular area.

With her being the brightest point in this shot, with the exception of that flow light there, our eyes are drawn into her. We see the sun coming down at this angle hitting her, we see this bright area and our eyes go right to that. The lines of the trees. Look how we placed and how we framed the shot. We framed it so that these lines lead directly into where our model is. All these things are intentionally done to bring our eyes into the photograph. The difference between with and without flash is huge, in this case. It’s only a small kiss of flash.

Now, we used these same techniques in basically every position that we put Yoko in. We exposed for how we wanted the scene to look first and we shot her in a whole variety of similar scenes using the same bounce techniques to get this beautiful light onto her. The images look fantastic. Now, the great part about this is, while we’re able to do this with on camera flash and while it works fantastically well, if that’s all you have, then great, you know these techniques. From here, going into Lighting 201 and into Lighting 301 we can now take these techniques, these light modification knowledge.

The knowledge that to get to a more dramatic image I’m simply under exposing the background and adding more light. To get to a more natural image I’m simply keeping the background brighter, the ambient light brighter, and losing less flash power. How to modify it to get a soft versus a hard light. To get diffuse versus specular light. We take all this knowledge on what works great within certain scenes and certain subjects and our knowledge of flash into Lighting 201 where we get the flashes off the camera. What you’re going to find is that a lot of these types of shots become even easier because we can move the flash now into positions where we weren’t really able to do with bounce.

We can get it further away. We can get it up higher. We can do things that become much more simple and more consistent. Now, from here on out, in Lighting 201 and Lighting 301, well, we already know the lighting techniques. It’s going to be maybe learning a couple extra pieces of gear, how to use that gear, and that’s really it. We’re going to modify that gear to the appropriate scene but everything else is going to stay the same. You now have a foundation. In that foundation, I want you to always remember that whole lighting diagram of going to a dramatic side versus going to a natural side.

Choosing the kind of light that’s appropriate for the subjects that we’re talking about. Modifying that light as appropriate. Knowing that less is more and that you always start with a scene, look at what that scene gives you in terms of lighting. Take your first shot without any light whatsoever. Analyze it. Look at the back light, look at the fill, look at the kicker, look at everything in that shot. Then you add your own key light. If you decide after you add your key light you need more, then you add another fill or you add a kicker on your own or you add whatever additional light you need. You start with the basics, you work with one light, you work into two, get your pose, get everything. Build into these final shots and you’ll find that you’re going to get absolutely amazing photographs regardless of the gear that you’re using.

CHAPTER GETTING OVER THE FEAR, HYPE, & MYTHS

CHAPTER 2: THE BASICS OF FLASH

CHAPTER 3 UNDERSTANDING LIGHT

CHAPTER 4: ON-CAMERA FLASH GEAR BASICS

Chapter 5: DIRECT FLASH DONE RIGHT

Chapter 6: STUDIO LIGHT? JUST BOUNCE IT!

Chapter 7: MORE LIGHTS, REFINEMENT, & CREATIVITY

Chapter 8: CASE STUDIES

Chapter 9: BONUS CHAPTERS

Total Course Run Time: 8H 17M 4S