More Power Without the Power | Transcription
In this tutorial, what we’re going to be showing you is basically the simple compositing techniques that’s totally going to change the way that you approach your shoot in the way that you light, because what this simple compositing allows you to do is it allows you to capture an image that would otherwise really not be possible, because we’re going to place the light in parts of the scene that we really can’t reach unless we composite.
Let’s take a look, because I know that’s confusing to hear. What I’m going for in the scene is I have my couple and I’ve placed them unto this rock, and I want to give this beautiful reflection in this time pool. The other thing that I want is I want a very deep depth of field. I want everything this image to be sharp. I want a lot of depth of field, because we have a lot of these rocks, and the tide pools, and the background. Everything looks gorgeous.
I want to shoot this at F11. Now, Immediately, I know that at F11 and shooting this wide as I am, I’m going to have issues when it comes to adding light to the scene. Why? Because we know that aperture also controls our flash power just like it controls the ambient light. We’re cutting on ambient light. We’re also cutting down the flash power. That means that we need to be firing basically at full power and have the flash as fairly close to the subject to be able to get enough light onto the subject.
We’re shooting wide. How do we get the flashes? If we were to place the flashes out here even with two, three, four, five flashes, we’re not going to be getting enough light reaching them. Why? Because of the inverse square law. Our light is falling off because of the distance due from the flashlight or the light itself to the subject. Then if we bring them closer, then they are going to be in the frame.
Here’s how we do this. We place the camera onto a tripod. This is a component that I’m not going to say that it’s absolutely necessary, but if you want this to be a simple composite, if you want to save time, if you want to make this basically a 5-minute composite job versus a 30-minute composite job, use a tripod. Yes, you can do it handheld by taking two shots and so forth, but it’s going to require you to align layers. You will understand what I mean in just a second.
Now, what we’re doing, we have a camera placed on a tripod. We’ve selected our composition. We have our subjects in place. Compositional attributes, we used F11 for depth of field and to chop down the ambient light. We want a more dramatic ambient light in the scene, because I want to just see … The only thing I want to see in this scene is just the subject. I want to see the reflection of the subject in the water, the color of the sky in the water, and that’s it. I want to kill all the detail in the rocks and so forth, just because I think artistically it looks interesting in the image.
Synch. I know that F11 and at the time of day that we’re shooting at, I mean, we’re down to a shutter speed of 1/10th of a second. We’re far below a synch speed of 1/200th of a second. Our synch is a-okay.
Ambient light exposure. We’re at F11. We’re at 1/10th of a second at ISO 100. That’s, again, for that more dramatic look. We actually took a test shot at 1/5th of a second, and I decided to pull down the ambient light to 1/10th. Just so you know like we got to 1/10th because with my test shot I felt like it was too bright still. I wanted the subject to pop-out and just have everything drop down a little bit more.
With the light direction, we place the light in a way that it mashed existing light in the scene. Now, we had the option to put the light on the other side. The only thing was if I want to place the light on the other side of the couple, most likely, it would have flattened out the couple too much. Since we’re shooting it from such a far distance, we can’t really see the detail in either their faces that much, so I’m not too worried about leaving a little bit of shadow on the girl side.
You’ll notice that the angle to the subject is not as extreme as it was in previous shots where we’re shooting from a much heavier angle, because we weren’t worried about the guy’s face being the shadow. Here, I’m still a little bit concerned with that. We just don’t have the light coming from too much of a distance.
We take our test shot. We decide to go to 1/10th of a second. Why balance looks great naturally warm? We’re at 5.5 K Kelvin. We don’t need to do any gelling or anything like that. I like the way it looks. Although, now looking at the scene, I think it would actually look cooler if we gelled this and we pulled everything down, so it’s more blue. That’s just an afterthought. Whatever.
We have our subject in place. Now, we pose, we frame, we shoot. We’ve already done all of the framing and everything like that. We do our pose, and then we take the shot, and everything is great. We analyze to make sure our shadows and highlights are good. We’ll shoot a different variety of poses then.
Once we have the exact look that we want, you’ll notice here are the top shot. To get the lights with enough power, we’re using two Vivitar 285HVs. Again, use LumoPro or a Phottix Mitros or one of the other flashes that we recommend. If you’re using a manual flash and you’re using two of them stacked rather than using two pocket wizards, grab a splitter cable. The splitter cable will plug into the both of these. That would be an awesome word if it was a word. It will plug in the both of your LumoPros, and you can use one single pocket wizard to fire them both and stack both these flashes.
At the time, I didn’t even have this splitter cable. I used what I had. I had two pocket wizards. I had two Vivitars, so we’re just using that. I’m having my lighting. This is naturally hold one on a stick and hold one next to it, hand side-by-side, just so we could do this quickly.
Obvious issue here. Here’s our final shot. Our lighting assistant is standing right there. Obviously, that cannot be a final shot Of your lighting assistant is in the middle of the shot. Whether you have your lighting assistant there or whether you just place the flashes there on stands, whatever you’ve done, all you got to do is this. You take one shot. Once you have the pose and everything that you want setup, you get that shot. Right afterward, you just turn the flashes off and remove the flashes from the scene. You just get the assistant to take the flashes out, and pop-up a second shot. The couple doesn’t even to be doing the same thing, because you’re not concerned about the couple right there.
All we’re doing now, and the only thing that we need to be concern with is making sure that this shot and this shot were captured close together in terms of their time. Why? Because we’re shooting at dusk. At dusk, your light is changing every minute. If we even allow 30 seconds between these shots without modifying our settings, most likely, this would be significantly darker than this one. All we need to do is just make sure that sure that we’re taking the two shots quickly in succession like within 20 to 30 seconds, so the light doesn’t change dramatically. If the light does change, you’re going to need to balance them out in post-production.
With these two shots, we have a little example where all we do is we take them into Photoshop. We stack them into layers. With a simple mask, we just paint where our lighting assistant is to reveal the layer below. We just show this layer where our assistant was. Now, the key there is that both the exposures are the same. They have to be the same, and that’s why we always shoot manual. It’s why we recommend taking these within 30 seconds each other, so that the exposures don’t change.
If you want to get a couple of different poses, then the best thing to do is to pop a shot, have the assistant come out, take the plate. This is called “the plate shot” for the scene. We take the plate, bring the light in, do another pose, bring the light back out, take another plate. That way your plates are matching the shots that have to basically the exposure, the pose in it. That way it’s less work on the post-production side.
Now, can you do this if your exposures are off? Yes. If it’s not off by too much. What you’d end up doing is just adjusting the exposure in Lightroom with the images side-by-side, making sure that they match, and then layering them in Photoshop and masking, and painting out.
Can you do this with the images handheld? Yes. Again, this is more of an advanced Photoshop technique. This takes all of one to two minutes to Photoshop. If I were to do this handheld, and I have been in situations where I don’t have a tripod on me. I’ll do it handheld. I’ll use all the techniques that we’ve taught in Photography 101 in how to hold the camera and so forth. We’ll take the two shots to the best of our ability keeping the compositions identical. When we take in the Photoshop, we have to align the layers and manipulate a little bit to get them to balance and everything. Then we do our masking. It’s 20 to 30 minutes’ worth of work at times to get the same result as one or two minutes of work if you are on a tripod and if the exposures match.
What are we trying to teach you? We’re trying to teach you workflow. We’re trying to teach you techniques that are very doable that you can do consistently and not spend forever in front of the computer fixing it.
Tips. Let’s go ahead. We talked about how basically we shoot. Then after the shot, we basically remove the lights, and we capture the plate image. Shoot the lit shots and the plate image within a short period of time. We already talked about that.
Tip number two. Prevent camera shake by using a cable release or the two-second timer. When you’re on a tripod, rather than using your finger to trigger both of those shots, if you have a shutter release, it’s even better, because you’re not going to get any shake at all. Otherwise, use the two-second times.
I’ve gotten so used to doing this that I’ll use my fingers. When you feel comfortable and confident enough with it, yeah, you can use your finger. If something’s a little bit off, you can fix it in Photoshop. That’s the ideal technique is to use a cable release.
In Lightroom, even out the exposures if they don’t match. In Photoshop, layer both the images and mask the paint back.
This is what we refer to as simple compositing. This allows you to do whatever you want with your lights, because you could essentially place the light source all the way right next to the subject. You can move it out to here. You can place it anywhere in the scene now.
Of course, does this slow down the speed of a shoot? Yes. This will slow down the speed of the shoot, because to get a single shot, you might spend 5 to 10 minutes on something like this. But it allows you to capture images that would otherwise be basically impossible, because even if we put the lights out here, even if we had five lights, we’d have to snoot every single one of them. We’d have to make sure the lights are pinned directly to the couple. It would be very, very difficult and cumbersome to do this without this type of a technique.
Use this technique, and think about it, and let it expand your vision and open up your mind into what’s possible. As long as you have a tripod, as long as you keep things steady and you keep the frame exact, you keep your exposures exact, you can place that light exactly where we want. Capture one image for the couple in the pose. Capture the second image for the plate. Pop them into Photoshop. Add a simple mask, and just paint out to remove your lighting gear or your assistant.