Dramatic vs. Natural Light | Transcription

Dramatic versus natural effect. We’re going to come full circle. We talked about this far earlier in the workshop. Now that you’ve seen so much, I feel like it’s important that we jump back to this topic and show you these images again, show you different setups and talk about this one more time because now that you know what you know at this point in the workshop it’s going to make so much more sense. Let’s first with the primary tips and we’re going to walk through each individual shot.

Now, number 1, dramatic is essentially the formula, the four dramatic is equal to the key light, your primary light that you’re lighting your subject with as being kind of the dominant light source. It’s greater than the ambient light. That’s going to give you a dramatic look. Natural looks generally comes when the key light is less powerful. It takes a backseat to that ambient effect. Refining or corrective type adjustments, is generally when you’re simply adding key light. You’re adding additional light to the ambient effect. So we say key light, plus ambient light. That’s where we go for that refinement, that corrective kind of look.

All right, lastly, I want to say that I want you always, always always always, start with what you want the scene to look like. As far as the background goes, as far as everything goes in the shot. With the exception of maybe the subject or whatever is in shadow. Then add light as you see fit. So always start from that basic … Don’t try and just add light and try and create something off your first shot. It’s not gonna happen. I have a lot of experience doing this and still, I always start with what I want the background like. Okay, what do I want my main light now to look like? Okay what do I need as far as fills now? What do I need as far as additional lights? You always start simple and build on top of it. Start with one light, then go to two, then to three and so forth.

So, I feel like this a very somber video. Why am I so somber? You always do this, no. It’s exciting people, let’s have fun with it. Okay, let’s talk through each of these different shots, because each of them are gonna require kind of a slightly different set of gear. What I want to do first is before we even get to these top shots, these are kind of individual case studies I want to talk through of how we lit and how we kind of approached each one of these scenes.

Let’s talk about these bottom set of images right here, because this is that whole point that I’m trying to get across of dramatic versus natural and about using your shutter speed to control the amount of fill that’s being added to the scene. So what we have on the left side right here, let’s look at the camera settings. The bottom left, we’re on a 50mm lens. This is the canon 50mm f1.2l. So we’re at 1/200th of a second, we’re at F1.2 and ISO 50. So again, I always chose my aperture based on the compositional effect that I want to have, and for this I want an incredibly shallow depth of field and just crushed bouquet, and I want this tree to kind of create this nice v that kind of leads in to her. This is after the sun has set actually. So we’re in a pretty dark environment right now. So I don’t really need an ND filter. That’s why I’m dropping to ISO 50, cause that was enough to get me down to get this look here.

From there, all we’re doing, it’s dusk, we have a white over silver. We’re bouncing at around 1/4-1/8th power. Now, the point I’m trying to illustrate is that this look is going to change dramatically simply based on the amount of fill light that we allow in. If I were to use an ND filter and let’s say I were to cut the amount of ambient light down even further and feature more flash, it would have an even more dramatic effect. But look what we do, I leave everything. Everything stays identical through all three of these shots with the exception of the shutter speed. So from here, we drop to 1/100 of a second, in the third shot, this shot we go to 1/50 of a second. So this is one stop brighter than this shot in it’s ambient light in the shutter speed. This is two stops brighter than this shot.

The flash exposure stayed identical throughout all these shots. What do we end up getting? Well here, we have a more dramatic image because we see more of the blue tones, we see more of like all the tones in the background. The shadows end up being darker, so everything is more dramatic because we’re pulling the background down further. Here, it brightens up a little bit. Look at all the shadows over here on the left side of her dress, see how it opens up. It opens up over there because we added one stop of shadow fill by simply slowing down the shutter, by letting more ambient light in. So the tree is no longer as dark. The background, we don’t have as much blue in the back.

We go up another stop. Now the sky is almost blown out everywhere. We have a lot more detail in the shadows in the tree. We have almost completely filled the shadow underneath the chin on the left side of her body. This is exactly what I’m talking about as far as ambient versus flash balancing. It’s exactly what I’m talking about when I’m talking about refinement. These small adjustments, these small decisions are going to make massive impacts on the type of image that you want to come up with. There’s no right or wrong. Between the three of these shots, you can’t say that any of them are right or wrong. They simply have a different look. If you want more natural, you allow more ambient light to come in. If you want more dramatic, you allow less ambient light to come in.

One other interesting note that I wanted to add here, is we added fill light to her basically by just allowing more ambient light in. Only do that when your fill light matches the color temperature of your flash. We’re out in daylight right now, I’m using daylight balanced flash. We’re getting roughly daylight. I’m okay to balance those two things. But if you’re allowing yellow ambient light, to balance over blue flash, then you’re getting mixed lighting. That’s not going to look good. It’s going to compromise the overall image quality.

The other thing I want to mention is one thing you need to keep in mind, is that the flash power, the brightness of her skin on this right side, okay? On the left side, the brightness of her skin in the shadow area is simply the ambient exposure. Meaning that, not a lot of the flash is actually covering the side of the dress. So the brightness on the left side of her body is primarily due to ambient light. So when we slow down the shutter, the brightness of that dress area, it brightens significantly because we’re allowing more light over that area. But the brightness of areas where flash is touching, the right side of her face, the right side of her body. That brightness is determined by ambient light, plus flash. So as you slow down the shutter, notice that we’re also adding a little bit of brightness to the face, and to that right side of the body. It’s just one thing to keep in mind, it’s not that your flash is getting any more powerful, the flash isn’t. We already know that, we know that when the flash fires, it fires so quickly that it doesn’t matter how long a shutter is actually open.

The only difference in that brightness is from ambient exposure. Now, now that we know that, let’s go ahead and look at each of these images on top. For this first shot, we talked about this a little bit earlier. I want to briefly talk through it again, and kind of talk through the overall thought process in this. I love that the sun was directly above this tree and kind of just giving a back light into our entire set. I wanted this to look like we had a multiple light setup, even though we only have one on camera flash. So I put her back to it, that way the sun is acting like a back light on the entire scene. It’s giving her a rim light, a hair light. It’s giving the grass a little back light, it’s giving the tree a little bit of a back light.

I like natural light effects, but I also love the fact that we’re getting this sunlight coming through this dress and it kind of highlights her form a little bit. So what I want to do, I want to expose so that we can see that sunlight coming through. So we can see some of the detail in the color in the sky. So the dress isn’t simply blown out. Had I exposed for just her skin tones, the dress would be blown out everywhere. It’d be blown out almost in every single spot, even over the front of her it’d be blown for the most part. So I set the ambient exposure. We’re on a 24mm prime, F1.4L Mark II, the Canon version. We’re 1/200th of a second F1.4, ISO 100. We’re using a five stop neutral density filter. Okay, the same Singh-Ray 5 stop filter.

We’re bouncing with a silver, because it’s kind of a little bit off to the side a little bit. We need to over power the sun, we need as much light as we can get, so we’re using just a straight silver. I’m bouncing at one over one, and I’m not using any grids or anything like that, because I’m basically looking at the light, I’m at 105 zoom, and I take a shot just looking at the reflector, just to make sure that I fill the entire reflector with light. I want to make sure that I fill the entire reflector and not just a small part of the reflector. If just a small part of the reflector catches light, it’s a small modifier. If the entire reflector fills up with light, without letting too much light spill around the outside. Then we’re maximizing the amount of size of that reflector, so we’re gonna get a softer, larger light source, and we’re using up more of it. So we’re basically gonna get a stronger light source as well, because we’re not allowing it to spill over the edge.

So use your zoom to control that, and depending on where that modifiers placed, you’re gonna have to zoom in and out to make sure all of your flash, all of that light is right on the reflector, and it’s not spilling over the edge. Nor is it too tight and hitting just a small part of the reflector. When that light comes back, we get a beautiful looking directional light coming on to her. What is that directional light kind of lighting like? It’s basically loop lighting. It’s coming directionally. Its not so directional that it’s Rembrandt, but it’s a little bit directional.

Always, when you’re lighting, you’re gonna find this trick out. Always when you’re lighting, light top down. The light should always be coming from at least slightly above your subject. So the light right here is being held just a little bit above the head so that way it’s coming down a little bit. Light will always look more natural when it’s coming down on a subject, versus when it’s going up. If it’s going up, it looks unnatural and it creates something off about the image. It just doesn’t look quite right. When we’re going for something natural, we always light top down. If you’re going for that scary ghost effect, yeah sure, light bottom up. That usage of light does have a purpose, it’s just not for this type of a look.

So that’s how we got to this shot. Let’s talk about this shot of Ivette in the desert now. We’re in the desert. Our light is setting extremely quickly, and I notice that we have these beautiful lines going back on the sand. I’d say, Ivette I need you to go sit down in front of that very quickly. In this situation, it’s kind of funny. We had off camera lights with us, and this was part where we’re shooting for Lighting 101 and Lighting 201, but I didn’t even have the off camera light setup ready to go yet. So I just said, look, grab a silver reflector, grab whatever you got and just come over, run over, I need my assistant to just stand right next to me. I had no intention of shooting this with just a reflector. It’s just, that’s the tool that was ready and available before the sunset. We had literally five minutes before this entire area was covered in shadows. It would’ve taken me ten, fifteen minutes to set up the lighting.

So in that situation, these techniques that I’m talking about, these bounce techniques. You might think, well Pye, if you had off camera lights why would you ever do this type of stuff? Sometimes you’re in a pinch, and you’re in a bind, and you need to get the shot just to get the shot. For that situation, I’m using these techniques that I know I can go to and they’re quick and easy to do. We’re shooting at 1/100th of a second, F2 and ISO 100. We have the five stop neutral density filter, and I think I’m just at this point, I didn’t even bother doing a step down ring. I’m holding the filter just over the lens, okay? We’re using a silver reflector, and I’m bouncing very closely. So I have, I’m pretty dang close to Ivette right now, and I’m simply bouncing right off to the left of this reflector right there. Again, I had the reflector held up a little bit higher so that way it’s coming top down. So look, the shadows are traveling down and to the right. It looks more natural that way.

But look at the background. Once again we’re going for dramatic effect. We’ve under exposed the background, and then we brighten up the subject. Dramatic effect. All these examples are dramatic effect. I always take my first shot without flash to get my exposure. I got my exposure down, the second shot is with flash. Here’s a rule of thumb. If you’re outdoors, you’re in bright sunlight, you are using an ND filter, a five stop filter, you want to get as much light as possible, in general you’re going to be shooting at 1/1 power on your flash. In general. If you’re ever trying to over power the sun with just one of these on camera flash modifiers, or just one of these on camera flashes, in general you’re always going to be at 1/1. Sometimes it’s 1/2 power, but typically it’s 1/1. So that’s a good starting point, just a good rule of thumb to use. If you’re trying to over power the sun, just start at 1/1.

We wait for a little bit of wind to kick in, we get this beautiful shot, and that’s what we got there. Going on to the third shot, top right. This is 24-70 Mark II. Same lens I have on right now. We’re at approximately 39mm. 1/200th of a second, F2.8 and ISO 200. Once again, I approach the scene, I decide on my aperture based on the composition. I get my shutter speed and my ISO based on essentially sync speed and overall image quality. What do I do first? Decide what I want the background to look like. I wanted the background to be a little bit brighter. I wanted to show this little highlight in the ocean behind her. But I want it to still be dramatic enough where against these dark rocks, you can see the back light kissing the dark rocks, but you can’t really see the detail in the shadow. I want her to be the detail in the shadow in the shot.

I have her leaned back and arched over the rock. Bring her hand up to the hair, and I’m kind of adjusting things as I go. Just to kind of get it right. I let that other hand relax, and I think, I can’t see here, but I think it’s going kind of relaxing, going over the tummy. Can you guess how we lit it? So here we did loop. This is basically loop. Somewhat close to Rembrandt. This is for sure loop. Here, overhead. I have a reflector being held just above her body, and I’m shooting kind of at her same angle. I’m just bouncing up into this reflector that’s directly above her, and coming down right on her. So we get this beautiful top down light, that really accentuates her and her features.

There’s one thing I want to show you too. I actually added a fill at the bottom of this. Just to show you what it would look like. I just want to show you her arm basically. With the fill, and without the fill. In many situations, a fill is not going to do what you want it to do. The reason why is, for this shot we want shadows. You actually notice that we’re actually lighting this shot, short lit, right? All these shots, this is symmetrical, this one is broad lit, but guess what? She has a pretty narrow face and we’re shooting pretty far away so that’s totally fine. This shot is short Liv, and she has a slightly wider face, but I want it to look a little bit more narrow. So we’re short lighting, the broad side of the face falls in the shadows, fantastic. The arm, falls into the shadows, fantastic. If I don’t let the arm fall into the shadows, if I add a fill to that, it actually makes the arm look so much larger than it actually is.

So remember that shadows are a good thing. They conceal and flatter in a lot of situations. You don’t want to always open up the shadows. Use the shadows to your benefit. They will make your subject look more flattering in camera when you’re using it to kind of narrow and slim and to do those types of things. Allow to do that, don’t always fill the shadows.

So, that’s how we got to this shot. Again, what was the flash power setting? Again we have, I think this one was either a 3 or 5 stop neutral density filter. I wrote 3 there, I might have been using the 3 stop. I have a stingray 3 stop too if it wasn’t super dark. Again this is silver overhead cause we need a lot of power. I can tell you off the top of my head that if we’re using silver overhead and we want it to be roughly the same brightness as the background, we’re gonna need to be around 1/1 or 1/2 power. So I think that’s what I have here too, it’s about 1/2 power to 1/1 power.

Just in general, whenever you’re bouncing and you want to get over powering type effects, you need to be at full power. That’s just a rule of thumb. Granted, the light is quite close to her, so if we got it just right where we fill up that reflector with light, we hit it perfectly, we could probably be around 1/2 to 1/4. Just a good rule of thumb to remember, over powering the sun, one over one. And it rhymes! I love it when my rules rhyme. Over power the sun, 1/1. Sweetness.

So the whole point of this video is I want you guys to really understand the refinement. These small decisions that you guys make, in terms of ambient exposure versus flash exposure will completely control the type of image that you get. So take a shot, look at the light, look at the way the shadows are falling. Slow things down. I always tell all of our staff, slow it down. You don’t need to shoot at a blazing speed of light and get 500 shots that are just average. Get fifty shots that are fantastic. I’d much rather have fifty fantastic shots that 500 average ones. Slow it down, look at your light, analyze, and then modify and refine.

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