Subtle Refinement = Massive Difference | Transcription
Subtle refinement equals a massive difference in your final image. This is my first illustration of that. Remember, subtlety and refinement and these types of things. This is an art. It’s an art that’s learned over time and with practice, so don’t get frustrated with yourself if you come back to a shoot and you realized that there are certain things you should’ve done better. I do that every single shoot actually.
I come back and I’m like, “Man, I wish I would’ve had these things better.” But you know what? When you get to a certain point, the images that you get are still going to be awesome. We’re all artist. We’re all going to always look back on our images with 20/20 hindsight and be like, “I wish I would’ve done this or done that. The point is to come back with amazing images and refine images every time, and to keep improving shoot, after shoot, after shoot.
Let’s take a look at our desert scene. What is our composition attributes? Let’s talk about this scene for just a second, as far as what I want compositionally and what attributes I’m going for. We are facing our subject almost into the light. She’s actually looking towards the sun. The sun is not quite at her side. It’s more like just behind. You can see that as we have these beautiful highlights and shadows in the dunes behind her.
What I want in this scene is to have basically this beautiful side view of the sun hitting these dunes, so we have highlight and shadow, and highlight shadow. We have a really great background here. If I was going to place her back to the sun, how boring would all these scenes be where every single scene is just back lit by the sun. The dunes, they’re just a highlight over the top and it’s just shadows in front. I want you all to get out of these grooves that we all get stuck in.
I want you all to choose and compose your image based on the strongest image possible, not based on what you know is going to work every single time. Yes, placing the subjects back to the sun and lighting the front, that’s going to work every single time. We know this and what I’m saying is it’s going to get boring, so change it up.
What do I do? I have her open up, look towards the direction of the sun, but the sun is still directly behind her. What do we get? We get this beautiful rim light right along her body right here where it just highlights her edge. What else do we get? We get a beautiful back light that hits the edge of the dress, and I have her lift up on the edge, because I want to show the pull of the dress. The things is that she’s not walking. If she were walking, I would just let the dress relax and show the pull that way, but I don’t want her to walk because I don’t want her to mess up the sand dune.
I have her walk around the backside of the dune, come up the back side so as not to leave any trails in what’s going to be our foreground in our composition. Then I have her simply take one step forward with one leg, leaving the legs basically crossing over each other and then holding the dress up in the left hand so that we can see the pull on the dress. We have this lovely little shape right there as the wind catches it. With that back lit, it looks fantastic.
Okay. This is our scene. We have a beautiful ripple effect across the sand right here, and this is the close-up of that scene. Here we’re on a 85mm 1.2. we’re shooting a little bit further back, getting more of a wide scene here. We’re getting a little bit tighter with, again, the 85mm 1.2, the Canon version, the L series, the luxury … Do you know L stands for luxury? It’s luxurious on your skin. Lenses that are luxurious. I don’t know why they call it luxurious. It’s just that’s their fancy schmancy line. Okay. These are their professional series. They call it luxury.
Again, if you don’t have the money for that, the Sigma 85mm is a fantastic in betweener, until 85mm Art comes out, and that’s going to be the one to get. Otherwise, go for the 85mm 1.8, the Canon or the Nikon version, whatever one you got. They’re around 400 bucks. By the way, I haven’t mentioned this yet, but buying lenses used, as long as you can get them in good condition is absolutely fantastic. You save money, and lenses don’t really go out of fashion. That’s not what I’m trying to say. They don’t really get old, essentially. A lens that you bought 20 years ago that has great images and has good image quality is still going to create great image quality 20 years from now. I actually love using vintage lenses. It’s really fun.
Okay. What do we see here? Well, we have to basically figure out what we want as far as depth of field. For this particular shot, I want there to be a pretty shallow depth of field in a sense that we have good separation there. Background is relatively busy. I do want to show what it is. I want to show that we’re in the middle of a desert, so I’m going for around F2.8 I believe. Yes, F/.8. yeah. We could’ve stop it down on F1.2, but then what would be the point of coming out of the desert if we’re just going to smooth the background into oblivion at F1.2?
At F2.8, we can tell she’s in the desert. You can go anywhere with that. If you want to go at F7 or F10 or F11. Whatever you want, you can totally chose your own depth of field. You’re all adults. At least I think most of you are adults. Maybe there’s some teenagers out there watching this. Who knows? Anyway, pick the depth of field that fits for your composition. For me, it’s at F2.8, but that presents an issue with sync. We’re on the 85mm, we’re at F2.8, 1/100, and ISO 100. Clearly, in bright mid daylight, we’re going to either need high speed sync or a ND filter. Of course, we’re going to need at least probably a 3-stop ND filter since we’re shooting at F2.8, a 3- or 5-stop. Again, I always prefer going the ND route, so I have a 5-stop ND filter that I pop onto the lens at that point. We’re shooting at ISO 100. We’re 5400 kelvin. We get a good amount of light. I’m leaving it bright and airy. Do you all notice that? Do you all notice that this is not shot to me dramatic. This is shot to be more life style fashion kind of look. It’s not shot for that super dramatic look where we darken down everything. I’m retaining just enough highlights to not blow out the sky, but I’m leaving everything up nice and bright.
Again, chose your exposure based on what you want, but I want that more natural look, so I’m leaving more ambient light in. Now, when it comes to my light direction and my quality of light. What am I needing to do in these 2 shots? I need to draw attention to our dress, to our model, to her face. I just need to give him a little bit of a kick. What I’m going to do here is just bring a flash off the camera right. For this shot, you’re know that if we’re shooting mid-day sun and we want to have the frame this wide, and we’re going to light from over here, and we’re going to use a modifier, you know that we’re not using pocket strobes for this shot. We’re using the Bolt VB 22. We’re using the Profoto B2.
We’re using something larger to get the effect that we need with any type of octabox. I think we’re using the Westcott on this one. The Westcott Rapid Box. We need at least around 200 to 250 watt/second for the power, which means that we need a medium strobe, the Bolt VB 22 or a Profoto B2, either one is going to do. We have a single Bolt VB 22 in the Westcott Rapid Box.
I talked about earlier how putting the Bolt VB 22 in the Westcott Rapid Box is not the best modifier for this flash, because it does get spill. This is where we actually discovered that. This is the first time we tried putting the Bolt into the Rapid Box and we discovered that it was spilling. We end up using it a little bit for the shoot, but we went back to the Profoto after just a little bit.
Okay. With the light quality, we’re going with an octa. Again, we’re shooting pretty far from the camera, like 10 to 15 feet. That Rapid Box Octa does give us a little bit more of a soft light compared to bare bulbing. Compared to bare bulbing it’s quite a bit softer. We’re shooting off camera, and we’re going to go around half to full power. What are we trying to do here? We’re trying to kiss our model’s face and body with just some directional light that draws attention. Are we matching the direction of ambient light? Absolutely. You should be nodding.
Maybe not the direct sunlight, we’re not matching the direction of that because that’s coming from behind her face, but we are matching the direction of the ambient fill. You can actually see the ambient fill lighting her up brighter on this side and darkening towards the shadow side. We’re following that. We’re giving her a nice kiss of light on that side. Now, compare these shots. We have this shot to this shot. Exact same exposure, exact same everything, except this one we added that light. This shot to this shot, exact same exposure, exact same everything, but how much refined of an image is this than compared to this shot?
We have great white balance and color at 5400 degrees kelvin. I left it more on a neutral side because I love this clean white neutral look, just drawing attention in to that dress right there. Notice the complementary colors. Notice that the colors all match. Photography 101, people, do you remember this kind of stuff? We talked about this a long while back. In this scene, we have colors that are harmonious. Look at her dress. It matches to the sky. It matches to the shadows and the dunes. Everything comes together, and we’re using a harmonious type of color pallet where everything matches what’s already existing in that scene.
What kind of color scheme is this called? You guys remember? This is analogous color scheme. You have complementary, which is opportunity of the color wheel. You have analogous, which is basically if your scene has certain things in the color wheel about here, you’re basically working with other tones next to it. Okay.
We get a really refined and great looking image here. What we want to do is make sure that after each of these shots, we analyze those shadows, analyze everything, make sure that our light is falling the way that we wanted to. I dig it. I love the way that this looks. I love the shadows. I love the way that her back looks. We can do a couple of different shots where we move the light back a little bit, so we light up here back just a little bit more, if we have the time to do that. Overall, I’m really digging it.
Now, tip, after everything is set up, shoot different angles, make subtle variations, change out your lenses, move, get different shots. In this scene, we’ve got a lot of fantastic images with this one single set up. Once you’ve done the hard work of doing the setup, utilize it. Utilize it, work around the scene, and get all of your fantastic images.
All right. That’s it for our first tutorial when it comes to subtle refinement and how just a little bit of light in the right place can make a ginormous difference in your final image.