The Right Power for Each Scene | Transcription

Now that you all know the basics we can walk through these things with a little bit quicker speed. We’re going to walk through a family session that we did and talk about the lighting used in each one of these scenes and basically how they differ. Each one of these scenes is going to require essentially a different amount of flash to get to the arrived effect that we’re trying to go for. It’s going to be a cool little demonstration that I want to show you all. Let’s go ahead and get started.

In scene number 1 we are shooting this in bright midday sun. Well, it’s not midday. It’s like maybe 3 pm, 4 pm, so afternoon sun. To get this effect the only thing that we need here really is just some directionality to the sun. This is like 3 or 4 hours before sunset and so we have some direction there, and you can see that the shadow is just trying to travel in this way. What I’ve done I’ve placed their sides to the sun mainly because the background in the scene is really quite nice. If we turn and we put their backs to the sun then we end up shooting like this parking lot and that doesn’t look really good. I don’t know. Most families would probably not want to frame a picture of them in a parking lot. Who knows. You guys try it out. Let me know how it works for you.

We chose this background because it was obviously the better background, but the sun is coming from the side which gives us more of essentially a rim or edge light rather than say a back or hair light coming from the back side. That’s okay. We just need to add some flash to this. What do we have set up? We have our Profoto speed ring with the Bolt VB22. We have 2 Bolt VB22s. Again, we’re firing around half to 1/4 power. In total we need roughly 250 watt/seconds of power.

I chose this option because it was set up and I didn’t have B2s at the time. They were not available to me. Well, actually they had not been released at that time. But had I had this guy I would’ve used that guy, because you get 250 watt/seconds out of that with 1.4 second recycles. Pretty fantastic. Very quick recycles. Great light quality and very good consistency. But we got great results too from just our simple Profoto VB22 setup with our Speedring and the Profoto 3ft. Octa.

Here’s that setup and now what we are on is the Canon 85mm 1.2L. We’re at 1/100th of second at F1.6, ISO 200, 6000 Kelvin with a 5-stop ND on. It’s midday, bright sun. We’re shooting wide open and so we’re going to need a 5-stop ND filter to cut down the light or HSS. We don’t have HSS with these guys because we’re using PocketWizards. My preference is always ND filters anyway, so we put on the 5-stop.

You can see in these 2 top shots. This is the exact same scene by the way. These 2 top shots, we get a great background look, we get great light balance, we have a really nice image. It’s just that they’re left in the shadows and they don’t look necessarily awesome themselves. All we do is pop off that strobe from camera left and on these shots we’re putting down about 250 watt/seconds, so running the bolts at around 1/2 to 1/4 power depending again on distance from the subject. We need quite a bit of light. That’s equivalent to 4 to 5 pocket strobes.

We’re adding a lot of light in these scenes and when we get closer to him, I got in close for these cute shots as he played around with mom and dad’s hand and so forth. We can power it down a little a bit to 1/4 or 1/8th even if necessary, just because when we bring that light in we have inverse-square law. I don’t need to talk about that. You guys already know about it, I hope. That’s how much light we’re putting down in this type of a scene.

Now in this scene obviously we’re trying to match the brightness of the sun, at least the rim light that’s on their faces. That’s why we need 250 watt/seconds of power. We’re also in terms of the light direction I’m lighting from the left side, because I do notice that there’s a little bit of ambient light coming from the left side and I want to leave the right side just available for that rim and have a nice shadow. But we’re not going with a very dramatic light. Notice that. We’re not going really far to the left side. It’s a very subtle light. We’re going for loop lighting. Even on mom’s face is loop lighting.

The reason is because I don’t want necessarily a flat light that’s going to just light them directly in the face, but I do want a little bit of direction but no so much that looks dramatic. I want that natural look, and going Rembrandt on a shot like this is going to be too dramatic. I want just a little bit of direction. Loop is the right light pattern for me for the kind of look that we’re going for here. I love this shot with him looking towards the light source. It just lit up his face and it looked gorgeous. That cute little shot. This Jordan. Jordan is so good looking.

Now we get to this next scene. This next scene I have them pose underneath this beautiful tree. I’m using the tree for our background. We’re on the Sigma 35 Art now. We’re shooting a little wider because we have a beautiful backdrop overall. We take our first shot, 1/200th of a second at F1.4, ISO 100 at 7,000 degrees Kelvin. This shot is just dim enough. This is much, much later in the shoot and the sun is actually set behind the mountains. The sun hasn’t set, so the sky is still very bright, but it’s set at least behind the mountains and so we don’t have to deal with direct light. At 1/200th of a second at F1.4 we actually get that kind of nice brighten airy lifestyle look where our background is still nice and bright and we still have all of our shadow detail. But our subjects are just a little bit too dim.

For this scene we lit from the right side, even though mom is placed on the right. We’re actually going to leave a little bit of mom’s face in the shadow. Normally the rule is to light into the girl’s face. For this shot though when I was looking at the shot we have a strong highlight along the right side of both their cheeks. The main light in this scene is coming more strongly from right to left, even though they look very flat it felt like basically that I had a brighter right side of the face than left side of the face, and I wanted to even out that highlight basically on the cheek. We can even that out by essentially reducing the contrast, and we reduce the contrast by lighting into that side. We’re going to light into that side and what you end up seeing here is that we reduce the contrast which makes that, basically makes that edge or that rim light on the side of their face just more subtle overall.

That’s how I went with that direction. But notice that I’m not going very directional. Dad who’s the furthest from the flash is still lit via loop lighting. Mom whose cheek is turned into this side, so away from the light, is still pretty close to loop lighting, maybe a little bit Rembrandt but not a lot of shadow on their faces at all. I’m being careful that even though we’re lighting into the guy’s side of the face I’m not wanting to leave the girl, I’m not wanting to leave our female subject in too much shadow.

You can see how it does a really nice job of basically just kind of softening that hard, hard highlight, that if we lit from the other side the shadow transition would be on the right side of their face and then you would see a very stark contrast between the shadow. It’d be basically lit, deep shadow, and then you’d see that rim light on the right, so it’d be very bright and very noticeable. That’s kind of the direction or the reason for the direction in this shot.

Now overall we’re at 1/200th of a second F1.4 ISO 100 and 7,000 Kelvin and we’re not jelling. I’m sorry, we’re not putting on an ND filter onto the camera. We don’t need to run a very high power setting on our 2 by 3. On this one we’re using the 2 by 3. Were we using the 2 by 3 in that one? Yeah. We’re actually using the 2 by 3 in here. I think I said earlier that we’re using the 3 for octa. I think this is one of the times that I took out the 2 by 3. I actually prefer the 3 for octa. As far as light quality they’re almost identical, but I just like the shape that I get in the catch lights, a little bit better in the octa versus the Softbox the 2 by 3. Either way they’re both great modifiers. Regardless it’s a very subtle tiny, tiny difference between the 2, and if you were to ask any photographer they probably couldn’t tell you the difference if you put them side by side, except for the catch light.

Here we have that 2 by 3 Softbox. We’re running now 1/16th power. That’s not a lot of light. We could actually do this. At 1/16th power on both of these bolts, that basically is 1/8th power, so that’s like, yeah, that’s like 1 pocket strobe essentially of light. That’s like 50 to 60 watt/seconds of light. We can actually do this with just a pocket strobe because we’re putting down a very subtle amount of light, about 50 to 60 watt-seconds worth of light or 1 single pocket strobe at full power worth of light through that modifier. Again, we’re working in the shade here and we’re not trying to overpower the sun at all. I’m leaving the backgrounds very bright. I’m leaving them up there because I wanted to have that natural and light and airy look, because it’s a family portrait after all and that’s the look that I want this to have.

That’s scene number 2. Now scene number 3 we’re just shooting Jordan by himself. Basically I started this out on an 85, so the Canon 85mm 1.2L. Then I was standing so far back and realizing I’m not really getting any background. I’m shooting at F2 and I’m not getting any of this ground in the back. Instead I went to a 50mm Art, the Sigma 50mm Art and I opened it up to F1.4 and I shot horizontally so that way I got more background and detail behind him. In addition, I wanted to use the natural vignetting and just kind of that artistic component of the Sigma. It had that beautiful vignette, it had that kind of really great look at F1.4. I wanted that, I wanted to utilize that look.

The one thing that I wanted to do was just maybe clean up a tiny bit of the highlights on the face by just evening it out a little bit more and brightening him up just a little bit more than the background, very, very subtle and very soft amounts of that light. That’s what I’m going for here. What do we do? We switch out from the 85mm to the Sigma 50mm Art. We’re at 1/25th of a second, we’re at F1.4 at ISO 50. The sun again has gone down for the most part. It’s getting, it’s kind right around dusk time so it’s pretty dark, but we can still shoot natural light just fine. We’re at ISO 50 so it’s not like we’re running up to ISO 800 to shoot this image.

We have still a decent amount of ambient light. What I’m doing now is I’m using that Profoto the 2 by 3 RFi Softbox. We’re placing it to match existing light. We’re matching that direction of the ambient light that’s coming in. But I’m putting it very close to our subject and then just shooting to essentially brighten and clean up. When you compare these 2 we have more even highlights, we have more even shadows, we have him slightly brighter than the background, we have really great light quality all around. We’ve essentially used that strobe to refine and enhance the existing light. We’re adding to existing light but we’re doing it with such a small amount, yet it makes a decent amount of difference in the final shot.


We are using 1/64 of each 300 Ws strobe. 7 stops less light is equivalent to 1/64 of the total power. This is NOT equivalent to 1/7th of the total power! Rather, the power used in the scene was: 300/64 x2 = 9.4 Ws which can be fulfilled by a single 60Ws pocket flash at less than 1/4th power.
We originally suggested it was 300/7 x2 = 85.7 Ws which technically cannot be achieved with a single pocket flash of 60 Ws at full power. (Thanks to Premium member Wilhelm Karlsson for the update.)


Over here, let’s see here. We have the Bolt VB22s at 1/16th power each. 1/1, and we got 1/2, 1/4, 1/8th, 1/16th. We are 4 stops down in the total amount of light that this can put out. If it puts out let’s say, I don’t know, 250 to 300 watt/seconds, what does that give us? Roughly 60 to 70 watt-seconds of power per. We’re running 2 of them which is about 100, maybe 130 to 150 watt-seconds of total power are being used here. What is that equivalent to? Roughly 3 pocket strobes.
Four stops less light than the full power of the strobe is NOT equivalent to 1/4th of the full power. The correct calculation of total light of the two 300 Ws at 1/16th power should be: 300/16 x2 = 37.5 Ws, which is less than the full power of one pocket flash of 60 Ws. We incorrectly concluded it would take 300/4 x2 =150 Ws of flash, which actually would have required 3 pocket flashes at almost full power. (Thanks to Premium member Wilhelm Karlsson for the update.)


Over on this side we’re running 2 of these guys at around, let’s say we’re running them at 1/2 power. 1/2 power means that we’re running basically half the power on 2 units. If both units, well, if each unit is basically we’ll say maximum of 300 watt-seconds, that’s 150 per, so we’re anywhere between 250 up to 300 watt-seconds worth of power here, which would be 5 to 6 pocket strobes worth of light.

At this point right here using pocket strobes is cumbersome, it’s expensive. You need about 5 to 6 to get this amount of light running them through this type of modifier, although you could do bare bulb, but again it’s going to modify the quality of light in a way that probably isn’t good for, well, it’s not really the kind of light that I would want for a family photo session. But on this side with 3 pocket strobes we can easily put that onto one of our Westcott Triple Threat or onto the Cheetah 3 speed bracket and we would have enough light for this scene. We’d also have enough light for this scene. Just with a simple Westcott Rapid Box with 1 single strobe.

I want you to take away from this video just how much power we’re using to get to the final results. Again, those results are lifestyle results. On this side, in midday sun, we need around 300 watt/seconds of power. Here we need around 150. Here we need around 50. But that’s for a lifestyle look. That’s where we’re leaving ambient bright and we’re adding flash just to balance and create a nice natural look to the image. But if we want a dramatic look we need to pump flash up even higher. We need to pull ambient down even lower. In those kind of cases you’re going to need that much more power. You might need 500 to 1000 watt/seconds of power outdoors in midday sun if you really want to just crush the background ambiance down further. But we’ll get to those later on in Lighting 301 and 401. This is just to give you idea of the right power for each kind of scene, the modifiers that are used and so forth.