Notes – Scott Robert On Location Studio Lighting

These notes are from Scott Robert Lim‘s “On Location Studio Lighting” lecture held at Fort Mason in San Francisco, CA on 08/01/11. I have found these workshops to be extremely helpful and have learned tons about working with off camera flash. I highly recommend Scott as an instructor.

  • Standard flash has a speed of between 1/800 & 1/1000 of a second
  • You should be concerned about the quality of the light not it’s quantity
  • One way to measure light quality is to look for catch lights in your subjects eyes
  • Look for big natural light sources to make catch lights in eyes (windows, dorrways, arches, ect).
  • If you make a capture with different color lighting which looks bad, try changing it to monochrome
  • When using a flash, set the exposure for the background (or subject highlight) keeping the shutter speed at 1/200 or below then light the subject with the flash
  • Flashing through an umbrella removes 2 stops of light, a gel 1 stop of light
  • When shooting in bright light, shoot from the waist up. This allows you to get the light close to the subject without seeing a dramatic light dropoff.
  • When shooting through an umbrella, add a diffusion cup or diffusion panel for extra smooth light. You will lose an extra stop of light.
  • Flashes which do not have a zoom control are generally fixed at 35mm
  • Nice lighting effect can be seen when you sandwich the subject with light
  • For a simple head shot:
    • Start at ISO 400
    • Expose for the background
    • When adjusting shutter speed to change ambient light, adjust by a full stop to see a bigger difference
    • Take in to account what a person is wearing. You will have to add extra light to illuminate dark clothing.
    • If you are seeing a shadow on the background, add an extra flash just on the background to eliminate.
  • Subjects nose should be towards the light
  • When shooting outside :
    • start at 1/100 shutter speed to give you some buffer to adjust. Don’t go over 1/200 (flash sync speed)
    • Look for a natural bright spot between two dark area;s to help frame your subject (between two trees, an arch, ect)
    • Put sun behind subject for highlight then use flash or reflector (top of umbrella works as well) to get light into subjects face and create a highlight in the eyes.
  • Put subject in a dark shirt so that the face pops
  • Suggestions for glamour shoots
    • Use one video light behind for highlights
    • Use a small 9 inch reflector which has been taped to only have a strip of reflection to put light in subjects eyes
    • Use a geled flash for color background
    • Use a snooted flash to create a strip of light across the background
    • Have shadow in the background
    • Look through glamour photography books for ideas
  • Use video light from behind to add highlight when shooting in natural light
  • For portraits shot, you can use a 35mm lens if you go vertical. THis will make the subject look a little taller. Keep body parts in portion by shooting level.
  • Try to shot at 1/4 power or below on flash. This may allow you to get through an entire day on a single set of batteries.
  • When shooting an event, find a place with good light and wait for action to flow into it or ask people to move into it.
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