Category Archives Lighting

I love natural light
Love it! I don’t talk about it a bunch here on the blog, because it seems like I’m always lighting something, but you might be surprised that I don’t always walk into every situation thinking I’m going to light it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we always bring a flash or two, but in most cases I’d prefer to use natural light. Why? Three reasons:

(1) It’s easy
(2) It’s free. (Well, mostly)
(3) It’s fast (that’s really a biggie for me)

If there’s available natural light I try to use it first
That was the case with the shot you see above (that’s a two-page spread in a wedding book I’m working on). This is up in the balcony  and there were all these beautiful old wooden theater-looking seats (great looking, but not particularly comfortable) and to the right of the scene above is just this huge window. Huge! So of course my first thought was â” let’s just use natural light.

The problem is: natural light isn’t always beautiful light
Sometimes, even indoors like this with a big beautiful window with a shade streaming natural light, that light can still be really harsh, dappled and unflattering (or in our case, all three).

If we think we might have the opportunity to use natural light, I have Brad bring at least a 1-stop Diffuser (something that goes between the direct sunlight and our subject, like the Lastolite 1-stop TriGrip diffuser you see above, to spread and soften the sunlight). The sunlight at this time of day (around 3:00 pm) was so bright and harsh that even when we diffused it, our bride was still squinting and the light was still kinda harsh. Look at the light on the chair to the right of her and you can see how harsh that light is.

You’d think the light would be even….
But we soon realized that while we could diffuse the light somewhat (we really needed a 2-stop diffuser), we’d still have very strong dappled beams of light landing right next to her so we wound up chasing down these beams and positioning the diffuser in different places (that’s John our 2nd assistant on the shoot jumping in front of some dappled beams).

This is why I always bring a light. Or two. 
I just wasn’t happy with the natural light, and our inability to control it, so I called down to Brad to bring up a flash head with a small softbox (it’s a 27″x27″ square softbox). I have to tell you, it’s pretty frustrating to be standing in a room with this much light and still have to bring out a flash, but we were having such a hard time getting the light where we wanted it. We finally moved the bride to a different location, hoping for better luck by placing her back a few rows into an area that wasn’t getting much harsh light, but we still had to use the diffuser to keep some of the direct beams from falling on her, or near her.

The idea was to have her in a dark part of the chairs, and then just put a little light on her, and have everything else look pretty dark and dramatic, and this new set-up seemed to work OK. It’s not great light. It’s not amazing light or anything — it was more like just having a problem, solving it to some extent, getting a decent shot so we could move onto another location with the groom waiting downstairs.  Once we got it “in the ballpark” I took the shot using a super-wide 14-24mm lens, and rolled out of there. I basically cut my losses because although I felt like with another 15 or so minutes I could have probably nailed the lighting, I didn’t have another 15 or so minutes.

In the end….
I think the shot works in the two-page spread you saw at the top of this post, even though with that cool of a set-up (with a gorgeous stained-glass window on the far left, and these wonderful old chairs wrapping around), I really thought I could come up with something really special, but just didn’t. I played the hand I was dealt and we both folded. I didn’t win, and the harsh light didn’t win, but I lived to light another day. Hopefully next time, it’ll be later in the day, and I’ll be by a north-facing window —- one that hasn’t been washed in an awfully long time. :)

Man, did I trash my diet in Philly or what!!!!

First, we had a awesome day! Philadelphia was the first city on my nationwide tour, and the nearly 500 photographers who came out Wednesday could not have been more welcoming or friendly. Now, onto the important stuff — incredible Philly food! ;-)

My buddy John Geliebter (shown above left with me) took Brad and I out to his favorite cheesesteak dive “Tony Luke’s” in South Philly (seen above). Total dive (and I mean that as a compliment), and there I experienced the magical healing power of the best Philly Cheesesteak I’ve had, because when I woke up Wednesday morning my Bronchritis was gone and I felt great!

I took your advice!
I asked here on the blog for suggestions where to eat while I’m there and so many folks mentioned DiNic’s in the Reading Terminal (right across the street from the convention center) that we went there for our seminar lunch break (I had the Roast Pork with Sharp Provolone and Broccoli Rabe — absolutely delicious!). Next time I’m in Philly, I will hit “Steve’s Prince of Steaks” (highly recommended by readers) and I will stop by either Pat’s or Genos just to get the Philly Experience, but when it comes to chow; Tony’s and DiNic’s totally rocked it this trip!

We just added TWO MORE CITIES!
Come out and spend the day with me in:

Chicago on April 30th
Seattle on May 23rd
Los Angeles on May 24th

Seats are filled on a first-come, first served basis, so come snag yours right now (it’s only $99 for the full day; just $79 if you’re a NAPP member). Here’s the link. 

OK, let’s switch gears!
Today I’m taping a class with the incredible Tim Wallace (famous UK-based automotive photographer) on lighting and shooting car interiors (Tim’s doing the teaching, I’m doing the shooting. Geesh, from one pressure cooker to the next). Below: here are some scenes from the class Tim just taped this week for Kelby Training Online on how to photograph motorcycles (photos by Erik Kuna).

Above: Behind the scenes shots from Tim’s new online class on photographing motorcycles 


Above: More behind the scenes shots (photos by Erik Kuna)

I’ll be sharing some shots from our taping today with Tim over on my Twitter account, and my Facebook page.

Thanks again to all the great folks in Philly who came out to my  seminar, and who made me feel so welcome (and thanks to everybody who came up with Philly restaurant suggestions. Well, now I’m back at home eating right, but that sure was fun!) Hope you all have a fantastic weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

Cheers, —Scott

Above: Here’s our class group shot, taken with a remote camera mounted inside the goal. On Sunday morning we had a session just on mounting and using remotes. 

I thought from the beginning it was going be the coolest hands-on workshop I’ve ever been involved it, and it totally, totally was! (If this is the first time you’re hearing about, first go watch this very short video clip which explains the workshop).

Above: Here’s our workroom for the weekend, inside the VIP Club at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Sweet digs!  (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s Scott Audette (far right) doing a presentation on what makes a good hockey photo; which types of shots make it, and which one’s don’t. Really eye-opening and candid. That’s me (left center) and Mike Carlson (far left). (Photo by Brad Moore)

I’m going to tell the story with captions, but here’s a 30-second synopsis:

(a) We had an awesome group of photographers in our workshop. Totally into it the whole time, and we saw lots of great shots throughout. It was a weekend of non-stop laughing, learning, and making new friends.

(b) Tampa Bay Lightning’s Team Photographer Scott Audette did an absolutely kick-butt job from start to finish. His insights, tips and real-world advice really resonated with the class. He really worked hard to create something very special, and it showed. What a great teacher! (I picked up a ton from him myself).

(c) Our guest speaker, pro-sports photographer Mike Carlson was a tremendous addition to the workshop and everybody loved him.

(d) We were all, and still are, amazed at the incredible access we had throughout the workshop (hats off the Scott and the entire Lightning organization who totally supported the workshop from the start).

Now onto the workshop, which started off Friday night with a “Burgers & Beer” get-together, followed by a presentation from Scott and Mike covering everything from Safety to Camera Settings. Apparently, the safety briefing wasn’t for nothing (see below).

Above: Yup, that’s what his 70-200 f/2.8 lens looks like after getting hit with a puck during Saturday night’s game. He’s OK but the lens, wellâ¦not so much. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt, and he had a great attitude. Plus, the great folks at (totally awesome lens rental company —- I rent from them myself), helped ease his pain and gave him a $150 gift card while his lens is being repaired. How cool is that! We went to great lengths to warn our students about the realities of shooting “at ice level through the openings in the glass” but after this, they totally got it.

Above: Here’s a view of the class while they’re working on shots from the Lightning’s morning skate. The class shot from the first Mezzanine and the shooting holes at ice level (we rotated students in/out). I taught a session on post processing with Photo Mechanic and Lightroom, and my latest sports photography workflow. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: After the class had some time to work on their images (and I answered a number of  one-on-one post-processing questions), we did some in-class blind critiques.  Scott Audette’s and Mike’s comments were incredibly helpful and the class SO got it!!!! (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: I did shoot the pre-game warmups from the ice (my buddy Brian Blanco was covering the game and let me shoot some of the warming from his assigned position). Guess what — my 80-400mm lens took a direct hit shortly after this photo was taken, but thankfully it didn’t crack the glass; though it cracked the plastic outside ring around the lens in a couple of places, and smeared the glass with ice, but luckily it wiped right off. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Game Night
After a dinner break, we all came back and got ready to shoot that night’s game at the Forum: The Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Carolina Hurricanes (great game, especially since the Lightning won 4 – 1). The class shot from both “Overhead” locations (shooting spots at the first mezzanine level, which give an unobstructed view of the entire rink) and from 3 shooting holes at ice level (we rotated the students each period). I shot from the overhead positions and with Scott & Brad Moore’s help, we mounted a remote camera up in the ceiling of the forum aiming down at one of the goals.

Above: Here’s one of my shots from the remote camera up top. You guys know how I love remotes!!!! :-)

Above: Thank God for Brad Moore, who climbed with Scott up to the rafters way up above the ice (since I am, wellâ¦scared to death of heights) and rigged my D3s in place with a couple of magic arms. Lots more on this later this week, but for now, here’s the view from the rafters. Yikes! (don’t look down Brad!).

Above: Although I’m not a “climb up in the ceiling” kind of guy, I don’t mind hiking up to the top of the stands for a wide-angle shot or two, and I got this one as the Lightning scored their 2nd goal of the night. 

Above: Here’s workshop participant Matt Sunday shooting during the game Saturday night from one of the ice-level shooting positions with a hole in the glass (photo by Pete Collins). 

Above: One of our shooting holes at ice-level — you can’t get much closer to the action than this! (Photo by Pete Collins).

Above: Shooting from the 1st mezzanine shooting locations (you only needed a 70-200mm or a 300mm tops). It’s MUCH easier to capture the action from up here, and most of the images chosen as finalists for the “end of workshop competition” were taken from this overhead angle which offers an unobstructed view of the entire rink, and much less chance of being hit by a puck square in the face or having it break your lens and/or nose. This is where I shot from during the game (this isn’t my first rodeo). (Photo by Pete Collins).

Above: She’s rockin’ that 300mm — right over the glass with a clear view of both goals. (Photo by Pete Collins).

Above: Sunday morning kicked off early with a session on setting up and using remote cameras. Scott actually makes (and sells) the enclosures approved by the NHL for remote cameras inside the goal, and he knows this stuff inside and out. He set one up in the goal and the class all got to take remote goal shots with two skaters rushing the goalie. It made for some awesome shots (and we got together for that group shot at the top of this post). (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s one of the goal cam shots; this one taken by workshop participant Thomas Quinn.

Above: Here’s Scott and his assistant Casey (she was awesome and helped out the entire workshop), showing the class how to rig an “ice level” remote.

Above: After the remote camera session, we put on “grippers” and headed out to the ice to do some portrait lighting. We set up three stations and broke into groups of seven. Here’s my station where we’re shooting with a Nikon SB-900 and a pop-up 24″ softbox. Once it was set-up, each student got to direct the subject, try out different settings and poses. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s one of my test-shots from my hot-shoe flash station. I did two looks: (1) One dramatic look where I clamped down on all the ambient light and let the background fall to black (shown above), and (2) One where we lots of the ambient light show and it was clear he was at center ice.

Above: Going over the different settings with my group. I used some of the new PocketWizard Plus IIIs to trigger the flash, and I’m totally digging them (everybody brought their own PocketWizards). One student brought the new PocketWizard Plus X (which I talked about a few weeks ago), and it rocked — the model of simplicity. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s Mike (2nd from left) at his  shooting station (we rotated groups so everybody got to shoot at each station with each athlete). On the far left is Ingo Meckmann, a very cool guy, and darn good photographer, who came all the way from Lucerne, Switzerland to attend the workshop.  (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s Scott’s shooting station and a three-light portrait set-up using his Elinchrom BXRI’s. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s one of the goalie portraits (photo by workshop participant Ingo Meckmann) 

Above: After the portrait shoot, it was back to our workroom for another post-processing session, and then everybody gathered their best three images from the game on Saturday night to enter into our “Blind Critique” Contest. The winner would take home the coveted “Kick Ice” hockey trophy (shown below) and besides insane bragging rights, they won a full-conference pass to the Photoshop World Conference & Expo.  (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: The best shot from Saturday night’s game walks away with with cool trophy and bragging rights to last a lifetime!

Above: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! From L to R: Scott Audette, Yours Truly, our “Kick Ice” trophy winner, photographer Thomas Quinn, and Mike Carlson (the human trailer hitch).  (Photo by Brad Moore)

The Wrap Up
You know what was really cool? The whole time, the teachers, the students, the assistants — everybody knew we all involved in, and experiencing something really unique and that feeling just ran through everything we did. The group got close really fast (we shared a lot of time and meals together, including a wonderful lunch over at the Columbia Spanish Restaurant), and even though we all came through the doors of the Forum as strangers, by the end we all left as friends.

We all learned a lot (the students and the teachers), and the entire workshops was permeated with laughs and learning and that sense that we had all been a part of something really special. Something that happens just once. Or..ya know…maybe twice. ;-)

Thanks to Scott, Mike, Casey, Brad, my wonderful assistant Susan Hageanon who did a fantastic job organizing the event, and to Pete Collins who came to help out and share some “Pete-a-cisims,” and of course to the wonderful folks at the Tampa Bay Lightning and The Forum whose support and enthusiasm for this workshop from the very beginning helped make this dream a reality. #kickice

On Friday I did a series of promo shots for Performance Compound, a training facility where a lot of pro athletes train, everyone from NFL players to Major League Baseball, and did about 14 portraits that day assisted by Brad Moore and crew (that’s Third Baseman Sean Buckley above) and I thought I’d share a couple of finals here, along with the behind-the-scenes photos and the post-processed and unprocessed images.

This entire process is the same as what I showed on my Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it tour, with the addition of one extra back light on the subject (as you’ll see in a moment). Here goes:

1. Above: here’s the shot as it came out of the camera. I used a Grid on the beauty dish above his head to get a quick fall-off on the light. My main concern here is the side lighting from the back, and that part looks good. His face is supposed to be darker.

2. Above: Here’s the shot with some simple, quick adjustments in Lightroom’s Basic Panel (if you don’t have Lightroom, it would be exactly the same settings in Photoshop’s Camera Raw). The settings are below.

3. Above: I wasn’t kidding about simple adjustments: Just increased the Whites a bit, plus lots of Clarity and I lowered the Vibrance a bit to desaturate his skin. I also took the Adjustment Brush, increased the Exposure slider a little bit (dragging to the right) and painted over his face to brighten it (It’s supposed to be a lot darker than the sides, but I thought it was a bit too dark). The white balance was set to Auto in my camera and look fine in this case.

4. Above: Here’s a behind-the-scenes shot of the lighting set-up: 17″ beauty dish with a grid: two strip banks in back on the sides with fabric grids. We have a tiny bit of light on the white background to make it a very light gray (if we turned the power up, it would turn solid white). Production photo by Brad Moore.

5. Above: Here’s a composite from the exact shot you see in #4. The two backgrounds (here and at the top) are from an awesome company called “Photo Art Streetscapes” (link). Their stuff costs a bit more, but it’s totally worth it.

As for matching him to his surroundings: I showed the techniques of how to match the overall color and tone of the composited image on my live “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch It” tour, and in my “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it “ book as well (Amazon or Barnes & Noble), and Matt covers all of this in his Compositing Secrets book, too! (Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

Well, there ya have it —- short and sweet. Hope you all have a fantastic Tuesday! :-)

..when it was out on the road (or if I didn’t come to your city or country)â¦.you can watch the entire seminar online, from start to finish, no matter where you are in the world.

You even get the same tour workbook (but in color no less), plus all freebies I gave out for attendees.

The full-day seminar is now available as a digital download (just like you'd buy a movie online to download to your computer), for just $49.

The short one-minute video above gives you the full scoop, or go to the download site:

d1-41Hey gang, Brad Moore here with a quick walk-through of this photo from a recent assignment…

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to cover the opening of D1 Sports Training’s new facility in Orlando. While I was there, I was able to grab a portrait of one of their trainers, Taylor Scott.

This was the one of the last things I did at the event. Throughout the day, while covering everything else, I was trying to formulate a creative portrait in my mind. I finally decided to just use edge lighting, remembering something a wise man once said… “If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.”

I knew going in that I wanted to have a clean black backdrop for this image, but I didn’t have any seamless paper to create said clean black backdrop. What do you do in this situation? Three things…

1) Camera Settings
First, knock out the ambient light in the room.

I know my shutter speed is going to be about 1/160 of a second because I’m using artificial lights, and that’s a good sync speed.

ISO needs to be as low as possible, ISO 200 in this case, so less light registers in the image.

With those two settings in place, the only variable left is f/stop. At f/10, there’s no ambient light registering in the image, and the strobe lights don’t have to be cranked up too much to register in the image. Exactly where I want to be.

2) Lights
Here’s the lighting setup:

That’s an available light shot of Pete Collins standing in while all the settings are getting dialed in and tweaking the lights.

I used the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra set to 4.0 (about 100Ws), a Rotalux 39″ softbox (sans front diffuser) and a Westcott 12×36″ strip bank. They were positioned in front of Pete/Taylor so that they were basically rim lights.

Here’s how it looks with all the correct camera and light settings dialed in:

And then framed up properly:

You can still see some minor clutter in the background, but that’s easy to clean up in post, which brings us to the third step…

3) Separation from the Wall
That little bit of clutter is showing up in the background because it’s getting a hint of the strobe light. If this had been set up near a wall or closer to any other objects, they would be lit up and even more distracting. That’s why separation between your lights and background are important in creating a clean background.

Here’s the final image again:

Since this shot was for D1, I wanted to make sure there was some branding showing as well. I asked Taylor to step forward, a little closer to the lights, allowing some of the light to wrap around his back to show the branding on his shirt.

In Lightroom, I darkened the blacks around Taylor with the adjustment brush to finish cleaning up the background (no cloning necessary) and bumped up the clarity quite a bit on him.

After that, I jumped over to Photoshop to add some grittiness via high pass sharpening and Nik Filters (the soft light layer blend mode is your friend!).

Hopefully this is helpful and can give you some ideas for creating great images in less than ideal situations!

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