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Lighting 102 | S3 vs S4 vs S3

9 Feb ’11

At the end of every Season we have what we call a ‘Lighting 102′ session. It’s not really a 102 workshop or class – but a little more like a competition. Each team gets 4 speedlights and they’re tasked with lighting a space, and setting up a shot. The idea is to light more than just the immediate area around a model – to really get closer to an enviromental portrait. The shot up above as made by Interns from Season 2. All of the light you see was put there by the team with their 4 speedlights – otherwise Niki’s standing in complete darkness.

By the end of the three months, the interns generally know how to use speedlights and how to light areas of darkness. Most of the time they only work with two lights, doing a basic cross lighting setup. Things start to get interesting (or more difficult) when you starting adding lights beyond the initial two – the factors and considerations multiply – but so do the possibilities. The shot below was my example shot from the first Lighting 102 session we had – everything is lit using only 4 speedlights.

You can see the other shots from the 1st Lighting 102 session, Here.

The goal is to light as much of the space as possible, light it in an interesting way – and not have the light stands in your shot. As much as we want to ‘show off’ our cool lighting – we don’t necessarily want it to take over the picture. We’re lighting a scene, not throwing fireballs. People who don’t look at light the way we do should just see the picture and think it’s cool – while the rest of us are examining the shot to figure out where they placed the lights. Anyone can throw light so that it’s noticeable and stands out – it takes much more skill to pump a black space full of light and make it look… natural.

On this night it was about 35 degrees INSIDE since we didn’t have any heat – and it was raining like crazy outside.

First up – Team One. From the left is Niki, Andre, Brittany, & Brett.

Niki, Brittany, & Brett are Season 3 Interns while Andre is Season 4 and was there to assist them. Their final shot is below.

Next – we have a team made up of only Season 4 Interns. Some of Season 3 weren’t able to attend – but I had invited all of Season 4 to observe. So instead I had the remaining members of Season 4, form a team and setup a shot.

Since Season 4 started only 2 weeks ago – I went easy on them and only gave them two speedlights to work with. The other two teams were required to use all four speedlights in their shots.

From the left – JAwesome, Silvana, Jen, & Whitney. Their final shot is below.

Finally – Team Three was composed of Marj, Sonya, & +Raven. Sonya & +Raven are Season 3 and Marj was there to assist.

Below is their final shot.

Photography is largely about making decisions. Where a light goes, what it’s lighting – there aren’t very many hard rules about any of this. Even when you have an ‘idea’ of how you want the lighting to be – there’s no better way to begin than to simply start putting light in there. Start with one light, add another, and then another.

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