Fundamentals of Portrait Photography: Using Natural Light to Create Drama | Justin Bridges | Skillshare

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Fundamentals of Portrait Photography: Using Natural Light to Create Drama

teacher avatar Justin Bridges, Fashion Photographer, Former Finance Pro

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Location and Subject


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Mood and Light


    • 6.

      Shutter Speed and Test Shots


    • 7.

      Exposure and Brick Shoot


    • 8.

      Mirror Shoot


    • 9.

      Backlit Shoot


    • 10.

      Cropping (Editing)


    • 11.

      Lightroom (Editing)


    • 12.

      Dramatic Effects (Editing)


    • 13.

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About This Class

Photograph a subject with irresistible emotion. This 90-minute class from fashion and portrait photographer Justin Bridges goes on-location to reveal how to use light to create a stunning dramatic portrait.

Whether you use a DSLR or iPhone, you'll learn how to prep your location, subject, and settings so that you can fully develop skills in composition, exposure, and styling. To make your portraits truly incredible, Justin also shares his favorite tricks for editing in Lightroom.

Throughout the class, Justin offers alternatives to every technique, making the class perfect for all levels for experience and equipment. This is a class for pros, enthusiasts, and everyone curious about how an incredible portrait comes to life.


What You'll Learn

  • Introduction. Fashion photographer Justin Bridges will explain how photographic portraiture can tell stories, and give you skills you can use in a variety of social realms. Justin’s is one of the best online photography courses you’ll find for beginning portrait photographers because he breaks down seemingly complex photographic terminology into simple concepts.
  • Location and subject. You’ll get a basic sense of how to choose angles that flatter your portrait models. Justin will tell you how to find the right model to shoot and give suggestions on establishing a rapport with your subject.
  • Equipment. Justin will take you on a tour of his photography equipment, starting with his cameras and lenses and moving on to explain the uses of light meters, neutral density filters, and gaffer’s tape. You’ll see why Justin brings his laptop and hard drive with him on shoots, and you’ll learn the advantages of using a DSLR camera over a point-and-shoot.
  • Mood and light. By working with light and the model’s expression, you’ll learn how to convey feeling and personality, qualities that appear in all the best portrait photography. You’ll also see how Justin captures high contrast images, an important skill when it comes to capturing a black and white portrait, and learn how to use a light meter to set up your shots.
  • Shutter speed and test shots. Now you’ll start your shoot in earnest by directing your model and adjusting your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. You’ll learn how to make certain elements of your photograph blurry while ensuring others stay in sharp focus. Lastly, you’ll learn how using color cards in your test shots can help later during the editing process.
  • Exposure and brick shoot. Justin will highlight the differences between underexposed, overexposed, and perfectly exposed photographs by taking photographs that fit each of these categories. You’ll discover how to capture detail while maintaining maximum contrast and how to balance highlights, midtones, and shadows. Lastly, Justin will show you how to use the auto exposure bracketing setting in his DSLR camera.
  • Mirror shoot. Here you’ll learn how to strategically shoot your subject in a room filled with clutter. To avoid certain background elements from sneaking into your photo, you’ll experiment with vertical vs. horizontal shots. You’ll also face challenges like shooting in front of a mirror, and get a closer look at how to direct a portrait model.
  • Backlit shoot. You’ll learn how to shoot silhouette style photographs by backlighting your subject, and discover why it’s important not to mix artificial and natural light.
  • Cropping (editing). You’ll learn to decide when to scrap a photograph and when to keep it. Justin will teach you the meaning of leading space and negative space and offer some techniques on how to create compositions that spark curiosity in your viewers. He’ll then go over the all-important rule of thirds.
  • Lightroom (editing). In bringing your photograph to life, you’ll need to know some quick fixes in Lightroom. Justin will teach you some, like how to paint clarity into specific parts of your photograph.
  • Dramatic effects (editing). You’ll see exactly what makes a photo dramatic, starting with contrast adjustment and ending with noise removal.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Justin Bridges

Fashion Photographer, Former Finance Pro


Justin Bridges is a fashion and portrait photographer based in New York City. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Justin began his pursuit of photography as a college student studying finance and economics.

Although he opted for an early career as a finance professional at Goldman Sachs, he realized the need to align his career with his love of photography. Today, he balances his photography career with a passion for personal finance.

Justin's approach is to capture the untraveled moment and apply a feeling of art and thoughtfulness to each photograph.

Clients and publications include:

Media: GQ, Details, Esquire, High Snobiety & Selectism, Complex Media, Hypebeast Magazine Fashion: Giorgio Armani, Public School NY, The Arrivals, Raleigh, En Noir, Ovadia & So... See full profile

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1. Trailer: My name is Justin Bridges and I'm teaching dramatic portrait photography for Skillshare. The goal for this class is for you to takeaway all the things that were going to be talking about and showing you and photograph somebody that's very interesting to you. Maybe a friend and create a dramatic portrait of them. There are four big takeaways I like to ensure on every issue: One is a motion, two is light, three is focused in depth, and four is making sure your subject is flattered. You want to walk away with a photo that is not only engaging but also makes not only the subject but your work look very flattered. The ideas to create drama not only using her body language, her expression, her eyes but also by painting the light. The crazy thing about daylight, is it sometimes it comes and goes so it's like a little dark right now, but we'll work with it by positioning her body more towards the light. This class is about making mistakes but learning from those mistakes it's about trial and error. It's about grabbing emotion from a subject and it's really for the experience all the way to the novice. It's capturing contrast you know the difference between lights and shadows capturing the body language, facial expression. You know my favorite thing to shoot is fashion because I like telling a story. Portraiture is a great way to sort of explain the emotion of that story. 2. Introduction: My name is Justin Bridges and I'm teaching dramatic portrait photography for Skillshare. I actually started taking pictures when I was a junior in college. I used to take photos of my friends and things like that, but I never really thought it was a career path. So, I moved to New York with dreams of becoming some rich Wall Street dude and had some fun while doing it, but it just wasn't the thing for me. So, two years into my job, I decided to leave and pursue a mix of photography and fashion. So, I've done a bunch of stuff on the path to finding out what I really, really wanted to do, which was be a photographer, a fashion photographer. So that's what I do now. I've been doing it professionally for the past two years. My favorite thing to shoot is fashion because I like telling a story. Within that scope, portraiture is a great way to explain the emotion of that story, and I think every photographer should at least take a moment to get a little deeper into taking pictures of people and especially portraits. I think it really helps you understand your subject more when you can interact, talk, understand the shape of the body, how body language speaks to the tone of an image, and really just interacting with the subject is a skill that will last you forever. Not only in photography, but it'll also help you when you're interacting with clients, friends, and things like that. So, I think portrait photography, even though it is a niche within a huge range of photography, is one of the more important ones to learn. This class, at least in my opinion, is for a range of people. It's for the hobbyists all the way to the professional that wants to add another dimension to what he or she is doing. This class is about making mistakes but learning from those mistakes. It's about trial and error. It's about grabbing emotion from a subject, and it's really for the experience all the way to the novice. In this class today or in general, I'm going to take you through sort of getting ready for a shoot, understanding your location and environment. I'm going to talk about lighting and why that matters, sort of measuring the light, as well as sort of interpreting the light. I'm going to talk about the different elements inside the photo, such as styling of the model's clothes, expression, things that are in the background that help make the picture and bring it out. Then, also we're going to talk about the different angles and compositions that you can take a shot from, and then we'll wrap it all up by talking about some basic but very foundational things you can do to edit your photo once you're done with the shoot. There are four big takeaways I like to ensure on every shoot. One is a emotion, two is light, three is focus in depth, and four is making sure your subject is flattered. In flattering light, flattering emotion, and things like that. These four big takeaways are very important because you want to walk away with a photo that's not only engaging, but also makes not only the subject but your work look very flattering. In this class, I'm going to be shooting a personal portrait project. Luckily, I have my wonderful friend, Christina, who's going to be modeling for us today, and we're going to try to capture her in a very dramatic sense using her emotion and body language, styling and texture, and background in the photos to really convey a message of detached solemness if you will. So, the goal for this class is for you to take away all the things that were going to be talking about and showing you and photograph somebody that's very interesting to you, maybe a friend, and create a dramatic portrait of your own. 3. Location and Subject: Finding the location is number one for your destiny and dramatic portraiture. The number one thing when looking for a location is you basically have an idea and you want to match that concept to the location. So, if you're looking to use dramatic light and you want to use ambient light, finding a place with high ceilings, great windows, great lighting that comes in one direction will really help you craft that dramatic lighting setup. So, half the battle and portraiture is having a subject to shoot, it might be half battle or there might be like the whole battle I guess but, picking somebody that you really think is interesting and fun to shoot with, you won't always have a choice depending on the project. But if you do have a choice, it's always important to work with somebody that you can build a rapport with, somebody that is comfortable in front of the camera. So, I would say number one, pick somebody that's interesting. I'm really into people with very strong jaws or different features on their face that make them interesting to photograph. So, that's one thing. Finding somebody that has an interesting face, maybe an interesting personality that can show up on camera. The next thing is once you start working with that person is to build a rapport. You can't walk on any photo shoot and just start taking pictures because it's not that easy, you want to build a rapport, you want to get comfortable, you want the model to feel okay in front of your lens and once you both relaxed and get to know each other a little bit, it makes everything fly by so much more seamlessly. The third thing is depending on your model, you want to pick angles that you're going to shoot them that are very flattering to them. One example is, if you have somebody that's a little shorter and you're shooting full body shots and you want them to feel a little bit taller and not feel like they're smushed in the page, is you want to get a little bit lower and shoot up towards them. Not so, you only get so low that you're shooting up their nostrils but if you take a little bit of a lower angle 30, 45 degrees, you can make them appear and look more statuesque and taller, which will make them feel really good and will make our picture look really good as well. Our model today Christina, I met through mutual friends. She is a blogger, and so she's really comfortable in front of the camera, has really great style and just really awesome personality. So, I knew I wanted to shoot with her, I've shoot with her before in the past and she's got a very good expression, moves a lot with the camera, and really can hit the emotions that you pitch at her. So, it was really exciting to work with her beautiful face, beautiful complexion, not a lot of flaws in terms of skin, and really has just a good look overall. So, with Christina and a lot of other models, angles are so important because you want the person to look flattering. For shorter people like I said before, I like to shoot a little lower and make them appear a little taller. For somebody like Christina who is good at moving and wearing clothes, I like to create angles. So, having them not only move in ways that create angles and contours in the clothes, but also moving around the subject to create my own sort of angles from the subject to the camera. All of which the goal is to make the person look flattering, the clothes look flattering, and to make the image look very complimentary to what's going on in the material. 4. Equipment: So, for this class and for most of my photo shoots, I like to have certain gear with me at all times so I'm always prepared. I mean, it especially makes it easier to capture some dramatic portraits. So, for this class, I am shooting with my Canon 5D Mark III, professional in DSLR camera. I have two lenses with me today, a 24-70 2.8L and a 200 2.8L. I usually have two lenses on every shoot. These aren't necessarily the ones I always travel with. If you're curious, I like to bring either a 35 millimeter or a 50 millimeter at the short end of the focal length spectrum, and I also like to have an 85 millimeter lens with me. The 85 millimeter lens is really good at shooting a portrait without causing distortion on the face. So, for instance, if you shoot too wide, you can make your model look a little wider or bigger than she is or he is. An 85 millimeter is like the perfect focal length that really make them look flattering and look really good. I also carry very important, a light meter. This is a Sekonik LiteMaster Pro L-478DR, which is just gibberish for like really expensive. I use this to meter light as I'll demonstrate in the class and really get an idea before I'm shooting how the light is going to look once I take the photo. I also carry with me on most shoots, not always, I don't have a filter for every single lens that I carry, but I carry a variable neutral density filter. This filter goes on the front of a lens and it essentially helps decrease the amount of stops of light that are coming through the camera. So, in layman's terms, when I put this on the camera, say we're shooting in a very bright space and I want to make it appear darker, I can put this guy in the front of the lens and then turn it to a varying degree to make the image darker and darker and darker, if I can't control light in any other fashion. That's a very general way to talk about it. So, I have Gaffer's tape. This come in multiple colors. You'll see them a lot on video and film production setups. But I carry a Gaffer's tape everywhere because you never know, say there's a curtain you want to tape shut and you don't have some other way to do it, if you're shooting on a backdrop and you need to tape down the seamless paper to the ground. There's always a reason to have tape on set and it always comes in handy and it's very easy to get off. It's made specifically so the adhesive is strong enough to hold but won't leave residue on whatever surface you put it on. The last little handy gadget that I carry with me on shoots is a little tiny baby Swiss army knife. I don't use it all the time, but it's very helpful in case you have to cut anything, fix anything that's broken, you might have a screw that might come off something, but it's really just good all more to use a functional knife that can help you in a little pinch. So, one of the other things I like to bring on all my shoots when at all possible is a tethering cord and a laptop and a hard drive. So, I'll just explain a little bit about the workflow. What I usually do is I'd tether this bright orange thing so nobody trips over it. I put one in on the camera, It's a USB cord and the other end goes into the computer. If you'll notice, I have a little fastener here and this prevents, if anybody steps on it, from jerking out of the body of the camera which can cause some backfiring on your software. So, what happens is you plug this into the camera at the other end of the computer, and what I'll do is as I'm taking pictures, the images will flow directly into the computer and instead of actually capturing all the images on a card, I only capture them directly on a backup hard drive. So, what do you have and you can also set this up to back up those files directly on your computer hard drive as well. So, as safe as you want to be, you can be, you can have the photos captured onto the computer and the hard drive, just the hard drive. You can even have them captured into the hard drive and onto a compact flash card or whatever memory card you have for your camera. That way, you can see the images on a full screen and the exact rendering of the raw instead of a JPEG preview that you would normally see on the back of your computer body or on your camera body. Honestly, it's one of those things where it's dealer's choice. Whatever you're more comfortable with and works better for you is how I suggest you set your system up. Not a necessity on every shoot but the light meter, as I was saying, is a very helpful device that will allow you to get to an image and visualize how the light's going to look on your subject and then in the background before you even take a photograph. Now, again if you're a hobbyist or just starting out your professional career, you may or may not own one of these, and it's not definitely a necessity. However, if you can get your hands on one, it's definitely effective. If you don't have one of these, the alternative is to work with your camera and trial and error to get the exact exposure that you're looking for. What I would normally do and especially before I even invested in the equipment is what I use is the reflective meter in the camera. Meaning, I point the camera at the subject, I get a reading on the exposure which shows up on the top display of your camera, I meter for that and then I see what comes out. I take a photo, see how that looks, are my shadows too dark? Are my highlights too bright? Are my mid tones good or not? I work back and forth from there. So again, while you're shooting, if you've set the idea you have for your aperture and your ISO, you're really just playing around with shutter speed. Just a little knowledge on why I chose a DSLR. In general, in art and photography, as long as you know how to capture a good image, you can create a beautiful image, period. Point blank. Doesn't matter what equipment you have or don't have. The reason I go with the DSRL is one, it's a professional standard, but two, because I like control. When you use a DSRL versus, say, an iPhone or a point-and-shoot, you're very limited in how you can manipulate what's going on in the body of the camera to create that image, controlling the light, the shutter speed, the aperture, the ISO. All those things are restricted on certain cameras that are below a certain pay grade if you will. But you can definitely get pictures out of a point-and-shoot if that's your aim. 5. Mood and Light: We're going to be taking a couple of shots at this wonderful lower east side apartment. I've got a beautiful model, Christina, that's willing to be the guinea pig today. I'm just going to go over a couple of things that I like to do to get ready for every shoot. One of the key components of dramatic portraiture is creating drama not only by painting with light but also by working with the model's expression. By dramatic, I don't mean it has to be extremely moody, emotional, or sad, or happy. It can be all types of things. It's just about conveying idea in an image and in an expression, all in one impactful photo. So, one of the reasons I want to measure the light before I start to shoot is because I tend to prefer light to be sharp falloff, high-contrast images. So, I like areas of highlight that fall right into darkness, and because I happened to be a sort of an emo artistic kid, it's going to end up being cool, the end result. When I walk into any scene or even when I'm planning for any shoot, I like to think about what types of light will be available to me. Today, we've decided to shoot completely ambient light, and by ambient light I mean, natural light that's coming from the source that we call the Sun. There's also the idea of available light including artificial light so, if you have lights on in the apartment, a lamp, anything like that would be sort of that artificial but available light. Then, if you bring any strobes or flashes with you, that will be your artificial light, your strobe studio light. So, today, we're going to be using all ambient light. So, I really have to manipulate what's coming through the window, what's coming through light from the other rooms, and work with that. So, I do a lot of studio work and some on location as well. You can use on-camera flash, you can use off-camera flash, all those different flashes are there to help you bring some light and mode to the scene. I rarely ever, I almost never use on-camera flash because I think it's a little too harsh, and I'll be getting into like what's the difference between soft and harsh lights as well. I never use on-camera flash, but if you use any studio strobes or anything like that, you definitely have the option of using the meter and sort of creating and painting light onto your subject, and maybe we'll save that for another class. In terms of hard and soft light, like I said, I like to create a really strong drop-off and that is you can do that with harsh light, you can do that with soft light, it's all about your light ratios. What we're going to do today is we're going to use what I would consider soft light. We have a big window and harsh light and soft light is all relative to the size of the light source versus the size of the model and also the distance. That's a lot of math and too much thinking, so we'll keep it really easy. We have a big window here. So, there's a lot of light coming in, and the model, in perspective is smaller than the window. So, that's going to create a soft light that's hitting her and bathing her in light on one side of her face, and then because there's not a ton of light coming in and because she's so close to the light itself, it is going to fall off dramatically once it graces the side of her head. So, that will create a soft light but a very dramatic light where we have a transition from light to dark very quickly. So, we're about to take a couple shots but in order to get ready for the pictures, I want to make sure I have a good understanding of how they're going to come out before I even shoot it. One of the things I do to get ready for every shot is I'd like to meet with the light and get a good sense for how we can create some drama with the model. So, I have my Sekonic light meter L4-7 ADR. Its big leage stuff that you could use any type of light meter, even got a touchscreen. So, what you want to do is you want to get a sense for how the light's hitting, or you see we have beautiful window light coming in just grazing the side of her face on a little bit of her clothes, and we have shadow on the other side which we call the light falloff. So, in order to get a sense for how that's going to look on camera, we want to meter the light. So, what I generally do is I get out the light meter and most of you guys will be already familiar with the different components to exposure, which is aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. So, what I want to do is I want to use a mode where I can set the things I already know I'm going to use. I already know that I want to shoot Christina with a very open aperture of 2.8. So, all I have to do is change the meter reading, that's pretty dark in here so we're going to shoot a pretty high ISO, open up that sensitivity, get a little film grain if you will. So, I bump this up to 1250, and then I'm going to just use this lumisphere to measure the light that's hitting her face. So, what I want to first do is measure the light that's coming in from the window, then measure the light from the side that's not receiving any light, and then shoot her from the angle that I'm going to be taking the picture. So, I put this up to her face right up under the chin, and meter, and we get 1 over 200, which should be the shutter speed on her left side. And then on the right side, we have a pretty drastic fall off, we have 1 over 15. So, what that tells me right now is that where the light's coming in, it's going to be highlighted, and then on the falloff side, it's going to get really dark. So, that's already creating a little drama with the light, and you can play with that by turning her head towards the light, adjusting different things in the room just to open that up. So, I plan on taking a couple shots from this corner and I might move around a little bit, but first, we'll say, I'm starting over here so I'm going to meter her right where I'm going to be shooting, and we get 1 over 80. So, I know I'm going to need to hold this thing really still, and I'm going to shoot from that angle and that is the shutter speed that I need to lock into the camera. All right, so I metered both sides of your face. So now, I have an idea for how the light's going to be coming in. Again, the light meters, it's going to give you a good idea and a good guideline of where you need to be, but you can always trust your judgment by looking at your computer where you're capturing the pictures or by looking at the back of your screen if you're just shooting straight to a memory card. So, I'm going to take the next measurement from the direction of where I'll be holding the camera, which is going to be off to my right, which would- so it meter's at 1 over 80. So I know, just a general guideline, I know that in order to get the right exposure, I'm going to be needing to shoot at a 2.8 aperture, a 1250 ISO, and a 1 over 80 shutter speed. So, that's just my general guideline, and again, you can change the components, you can trial and error it to get the right exposure. Now, that we have a sort of a general understanding of our light source and how we want to shoot this especially in the way that I want to shoot it, the next thing is to get the model prepared. There's all types of ways you can shoot your subjects that can make her or him more flattering, a more dramatic et cetera, et cetera. Today, I want to actually just focus on how do we create take one expression and focus on that and then get a bunch of shots using different compositions different framing. 6. Shutter Speed and Test Shots: So, today we're going to focus on an emotion, for lack of a better word called detached. We have a beautiful model who has a wonderful range of expressions. She's got this sort of Parisian bad ass feel to her, so we're going to try to take that advantage and work with it. So, I'm going to tell Christina, give her a little bit of direction and then we're going to jump into taking a couple of shots. So Christina, I know it's a very beautiful day and you don't want to act all sad and emo but let's try to do that. Okay. Let's try to project hollow eyes, cool bad ass but not caring too much, checked out a little bit and work it from there. All right. So, anyway today, so I've already discussed the emotion and expression with the model and before I take a couple test shots, I just want to explain. Today, I'm actually going to be shooting into a laptop, into a capture program. So, I will digitally be capturing all the images that I shoot into a computer and that way I can get a big picture and adjust on site. The capture program that I'm using today is one of the professional standards called Capture One. You can also use the wonderful program Lightroom as well. Both of them do pretty much the same thing and present beautiful results as well, and make it really easy for you to see what you're doing as you're shooting. So, if you don't have a light meter, I want to just walk through a couple of basics of what I would think about before taking the shot with our wonderful model. So again, there are three different things you want to think about, shutter speed, aperture and ISO. The shutter speed is going to control how fast the shutter clicks, which is the device that lets the light into the camera. So, I know we're in a space where the light keeps fluctuating but it's somewhat a darker space. So, I want to shoot a little bit open or slower, if you will, to let more light in but I also want to shoot fast enough that I'm not getting a blur when I'm hand holding the camera. So, I'm thinking I'll shoot one over 160, which is fast enough for a still object to not be blurred but also let's enough light into the camera that we actually have a picture to take. The other thing is aperture. Aperture is the hole in which the light comes into, so it opens and closes. When we have a big aperture, meaning the number is really low, we can create the blur in our camera and we can also let more light in. Just the opposite, when we have a very low aperture or a high number, we can get more things in focus but to do that, we also need to open the shutter even slower, so that we can let more light in. The last thing is ISO. With ISO or ISO, you want to think about it in terms of two things, the amount of light that's coming in the camera, as well as the quality of the image. Because when you raise the ISO, depending on what camera you use, if you have a consumer level camera and you go above say 400 or 800 ISO, you're going to get a lot more grain in the picture. If you use a more professional model and you shoot 1600 or 3200, you might have a image that has grain but it's very nice and good quality. The reason I would use a higher ISO in any image is because it allows me to shoot faster and with less light. This is a low light situation. So, if I have a higher ISO, I can still shoot fast and have enough light coming in the camera because of that sensitivity to the light. When I shoot a low ISO image, it's because I have enough light and also because I want to keep the grain out of the film or out of the end result. Just keep in mind when you shoot with higher ISOs, no matter what, you're always going to get a little bit more grain in the image or what people call noise. The next biggest thing besides your shutter speed, your aperture, your ISO, is definitely the focus on the model. You can create different types of focal points by just changing your angle or your composition. Today, because we have a wonderful model, I want to make sure her face is in focus and I have the choice of making even the background and the things around her in focus, or what I can do is I can focus on one part of the model and then blur the rest of it. The way we achieve those different types of effects is that we can change the aperture on the camera. So, if we shoot a lower aperture or excuse me, a higher aperture, which means a lower number, I know it's a little confusing, we can create a blur on everything outside of the focal point. So, if I point my lens and focus on her eyes and I use say a 2.8 aperture which is a high aperture, what will be in focus are her eyes and everything on that focal plane and then outside of that, everything will fall into a blur. The further away something is from the focal point, the more blurry it will get. However, if I want to use some of this rich texture in the background, capture some of the plants in focus, and have a generally in focus picture, what I can do is have a lower aperture which is a higher number, and it will bring everything from one focal plane all the way across in focus. So, let's take away all the supplemental help, no light meter, no computer. What you want to do as you want to focus on your subject through the camera. What is in every camera is an exposure meter which tells you how much light is bouncing back from your subject into the camera. So, what you're going to do is you're going to point the camera at your subject, half press the button, the shutter button and then there'll be a meter that pops up that will tell you whether you need to increase or decrease the amount of light coming into the camera. That's how you're going to get a sense for how much light you need to capture the perfectly exposed image. So, what I'll do, just real quick to show you a test is without any light meter or anything, is I'm going to point at the subject, I'm going to focus on our eyes and it looks like we have a good exposure at 2.8 aperture, one over 125th shutter speed and an ISO of 1250. So, that would generally give me a decent picture but it won't be perfect. So, what you're going to do after that, after you've taken a test shot is you're going to trial and error, increasing the shutter speed, decreasing it. If you're not happy with the aperture, you can adjust that and then the ISO, I usually leave alone. All right. So, I'm going to start taking some test shots. The first test shot I'm going to do is going to be with a gray card, which will allow me to calibrate the color balance after the effect. So, I'm just going to take one shot, the model's going to hold it right up under her chin, that'll just set a baseline measurement and then we'll start taking a couple of test shots. Well, smile, come on, there you go. Cool. So, we set the baseline with these color cards. Again, you can use a gray card, white card, black card and that just allows me a spot on my computer later when I'm retouching to set the color balance for that range of images that I've just shot. Point your eyes right at the lens. Then lean towards the window but then look back at me. Okay. As you saw, I took a couple of test shots. The reason I'm moving her around and playing with the directions her face is pointing and her eyes are pointing is because I'm trying to manage the light coming from the window. So basically, I want to aim for at least three fourths to half of her face catching a little bit of light and then the rest of her catching the shadow, so we can create that contrast naturally. So, we have her up on the arm of the chair to get a little bit close to the window. We played around with turning her head towards the window and also looking away, so that more of her face is in shadow. I played around with her having that gazing out of the window look, looking directly at the camera for a little bit more impactful effects. I don't even know if impactful is the word, but whatever and just playing a little bit with her body movements and things like that. The idea is to create drama not only using her body language, her expression, her eyes but also by painting the light in the scene as well. I'm also composing with different angles, so I'm doing tight shots, vertical, horizontal. I'm shooting, I'm leaving a little leading space for her eyes, so she's looking in one direction, I'm giving her a little bit of space in the camera and I'm also trying to capture a little bit of texture behind her. All these different things, we're just trying to do in order to get to the perfect picture, if you will. So, when I do the test shots, it's usually just the get an idea of where we're at, not only light-wise but also get the model ready to act out her part. You know what? More often than not, the test shots just turn into just straight shooting and we can get right to a good product once we figure out our lighting situation, how the scene is going to look. 7. Exposure and Brick Shoot: Thinking about exposure, which is sort of what we need in order to create a great shot. Besides all the inputs like the model and such and the clothes. Thinking about exposure there's all types of exposure, under exposure, over exposure, and then there's that sweet spot perfect exposure. The way I like to think about it is since this is art, and everything is subjective. There's not necessarily a wrong or right answer, but technically there are better answers than not. So, when I'm shooting Kristina, and I've got say a lot of shadow on her face, the image is dark overall, that is what we call under exposure, under exposure meaning not enough light in the scene. When you underexposed that image you get harsher shadows, darker shadows, you start to lose details in the areas that aren't hit by light, and you get like a flat image especially like in the mid tones and by mid tones, I mean the skin texture, and medium range color parts of the image. So, you have under exposure, then there's overexposure. Overexposure is when you're letting in way too much light. Where the light is hitting your face, you're blowing out the skin, you're losing detail in all the lit areas of the photo, and it ends up being a little bit of a harsher light, which is too much, and you can tell as soon as you see it. The problem with under and overexposure is you're losing details in the image, whether be in the shadows, or in the highlights and that's never a good thing. You want to capture as much detail, while also capturing a lot of contrast as well, and that's why aiming for a perfect exposure is the goal for photographers. So, what I would call the perfect exposure in an objective way, is a balance of your highlights, mid tones in your shadows. So, where the light is hitting the model, where in the highlights, you want to have that well lit but also a lot of detail captured. Where the light is not hitting the subject, meaning the shadows, you want you want to have some rich darkness, but you want to still capture the detail in the skin, the clothing, the whatever is included in that shadow area. In the mid tones you want a realistic picture of how the skin tones look, how the clothes look, just everything that is in that middle range, and when you combine all that and everything's in balance, you have a great exposure. If you're new to photography, I'm going to do a couple of things wrong on purpose, just so we can all have an idea of what that might look like. I'm a big fan of trying a lot of bullshit just learning from your mistakes, and getting all that out of the way while you're young and it's fun to play around. So, what I'll do is I'm going to an underexposed image and overexposed image, and I'm also going to tell you a cool way to just do it all at once. So, first let me take a couple of shots, and we'll show you later on when we talk about editing your photos, what those look like and then I will take a perfect image then I'll show you a little tip as well. Cool, so I just took three photos. One that's like super dark, one that is really bright, and then one that's down the middle, and hopefully a good photo, we'll see. So, a cool little trick if you'd just want to play around with different exposure levels and see what it looks like in general, is you can go into the back of your camera and this will change whether you're on a Nikon and Canon and depending on the camera you have different menu settings, but it's all generally called the same stuff. So, there is a menu feature called exposure compensation, and auto exposure bracketing. You can go into that, click it and it'll show you brighter and darker in a big scale. What auto exposure bracketing does, is it lets you take three images, or depending on what your camera set on multiple images a different exposure levels, all at once. So you just have to hold down the shutter and you get three images boom, boom, boom. Was that three? Anyway, in order to set this up, after you go into the menu, what you're going to do is you're going to take your shutter wheel, and just turn to the right or to the left, and that will increase the distance of an exposure differential, and you can pick one stop, two stop, three stop. Don't worry about what stops me, but I'm just saying brighter, darker, and make that spread wider or smaller. So, I'm going to pick a differential of one stop apart. So, an image will be taken at an exposure value that's negative one that's perfect, and positive one, meaning too bright. Then just click okay, and then I can take a test shot, where I just look at the model. I'm just going to hold the button, I'm going to click the button three times very close together. You hear three shots, and that will automatically pop onto your screen on the back of the camera. Three pictures that are three different exposure readings, and that allows you some leeway to play around with the way you're shooting. So, when I took those three test shots, I did it all manually, to show you under and overexposure. What I did was I kept my ISO steady at 1250, I kept my avatar at 2.8, and then I change a shutter speed to make it faster and slower. So, I shot the perfectly exposed image at one over 160, or one over 200. I shot the overexposed image at one over 40, and then I shot the really dark photo at one over 640. So, you got three extremes, and the reason I showed you that auto exposure bracketing, was you can do all that without even having to think manually. So, you set up exposure bracket, and then you just got to click the button and it's really that simple, and it's a really shortcut way to playing and learning with exposure. Just to mention why we're doing all this, I know a lot of people when they're learning photography, I know I did because I've looked at classes before and the past, is you don't want to get hung up on the numbers that I'm using, because every scene is different, every situation is different. So, you just need to keep in mind relative what we're doing and the higher level concepts. Lower that knee just a little bit, that, yeah. Go, with the neck straight up, and then open mouth a little bit, yeah. Give me the head down into the left, like you're looking down at the corner, yeah. Cool. Come down again on the couch, and then look off in this direction. Yeah. Bring your feet down further this way, like slide, yeah. The bottom, half of your body and now do, now lean over. Yeah. Bring your hand back just a little bit on your forehead so l can. Yeah. Look right at the camera. Hold on, for another one. One more. 8. Mirror Shoot: So, as you noticed, we've changed locations. We're in a bedroom, natural drama. I also had the model changed into a white top. Don't get hung up on this, but if you're shooting somebody wearing any white, you just have to know that white reflects the most light, black the least amount. So, when you're shooting and you're meeting for getting that great exposure on her face and on her skin, you're most likely going to mess up the exposure on her shirt. The great thing about retouching and all the post production software is that you can bring some of the detail back into a white shirt if you shot it a little too bright. So, don't get hung up on it. It's all good. You'll notice in this scene, we don't have the rich texture of the brick that we had in the last scene. We have some interesting wood with some light coloration and some detail, and we have a mirror that's a little dirty which I like. So, we'll try to play with the different components in the back. You also notice, because we have less texture and less interesting things in the room, I'm probably going to take a lot more tighter shots and focus mostly on her face and her upper body to get a more impactful shot. Also, like I mentioned, the white shirt. In the other room, we had a brick wall less white surfaces, so we had one window light shining right on the model. In this room, and you can't see it, but we have two window lights that are pretty tall, rectangular that are coming in and painting her with light on both sides. So, we have one light that keying the left side of her face and the other light is acting like a little fill, so you're having a more even lighting situation. Also, it's very soft and gentle. We can still make it dramatic by working with her body language, her expression, and also shooting a little bit less exposed than we were shooting in the other room. Another thing you'll notice or might be able to notice is while we do have the brown doors, we have four-sided white walls. So, the light will come into the room and pretty much bounce all around, so that's why you're getting a more even light. This wood will be interesting because it's a little warmer, so it'll reflect, when we talked about color balance earlier, it will reflect some of the warmth of the wood into the model's skin especially on the sides of her face that are exposed to the wood. So, it should be an interesting shot. Turn your head more this way. Just this way? No. Do that again, but just look more to your, yeah. So, I'm turning her head away from the window so that we can still create the shadow on the backside of her face. Give me your eyes. Cool. Lean up against the door. So, we have a mirror in this room, and it's always fun to play with this sort of elements in the room as well because it just makes things more interesting. Again, we have more of a basic setup. So, the more interest you can add to the photo, the more people will be receptive to the image. Look into that mirror for me. Yeah, perfect. The only thing you have to remember about mirrors is that you want to not be in them because it is a pain in the ass to Photoshop yourself out. You also notice that I'm taking a lot more vertical shots than horizontal because I want it to be tighter, there's less background to show. The vertical literally cuts out most of the environment because you have just a little bit of space to capture the model. In the other room, we have that wide open brick. So, I wanted to capture the texture, the direction she was looking. In this one, I'm more concerned with the expression she's giving off and sort of that tight area between her and the mirror. Yeah. Bury your whole chin. Yeah, perfect. Go back down one more time and just give me a little bit of your eyes. Perfect. I didn't meter in this room, which is cool. So, you know right off top, you don't need a meter to do all this. You just need to be able to check the back of your screen and understand what's going on in the scene. Again, within a couple of standards of deviation because of digital technology, you can get back to what you need to have a perfect exposure after the fact, too. So, don't get hung up on all the numbers and stuff. I'm giving Christina a lot of direction. Luckily, I don't have to give her a lot because she's already good at this stuff. It's that blogger life. He's just kidding. So, what I want to get out of any model you're shooting whether they are sort of stiff as a board or very emotive and fluid is that you want to get them to convey whatever message you're trying to shoot. Again, we're going today for detached and more emo. So, she's giving me the dead eyes and a range of shapes with her body that convey not only the shape of the clothing, the idea of the emotion, all that kind of stuff. So, just getting a model to be fluid is like half the battle, and once you've got them there, then you can sort of tweak along to give the emotion that you're trying to get from her. One thing I will add. If this was like more of a fashion shoot, if you like shooting clothes and things like that, depending on what she's wearing, you want to get the model to shape her body in a way that's not only flattering to the clothes but flattering to her, but also shows movement and shows structure in the clothing because it just makes a fashion image more beautiful when you can highlight those things. For this, it's all literally body language and the clothes are secondary, although, helpful and complimentary. Another thing I didn't mention but is worth mentioning, on a lot of shoots especially the more professional you become, you always have a team around you. So, hair stylist, makeup artist, and a clothing stylist. So, we don't have any of that here because we're like low budget and I like it that way. But depending on your model, she might have clean skin. It's always good to have like a base of foundation. So, in every shot, I'm looking to give the most flattering picture for her and also show the most emotion that gives to the theme. Anyway, luckily, she's gorgeous, has pretty clean skin. So, I don't worry too much about the makeup. Her hair works perfectly with the theme, so I don't have to really worry about that. Then for the clothes, because we're kind of secondary and we're only going with more of the idea of the clothes instead of like a pinpoint accurate reflection on the clothes, then it's okay that they're a little bit wrinkled. If I'm shooting fashion or anything like that, I like everything to be properly steamed. Everything just got to be perfect. But when you can get away with not having a perfect image, I think it makes it more real for people. I love the imperfection of, I mean, the perfection of imperfection. So, this works perfectly. But it's all those the things you want to keep your eyes on, wrinkles, hair, makeup, just make sure you're putting together a flattering image. Say you do have a shoot that as minimal production, there are a couple of tips and tricks that I like to go with that can help you get through the shoot. So, if you have a model that doesn't have the most flattering skin, and that's normal, I mean, not everybody has perfect flawless skin, what you can do is focus less on the sort of really tight portraiture shots and step back. Earlier, we talked about using different aperture speeds to create like a focal plane where one thing is in focus and everything falls into blur, that will do wonders for skin. Because you won't focus so much on the texture of the bad skin, you're more so capture the sharpness of the eyes and everything else will fall out of focus. So, if you shoot like 2.8 to 5.6, basically meaning higher apertures. You'll be able to blur out some of the bad texture on the skin, and that will also help you. So, stepping back and using your aperture to your advantage. For hair, most girls know how to do their hair. Most guys at least know how to get a semblance of good hair done. So, you can always have your model work with it or you can have a friend on set that can help your model put on a basic layer, foundation layer, add a little color to the eyebrows, lips, whatever, and then the hair also same thing. The one thing about hair, once you have an idea of what the hair should look like, you're almost 100 percent of the way there. But the last final 10 percent, because retouching hair is so difficult, when you're shooting your model, just make sure if he or she messes with the hair, moves too much, and you feel like you're getting a lot of like stray hairs that are going all over the place or are like a big clump of the hair is not in a place that you want it, it's better to fix it ahead of time than fix it afterwards. There are people that get paid a lot of money just to retouch hair because it's that hard to do. So, try to get most of the things that you want right in the picture or before the picture is taken, so you have less to do after the fact. Let's say, I'm just looking at the scene for the first time even on taking a couple of shots. We have a little bit of a wrinkled shirt, a little faded, perfect for the theme. Her hair is already looking great. I would ask her like can you pat down just the back, just a fix. Just fix anything that looks like crazy or out of place, skin looks great. What we'll do is try to get a lot of her face and of the light. We have a soft light that will make the skin look very even and nice. Any blemishes that you don't like or any tattoos you don't like, you can always take out after the fact. In fashion, we always try to get a very perfect image almost to the point where it's unrealistic. But any time I'm doing personal projects or shooting friends or just having fun, I really, really like the perfection of imperfection where you get a real image. It's very flattering, but it's not perfect. There's blemishes, there's little things that are out of place. All that kind of stuff just makes it more interesting and more real. You can actually bring the knees up. No, like hug them. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. Perfect. Bury the chin and then give me your eyes. Follow my finger with your eyes. Bring your chin in the knees. Now, come up just a little bit. Straighten your head, straighten your head. So, you're like a straight line. Come down into the knees. Always, this is so difficult for me. I'm like, "What?" I know, focus. All right. Now, look up just a bit, keep the chin in the knees. Perfect, just like that. Now, follow my finger. Right there, don't move. The lens are down. Just keep your eyes where I had them. I just want to make sure we get your iris and less of that white, for a second. The crazy thing about daylight is that sometimes it comes and goes, so it's a little dark right now. But we'll work with it by positioning her body more towards the light to get whatever we can on her face. So, turn your body this way a little bit, diagonal. Cool. What you hear, I don't know if you guys hear the beep, but what I'm doing every time I take a photo is I have pressed the shutter button which allows the lens, the autofocus, and then I recompose the picture, meaning I move the lens to the spot that I want to take the shot at, and then I press the button to take the actual picture. So, you can pick your focal point, reposition the camera, and then take the shot. That's why you're hearing the beep first and then the shot, the sound of the shutter. I'm also shooting two shots every time I take one because I'm shooting a very slow shutter speed, which means that if she moves even a little or I move a little while I'm hand holding the camera, I could get out of focus shot. That's the last thing I really want is to not have some sharp eyes. I like that, but bring that down. Do that again where you're kind of like cross. No, one up and one down. Yeah. Don't move, close your eyes. Awesome. 9. Backlit Shoot: So, we're changing one last position. I'm putting Christina in the corner next to this dresser. I want to play with a closer light source, so we can create a little bit more drama in the shadows. I'm going to take one shot, I don't know if it's going to come out well, we'll see what happens. Although, I do know what's going to happen, but whatever. In this scene, what we did is we put our model in front of the light source, which means we're creating a backlit scenario. Usually, this is fine when you have a second light source, it's at least illuminating the front of the model, because the backlight will act like a hair light. Meaning, it'll illuminate, it'll cut her out of the background. Unfortunately, because we only have this one light source, I have to meter for her, and I also have to try to meter for the window, and that's almost next to impossible. So, what you're going to get as like a silhouette essentially. Where we can get a dark picture of the model, but a very bright backdrop, and we'll show you some examples later. So, I'll try to take a couple like this, I'll show you what it looks like to expose just for her, and expose just for the window. Look right here, right there, perfect, and stay like that. So, you might be thinking, "Well, I don't want to just use the Sun, I have a light in my room on the ceiling, or I have a lamp in the corner." The reason we try to avoid using artificial light sources that are like fluorescent or tungsten is because, what they do is, they bathe the model in a nasty glow, like orangey or whatever their color temperature that light is and it changes her whole skin complexion, and that makes it a very painful experience after the fact to correct for that. So, the only thing you want to add to ambient light like the Sun, is another day lit light source. So, that could be a strobe that's balanced for daylight, like a camera flash or a strobe lighting that you can rent at a store or buy. But, you don't want to mix different temperatures of light. So, we're only going to try to work with this one light, and correct for the fact that she's backlit by turning her, and shooting at different angles. So, I'm going to get you to stand up, put your back against the dresser, and we'll use this light coming in as the thing that'll catch you, and then I'm going to come around, so we have less of the window in the picture and more of this frame and the dresser. Turn your, lean your, just like that. See, I don't even have to give you any direction. So, I'm taking these shots and I'm noticing that there is a lot, this isn't my house of course, but I'm noticing there's a lot of things in the background. While sometimes things in the background can add a lot of interest in the shot, sometimes it can be a little confusing, and get away from the overall message that you're trying to capture. So, what we can do is either clean out what doesn't work. Looking at this scene what I would do is, I'd clean out everything except maybe the books in the background. They're nice and orderly and they have a nice shape. I'd probably leave the candle. Just things that are clean and easy and not too distracting and take out all the minutiae if you will. Instead of moving the stuff since, I don't live here and I don't want to put it back, I'm going to position our model to cover the stuff that I don't want to see, and move a couple items that I can't get rid of very easily. So, come over to the corner and stand right on the back, yeah, perfect. So, you're hiding all that, and we'll just move stuff that I don't want to see out of the picture. Perfect. So, with little to no effort, I've already taken off half of the stuff that was a distraction and she's using her body to cover up the rest, and now we have a very simple and clean backdrop. Take this out too. Bring your right arm in more to your body, yeah, perfect, just like that. Give me a three-quarter look this direction, a little bit more to the left, a little more left, left. Yeah. A little more right, perfect. Just like that. Then, just move the back of your head, the top of your head a little bit. Yeah, yeah, this part, yeah, perfect, perfect. Give me the gaze out of the window a little bit. Yeah, just like that. So, in effect, what we've done is, we've cancelled out the backlight by not only moving her from in front of the light to the side, by letting the light hit her from the side, but we've also taken the window out of the equation, so we don't have to actually expose for the window, we only have to expose for the model. Then, we've moved her over to cover up some of the distraction that we don't want, and keep the distraction that we do want, and then we get a clean image from that. 10. Cropping (Editing): Just a preface, we're back in the studio. I'm going to take you through a couple of images. Excuse the noise outside, it's Friday late afternoon in New York, which means everybody's trying to get out of the city but bear with us. So, we've done a quick calling of the images from today's shoot and I'm just going to go over some good talking points to give you guys an idea of what I'm looking for in the final images, and then show you a little bit about my edit process, if you will. So, the first image we're looking at is an image where it's a little overexposed. What I mean by overexposed is you notice the highlights in the face are blown out. You can't barely see any details. If you push in here, you can't see any texture in the skin, whereas here you see some rich texture all throughout the face where the light's not hitting it. So, that's an automatic scrap. So, for this next image, this is an example of where I am underexposed. Meaning, I don't have enough light coming into the picture. You can see a little light grazing her face. Ultimately, this is a very dark shot, and you're not capturing enough of the detail to make this an impactful photo. The brick's a little too dark, the shirt's losing detail in the shadows, the whole right side of her face, you don't see much of anything. So, that's one of those kind of photos that we would scrap as well. So, I put up a photo here that I like because it almost looks like day-dreaming. It might not necessarily fit the theme but it brings up some key points in terms of framing and composition. You'll notice, in this photo, that there's a lot of negative space. So, by negative space, I mean, there's the subject down here and then a lot of space, it doesn't necessarily contain the subject or anything like that. I like using negative space especially outside when I'm shooting somebody in a vast environment, but it also ends up being cool too because it expresses the dreamy nature of the shot. She's looking up at the sky. You don't necessarily know exactly what's above her, but you do know she's thinking and that shot conveys it. That negative space, that leading space, helps you visualize that. So, in that last photo, I had mentioned talking about leading space and negative space, but the leading space is the word I want to key in on this photo. You'll notice that she's gazing out of the window. You can tell that it's a window, because the light's coming from that direction. What I did was I allowed room between her face and where she's looking. So, you are pushed into the perspective of seeing where she's looking. You're imagining what she's imagining. You're almost building the image of what she's seeing through your own visualization, and that's what you want to do with the photo. You not only want to tell the story but you want to give somebody some leeway to imagine. I think that's a great way to do it, by creating this leading space in front of her eyes. In addition, this would be a good time to bring up the rule of thirds. I'm going to demonstrate that by putting over a crop outlay. This is a rule of thirds crop outlay. In Lightroom, you can pull this up by being in your develop module and using the R button to bring up the crop. So, what you're seeing is, it's a basic rule of composition but you have three equally space quadrants, both in rows and columns. When you organize your photo, the composition of the photo, where important pieces of the subject are hitting intersections or occupy certain quadrants, you create a more pleasing and more interesting photo. On this photo, we have put her eyes at that top left quadrant, a lot of the detail of the subject is all the way left. So, we're putting her in a very concentrated side of this thing. So, we have a point at the top left corner, and then we also have a whole third of the photo with her in it. We've left the other two-thirds to give us imagination, to allow us to let our minds journey. In the crop like this, I might even come in a little tighter, you don't have to have anything exact, but just a way to minimize this stuff we don't need but to create a focus. So, right now we're creating a focus from the subject all the way to the window and I'll hit Enter to pull it in. So, automatically, we only took off a little bit of this photo. So, I'm going to go back to the original. This is where we were, we have a little extra space on the side that we don't really need, a little space on the top that isn't necessary. We automatically, by using the rule of thirds and signing up the picture a little bit, we can take a little bit off the bottom. Create a more focused image and a more tight image and make it more interesting just without even trying. This is with no real editing, just changing the composition, changing the way her eyes are looking at the image. So, I'm going to show you two different images, just so you have an idea when you're at your camera and really trying to compose your shots. It'll give you something to think about as you're shooting. So, a lot of people have a preference to shoot horizontal versus vertical. I don't really have a preference but I know when something's appropriate based on what I'm really trying to capture in the image. So, this image we're looking at right now is a horizontal. I'll tell you what I love in the image. I love her expression, I love that there's just a little bit of light painting her face. I love the texture in the background, and the depth that's created from shooting her and focus on the right, to falling out of focus on the left. The reason I shot this horizontal because I wanted to bring all those things in the environment into the photo. It's very important to think about it like this. When you want to include more environment, it's usually easier to do that with a horizontal shot, because you can include a lot more detail in the picture and the frame, as well as the subject. When you're shooting a vertical shot, it's a little bit dicier to catch things on the left and the right, although you can definitely include things lower and higher in the photo. But for this shot, in particular, it's just to illustrate the point. I can bring in the texture of the brick, I can capture the depth from the length of her legs in that sort of blurry area versus her in-focus face. That creates a great environment, a great horizontal portrait versus if I pull up a great vertical shot, it's really tight. You don't know where she's sitting, what she's sitting on, you don't know the nature of the room. The focus for this is really just on the face, the expression. I think that's a really big thing to think about as you're taking photos. Do you want to speak to the emotion directly? Do you want to bring your subject to life right in front of the camera? Or do you want to paint a picture of the environment that she's in? Do you want to describe and paint a story that has all the components of environment, emotion, body language, texture? Just think about those things before you capture, because once you capture a horizontal versus vertical, that's all the information you're going to have. One option and one quick tip that I like to say is, if you're going to put your subject in a third of the photo vertically, so if you put her down the middle, up and down vertically, on one of these quadrants, one of these thirds, what you can do after the fact is always be able to crop the image. But this only happens when you shoot horizontally. You can crop the image vertically and save, and recreate the framing. So, that horizontal turns into that and it's just as gorgeous of a photo as if it was the full length, and we did it a different way. If you shoot this, unfortunately, I'm going to go back and show you. If you shoot something vertically such as this and you try to crop it horizontally, one you lose a lot of pixel information and two, it's not going to be as an impactful of a photo. I have less choice in the way I crop it and the way it's laid out and it ends up being more of a blur photo. So, when in doubt, if you can shoot horizontal and frame your subject in a way that he or she will work well in a vertical quadrant as well as fit really nicely with the environment, do that, so you have options later on when you're editing your photos. One thing I want to call to attention is where you're focusing on your subject and in the scene in general. For most of your portraits, and I would venture to say all of portraits. At least starting out, you want to make sure your focus is going to be on these eyes. The eyes are the most important thing to have tack sharp and let everything else falls into place as is. So, you'll notice like everything on the same focal length as the eyes, so eyes, this part of the nose, the cheek, the shirt that's in that same focal length, is in focus. But, when you go outside of that focal path, so the hand right in front of the face, the arm just to the right of the face and the brick wall and couch behind her, those all fall out of focus. The way you do that is using that open aperture like a two eight, a one two, and you need to compose your focus directly on the eyes. It's important to have those eyes sharp because, I mean, that's how you're breathing life into your subject, that's how your subject is communicating how she feels, her expression, through those eyes. Really honestly, you'll notice the difference between eyes being out of focus and not, because that's exactly what people are looking at in your photo. They're looking directly into her eyes and then they're going to examine the rest of the photo. So, I wanted to point out a quick thing about texture. I absolutely love shooting things with texture, whether it'd be clothing, backgrounds. Just things that breathe life and death into the subject. Texture has a great way of giving you death because texture has raised surfaces that has contours and allows light to hit it and contour, just like it's hitting the face and contouring the face. So, in this picture, I really love and a lot of the pictures which is great, I love you have multiple points of texture. We have the brick wall that's giving some great background texture, some warmth. We have her hair that's a little drier, so it's creating some rich texture when the light hits it. You have the shirt that's got the contours, the shadows and that you, can tell, I mean, you can just look at the image and say "Oh, that's a cotton shirt." Texture brings a lot more things into focus, which is great. The more of it that you compact in, that's complimentary, the better off your photo is going to be, at least in my opinion. So, remember, if you want to capture your environment, bring out the texture, create this leading space or a story around an image, go with the horizontal. It gives you a lot more area, surface area to play with in your photo and it really helps you to convey a story. If you want to draw all the attention to the expression on the face of the model, it's going to be easier to use a vertical shot. 11. Lightroom (Editing): So, we're here in lightroom and I'm going to show you just briefly some quick fixes and adjustments that you can do to really bring your photo to life. When you open up your images in lightroom, may be in your library, but when you're ready to start doing some work, we're going to go over to the develop module. So, I've decided to go with this picture, I like that she's gazing out the window, it's impactful, and so we're going to do a couple of quick fixes that like really helps strengthen the photo. So, I'm going to go over to the develop module, I'm going to right-click the image or on this, because I don't have a right-click, I'm going to hit control click, and I'm going to open up a virtual copy. This allows you to basically edit over the photo without possibility of doing any damage to the original copy of the photo. So, I'm going to go and open up this module so you can see everything that's going on. So, on the right you have all your adjustment features. What I like to do is just go in order, like my mind works very linearly, excuse me, and so that's how we'll work on this module. So, you notice the first thing is the white balance, right now it's in there as As Shot, sometimes it's easy to tell an auto although I always think it gets it either wrong or doesn't do much of anything. Depending on your situation, just like in the camera, you can change your white balance to reflect the situation you're in. I'm going to go with As Shot, and you'll notice that the temperature slider affects your warms and cools and your tint affects sort of the magentas and the greens. I'm going to warm this image up a little bit, and to warm it up, you're just going to increase a slider. Right now we're at 4,900, it's sort of like medium range daily temperature, but I want to give this a little bit more of a warm feeling, so I'm just going to up that temperature, meaning I'm going to warm up the image. So,it went up 500, 600 points, and now it automatically feels a little bit warmer. Then we're going to scroll down, I'm not going to mess with the tint slider, depending on if your image feels like it has a little bit of a color cast, little to pink, little to green, you can adjust that to what you think feels right. So, the next thing we're dealing with is sort of the things we try to deal with in the camera, but sometimes you don't always get it perfect so you can always adjust it after the fact. The first thing I'm noticing is the exposure in contrast sliders. I really like the way this came out, but I want to add just a little bit more light overall and to the image just to work with it and then we're going to decrease it using other factors. So, I'm going to just increase the exposure by 0.3. No worries in terms of the math on this, I just mean I'm increasing it. I'm going to increase the contrast just a little bit. Just so you understand the contrast is basically a ratio, it's like the difference between the lights and the darks or different pixels. So, when you increase the contrast, you're increasing the difference between pixels which makes the, I think that a light area and a dark area, the difference is becoming greater, and that creates a point of focus, it creates just different ratios in the photo. So, I'm just going to increase it just a little bit, and then I'm going to go down to our highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. So, what you need to know here is the highlights and the shadows of what you're going to adjust in order to either recover highlights. By saying so, if you overexposed to image, when I showed you that image earlier, if you overexpose you can save the highlights. I'm going to just drag it to the left and the right so you can see what I mean. So, these are your areas of highlights, so areas where you see the light hitting, those are your highlight areas. If I drag this to the left, meaning I want to recover the highlights, what it does is it brings down the lights in those areas and sort of brings the texture and the detail back. If I want to overexpose those highlights, you'll see the picture gets a lot brighter in those areas. I think we did a really good job at capturing it. So I'm going to actually bring the highlights up just a little bit because I like that pop, the difference between the shadows and the lights, and so I'm going to just bring it up just a little bit to create some drastic effects. Then I'm going to do the same thing with shadows, again, these are the shadow areas where you see the hair, anywhere that light is not falling directly, a shadow is created, and you can slide this to the left to make those shadows darker or you can slide it to the right to bring out some detail on the shadow. You can automatically see there's a little bit more texture coming into the hair, a little bit more texture coming through and detail coming through on the shirt. But on this, because again we're doing dramatic portraiture, I want to increase the difference between my highlights in my shadows, and I'm okay if I lose a little detail in the shirt, that's fine with me. So, I'm going to decrease that shadow area and make it a little darker and more impactful, and just drop it a little bit. Now, the whites and blacks, you don't necessarily need to deal with, it really controls your white point and you're black point, and those of you familiar with Photoshop will think of that as that's something you can do easily with the curve adjustment, but basically, you have a white point in the image if you want to increase it you just drag to the right, if you want to decrease it, again see how drastic that is, you drag it to the left. We'll skip that for the purpose of this because it's not something I always do, and then it will drop down to clarity, and vibrance, and saturation. So, I like to do saturate my photos just a little bit because for the dramatic portraiture, I'm not really worried about colourful images, that's a little too happy and for this image in particular, I wanted to feel dramatic but in a more emotional way, more sad way. So, I want to take out some of the lights, take out some of the color, but it'll still be very impactful. So, what I usually do is I dropped this anywhere from negative 10 to 20, don't get caught up by the numbers, it's not important. I just like to take out a little of that warmth and take out a little bit of that color and keep the direction on the face, the message of the emotion, and things like that. You don't worry about vibrance, I can explain it but you're better off just reading a glossary term on that. I mean, because we're desaturating, it's less of an important feature for what I'm doing here, so I've dropped the saturation a little bit, and clarity is kind of like contrast but it's a little bit more micro. So, you'll notice, if I drag this clarity to the right, you see how things get a little bit darker around the edges, that's what clarity does, it softens or sort of hardens those edges. What you need to remember, a quick tip, is you don't want to increase the clarity on somebody who has a lot of skin falls or things like that, because it'll bring out those falls even more, you want to soften the image a little bit. For this she's got really nice skin, I want to make the image pop a little bit, so I'm going to go up just moderately. Another thing you can do in Photoshop, a quick tip, is if you go up here to this sort of a tool panel, there's a brush, and you can actually paint in whatever you want. So, if you want to paint in clarity, say, "I want that brick wall to pop a lot and I do not have a stylus with me, which is really cool to edit with, but I'm going to use my mouse. If I want to paint in clarity, just to a portion of the photo, I can change the clarity here, start with the new brush and just paint it in. Now you have a wall that's popping, you might like that or you might not. Some people, they want all the focus on one half of the photo and not on the backdrop, you want it on the person. So, turning this on and off, and I'll show you what it looks like, this is on, this is off, on, off. I think it's a little distracting to have the background jump at me more than the face, so, we're going to leave that off for now, but just so you know there's options to paint. All these different corrections we're doing, you could do that individually using adjustment brush. So, I will go back to the global adjustments. So, in here, this tone curve, it's essentially you're doing the same thing with the sliders, it's just another way to do it. Now, for beginners, I suggest, just to get an idea of what's happening, you can use the pre-set tone curve they have for you, so linear, medium contrast and strong contrast. If you really feel, I like to go middle of the road, medium, and you'll see how that sort of automatically brings the lights and the darks and more of a sharp juxtaposition, and really creates a focus on her face. I like this, if you wanted make individual changes using the curve, you can always drag the different parts of the graph, you can also do it using sliders. These sliders, I've already explained in the top but it's more having to do with the tones versus the overall image, really don't dive into deep. If you want to play around with these things, it's really fun to do on your own and you can get a sense for what's going on. If you scroll down, there's different ways you can adjust the color in lightroom. I think this photo's looking really good. If anything, I would take down the saturation of this red shirt, so it's not as distracting, again, it's not the most important thing, but you also need to make a note that when you take the red out of something, a lot of skin tones have red, so if you desaturate too much, you're going to desaturate her lips, you might desaturate some flesh tones. So, be very careful how you work with that. I'm just going to take it down a very small amount just so the shirt pops a little less, but we still keep the color in the lips. A lot of these things you'll want to do in Photoshop so you can get very individual hands on corrections, and you're not doing it to the whole image. So, anyway hue saturation illuminates, those are all ways to play with color. Again, I rarely mess with color, in lightroom, I usually do really topical edits just to make the photo pop out a little more and make sure the emphasis is where I want it, and that's where I also do my crops. Split toning, that's a more advanced thing, again, for another class, but you can feel free to play with that, and that has to do with the colors that you're seeing in the tones and the highlights versus the shadows. So, you can actually change the shadow color and the highlight color by dragging around the hue and saturation. Then in details, you can deal with sharpening the image, you really don't want to play around with sharpening image till you ready to export the final image, so whatever that final size image you're going to use, that's when you adjust the sharpening. Again, that's a more in-detail topic that you don't really need to know, it's not that deep. Now, one of the big things, and we talked earlier about what kind of camera you're using. So if you're using a really professional camera and you're shooting at a high ISO. Then, you're going to not have as much noise as you would have if you shot with a very high ISO, or in very low light with a point and shoot, or an iPhone that doesn't have the ability to correct for those things. So, what happens is, say you're shooting with a point and shoot, there's not a lot of light, and you need to reduce some of the grain and some of the noise that's coming through. What you're going to do is you're going to go into Noise Reduction and you're going to increase the slider based on what you're seeing in the image. This will help reduce the noise, help clean it up. You can adjust it based on color and the size of the detail. This is all very minute stuff that you most likely won't have to deal with. But if you do, just know that that tool is available for you in Lightroom, and you can experiment with that later. Two other things, and then we'll go ahead and export this because I think it's looking like a really great photo. There's two other tools in here that are really helpful. Lens Correction. The Lens Correction features are here for you if you need them. Again, they correct some of the problems while shooting at wider apertures, shooting with lenses that have natural lens flare issues, and things of that nature. Again, read up on it, check it out experiment on your own time. Not very essential for this class, but it's there if you need it. The last thing is, and this is cool, if you want to add a vignette that you didn't have when you were shooting, you can definitely add that in after the fact, and you can also do that with grain. So, for this shot, I shot at the ISO 600. I shot with a very open aperture 2.8 and I shot at a somewhat slow shutter speed of one over 400. We've already put in some contrasts. We have some natural darkness around the edges of the photo. But if you want to, say, make that a little more drastic, we can actually increase the amount of vignetting that's happening on the lenses. You've probably seen this if you use Instagram. Adding vignette to an object can either make the edges wider, lighter, fade away, or they can make it darker and add a little bit more impact, and drive the attention to your subject. So, for this dramatic portraiture, I usually don't do this too often. But just to add some effect, I'm going to add a little bit of vignette. I'm going to make it a little bit more drastic. So, right around this negative 26, you're starting to get a lot more focus on the face and the eyes. You're starting to get darker areas around the photo, and it's calling your focus just to this area, which is I think very important. You can play around with your vignette. You can change the midpoint, midpoint being the middle area where the vignette starts to take place. You can change the roundness of it. You can change the feathering, meaning the detail around the edges. It can be either a softer feather or a harder feather. Just as an example, this would be a hard feather, where you get this oval. That's never good. You want to make sure it blends in with the shots. So, it looks as natural as possible. So, softer is always better. We'll just leave it middle of the range, how they had it. Then, the very last thing that we do, the very last thing that I want to talk about for this edit, because I think you can really achieve some great results without doing too much work, is adding the grain in. Again, I shot at 1600 ISO. So, that means that there's some good grain on the sensor. If you're shooting film, there's going to be really good grain on that film. But if you want to add any grain texture at the end of it, you can also do that. I'm going to show you what it looks like to add too much grain and show you what it looks like to add just a little bit of good grain to complement the grain and the texture that's already in the image. If we drag this grain all the way to the right, this is extreme, this would be like if you're shooting an ISO of 3200 on a film camera. It's really aggressive, and nobody will believe this is a good shot, and only zoom out. I mean, this is heavy grain. You can see it both in the close-up and in the faraway. Let's zoom back in. Let's do something a little bit more manageable. So, I would say, there's some really good texture in here already. Maybe to give it a little boost, we'll do it around 20. You might not be able to pick this up on your screen. But if you're working on these images at home, you'll be able to see the differences as you drag the slider. You can also adjust the size of the grain and the roughness of the grain, and that is literally what it means. So, if you increase the size of the grain, the circles that are causing the grain get bigger. I'm going to go back. If you change the roughness of the grain, the edges along the grain molecules, if you will, I don't know how to describe it any better, change in terms of the coarseness, and that's the best way I can explain it. But let's zoom out. As a quick recap, we have gone through this image, we warmed it up, we've added a little bit of exposure to add some light to the face and on the background, and then we increase the contrast, which brought that light down just a little bit. Another way we alter the contrast is we played around with the highlights and the shadows, meaning we made the highlights a little brighter, and we also darken the shadows to create some emphasis on the dark areas and to draw your focus to Cristina. We added a little bit of clarity. We took down the saturation a little bit. So, this letter isn't too poppy. If you look at a higher saturation, the whole image gets warm, the red becomes a little too oversaturated and not real. But we want to go with a negative 10. I like to back it out a little bit. Create that drama. Then, we took out a little bit more of the red, and then we just added a little bit of grain and a vignette around it to draw your focus. Now, that's a color image. I think it's perfect right there. I think you'd be really happy with a portrait if it came out like this, and I'm very happy with it. The only other thing, what I would do, is if you really wanted to go black and white, that's always an option, there are different presets you can use on your Lightroom. I'll just draw your attention to the side. I have a lot of VSCO filters that I don't normally use. But Lightroom also comes with filter presets. So, you can always come in here and play around. They have high contrast filter, contrast low. There's all these different looks you can play with. I'm just going to click one of them just so you have an example of what a black and white image of this will look like. It will totally change all your settings here, and that's okay. You're just playing around, just trying to get a sense for what will look good. I'm previewing this, and I think I like black and white look five. So, I'm going to click on that. So, now we have a very impactful black and white. Some of the vignetting is gone, but that's easy. Just drop down here and add that vignette back. Now you still have a very easily done, and now it's two clicks. So, Lightroom is a very powerful application. It's very easy to use. The best way to learn it is to play around with the sliders. But you can do literally a million things and get the photo just to your liking. There's a million ways to approach black and white. You can do it through a preset. You can do it through the saturation slider, and then affect the rest of the stuff. I'm going to take this all often, and we'll go with the final image here. But there's a million different things you can do to make your image pop the way you want. 12. Dramatic Effects (Editing): So, I'm just going to show you guys one more quick example, very, very quick and brief just so you can understand what we're really focusing on when we're talking about dramatic portraiture. I mean, this is a quick vertical shot of Christina looking kind of sad, and out of the window and little moody. I'm going to take this like we did before. Go into the develop module, excuse me. I'm going to do my Control click and I'm going to create that virtual copy here. So again, I want to warm up the elements, very quick change. I'm going to increase the exposure just a tiny bit just so we can get a little bit more detail around the sides, increase my contrast. So, when I talk about increasing contrast, the difference between the lights and the darks, these are like three or four elements you really just need to key in on when we're talking about the dramatic portraiture. All the other stuff is very good to do and very good to know for this kind of portrait, and any other kind of work you're doing. But I want to increase the contrast in this image a little bit. Again, I like the difference, creating this difference between the highlights and the shadows. So, I'm going to boost the highlights just a little bit and then drop down the shadows just a little bit more. If you can see, she got that tattoo on the back of her arm, but I'm going to just drop it into shadows so you can only see a hint of it. So, we automatically have some darker darks, a little bit brighter whites. I'm going to bump up the clarity a little bit. Could actually even go just a little bit more. Okay. Then, as we talked about before the tone curve, before we use the middle of the road one, I'm going to use a medium contrast curve. Automatically, even the darker spots that we were pushing before, they get a little darker with this curve. You can adjust it to taste, if you want to bring out the shadows a little bit more, you can increase on the curve or you can do it here. You can mess with it as you want. I like where we're going here. I like the impact of her face catching the light and everything else following the shadow. All the stuff in the background is not that important. So, what we're going to do is we're going to go back to the vignette that we talked about before and we're going to just increase the focus. Now, because this is a vertical and you can see those edges and we want this to look as natural as possible, I can't go all the way here. That just looks totally unnatural. So, what I'm going to do is cheat it, and I'm going to go halfway. So, it feels like it's a natural vignette, but it's also helping me shape the focus of this image without being overdone. So, we have a little natural vignette, the corners are getting a little darker and that's fine. The last thing I forgot to mention were noises. I consider noise and grain to be about the same thing, but noises, more so referred to as the little dots and colorful dots that appear when you ramp up the ISO of an image. It's the same thing that happens on film, it's grain, but it's also on a sensor like a digital SLR. It's the noise that you would see on say, a TV screen when the picture goes out and the screen is flickering. That's essentially the noise and that comes when you shoot at a very high ISO, that the sensor of your camera can't handle. What I mean by grain noise is about the same thing except this is going to be monochromatic or a blend in with the colors of the photo. So, we're only adding the textural part of the noise and not the color part of the noise. So again, we're going to do a very soft grain add, I'm only hitting like 20 on a scale of a 100. So, when you zoom in, you can capture some of that texture, you can see some of the grain. This is without, it's a very fine difference because I shot at 1600 ISO, I'm just bumping it up just ever so slightly, not a big deal. So now, we have this dramatic portrait. Again, I'll show you the before and after. Also, I didn't mention this, you can do this in Photoshop. It's where I prefer to do it. If you feel like you have a spot that you want to move right here and you don't want to do anything else on Photoshop, like this little, I guess piece of glitter or something that's on her arm, you can click up here, same toolbars where you found your adjustment brush, there's also a cloning brush, you can heal or clone. For this, we're going to do the healing brush. You can adjust your size using the mouse or the slider, feathering literally just changes the edges of the brush. For this, we don't really need to worry about it. Opacity shows how much of the brush we're using. So for instance, if I put it on 40 opacity and I click on something, the object will go away, but it won't go away completely. So, I'm going to reset this, moving a little slow. Sorry about that, guys. I'm going to put on a 100 percent opacity because I really want to swap out pixel for pixel. I'm going to zoom in on this thing, to get rid of it, click on it. That will open up and it'll sample another area next to it and then we have now gotten rid of that pixel, before and after. All right, so just a macro shot of what we ended up doing here. Let's back out. We touched on contrast, shadows, and highlights. Up the exposure a little bit, added a little bit of vignetting and like I did on the last, sort of took out a little bit the saturation. So, here's the before and after. Before, after. Before and after. That's a dramatic portrait in five seconds after you shot it. So, it's very quick and easy and duplicative, you can do it on all your photos if you wanted to add that little bit of drama. Simple. Hope you enjoyed the class today on dramatic portraiture. I encourage you to share as much as we work as you can, and experiment as much as you can, as well. There's no real secret to success except to keep practicing and experimenting. Thank you. 13. Explore Photo Classes on Skillshare: