4 Fast Steps to Easily Light your Backgrounds

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Are you ready to take your lighting to the NEXT level and light up the environment? Today we are going to show you EXACTLY how to do it with step by step instructions AND a video showing it in action!

Zach and Jody Gray

In order to turn the image you see  below (natural light) into what you see above, you need to follow these steps in order to get great resutls with NO guess work!

 

Step 1.  Have the right gear & Location

The gear we use to do shots like this are any type of main light (like the Rapid Box from Westcott), and then a speedlight with a tungsten gel over it to really make it interesting.

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    Natural Light Shot:(ambient light reading was ISO 100, f/4 at 1/100th shutter)

 

The locations that work best for these type of shots are ones that have even overall lighting (this was on a city street in Nashville with all indirect lighting), and ones that have a small area with a little less light.

 

This area had a metal doorway indent that had less light in it than the rest of the wall around it. It has LOW overall light (so the speedlight can over-power it) and the background was reflective which makes the light look interesting.

 

Step 2. Under-Expose the ambient by 2 stops

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(ambient light under-exposed by 2 stops) 

 

In order to have the background look dynamic, you have to make sure that the ambient light doesn't wash everything out. So, to do that, we need to under-expose the background by around 2 stops.

We metered the ambient light to read ISO 100, 1/200th shutter at f/5.6 (which is 2 stops darker than the natural light shot in step 1).

Step 3. Add the Background Light

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(background light added) 

We can now add our speedlight with the tungsten gel over it to the background. We lay it flat on it's back (or on the small boot it comes with) and point it straight up making sure it is EQUAL distance from everything around it. If it is not equal distance, then you will get some areas that are REALLY bright and others that are not.

Then we turn it up until it looks cool. You can meter it, but we just turn it up and down until it is obvious in the shot.

Step 4. Add the Main Light

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The camera is already set to the settings that we metered the ambient light to (2 stops under-exposed) so now we just need to power UP the main light until it reads the same settings.

We position the main light, and then power it up (reading its power with our hand-held meter) until it reads ISO 100, 1/200th at f/5.6 (which was the settings that under-exposed the background by 2 stops).

Bam! That is it!

Now we have a cool looking dynamic background, and killer light on our subject in an otherwise NORMAL looking location!

Watch the VIDEO HERE

Zach and Jody Gray In-Camera: Light Digital Workshop

You can watch us set up and shoot this exact shot by clicking HERE!

 (This video is from our IN-CAMERA: Light Digital Workshop)

 

Want MORE? Check out THIS post that shows you another environement lighting shot!

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