Maui, Hawaii IN-CAMERA: Light Photography Workshop Recap

On day two of our Maui, Hawaii workshops we headed out into the city for the first part of the shooting time, then straight out to the beach for some awesome sunset shots! We had a great crew with us that day and had a blast showing how just one light can drastically change the look of your images and tone down the sky for some really unique looking shots.

We started up against this cool green wall between a few buildings for a demo shot to show the difference between the natural light (which was actually pretty decent) and the strobe shots.

The shot above was with the natural light. We had some nice light coming in and bouncing off the wall to camera left, but the light was not the most flattering for our model and we really wanted to show how we could shape the light with our strobe.

So we came in and set up the light, metered it (thanks to Ajja for the behind the scenes shot!) and took the next shot below!

In this above image, you can see how we added some shadows and contrast to camera right by placing our light to camera left, which helped define the lines of our models face and also made her the brightest part of the shot which makes your eye go straight to her. I love the definition and contrast that this adds to the final image as well.

Many photographers ask us how we add contrast to images in post to get the look of our shots. The simple answer is, we don’t really do much of anything when it comes to contrast. Real contrast is created by light, so we add (or subtract) contrast by using lighting to get the look that we want.

When you shoot images in raw and then import them into Lightroom, Lightroom actually takes contrast out of the image (because it is assuming that you will add overall contrast to taste) and that is why the image you see on the back of your camera (which is a final JPG preview with contrast and sharpening added depending on your in-camera settings) looks more like you shot them, and the raw images look fairly flat. So, you do have to re-adjust the images in post-production to get them looking like they did when you shot them. Lightroom defaults to +25 contrast (which used to be zero contrast in the older versions of Lightroom) and around +50 is closer to where you probably shot it with the lighting you used. So we add overall contrast in Lightroom to +50 or so in order to get the image back to where it was when shot. Some images can use some slight brightness or fill light adjustments on them (especially since we are doing lighting in a matter of seconds and not spending hours lighting one shot to get it perfect), so we will do slight adjustments if the image is dense or needs that slight adjustment.

Any time that you start grabbing curves in post and adding tons of contrast, huge fill light or brightness adjustments, then it always starts to look a little off, because the computer is trying to do something that should really be done naturally with light. You CAN adjust an image within reason, but anytime that you start pulling sliders until they fly off the screen, then you start getting very unnatural looking shots. Being subtle in post-production is the key to keeping your images looking timeless and not soooo trendy that they go out of style in 6 months! :)

Never be afraid to get down and dirty to nail the shot!

Once we got the first shot, we moved the model slightly, did a quick adjustment, then shot this image with a toned down sky which was more dramatic.

We then headed a bit closer to the beach and shot some images in this abandoned back-yard. We always split up into smaller groups to allow attendees to walk through the process themselves and actually LEARN by doing. Here is Jody’s group…

Then to demonstrate what you can do with multiple strobes, we busted out the second light from our Elinchrom kit, which automatically kicks in the right amount of light in the background and gives some really great separation to the shot.

Here is our behind the scenes shot and you can see the two lights to camera right lighting the image. Super fun when you lay on the ground in shorts and are allergic to grass! Itchy!!

Above is a close up of the two light that were used. The one I’m holding is the light for the background, and the other one is the main light doing most of the work.

Then we moved onto the windy beach! We did a quick demonstration on what this setup can look like, and then we continued on with everyone doing their own set ups and shooting!!

It was an awesome sunset that was coming and we wanted to get some really dramatic shots which we could have only done with some off-camera lighting!

Here is the crew! Great job you all!! You rocked it!! Thanks sooooo much for coming out and we can’t wait to come back and hang with you again soon!!