Lighting a scene in-studio or on location can be an intimidating task, even for an experienced photographer, and even more so for a beginner. Most professional shoots that you see and read about are incredibly complex using multiple lights, a whole set of modifiers and some expensive props. How in the world are you ever going to pull off something like this?
If that’s what you feel like, than this video course by Zack Arias is perfect for you. Zack shows you how to light a scene with one light and one modifier. That’s all it takes to – as Zack himself puts it – take pictures that don’t suck.
About the Author
Zack Arias is a commercial, corporate and editorial photographer based in Atlanta, GA. He mainly worked as a concert photographer for seven years before he branched into editorial and advertising photography. Zack is also a great teacher and a frequent speaker at events like Photoshop World or Gulf Photo Plus.
This whole 7-hour video course revolves around the question as to how you can take great photos with just one light and one modifier. And Zack Arias shows you that that’s enough to stand out from the crowd without spending thousands of dollars on expensive equipment. So, in essence, if you have a speedlight, and maybe a softbox, you already have what it takes in terms of technology. The only thing that’s missing really is the knowledge of how to use this gear effectively and creatively. And that’s what you will learn in this video.
The Video Course
In the first sections, Zack talks a bout the gear you need in terms of lighting. He looks at different light sources (flashes and strobes). So whatever you have at home, Zack has you covered in this section. Then he moves on to talk about the light modifiers – the tools that you can use to shape the light from your light source the way you want it. You will learn about umbrellas, softboxes and grids and when and how to use them.
Next, Zack goes over the theory of shooting manually with artificial light. This is where people usually lose track quickly – but not so with Zack’s course. He manages to explain the technique of setting up your camera manually and rather complex physical subjects like the inverse square law of light fall-off in very practical and down-to earth terms. He demonstrates it so that even a 5-year-old can understand it without making you feel like a five-year-old. And that’s the key! That’s a quality that most educators do not have unfortunately. Zack is a master of this.
After all the theory, Zack goes straight into the practical part of the video where he puts all the stuff that you’e learned in the first sections to practice in real shooting situations. He walks you through all the modifieres, different shooting situations and approaches to lighting a scene in different settings. He start with a model shoot in the studio.
Then he moves on to do a location portrait shoot where he moves out of the studio and inside a gorgeous location with a male model.
Next, he shows you how to shoot groups in the studio and outside the studio.
In this part he goes over the complexity of lighting a group of people with a single light so that everybody is actually well-lit. Achieving this is non-trivial because people tend to block the light that is supposed to fall on other people in the group.
Overall, Zack goes through a range of different shooting situations with you and shows you how to pull of the shoot with minimal equipment and maximum creativity. This is ideal for learning the basics of shooting with artificial light without getting overly complicated. But the skills you will learn go far beyond the basics. This course will enable you to master a wide range of shooting situations professionally and come away with photos that match professional standards.
Here is a little trailer that gives you a better impression of what you are going to get.
Other Things You’ll Learn
Apart from all the flash and modifier techniques, you will also learn a great deal about how to interact with your subjects on a shoot. Zack has no separate section on this, but you will pick up a lot of it as you watch Zack interact with the subjects in this videos. He has got a great way of getting the right poses, the expression and the attitude out of his subjects using his humor.
And that’s one thing you must never forget: You can have the greatest technical, compositional and creative skills – if you don’t know how make your subjects feel comfortable and natural, your pictures are going to suck nevertheless.
The Style of Teaching
Zack is very competent and very funny at the same time. He finds the perfect mix of having fun and conveying the knowledge across to you which I personally enjoyed very much.
- Zack gives you all the knowledge you need to pull off your shoots with one light in a wide range of situations.
- The learning atmosphere is relaxed, and humorous but still very effective.
- The video course is full of practical tips, and you can follw Zack’s process of developing a vision and implementing that vision with his lighting setup.
- If you are into really sophisticated lighting setups that you can tweak to get every bit of the image perfect, the one-light approach may not be for you.
- You may also be disappointed if you are a gear junky. Gear is not what this course is about. It’s about making the most out of very simple gear.