LEE Filters – Portrait Lighting at Home with Jake Hicks

LEE Filters – Portrait Lighting at Home with Jake Hicks


Welcome. My name is Jake Hicks, and thanks
for joining me for this video. Today, we’re going to be setting up a creative
lighting set-up in the home. It’s something that can be achieved almost
anywhere. You don’t need a huge studio. Already, you can see we’ve set up a backdrop. This is in fact just a window blind, which
is very inexpensive. We’re starting off with our first light and
will be able to get a shot straight away. We’ll then introduce a fill light and some
hair lights. We’ll then add the LEE Filters coloured gels,
finally adding some lens filters, the LEE Soft Filters – to add some gel flare. Let’s get started. We’ll set up our first
light and bring in our model. I’m going to set up my first light here. This
is my key light. On this key light, I’ve attached a 22” beauty
dish. It gives a beautiful light compared to a grid
or softbox. Before we take this shot, I’m going to set
up my camera, then I’ll set up my lights around it. The ISO will be set to 100 to give us the
best quality. For a shot like this in this environment,
I’ve set the aperture to f/5.6. The reason for that is, it gives us a bit
of depth of field if I was shooting this in a studio where I
didn’t have a lot of video lights on, with less ambient light, I would shoot at f/2.8, just to give me even more depth. The shutter speed doesn’t matter as much,
because the flashes are going off very quickly – 1/4000sec or something like that. Either 1/60sec or 1/250sec is going to give
you the same exposure. Let’s take one shot and see where we are. Gabriella is going to keep her head up. I’m looking for catchlights in the eyes
– I want as much light in them as possible. We’ve taken a few shots. As I said, I was
looking for a catchlight in the eye. I like the image – it’s perfectly usable but for me there’s not enough detail
in the shadows. I want to see a little more light in some
of those shadows. If I add a fill light via a small softbox
on the floor, it’ll add a little light and soften
the shadows. I’ve now brought in my second light – a small
60x60cm softbox. It’s nice and low and will obviously be out
of shot, and I’ve attached it to the same light stand
as my key light. Let’s take our first shot and see what we
end up with. There is definitely a lot more light in the
shadows now, especially under the jawline. If you use a fill light, it shouldn’t be about trying to show
everybody you’re using a fill light. Its only job is to fill in the shadows that
are already there. You don’t want it to create any other shadows. I want to add a little more depth between
my subject and my background. Whether I’m shooting portraits or fashion, I always try to create depth between
the foreground and background. Now I’m going to bring in two hair lights
at the back to help separate my model
from the background. It’ll add a little light on the edge of the hair, which will help to give the shot that depth. I’ve now brought these two extra lights into
our set, so we now have four lights – the key, the
fill and our hair lights. This light is just catching
the hair on both sides. They should pick up the hair enough to create
separation and depth. Bear in mind, they need to be quite high
– above the model’s eye line because we want to make sure the highlights
appear on the shoulders and arms. If they’re too low, you can end up with shadows
on top the shoulders, or – if you’re photographing someone with
short hair – on the tops of the ears. Let’s take some more shots, then we can play around with the exposure
and see what’s looking good and what isn’t, and adjust it from there. I’m taking a couple of shots to get a feel
for it, and now we’ll review them. At the moment, there’s a kiss of light in
there, which is what I’m looking for. I don’t want it so bright that it screams,
‘I’m using hair lights.’ Because hair has natural oils, they can quickly
become blown highlights. At the moment, this is the right power for
what I’m looking for. But let’s take things a stop lower. I don’t have any expectation of exactly what
it’s going to do before I take the picture. I’ve reduced the lights by a stop, and at
the moment you can’t see much going on. But there are still highlights
on the shoulders and hair. Let’s go one stop over, so we can see what
that looks like. We were already one stop below, so we want
to go up two stops from there. This isn’t what I was looking for. The hair is now very bright
– too bright for me. So, I’m going to pop them back
to where they were. For me, that’s a happy medium between having
that separation between model and background, but not so bright that it’ll blow out the
highlights. At this stage, I’m happy with the shot I have. There’s a beautiful key light that gives us
definition of the jawline. I’ve filled in some of those shadows with
our small softbox below. And I’ve now separated my model
from the background to add some depth to the shot
by bringing in the hair lights. For this next step, I’m going to bring in
some colour via the LEE coloured gels that I’m going to apply to our hair lights. We’re going to wrap some of that colour from
the gels around the edges of our model. I’m going to be using gels from my Definitive
Colour Pack. On the pack is a colour wheel to help you
out when choosing your colours. Colour theory is a huge subject, but there are a couple of key things
you can bear in mind. As a general guide, if you’re using two colours, you want to look at colours that are opposite
each other on the wheel. These are called complementary colours, and could be orange and blue, green and red,
purple and yellow: these are the colours that are opposite each
other on the wheel. I’m going to start with the complementary
pair of orange and blue, which is something I use a lot. Visually, the orange is like the warming
of a sunset or the beach, while the blue is like the sky and sea. Those colours work well together, and you see them used
in logos and cinema all the time. When attaching the gels, we don’t need to
be precious about it as we’re using grids. Just use a couple of inches
of black gaffer tape, which peels off
and doesn’t leave a residue. I’ve just put the gels on those two backlights
– I haven’t changed the power at all. I’m going to take a shot
and see what it looks like. Coloured gels can take away anything from
one to three stops of light, so it’s something to bear in mind. Even though these lights were the same power
as each other before, they now have different
coloured gels on them. I need to be adjusting the heads
independently now, so maybe the orange will need more or less
than the blue. I like the shot we have at the moment, but let’s increase the power
and see what it looks like. It’s always worth playing with it, as something may stand out
that you hadn’t seen before and you like the direction it’s taken. I’ve increased the power of both gels
by one stop each. I quite like the blue being one stop over, but the orange looks as if it’s starting to clip. The oranges are getting quite bright, to the
point that they’re clumping together a little. I’m going to leave the blue at one stop over,
but bring the orange back down. At this stage, I’m happy with this shot, too,
but now I want to take it one step further. We’re going to do that by introducing a coloured
flare effect in the top corners of the frame. I’m going to use the LEE Filters Soft Filter. One thing we can do to increase that flare is to bring those lights at the back
closer together so they’re pointing straight down
the barrel of the lens. I’ve swapped lenses, because the filter I
have will fit on to the front of this one. At the moment, even though they’re together
and we’re getting a little flare, it’s nowhere near enough for what I’m after. Let’s now add the Soft Filter on to the front
of the lens. I’ve attached the LEE Filter Holder
to the front of my lens and the LEE Soft Filter
is already in there. They come in a range of strengths
– this is number two. Let’s take a shot and see what effect we get. It’s important to note I haven’t changed anything
else in this set-up. I haven’t increased the power of any lights. All I’ve done is added this filter. Immediately, we can see these
gorgeous bursts of colour coming in from the left and right top corners. I mentioned before that these LEE Soft Filters
come in a range of densities. This is quite a low one, but you can have
one that creates a lot of flare, and I’d definitely recommend
playing with that. One question I get asked a lot is whether
it blurs the image. These don’t blur the image at all. You have a sharp image, but it flares the
light as it enters the lens. That’s why I would always use this on the
day, in camera, rather than later on in postproduction. On top of that, you should do as much as possible
in camera, on the day, in front of the client or subject, so they can see exactly what’s happening. You’re not saying, ‘I’ll fix it later,’ because you open the door
to them to start changing colours, swapping faces or moving things around. Do as much in camera
on the day as possible, and these LEE Soft Filters
enable me to do that. That’s been our gelled flare set-up. Right from the first light, we had a usable
image, we just added a bit of fill light, then the hair lights to give separation between
the model and background. Then we added some creative elements
with the coloured gels, to introduce some colour to the shot. Then we added some gel flare by using the
LEE Soft Filter at the end. I hope you enjoyed it, and that there’s something
you can take away from it to have a play with. Don’t get too bogged down by ratios and exposures, just go with what you think looks good and
you’ll be absolutely fine. I’m Jake Hicks; thank you for watching.


51 thoughts on “LEE Filters – Portrait Lighting at Home with Jake Hicks

  1. Jake, you are one of the best lighting educators out there – love how you clearly explain the purpose of each step as you build your setup.

  2. Amazing skills and talent i really enjoy the video with Jake,wish for more and bigger in duration to come.In Greece is not that easy to find the full range of Lee products.I had to buy all my glass ND and grads from e-shop of a store in England and still the final price was better than here,not that big problem because you know what you get and what to do whit this filter,that's not my point.My point is that with gels i wish to take a more closer look because of so many tones and numbers so to decide depend on your wallet. I guess Filter Packs is a wise choice!
    My best regards

  3. That soft filter really adds a lot to the shot, love how it went from, "Thatʻs cool," to "Holy Moly thatʻs awesome!" With just the filter.

  4. I'm trying to buy a Lee soft filter, but I'm NOT finding it anywhere online! The link that is below the video directs me to colored gels only. Please HELP!

  5. Are there not any US distributors for these filter packs? I hate to pay almost as much for shipping as the cost of the filters.

  6. Brilliant application of lighting and gels. The addition of the Lee Soft Filter puts the image over the top! Congrats on an excellent training video!

  7. if i use the big stopper and little stopper together will that give me a super stopper and if so do i use the chart for the super stopper

  8. Sbayo9 She looks amazing! 🙂 I was looking to see if she had an instagram or twitter account they don't mention it anywhere… 🙁 not good.

  9. Jumped here from the phoblographer… While this info is all dead accurate and going to put a lot of folks on the right path, this jumps right out of the realm of "home lighting" really early on for the majority of hobby shooters.

  10. Very well explained that registered in my mind. New for me was creating flare with Lee soft filter.

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