Show #32–Mike Colletta–Lighting

Co-Host Kathleen Bowie returns from her trip and is joined by Mike Howard and Tim Kemperle for show #32.  Guest Mike Colletta gives us a lesson in lighting starting with natural light, then on to speed lights, strobes and plenty more.



  • Lightroom 3 giveaway ( …now we have two copies.  The person who gets the most people to join  (minimum 5) wins the second copy.
    • Contest runs through the end of March.
  • New Canon…41 focus points – Canon 5D Mark III – Kathleen is sticking with Canon
  • Facebook – Hot topic
    • Challenges of first starting off – everyone learns at a different pace.  We need to take what we learn and practice…practice…practice!
    • Camera must be second nature before you consider running a business
    • Running a business will take up much of your time



  • Guest Mike Colletta at
    Part of a group of photographers joined together from Georgia along with
    Intro:  Picked up a camera…started with digital,…never had 35mm.  Started and had no clue at what I was doing and realized I needed to get to the next level.  Went to school and moved over to commercial photography.
  • Much of my photography revolves around lighting.
  • Natural Light
    • Different times of the day makes an issue…don’t want to shoot at the middle of the day when it is sunny because it will cause shadows under the eyes.
    • The eyes are the focal point and you don’t want the shadows…must ensure the eyes are lit.
    • The lighting is effective when the light is above and behind your subject which causes a halo around your subject and the hair is lit up.
    • Reviewed a reflector was also used off to the camera left.
  • Gray Card – Used when you want a photo to be perfect such as commercial photography.  If you want to be creative you don’t want to use a gray card.
  • Using reflectors – Need someone else helping you hold the reflector to ensure the light is where you want it.
  • Key Light – Main light you should expose for
  • Fill Light – A little light that fills in the shadows…can be a reflector or a strobe
  • Catch Lights – If you put the light directly behind you (as the photographer) it will create a catch light
  • Black side of reflector – Will create more shadow by eating up the light
  • Tip – Afternoon to late day (2PM to 5PM) put the reflector directly behind the subject which will blow out the background.
  • Speedlights / Popup Flash
    • Not used often…you need to get the flash off the camera.  You would need a tripod and a trigger system to get the flash to fire with the shutter.
  • Butterfly – Directly above at a 45 degree angle.  This is achieved by positioning the main light directly in front of the subjects face and adjusting the height to create a shadow directly under, and in line with, the nose
  • Rembrandt – The main light is positioned high and on the side of the face that is away from the camera. This technique produces an illuminated triangle on the cheek closest to the camera.  Shadow will be under the eye.
  • Strobes
    • Basically a flash…when you fire your trigger you fire the flash.  The most well known is AlienBee
  • Do it yourself modifiers
    • Cinefoil – Very strong and can take on heat.  Can make any shape to direct the light to exactly where you want.
    • Ring light – flash mounted around the lens
    • Some use for Macro photography.  It can also be used off camera with the ring mounted within an umbrella.
  • Tips:
    • Ambient light is controlled by shutter speed.
    • Flash is controlled by f-stop.
    • Batter Packs
  • Speedlights allow for battery use
  • AlienBees now have a $200 battery pack gives 800 shots
  • Softbox versus Octobox
    • Basically the same…different shapes but produce the same type of result.  The large the box the softer the diffusion
  • Beauty Dish
    • Silver or white on the inside.  A beauty dish is a parabolic reflector to distribute light towards a focal point. The light created is between that of a direct flash and asoftbox, hence giving the image a wrapped, contrasted look, which adds a very dramatic effect.
  • Questions:
    • Do you use a light meter?
      • Yes, don’t always but try to as it is important.  If you are using ambient light you must use that setting.
    • There is always actions for lighting overlays if there is no good lighting on a shoot, are they worth it if you cant get the effect that you want? if so can you recommend any? more for natural light.
      • I would rather light it for real rather than using Photoshop which looks like it was made post shoot.
    • What would be the difference of the quality of light between a soft box and beauty dish? Does it all depend on the size? If they were both the same size would they be similar?
      • Softboxes are generally bigger
    • What do you like shooting best… in studio or on location?  what is the most challenging between the two?
      • On location, like the effect but need assistants…most difficult part is getting the lighting right
      • In studio, like the ability to control the situation






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About geephotant

geephotant (Geek-Photographer-Accountant) (aka. Mike Howard) is the creator of Nov Studios and the jpeg2RAW podcast. Mike is an accountant by day as the Controller for a large US based corporation. By night, he is a geek and has appeared on the Home Server Show Podcast & the BYOB podcast ( both found at He has also appeared on the Home Tech Show podcast ( and is now a regular guest on that show. Mike's true passion is photography and shoots when ever he can find time. As an amateur photographer, he is always looking to learn more about the craft.

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