NELS ISRAELSON: Speak Softly and Carry a Hard Light: Portraiture in the Digital Era

© Nels Israelson 2013

NELS ISRAELSON: Speak Softly and Carry a Hard Light: Portraiture in the Digital Era

The Palm Springs Photo Festival is proud to welcome back Nels Israelson, a twenty-five year veteran of entertainment industry image-making.

In the 20th century if you wanted to shoot great skin-tones, you needed either a big soft light or a big retouching budget. Photoshop and modern digital techniques have changed all that. Nels will demonstrate how to expand your use of contrasty, high key, dramatic lighting by gaining confidence in your own post-production processes.

“In this workshop we will not address how a key umbrella should be balanced with a fill softbox for perfect ‘portrait lighting’. Rather, we will explore the fundamental dynamics of how light works in scenarios such as those described above. Armed with this understanding, we’ll create lighting in the studio that feels authentic and evocative. You will learn to control these aspects of light, regardless of your subject matter or whether you choose to utilize studio lighting tools or natural sources.”

Instructor Israelson will be teaching specific techniques to create dramatic lighting. His focus will be to get photographers to think differently about studio portrait lighting in order to extend their range of evocative “character” lighting. A range of the latest kinds of lighting will be available for the class.


~ Finding a balance between flattering and dramatic lighting.
~Taking cues from night-time and late afternoon ambient light to create studio lighting that feels “real”.
~ Making a hard key-light user-friendly for normal, non-supermodel faces
~ Getting graphic with rim-light and more.

Tuesday, April 3


Thursday, April 5.

9:00am – 4:00pm
Price: $350
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Attendees of this workshop are invited to borrow cameras and lenses from Canon, Leica, Fuji and Mamiya at Korakia Pensione each morning before the workshop begins (8:00am – 9:00am). The Samy’s Camera Store suite is also open each morning for your convenience.

“Nels’ seminar opened my eyes to a thought process that is not bound by walls and a ceiling. The lighting techniques and knowledge I absorbed were immediately applicable to my commissioned and personal work. To have an all-access pass to Nels’ mind for the trifling sum of a seminar fee might be the single greatest investment I’ve ever made in business and in myself.” – Stephen Kennedy

“Nels’ workshop completely changed how I think about light – it gave tremendous clarity to what I had previously only guessed at. Now, I regularly think about the motivation of the light and how I can create an image that is both beautiful and believable, rather than just well exposed. Worth every penny.” -Alistair Bird

With a career spanning over two decades Nels Israelson continues to create compelling images for highly effective film posters and ad campaigns.
He has provided key art to every major studio for dozens of films which have cumulatively earned over $7 billion at the box office.
Nels travels internationally for work, and has homes in both Northern and Southern California.



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