Sunday, August 31, 2008

Post processing


I took this today on our walk to work. I saw the awesome texture of the wall and the framing element of the empty doorway, and asked Agust to stand there. He decided to put his hands up on the frame, which actually improved the pose a lot. The lighting is all from an overcast sky.

I wanted to really play up the texture of the wall, so I used a lot of contrast, clarity, and sharpening on the wall texture. Here you can see the before and after:

And a gif flashing between the changes to better show them:

The main things I did, was to immediately boost the fill light a little to show more of the interior of the alcove. Then I desaturated just his jacket, as it was too attention grabbing. Next I imported to Photoshop, and used the liquify tool to adjust the shape of his silhouette to be more dynamic. I then lifted up to a new layer, his torso and legs. Then I transformed the top and bottom separately to lengthen his legs, while shortening his torso. Finally I used a smart sharpen to add even more contrast to the walls, and then masked it away from his face and the interior of the alcove (the alcove was getting too noisy with the last sharpening, and faces shouldn't be oversharpened).

I had to start with a photo that I liked to begin with, but post-processing really opens up some doorways to hit the vision you had in your head when you lifted the camera to your eye.

Thursday, August 28, 2008



I built a striplight using one of the many DIY guides on the internet, and wanted to try it out. It's best used when you want to light a cylindrical shape/object. The light comes out evenly from a long, thin softbox. Had I used an umbrella (round light source) in this same way, the "raking" of the light would not have been the same.

Here are the setup shots:

striplight_me-3 striplight_me-4

2 Vivitar 285hv
main flash at 1/4 power,
at telephoto zoom,
through a striplight (20x90cm),
Striplight was at 2.5 meters height,
directly overhead subject.
background flash was at 1/16 power,,
wide tele zoom setting with fresnel diffuser,
light stand was at 1 meters height,
directly behind subject,
aimed up at background.

The goal for this kind of setup, was to create rake lighting on a body. Rake lighting is where the light comes from an extreme, near-perpendicular angle to the details, so that they are revealed by light and shadow. This is one reason that on camera flash is so ineffective. It lights the details from a parallel angle, hiding shadows.

This goes back to my lighting video. The lightsource affects the object based on it's size and distance. You have to imagine a sphere, it's center on the subject, and it's radius the distance between the subject center, and the surface of the light. The size the light takes up on the surface of that sphere will dictate the light's look.

On this shot, I wanted to reveal muscles. With a less harsh light, I wouldn't look nearly this defined. An umbrella would have put a lot more light coming from further forward, filling in the shadows, and ruining the rake affect. This lighting setup would also be very affective for a reclining pose, since the light would run along the length of the body. It's best to think of striplights as better for lighting cylindrical shapes, when you want to reveal volume evenly.

This example image should show the difference in how a round light source behaves compared to a long thin light source.

And one more from the shoot:


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Forest portraits


I'd been wanting to try something in the small copse of trees in Reykjavik for a while, but hadn´t had a chance till last night. I consider the shoot an educational failure. I had a more specific look I was going for, but I didn´t mess around enough to get it. I did learn something, so it was educational.

2 Vivitar 285hv
main flash at 1/16 power,
at normal telephoto zoom,
through tiny softbox,
light stand was at 1.8 meters height,
light was 1 meters to left and slighting forward from the camera,
aimed directly at subject head,
rim flash was at 1/8 power,
through 1/4 Windows Green gel,
normal telephoto zoom,
into silver umbrella,
light stand was at 1.2 meters height,
light was 3 meters to the right, even with subject.

The main problem with the shoot, is that the subject is too well lit. I should have pushed the umbrella back further behind the subject, so that it only contributed rim light, and I should have snooted the main light, so as to only hit the face. I do like the spill of the rim light/umbrella on the ground greenery, and my attempt to use cool colored gels worked well. In that I'm happy.

I like how the tree helped give more foreground for the subject to sit in, but I'd have preferred to find a spot with even more layers. Right now there is just the subject space, then the background. One closer tree, and perhaps a further layer before background would have worked well. A third flash set to spray the trees in the background would probably have worked for that.


I used the slow shutter speed to let the background burn in, but with this longer lens, I have the problem of a kind of "cut out" affect, where the subject doesn't look like he belongs in the scene 100%. A tripod, or starting earlier when there was more ambient, would have fixed this.

My favorite from the night doesn't even show the surroundings.


I like how the only part of the main light you can see is on his face, and a bit on his hands. In this case it's because his black hoodie just doesn't pick up much light, but I could easily emulate that with a snoot in the future, to restrict the main to just the face. Then the green rim light reveals the back portion so he doesn't go to shadow. I've always enjoyed profile shots.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gróto again


1 Vivitar 285hv
flash at 1/2 power,
through 1/4 CTOrange gel,
at normal telephoto zoom,
into silver umbrella,
light stand was at 2 meters height,
light was .5 meters to left and even with camera,
aimed directly at subject.

Whenever the sunset is looking nice, I am always tempted to run down with any available subject and do some portraits. This past Saturday I gave in to the temptation and raced down. It was quite windy, so I was limited in where I could place the umbrella. I had my left arm straight out, holding the light stand. I gelled the flash slightly, so that in post, I could adjust the WB to be a bit bluer, but still retain a warm look to the subject. I started at my max sync speed of 1/250, got my flash settings right for the subject (I started at 1/4, but had to bump up to 1/2), then I lowered the shutter till the background was the brightness I wanted.

I sat Agust in such a position to put him in line with the leading lines of the telephone poles. This would compositionally balance the image and give something else to look at in the background, at a place of power. Unfortunately it left grass in the scene. Originally it was very bright, yellow, and distracting. I just used Lightroom 2's new adjustment brush to quickly darken, green-ify, and reduce contrast, so that it could be there as another layer of foreground, but not be as distracting. I also added green to the sky, pinked up the sun poking through, and made a mask for Agust's face. I used that mask to de-saturate a little, bump exposure, contrast, clarity, and sharpness. I do that often now on faces to make sure they are the most clear and attention drawing element of the scene.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Overhead light part 2


I wanted to try the same light setup, but with a softer overhead light. I don't like the affect as much, but it's soft, while being directional, so I'll keep it in mind for future shoots where it might be more appropriate.

Setup shot:

2 Vivitar 285hv + morris slave flash
Overhead light at full power with morris slave velcroed to top,
at wide telephoto setting,
into silver umbrella with white diffuser,
light stand was at 2 meters height,
light was .3 meters in front of subject and directly above,
aimed directly down at face,
underlight at 1/128 power (hacked vivitar),
through 1/4 CTBlue gel,
at telephoto zoom setting,
light stand was at minimum height of .5 meters,
dead center of frame, aimed up at face.

The dead overhead direction gives it a definite harsh feel, even though the light is extremely soft. I changed to a blue gel, and one of less saturation, because I felt the coolness of the blue would match the softness of the main light better, and I want to start using less saturated gels for more subtle affect.

One more, with a less serious expression:


Friday, August 22, 2008

Overhead light


In 3D (my original artistic passion) lots of lighting is done in this style. Overhead light of perfectly neutral color, and strongly colored underlight to define volume and show areas in shadow without overcoming the contrast of the main light. I wanted to try it with a real person.

Setup shot:

2 Vivitar 285hv
Overhead light at 1/4 power,
at normal telephoto setting,
into tiny softbox,
light stand was at 2 meters height,
light was .5 meters in front of subject and just barely out of frame left,
aimed directly down at face,
underlight at 1/64 power (hacked vivitar),
through sunset red and 1/4 CTOrange gel,
at telephoto zoom setting,
light stand was at minimum height of .5 meters,
dead center of frame, aimed up at face.

I took one with just the overhead light to make sure I was getting it the way I wanted. I could have put the light on my boom arm to get it perfectly overhead, but I liked the way the slight asymmetry fell on the face, mainly because it illuminated one ear while leaving the other in shadow, and it revealed a bit of cheekbone. I also used a shutter speed of 1/200 and aperture of f/11 to kill the ambient, giving me black shadows. The softbox widened the light a bit, so that it wasn't as harsh as a barebulb.

I asked Agust to lean forward and to "glower" at me, in order to have his head pose and facial features match the theme of this lighting. It's a dark, contrasty, and fairly unflattering lighting setup, so it's only useful for graphical applications, not really as a portrait.


Then I turned off the overhead light, and started messing with the underlight. I wanted it to be dark, but visible. I left my camera settings alone. This gave me a chance to see if the light was the color I wanted (I guessed right with my gels), and to ensure it was the right ratio (by leaving my camera settings alone, I know how bright the main light will be. I just need to adjust this light to fit). I started at my lowest setting (below 1/1024, unsure of the exact amount) and saw it was way too dim. I upped the flash power 2 stops, still too dark, 2 more stops, good to go. I kept this light perfectly centered. First because it was easy, since it was below. No stand to get in the way. And second because I wanted the nose shadow to be aligned, so as not to block the eyes at all.


Once I had the underlight and main light ratio set, I turned the main light back on, and started trying to get my final shots. it was just a matter of evoking the right expression from the subject, and making sure I liked the image on the LCD after. The setup and ratio figuring took about 5-10 minutes, getting the final shots took less than 2. One thing that helped, is that after I got one or two good ones, I showed it to Agust. This gives him an idea of the look I'm going for, and he can adjust mentally to emote appropriately.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008



The last type of shot I did on this particular shoot was the headshot. I like doing horizontal headshots and including a bit of environment.

1 Vivitar 285hv + moris slave flash velcroed to top
Both flashes full power (GN of 144, bare 285hv is GN of 120),
at normal telephoto setting,
into silver bounce umbrella,
with white nylon diffuser on front,
light stand was at 2 meters height,
light was .5 meters in front of subject and .5 meters to the right of the subject,
aimed directly at face.

I wanted an extremely soft light, which is the most flattering light. The dark environment would give me rich shadows with a bit of blue cast. Because the main light was so bright, in order to allow in background light, I had to slow the shutter to 1/13 of a second. This worked great to show his hair in motion from the wind, and I think adds a lot to the portrait. It feels like it's on the coast, with the lighthouse, ocean breeze running through the hair. I also didn't use a gel at all, to keep the light very neutral. I wanted the focus to be on his face and features, rather than the color. If I would have gelled at all, I would have used a 1/8 cut CTblue to match the environment. I was lucky in that the glasses didn't pick up any of the flash at this angle.

This shot was a happy, on-location accident, that I will repeat to fuller affect in the future. I love the trail from the hair, and the feeling it gives. The flash's intensity freezes the subject completely, eliminating the need for a tripod or steady hands.

To expound on this further. The sensor is taking in light the entire time the shutter is open. Normally this means you have to keep a fast enough shutter to prevent hand, or subject movement, around 1/60 or faster depending on subject movement speed, lens mm, etc. When using a flash though, the flash is only "on" for a fraction of a second. My vivitar's are around 1/4000 of a second or so, depending on the power (the higher the power, the shorter the duration, as you power down, they get faster). This means that any object that the flash is illuminating, will only have light coming from it for that fraction. It essentially makes the shutter speed of that object, the speed of the flash, freezing it in time.

This is why his hair is blurry (it was moving the entire 1/13 of a second, blacking out the brighter sky wherever it blew), and the face is crisp and sharp (it was only illuminated when the flash was on)

Monday, August 18, 2008



2 Vivitar 285hv
rim light at 1/4 power,
at telephoto zoom setting,
through 1/2 CTBlue gels,
1 main light at 1/2 power,
at normal zoom setting,
through 1/4 CTOrange gel,
into silver bounce umbrella,
rim light stand was at 1.5 meters height,
light was behind subject and 3 meters to the left of the subject,
aimed a bit up to feather downward,
main light at 2 meters height,
2 meters to right of subject and in front,
aimed up a bit to feather the light.

After doing the standing portraits, we moved over to the boulders nearby to do some sitting portraits. I decided again to use the warm/cool combo of lighting, but wanted something soft for the front light. That's why I shot into the silver umbrella. The blue rim light made sense with the coolness of the background.

One cool thing, is that I was able to use 1/20 of a second exposure. This allowed the background to burn in (get bright enough), then the strobes froze and lit the subject. A nice side affect is the movement of his hair. It had time to darken the background as it blew in the wind. This gives it a very nice whispy feel. I want to try this again with a female subject with longer hair to really capitalize on it.

My biggest regret with these shoots, is using too strong of a gel. I think a 1/8 blue and 1/4 orange would have worked much more subtly. I want the lights to blend with the scene, not look out of place.

A few more from this set:

vincent_portrait-7 vincent_portrait-6

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Triple light!


A friend of mine asked me to take some portraits out near Gróto, here in Iceland. I had an idea for a lighting setup right away, but I would need to borrow a third light for it. Luckily a friend of mine has the same setup as I do (vivitar 285hv with skyports) so I asked him if I could borrow it.

Here is the setup diagram (this is the same 3D view, twice. Top version is from the front, bottom version is from above):

3 Vivitar 285hv
2 rim lights at 1/4 power,
at telephoto zoom setting,
through 1/2 CTBlue gels,
1 main light at 1/16 power,
at telephoto zoom setting,
through 1/4 CTOrange gel,
through Lumiquest softbox II,
rim light stands were at 1.5 meters height,
light was slightly behind subject, and 3 meters to the sides of the subject, just outside of the frame,
aimed a bit up to feather downward,
main light on boom arm held by assistant,
1 meter above face and in the front.

I wanted an extremely wide view, with rim light on either side. I knew this would make the subject pop, but I didn't want to take it too extreme. I started at 1/16 power on the rim lights, but it didn't show up quite enough, so I popped them to 1/4 (I've only hacked one of them, so I only have 1/8 on a single flash, out of the box, 285hvs don't have 1/8 power). The blue is to unify with the coldish color of the background.

The main was a bit harder, as it needed to be held. Without an assistant, this would have been near impossible. There would have been a light stand in the scene, and it was far too windy for a large C-stand. I put the lumiquest softbox so the light wouldn't be too harsh, and a 1/4 CTOrange gel. Not only is warmer light more flattering for portraits, but it would contrast well with the coldness of the rest of the scene, showing exactly where the focus point is. I left this main flash at 1/16 as I knew that since it was much closer, it would be strong enough. This was also my hacked flash, so I could have gone as low as 1/1024 if I needed to. In hindsight, I wish I would have tried a shot or two at 1/32 or 1/64.

For post processing on the above shot, I made a custom mask for the clouds and adjusted the curves to get a bit more funky sky color and definition.

This was a lot of fun having access to a third flash, and I might have to add a third flash to my kit soon. There are several other photos from this shoot, but they will be in tomorrow's post.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

More natural light


While on vacation, I infrequently bothered with my flash equipment. I was always on the look out for nice lighting for a portrait session. The above photo was one such time. The setting sun to the right provided a nice orange colored fill light on the right side of his face, and the soft cloudy sky provided a blueish rim light on the left side of his face. I just had to figure out a good rotation of the subject, and then my placement in relation, to best take advantage of the lighting. I normally hold up my hand, and rotate around it till I see the lighting hitting my hand in the way I would want it to hit a face. (the light, not my hand)

In this case I thought the setting sunlight was a more flattering shade, so I used it as the fill, and rotated Agust until it hit a good portion of his face. I then moved from left to right, to get the angle of him that I wanted. It was fast and painless, but a very nice soft light, with good color contrast.


Here is another example of a naturally occurring flattering portrait light. This is a mausoleum in Hollywood Cemetery (Richmond, Virginia). There is a door behind the camera, of the same size and shape of the far door you can see behind me in the photo. This let's in a nice directional, soft light, but the darkness of the interior kills the rest of the light. This way you get lit surfaces facing the window, and dark shadows on surfaces facing away. You can see the shadow from the mausoleum walls on the right side of my face. In addition to the lighting, the dark walls with bright window provide a framing element to bring the eye to the subject's face. Good environmental portraiture will have interesting elements surrounding the subject, but they won't steal focus from the main attraction.

Look for directional natural light sources for flattering portraits. Look for framing elements. Look for contrasting colors in your light sources. When you search for good natural light, it can give ideas for cooking your own lighting setups later.

More found light portraits:
summer_vacation-32 summer_vacation-15 summer_vacation-19

Friday, August 15, 2008

Movie poster lighting dissection

I saw this poster at the movie theatre, and (much to my friend's chagrin) stopped for a few minutes to dissect the lighting. I think it's quite a powerful image. First, it has great composition: the black line of the horizon is on a line of thirds, his head is on an intersection of the line of thirds, and the lighting from the far right corner travels up his leg and creates a leading line right to the face.

This is my attempt at replicating how I think the lighting was done:

Three lights:
Blue light is the bright rim you see on his face. It is quite hot compared to the front fill light, which is why I think there are two lights for his face. One hot one, behind, for the bright rim, and one less hot (bright) for the fill of the face. It looks like they used bare bulbs, with no light modifiers, so show off the texture and specularity of his skin. It would be unflattering for a woman, but for a weathered demon-man, harsh lighting works well.
The white light is the fill light on the front. You can tell that it's also angled off to the left because of how heavy the shadow from his pecs are.
The red light is kind of a combo of the left two. It's providing rim light, but also a slight bit of fill (on his gun hand, for instance). It needs to be less bright so that it doesn't compete with the main lighting on the important areas (his face and rock hand).

This is a great look, and one I'd like to try to replicate sometime. It seems to use just 3 lights, all bare (though the right light might have some slight modifier on it) which could be emulated with 3 small strobes. Whenever you see a lighting setup you enjoy, try to dissect it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sunset with small softbox


1 Vivitar 285hv
set to 1/16 power,
at telephoto zoom setting,
through Lumiquest softbox II,
light stand was at 2 meters height,
light was even with camera, and just outside frame right,
aimed directly at subject's face.

Sunset photos are easy and produce very pleasing results. This portrait, while not all that exciting, demonstrates the use of the small softbox when moved in close. I feel from this example that the small softbox is a bit too harsh still to produce a good main light, if the ambient is too dark (like in this example) However I like the falloff it produces. If I were to do this shot again, I'd most likely use my silver umbrella, and block off the bottom portion to get the same falloff. However as a softer than barebulb fill, or in a lighting situation where there is more ambient, this light-mod will work well.

There was a much hotter specular on his forehead and cheeks, but I reduced it in photoshop by "select by color" using white, and reducing the feathering till I only had the highlights. Then I used levels to reduce the brightness, giving it a softer look. I opened up the shadows with the fill light slider in lightroom. Before these two adjustments, the lighting on the face was more severe, and less flattering.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jean portraits


Whenever I can get someone to sit for a portrait session, I jump at the chance. Fresh faces can be inspirational. Two things came together for this particular session. First, I had been bicycling by this exact spot several nights in a row on my way out, at this very hour. The light and reflections of the lake were so beautiful, I knew it would make a great backdrop. Secondly, I'd just purchased a small softbox that would sit on my flash without blowing over, a real concern here in Iceland when running with no assistant to hold the flashes. I wanted to see what I could do with this new light mod. You can see it in this post, the lumiquest softbox II.

The first shot we met near the city hall, which has this nice ledge that pokes out into the lake. I knew it would give me reflections, and the round windows in the background would provide framing elements.


1 Vivitar 285hv
set to 1/16 power,
at telephoto zoom setting,
through 1/2 CTOrange gel,
through Lumiquest softbox II,
light stand was at 1.5 meters height,
light was even with subject, and 3 meters to the right of the subject, just outside of the frame,
aimed a bit up to feather downward.

The softbox managed to soften the light more than a bare flash, but not as much as I'd like from this distance. The nose shadow is still quite hard, but in this setting it works well enough. If I use this setting again, I would position a 2nd flash to subject left, with a slight blue gel (as the natural light was already that color) to pop him from the background. (in this photo I faked it in post)

Then we moved to the main location that I'd observed the previous nights. We walked along the edge until I felt the background elements worked best compositionally. I wanted the church and city lights to show in the right of the frame, but I wanted a dark spot for his head to fit. I used my thumb as a stand in for his head as I walked, till I found an area that worked. I still had the softbox on the stand, so I just needed to adjust height and position. Bringing the ambient up to match the flash was difficult. I was already shooting at iso 400, but I had to really drag the shutter for this to work. (dragging the shutter means using a longer exposure than would normally yield a sharp photo, but the short, intense duration of the flash, 1/4000 of a second or so, ensures that the subject is sharp despite the short shutter, sometimes the background blurs a bit in this situation though). The 1/2 cut CTOrange gel provided a nice contrast against the blue background.


1 Vivitar 285hv
set to 1/16 power,
at telephoto zoom setting,
through 1/2 CTOrange gel,
through Lumiquest softbox II,
light stand was at 2.5 meters height,
light was even with camera, and 1 meters to the right of the subject, just outside of the frame,
aimed a bit up ( about a meter over his head) to feather downward.

Post production for these was quite fun, as it was my first time using Lightroom 2's new adjustment brush. Tomorrow's post will demonstrate some of my post processing techniques.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Light modifications

This post is going to explain the various light modifications that I use in my portrait photography. This will serve to illustrate what mods I mention in posts, as well as to show how you can modify a small studio strobe.

First off, bare bones flash with skyport wireless trigger. This is the foundation, where everything builds off of. The skyport triggers the flash wirelessly, the front of the flash can accept gels (there is a 1/2 CTOrange gel in it in this photo), and the head can zoom from wide, normal, and telephoto.


Next, is a "bare bulb" emulation mod. This is just a white frosted container that scatters the light in all directions, like a real bare light bulb would do. Normally the flash is directional, but with this mod, it works like an omni-directional light, sending light off in all 360 degrees. Useful for lighting small places, hiding inside a real lamp, car interiors, etc.


Now I've attached a Dave Honl 1/8" gridspot. The flash head is zoomed out to telephoto as well. This mod throws the light in a very tight, very narrow beam. Useful for isolating the light to a single area.


This is a Lumiquest Softbox II. Normally the flash "size" is exactly the dimensions of the flash head. This gives a very hard light that is not very flattering for a front light. By increasing the light's apparent size, you get a softer look. This small softbox doesn't blow over in the wind like my umbrella does, and allows for a great feathering affect that's harder to achieve with an umbrella. I'll demonstrate the feathering affect in my next portrait post. I am in the process of building a snoot for this softbox, which will give me a soft, isolated light.


This one brings the juice. It's the 285hv cranked to full power, with a small slave flash velcroed on top. The 285hv has a GN of 120, and this slave flash a GN of 80. This gives me a GN of 144 (thanks for the math Jasphoto) brighter than the high end canon and nikon flashes. The flash only has 2 settings, high and low, but I leave it on high, and set it to slave, and it's triggered when the main flash it's on top of goes off. The same velcro that I attach the soft box to, holds my skyport slave on the side of the flash.


This is that same setup, aimed into a silver umbrella. Right now the handle is choked up on, but if I extend the umbrella all the way, this really packs a punch of soft light. Great for groups, or if the light has to be out of the frame on a wide angle shot.


Now I've attached a white nylon sheet. This is just white rip stop nylon from a fabric store, with grommets for the umbrella tines to go through. It has a slit to the middle for the umbrella shaft, and then had fray-check (a sort of fabric glue) to keep the slit from fraying. This setup is incredibly soft, and extremely powerful. With the slave flash velcroed to the 285hv, it can really pump out the light. The reason I like this better than a white shoot-through umbrella, is that this provides a 43" flat white soft light, rather than a rounded one that curves away from the subject. It makes a difference in the wrap around light.


In the future I'm planning to build a small card for the honl grid to further restrict the light to a tiny area, a snoot for the softbox, and a snoot for the white nylon'ed silver umbrella. Being able to "not light" is almost as important as being able to light. Control is the artist's tool.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Beach portraits


This past few weeks I've been in the US, specifically to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I took my camera and lighting gear with me, and managed not to take any scenery photos, but lots of portraits. I loved how the fading sun gave me lots of interesting texture in the clouds, and we had a wrap around porch on the 3rd floor, which gave me a vantage point to get plenty of sky and a bit of beach houses.

I wanted to do some full body portraits, showing the beach setting, the cloudy sky, and provide a bit of falloff to the light so that everything wasn't lit evenly. It was also just a chance to experiment more with lighting and using my new flash equipment (Honl honeycomb grid).

2 Vivitar 285hv
Main set to full power,
at telephoto zoom setting (to keep the light only on the subject)
Rim set to 1/4 power,
through 1/2 CTBlue gel,
through Dave-Honl 1/8" grid-spot,
Full zoom setting
Main light stand was at 2.5 meters height, rim was set on the balcony rail (about 1.2 meters high)
Main light was even with camera to the left of the subject, just outside of the frame
Rim was even with subject, 2 meters to the right of subject,
Rim light was aimed at his head, main light aimed directly at the subject.

Click through this setup shot to see notes over the flash heads.


I started originally with a sunset red gel over the flash, but it proved to be too strong, so I removed it. In hindsight, I wish I'd put on a 1/4 CTOrange gel on the main flash to warm everything a bit. Notice how in the setup shot, you can see how using the telephoto setting keeps the light only on the subject and feathers nicely off into the wooden balcony? I like the setting, but next time I'll aim up a bit more so that it feathers his body a bit. On all the subjects, the lower body received too much flash and removed focus from the face. Aiming the flash up a bit would give me more natural feathering of the light.

One thing I really liked was the Honl Honeycomb grid. I'm not a fanatic about keeping my strobe clean from velcro, so I forewent the speed strap, and just attached two velcro strips to my flash head. This cut down on the cost of the grid. The grid allows me to keep the light in a very tight, laser beam like area. In these portraits it was used to keep the 1/4 powered blue fill on just the face. Click through to the larger version to see it in detail.


This shoot however has convinced me that I need a small softbox for when I want to soften the light just a bit, or for times when an umbrella would blow over for sure (a real problem in Iceland where it's always windy).

Full beach portrait set
A few more examples:

thug_sarah peetree

My next post will show my new DIY umbrella mod. I'm building a white diffuser for my silver bounce umbrella. It's inspired by the 60" softliter that I purchased. The softliter is far too heavy and bulky for my taste, so it sits back in the states in my dad's lighting kit. The best part about it was the flat white surface. It's the best of both a silver and white umbrella.

Also, a request. Will anyone who knows of a university that teaches all in English, has a 3d art and photography degree, and is not located in the US, or the UK, please contact me via email?