Prom Portrait

Prom Portrait  

Time really is flying past, this is my Niece who has just left school and as we are getting very American , she had a school prom to attend. This is a portrait i took after the event.


Three light set up

Key light ( Canon 580exii )

Camera left in a 16" gridded beauty dish 1/8th power

Fill Light ( Youngnuo 568 exii )

Camera right in 24" square softbox 1/16th power

Background light ( Canon 430 exii )

Bare gridded speedlite 1/64th power

Seamless grey background and speedlites triggered with the Youngnuo yn622c triggers.

Fathers Day Portraits

Fathers Day Portraits  

Today was Fathers day here in the UK and this is my dad. This is the first time i have photographed him since i have been doing portraits. He agreed to allow me to take some images and these were some of the results. I used a single speedlite in a 16" beauty dish to fill the shadows.


speedlite portrait


I had the beauty dish on the end of a small boom arm which is much more stable when using outside in windy conditions.


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Commercial Photography

Commercial Photography I recently purchased some black acrylic, as i wanted to try some commercial photography type images, boy is it harder than you think ! I struggled to get the look i was after at first and trying to control the lights was a bit of a game at first but through trial and error really i found a set up i was happy with.

The acrylic was placed on a black and decker workmate i set up a softbox to camera right, which is a lastolite 24 x 24 inch box. It has two layers of diffusion and i placed a grid to the front of that which really helped with the direction of light. I initially tried without the grid but i was getting spill on the background and did not have a flag i could use in the space i was in so the grid really helped.

I placed the background light on a small table top tripod and angled it up and also added a grid. Took several test shots to get the spot where i wanted it, but thats the trouble with speedlites, no modeling light !

I then added a silver reflector to camera left to bounce some light back into the shot.

If you have ever tried this type of shot yourself you will know how difficult it is to get everything right especially the liquid itself. If you were to take the shot as is the liquid would be very dark as the lights are not angled and directed into the bottle as such so a trick i picked up from Karl Taylor Photography was to cut some card the shape of the bottle and stand it behind at a slight angle so as to catch some of the key light and bounce it back through the bottle. This is probably the most important part of this shot as without it the bottle just doesn't come alive.

I actually cheated a little by having the camera locked down on a tripod and just placing a white card behind the bottle and taking both images as layers into photoshop cc and using a layer mask to blend them together, same result just without the cutting out of the card !

I still think the image needs another element like a glass half full with some ice cubes in, may have to look at some acrylic ice cubes for this type of image but over all i was happy with the result, any hints tips or constructive critique is always welcome, please feel free to comment.

Camera Settings

  • Canon 5Dmk iii
  • Canon 24 - 105mm  F/4.0 L USM IS
  • ISO 400
  • 1/125 sec
  • F/8


Speedlite Settings

  • Softbox camera right with speedlite at 1/2 power
  • Gridded speedlite on background at 1/64th power
  • Silver reflector Camera Left


Tulip (Lilioideae)

Tulip Took one tulip stem and clamped it, carefully, into my workmate which was about four foot away from a seamless grey background. I used a 16 inch gridded beautydish to high camera right , a silver reflector to camera left and a gridded speedlite on the background to illuminate a small spot behind the flower.

Camera Settings

  • Canon 5Dmk iii
  • Canon 70 - 200mm F/4.0 L USM
  • ISO 400
  • 1/125 sec
  • F/14


Speedlite Settings

  • 16inch Beauty Dish camera right at 1/4 power
  • Speedlite on Background was gridded at 1/32 power


After importing into lightroom i made some basic tonal adjustments to the image in the develop module before taking the image into Photoshop CC . Here i made a selection of the tulip using the quick selection tool and then used refine edge to well refine the edge! I then saved the selection for use in the next step.

If you have photoshop cc and you haven't already i suggest you download the Adobe Paper Texture Pro from the Exchange its a great free download with lots of textures you can use on your images. This it what i used here. I selected three different textures and applied them to the whole image , you can also change the blend mode for each of the textures. I also desaturated two of the textures so there was only the texture and no colour. I selected the three texture layers and put them into a group. I then added a layer mask to the whole group and loaded my saved selection of the flower onto the mask.  This then removed the texture from the flower leaving it visable on only the background.

Hope you like the image and it inspires you to have a go yourself, thanks for looking.

Speedlite Portrait

  Portrait with small flaashes

Speedlite Portrait

This is Deb, my wife, she hates her photo being taken but i managed to get her in front of my camera as i had set up a make shift studio in a tiny spare room. The room is only 10 feet long by 9 feet wide, has a built in cupboard taking up some room right next to a inward opening door. So to position the lights where you want them is very difficult and have to kind of work around the limitations of the room.


I set a roll of grey seamless paper as the background as far back against the wall as i could get it, and raised it as high as i could. The lighting was a three light set up.


  • Key light was a youngnuo yn-568ex in a lastolite 24" x 24" softbox to camera left at 1/4 power
  • Fill light was a canon 580 exii in a 16" socked beauty dish to camera left at 1/16 power
  • Background light was a canon 430exii behind model at 1/64th power.


Due to the confines of my set up i found myself shooting from the landing on the first step of a ladder so i could shoot slightly downwards. Does not help being so short myself !

If you want to see a larger view visit it here on my FLicR account or click the smaller image above to show a larger version

I used lightroom 5 for some basic editing and finished in Photoshop cc. Still learning the lighting set ups and retouching techniques, i welcome your feedback and advise.

Here is another image from the same set up

Speedlite portrait


Peter Hurley Squinch  

This is one of the first portraits i have done this year, this is due to family problems. I received a flash meter for Christmas and this was also its first real outing ! Still trying to get to grips with it.


I have also been following a couple of photographers who produce some stunning portraits they are Regina Pagles and Nakean Wickliff, their work has inspired me to try and get some portraiture work under my belt this year with a view to getting anywhere near their standard.


This is a two light set up key light was a 580exii in a 16" inch beauty dish to camera right

Fill light was a 430ex ii in a lastolite softbox to camera left


The room is a small empty bedroom so space was extremely tight and really couldn't get my lights where I wanted them.


I welcome your comments and constructive critique , lighting tips always welcome as well as post processing techniques etc

Grey Seamless Background

Beauty Dish Speedlite portrait  

Today i received a parcel from amazon, which was a little bit of a surprise as it should not have arrived until Thursday according to their website. You can tell the order was rushed through as they delivered the wrong colour seamless background i ordered !!

The background i got was still grey just the wrong shade, i ordered Storm Grey and received Slate Grey. I think the Slate Grey is a little lighter in colour. Its not a huge problem as with grey seamless you can move the subject away from the background and it will fall to black or you can decide to light it and turn it bright white, put a gel on the lighting and turn it any colour you like.

In the image above i set up the seamless background on a stand and had my son, Ben stand about two to three feet from the background, i set my Key light in a 16" beauty dish and had that boomed overhead and slightly to camera right, this was mainly due to the tight space i was working in and the boom arm was tight against the wall of my spare room!

I placed a second light behind and facing him set to very low power to help separate him from the background. I then had my wife hold a gold round reflector below and to camera left to provide some warm fill light, this is what you can see has spilled onto the background but i actually like the warm tones it provides.

Still only used the beauty dish a few times and i am still learning how to control the light with it but i do like the light it gives and will continue to learn how to use it as i go. I also have a grid and a diffuser which changes the light again.

Beauty dish with grid


As you can see from the above image there is hardly any spill onto the background at all with the honeycomb grid attached, and the image below with the sock attached.


Beauty dish with diffuser sock


Syd I was lucky enough to find myself being asked to photograph this very talented young lady, Syd. She could well be a big star one day as she embarks on her first acting role. I am not sure who was more nervous to be honest as i have never taken any speedlite portrait  of anybody i didnt know.  Syd had never actually modeled before either so we were both a little apprehensive. What made it worse was we were trying to do this in the middle of a family garden party with a large number of guests so we tried to find a secluded corner of the garden to work in.

This is just a simple one light set up. Canon 580exii in a lastolite softbox to camera right. Think the settings were something like 1/125th sec at F/8.0 Iso 100. The speedlite was set to 1/4 power. The ambient light was underexposed by about two stops to help make for a more dynamic portrait, also helps focus on the model and illiminate distractions from the background.

Took lots of images which i must now work my way through and process them for Syd to have and use as she wishes.

I am sure she wont need it but i wish her every success in the future and look forward to seeing her on the big screen in the near future, remember her face !!



Strobist Portrait

Strobist Portrait Yesterday evening I had the opportunity to go out with a friend and fellow photographer ,Lee Crosbie ,check his flickr stream out got some great stuff. We headed off down to a place called Hampton, around the Herne Bay area. When we arrived the tide was in and so there wasn't much of a shot there, luckily we had our speedlites and light stands with us just in case we wanted to try some outdoor strobist portraits. This was a great opportunity to get in some much needed practice. We very quickly set up and we took it in turns to be the photographer and the other the reluctant model !

Some of the images were single strobe and some were a two light set up using the setting sun as a third light source. The idea was to try and underexpose for the ambient and pop some flash in on the subject to make them stand out from the scene. Got some nice results and look forward to getting out there with Lee again to get some more practice sessions in.