The art of photography can really be challenging at times. Trying to get the lighting right , the camera settings and all the technical stuff , let alone having to come up with poses and trying to get emotion into your images. This selfie sums up my continued inability to communicate or connect with my models or even myself !!!



2ft x 2ft Gridded softbox camera right with a 580 ex ii at 1/4 power as Key light

16 inch gridded beauty dish up high on camera axis at 1/32 as fill light

A gridded 430exii on the background at 1/64th power

All strobes fired with Youngnuo 622c Triggers

Here are a few more images from the same session. I am happy that my lighting seems to be going in the right direction , must make effort and get some more willing models , must be patient, to work with lol !

Sekonic L478dr


Family Portraits

Karate Dojo  

Had my niece and nephew pop over this week as they wanted a couple of portraits doing so with my spare room completely empty, i had already put in my seamless grey background and set up my three speedlites beforehand. This was the first time i had ever done any of their family portraits before other than just candid snaps. Beau, pictured above, had seen a image i had done a while back of my son which was a real close up head shot with the sides of the face being illuminated by gridded speedlites and a gritty portrait type of processing applied in post. We did this image first and then on to some more traditional head and three quarter length shots.

I liked the image i took of him above in his Karate outfit or Karategi, the Japanese for Karate Training Outfit. As i took it against the grey seamless it was a very quick and simple process to cut him from that and blend him into a image i downloaded from a free wallpaper site. The downside of this is the resolution is pretty low and you would struggle to get a good size print from it. For this reason i must make a effort to shoot some locations purely so as i can use them in future composite images.

clam shell lighting

Then there was Bella, for this image i set up a Beauty dish as my main light directly in front of Bella and up high, i then added a softbox for fill and placed this again directly in front and below the main light to form a clam shell lighting set up. I took the shot with the camera pointing between the two lights. This gives a nice clean beauty type light with soft shadows. I had Bella hold a hair dryer pointing up to create some movement in her hair.

All the processing was done in lightroom and photoshop . They like the final results so that's the important thing. I had fun doing it and gained some valuable experience in the process. Having to think on your feet and adapt the lighting on the fly for very different looks. Got lots of other images from the shoot but these are my personal favorites.

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