Portrait Night

Well ... it was Portrait Night the other night. I'm not sure what the inspiration was; probably the combination of wanting to try a little different technique and being tired of sitting around and waiting.

Our house has been in flux a little lately. Lots of stuff going on and the traditional spaces just aren't available for doing a portrait shoot. So, I grabbed all my stuff, draped my old backdrop over the fence in the backyard and set up.

I had gotten a small, square soft-box (20" x 20") for a hot shoe flash a while ago and haven't had much of a chance to use it. I've also seen Joe McNally use a strobe below the subject and bounce it up off a gold reflector ... adding some warmth and softening the light.


That's what I did - my setup consisted of an SB800 shot into the soft-box positioned camera left, 45 off subject but feathered forward slightly. I have a 42" lite disc with a gold side that I laid down in front of my imaginary subject and bounced an SB600 into the gold reflector and presumably into the face of my ... ahem ... model. Now ... who's gonna be the model?

You know you live in a good neighborhood when you can go across the street and solicit a body for portraits 'cuz they're not doing anything but waiting for their pizza to arrive. Duke and Paul came over. They're actually neighbors, too, sharing a driveway and both are great subjects. Paul's a web guy and Duke's into repos.


This was about 9:00pm so we were just seeing the last rays of sunlight. I didn't expect any ambient light for the shots so eliminated it with the exposure settings. I set up the camera thusly: ISO 100, Manual Mode, 1/250 @ f/9, WB = Flash. BTW, I'm using my trusty 18-70mm DX EIEIO.

Then I chimped in the flash power settings (SB800 @ 1/8 power & SB600 @ 1/16 power). Actually, before the boys came over my wife helped me get the initial setup and Karlyn actually sat for a shot.


Although, not quite as enthusiastically as I might have hoped. Still got a nice shot, though.

I really liked working with the soft-box; completely different light control versus the shoot-through umbrella. Not necessarily better; umbrellas definitely have a great place in my photographic arsenal but, different. Controlling the direction and spill is what's great about the soft-box.

The reflector on the ground below the subject is a really nice effect that adds some needed warmth without looking "filter-ish" and "post-processy." It added some welcome light up underneath Duke's cap and opened up his face and eyes. Nice touch. Thanks for the idea, Joe!

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