How To: Get studio-like portraits using one camera strobe at
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Old June 18th, 2008, 10:55 AM   #1
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How To: Get studio-like portraits using one camera strobe

Equipment needed:

1. Any SLR (film or digital)
2. Any dedicated bounce-head (hot-shoe) strobe
3. Any lens with a focal length between 50-85mm with an aperture no darker than f/2
4. (2) fold-out reflectors and stands (or a pair of assistants - laughs)
5. Tripod

Here's how it's done:

"Pic1" shows the actual scene before proper setup: Night-time location, no ambient light to speak of and a bridge behind the model with lots of strung lights with the water reflections. Pic1 also represents how most people would attempt the shot - flash pointing straight ahead, subject squarely in the middle of the frame with tons of wasted space all around.

In this scenario the camera/flash combo is doing the best it can; it sees the primary light source being bounced-back from the subject and is throwing as much light at it as possible and compensating exposure accordingly. Unfortunately the metering system also thinks the dark background is part of the composition and in it's attempt to make a best-case exposure ends up blowing out the model to compensate for all the dark around her. Nasty.

Here's the fix: I got close to the model and filled the frame of her vertically. (2) fold-out reflectors were placed around the model, one on top and in front angled at 45-deg towards her, the second below chest-level also slightly angled towards her. The on-camera strobe was pointed up directly at the upper reflector making it the main light-source, the lower reflector is the fill-light.

The key background interest was the water-reflections from the bridge, so I purposely chose a long exposure to allow for that ambient light to be captured and, a wide-open aperture to blow out the background details so they didn't compete with the model for attention.

"Pic2" and "3" are the results: nice even light on the model, gorgeous highlights in the eyes and a nicely captured background light that accents the warm tones of the model. Portraits of any kind don't get better than that!

You can use this same setup for a small group of people (more strobes would be needed wirelessly) and could also be done in a studio environment. Just goes to show you don't need expensive studio-only equipment to pull-off a studio-like appearance.

More stuff like this is on the Photos in a Flash DVD I just released, but it's geared more towards the general consumer not the studio photographer.

Actual equipment used:

1. Canon 30D w/580EXII flash
2. Canon 50mm f/1.2L
3. (2) Photoflex Multi-Disc reflectors (small and large)
4. (2) Bogen/Manfrotto 3398B stands w/sandbags for stability
5. (2) Wescott disc-holders
6. Gorgeous Model (Caitlin P.)

Exposure: Manual 1/10th @ f/1.2, Flash-Auto, ISO 100
Attached Thumbnails
How To: Get studio-like portraits using one camera strobe-pic1.jpg   How To: Get studio-like portraits using one camera strobe-pic2.jpg  

How To: Get studio-like portraits using one camera strobe-pic3.jpg  
Robert Lane is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 18th, 2008, 12:26 PM   #2
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Just kidding... :) Nice shots and great post!
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