Portrait Photography Lighting Workshop - 8th January 2011

On Saturday 8th January 2011 I led a workshop demonstrating the fundamentals of lighting portraits using studio lights, in this case Speedlites. Here I am sharing with you some of the images created on the day.

Our model Lori was an absolute star - she stood in at the last minute after being persuaded by her colleagues at work to help me out. Thank you Lori, you did a cracking job.

The first image is the culmination of working through how a single light can illuminate the subject and make a passable portrait; then by adding reflectors and other lights creating some extraordinary.

This image of Lori was created with 4 Canon Speedlites, working in Manual mode and triggered by a combination of radio and optical triggers. The BTS shot below shows the lighting design for the image. The idea here was the create an image that was bright with a sense of depth achieved by separating the white background with a blue gel.

Lighting Design:

  1. White cyc-paper background.
  2. Background light - Canon 550 EX Speedlite with Gel Clip and Rosco #375 Cerulean Blue gel from Strobist Collection, flagged from model with Rosco Photofoil. Radio trigger.
  3. Key light - Canon 580 EX II, radio trigger into brolly softbox.
  4. Fill light - Canon 550 EX Speedlite into white reflective brolly held by VAL (Voice Activated Lightstand) triggered with Flash Zebra optical slave.
  5. Hair Light - Canon 580 EX II with Gel Clip, Rosco 1/4 CTO to warm up light and Rosco Photofoil snoot.

The second image of Lori was intended to give more of a lower key nightclub feel. We used 3 Speedlites with the shadows cast from the key light filled with a brolly behind the photographer washing over the whole area, roughly 1 1/2 stops below the key light. The background was created by cutting holes in 24 inch Rosco Cinefoil and colouring the Speedlite with Rosco CTB Full Blue gel. Again, the BTS shot below shows the lighting design for the image with a breakdown of the equipment and accessories used.

Lighting Design:

  1. Key light - 24 inch collapsible soft box.
  2. Canon 580 EX II, radio trigger.
  3. Fill light - Canon 550 EX Speedlite into white reflective (not translucent) brolly held by VAL (Voice Activated Lightstand) triggered with Flash Zebra optical slave.
  4. Black cyc-paper.
  5. Cookie or gobo* - cut from Rosco Cinefoil.
  6. Pattern cast on background from Cookie. Flash Canon 550 EX II, zoomed to 80 mm, Gel Clip, Rosco CTB Full Blue.
* This is one of those terms that can be interchangeable. I tend to look at a cookie as something to modify the light in front of the source. A gobo to me is a metal or glass disk or plate used in a special projector or spotlight fixture.

If you want to learn more about lighting, whether you're a beginner, enthusiast or even semi-pro or professional photographer. Keep your eyes on this blog for more lighting hints and tips and details of forthcoming workshops.

I'll be at the SWPP this week on the Rosco stand, number 209 on Friday 14th and Sunday 16th January. If you want to come along and talk lighting, it will be good to see you. You'll also be one of the first people in the UK to see the exciting new Rosco Litepad Axiom LED lights which are ideal for location portraits.


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