Last week, an old friend (meaning I have known her awhile- she doesn’t look a day older than the way she looked when I knew her 20 years ago!) asked me to take some photos of her for her new website and blog. Mary is a jewelry maker and does some fantastic work with metals and enamel. It was very spur-of-the-moment, and there wasn’t much time to plan.
We decided on a local park- which happened to be a place we used to go 20 years ago to hang out, and take photos. Mary loves the outdoors, and much of her jewelry work uses nature as a theme, so the park seemed a good choice.
It was a sunny day, which was fine, but the time was mid-day, and the light would have been too harsh in direct sun. I knew the park had lots of trees, so finding shade was no problem, but the light would have been very flat. I didn’t want to use direct flash, since that too would have been flat.
My solution was to use a Canon speedlite off-camera in a Westcott 28-inch Apollo softbox. I positioned the softbox to the side of Mary, and adjusted the flash output so the flash was my main light, and the shaded sun was fill. This created a dramatic, yet natural look, that was flattering to Mary, but still blended with the sunlight filtering through the trees.
The idea wasn’t to feature the jewelry so much as it was to photograph Mary wearing it- at least, I don’t think it was- so I just allowed it to fall out of depth of field naturally, but also made sure to allow it to stay sharp at times.
I really love how simple to use the Westcott Apollo lightboxes are to use. They collapse like umbrellas and fold nice and compact. I use small compact stands with them and my Canon speedlites. The combination allows me to use studio quality lighting on location, without worrying about electricity, wires, or heavy cases to lug around. It’s really a beautiful system.