Creating Your Own Light

For this shot, the softbox was positioned at camera left. Mary was posed in open shade, under the canopy of trees in the park. Due to how bright the sun was, I needed to use hi-speed flash sync so I could still use a shallow depth of field. This was not an issue since the softbox is only about a foot or two away from her. Settings were 1/500 @f2.8, ISO 400. Flash exposure compensation was set to +2/3.

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.

The settings for this shot were similar, but shutter speed was 1/60 @ f5.6 to allow for more depth of field.

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.

For more information on the Westcott softboxes, visit Westcott Lighting.  To see more of Mary’s jewelry work, visit Paisley Peacock Designs.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s