Deconstructing a Portrait on Location

A direct contrast to the previous image with two strobes and lots of drama, this shot of Christina is simple and direct and with a more natural feel to it. Shot in Miami, Arizona, I wanted this shot to be very naturally lit and with a great natural feel to it.

Before we start, I want to mention that we have a new interview at Lighting Essentials Magazine. Joshua Targownik tells us how he is getting his studio up and running in LA. Briana has started answering questions about models and working with and for photographers and you can find her Q&A here. We are also heading to Houston, Philadelphia and Cleveland soon, so check out the workshop pages.

We have just completed our Detroit workshop and it was amazing. Fantastic people and the weather really was quite nice, especially for Bri and I after the heat of this summer here in Phoenix. Being a little chilly at night and in the morning was simply cool… heh. You can always see what the students are doing by using the tag – lightingessentialsworkshop – in Flickr.

So on to the image we are going to deconstruct.

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Miami is in the mountains east of Phoenix and on these fall days it runs about 10-12 degrees cooler. I had been wanting to do a roadtrip to get back to shooting more natural light work. Megan accompanied me and she shot with a lot of strobes while I did similar images with either natural light or strobe accent. It was a ton of fun.

Christina is across the street from me and I am shooting on a long lens (80-200MM 2.8L) and I am shooting wide open to limit the depth of field. The light is bouncing all over the street at this point and the sun is slightly behind her in position. She is in a little glade of trees and I wanted that color and the ‘dappled’ look to the field behind her.

The strobe is placed well behind her and dialed way down to 1/32 I believe (it was Megan’s SB back there) and I remember we were shooting with very little strobe power. You can see from this image that it added just a little wink of highlight and rim lighting to make her stand out. I really like using a little light to separate the subject and this is a good example. We can make the light look like it is a little bit of sunlight at the back if we make sure the angle of the light is the same, or nearly the same, as the angle of the sun that is in the background. Changing that angle can still produce a cool shot, but it may not look like the sun because of the cross shadows.

Here is a diagram.

You can see how simple it is to do clean shots like this, so take a subject, a single strobe and a camera and look for some nice areas that have some natural bounce light coming into a darker area. Add the strobe light gently so as to make the image a subtle and natural portrait.

I turned the wireless off and took a second shot to see how nice the natural light was. I like them both.

Thanks for visiting Lighting Essentials. We hope to see you soon at a workshop or drop me an email if there is something you would like us to cover.

–don

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About 

I am in love with light.

Also known as Don Giannatti, photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amherst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and ezine with a slightly different slant than most photography related blogs. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out www.project52.org. Thanks for visiting.

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