A Double Light Hi-Key Portrait

The target of this self assignment, was to create a double light portrait with a Hi-Key feel to it. This follows on from last weeks post and activities with a single light to start getting a little more creative. Same rules apply; lets use the minimum portable equipment as possible. Lets use this opportunity to gain more experience using the Speedlight softboxes.

This is the equipment used… Manfrotto background stand kit, two Manfrotto light stands, Westcott Apollo 28″ and 50″ soft boxes. Speedlights, radio shields and Pocketwizard radio triggers.

We completed this on location, at the local photography meetup club (EPyC), in a cafe, with an average audience of about 50 people. For props we had a bedsheet and some white netting, all we needed was another willing volunteer… So one of the EPyC management team, volunteered a new joiner… Amel.

We started with the following image for inspiration, an expression from the extremely talented and capable photographer and instructor, Joe McNally. He created this image as a result of meeting this extremely talented dancer. The first thought that came into his head on meeting her was to cover her in paint, wrap her in mesh and illuminate her with a softbox… He did this in the context of a training class for Scott Kelby. If you haven’t read Joe’s Blog, please do yourself a favour, and get stuck in, it is spectacular, and for someone who doesn’t ‘write’, it is thoroughly engaging…

Copyright 2012 - All Rights Reserved - Joe McNally

Let me introduce you to the lovely Amel, unassuming, discrete, polite… absolutely amazing eyes… our model for this evenings efforts.


Copyright 2012 - All Rights Reserved - Andy Lalaguna

We have a 28″ Westcott Apollo Softbox to illuminate Amel from in front and above, and a Speedlight firing on wide, through a diffuser, then through the bedsheet directly behind, and pointing at, Amel’s head… I am squeezed in between the lower edge of the Softbox, and the light stand, and Amel is gazing right into the lens, and through the back of the CCD. With a white blouse on, and all that white netting, there is enough bounce to provide sufficient fill (happy coincident)…

Positioning, following the layout from the last post, if Amel is standing at the centre of the clock; the softbox is at a quarter past six, as am I, and the rear Speedlight is at approximately a quarter past twelve o’clock directly inline with myself and Amel. This puts us in the ballpark, as you can see from the image above, the background isn’t completely blown out, but we are close enough for minor tweaks to get the image…

As an aside, one of the things that we do here, is similar to others. We set the camera up in tethered mode, so that we can broadcast the output onto a larger screen so that the audience can see what is going on. We currently use a 3m USB cable to connect the camera to the laptop, and the laptop is connected to a projector, and a projector screen. The image above, was one of 23 frames, and we were done in about three and half minutes. This is beginners luck (I am convinced…), but what it proves for me that with sufficient planning and preparation, something magical can happen without worrying about all the technical details (as these are already taken care of)… the main reason that Zack Arias and a lot of others keep saying get to know your hardware, practice, practice, practice… and then practice some more.

A simple double light portrait, using very few props, and a portable Speedlight driven setup.

This all being said, stop reading, and get out there and create images…


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