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Here’s V, the three year old member of the family I recently photographed. She took centre stage though, most cuties do, so I’m

featuring her here solo.

For my standard family portraits I travel to the locations a bit lighter, rarely with an assistant, which keeps the costs down

for my clients and allows me to work a bit more freely. Of course by not bringing *everything* you can restrict yourself too. “if

only I brought this” I’ll catch myself thinking, but really, more creativity can stem from the adversity restrictions can


It was a cloudy, overcast day as you can see, but I wanted to show the clouds. Though if I were to use a non-flash exposure

would completely blow them out – rendering the top of the frame pure white. To balance the scene I needed to use all three of my

Canon speedlights (2 580exII’s & a 430ex). I hooked them up to a 15′ TTL cord from flash zebra, mounted them on a lastolite

triflash, and powered them through an umbrella. The reason I needed to use all three was that I was going to use high-speed

sync, which allowed me to fire at 1/8000th a second (usually they’re stuck at 1/250th), but I was going to lose a lot of power

per flash, and the light wouldn’t carry very far.

Even then, I wasn’t able to drop my aperture below f2.8 (a shallower depth of field) because f3.2 or higher was underexposed

(I would have needed yet another light)… That also restricted which lenses I could use, and I think the shallow dof compliments

the scene, allowing V to stand out against a grey backdrop, but retaining enough detail back there that you know what’s going


What do you think? I’d love to hear how others pack for a shoot, if you always bring everything you’ve got, or if you’re

selective every time.

3 thoughts on “V

  1. Miles says:

    This is a great look for a one light set up. Is there some kind of formula for how much power you'll lose with a high speed sync, or just experience?

  2. Greg says:

    As long as you don't see PhotoShop as a crutch, there are some excellent sharp edges there which would facilitate an easy mask, and then a subtle touch with adjustment layers could brighten the subject up a bit without doing anything to the back.

    I do like it the shots without additional processing, but one can't help that a bit more vibrance (in terms of colour) would help the subject stand out in an attention-demanding way.

  3. angela says:

    despite my personal leanings towards extremely shallow DoF…i think i like the shot on the right. the clouds in that shot add to the surreal feeling. her pose is also just right.

    i tried to understand your techie lighting talk…but i just don't understand. whatever it is and whatever you pack? i like the results.

    do we get to see the rest of the series??