Over the past 6 months I have been learning the art of external lighting for portrait photography. I like using natural light, but, I wanted to experiment with ways to give a little extra bounce to my images. It took some time to build the toolbox to do it (for external lighting, you need to invest in extra flashes and possibly other accessories I’ll talk about later on in the post). My first setup: two canon 590 EXII flashes and a cheap lp120. No triggers at that point. I had to use the IR system of transmitting the signal from camera to flashes. This worked in most situations, here are some of my first tests, self portraits:
A self portrait! How fun! At this point though it was the dead of winter, so my practice was mostly on myself and objects (sometimes cats!) As the first patch of spring hit, I got to test the new skills in the field.
A fun filled family shoot. Using the IR system proved to be very difficult out in the sun. I had to do a lot of moving of the lights to get it lined up right, and unfortunately that meant I couldn’t set the lights where I wanted to, it was more about where I had too! And to make matters worse, I lost one of my nice 580′s and ended up replacing it with a used 430EX. Tweaks, adjustments, and equipment loss aside, I’d say I got some very nice shots even with the limitations:
It became really clear to me after these shoots that I needed to take that next step and get all my flashes off camera. So i did some research and found a nice solution, the cactus v5 triggers. They work really nice. I’ve used them both at events and in portrait settings.
I’m excited about the potential this opens up. I wanted to see just how far I could go with it. Here’s a few in rather harsh conditions:[SinglePic not found]
I had one light pointing down the stairs and a second light pointed down at the model. I love the edgy mood it produces. While not everyone’s cup of tea, it was a good learning experience. I’d love to try out some other ideas too (setting up with a boom arm on the balcony flash comes to mind. Here’s another extreme case:[SinglePic not found]
2 flashes, one positioned at the doorway, adding to the sunlight coming in, and the second light positioned behind the model. I really like the glow it gives to the model. Again, this shot is edgy, not what one would call a standard portrait shot. Here’s an example with more of a standard portrait look and feel:
I still have a lot to learn with off camera lighting, and more experiments to be made – and possibly some new equipment in the not so far off future (fun!). And with that, time to wrap this post up. Hope you’ve enjoyed the read, see ya in part 2