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  #1  
Old 11th April 2018
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Michael Sewell Michael Sewell is offline
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Simple Portraiture Using Speedlights



This is the quickest, cheapest and simplest portrait setup available, and especially effective for more mature clients.

Whilst I’m a fan of the more creative portrait looks, they can work against the older client. Dramatic portraits rely on dramatic lighting, which in turn relies on quite strong shadowing to provide depth and texture to the subject. Clients who have very good skin and complexions tend to love the “pop” afforded by dramatic lighting. However, those of us with wrinkles, bags and scars, would rather they weren’t emphasised in quite an eye catching manner!

Meet Bob Perrin, a good friend of mine who happens to be the other half of Lesley Perrin, another photographer. A lot of Bob’s character shows in his face, he’s quick to laugh.

Here, I wanted to soften his skin but keep him “interesting”, without becoming bland. I used a classic clamshell setup. A speedlight at 1/4 output firing through a shoot-through umbrella just below the camera. A second speedlight firing through another shoot-through umbrella at 1/4 output was just above the camera and slightly right. I used a higher shutter speed to reduce the ambient, and basically render the white wall to grey.

Dead easy to setup, and very pleasing results for an older client. Not to mention the fact it's possibly the cheapest lit portrait setup available.

1/200th sec ISO200 f10
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The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Michael Sewell For This Useful Post:
Graham_of_Rainham (12th April 2018), Johnheatingman (20th April 2018), OM USer (12th April 2018), Walti (12th April 2018), Zuiko (12th April 2018)
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Old 12th April 2018
Walti Walti is offline
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Re: Simple Portraiture Using Speedlights

Mike, another great tutorial, thanks... sounds like I've been using my shoot though umbrellas wrong!

Hmmm... all the gear and....
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Old 12th April 2018
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Re: Simple Portraiture Using Speedlights

Thanks. Trying to work out why you only have a catchlight from the lower umbrella? It's actually a nice catchlight, but I always find catchlights in the lower half of the eye a bit odd looking.... probably something to do with us always expecting natural light to come from above.....
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Old 12th April 2018
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Re: Simple Portraiture Using Speedlights

I'm going to give this a go later when Mrs Walti gets home from work, mainly to see how the communications works (as I had issues)..

Did you use the Olympus setup for communications or a wireless system (Cactus etc...)?
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Old 12th April 2018
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Re: Simple Portraiture Using Speedlights

Quote:
Originally Posted by DekHog View Post
Thanks. Trying to work out why you only have a catchlight from the lower umbrella? It's actually a nice catchlight, but I always find catchlights in the lower half of the eye a bit odd looking.... probably something to do with us always expecting natural light to come from above.....
This is the downside of the Clamshell with shoot through brollies.
The top highlight is missing as Bob's upper eye area is shielding his eye from the light source, as the top umbrella was fairly high. Plus he tipped his head forward.
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Old 12th April 2018
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Re: Simple Portraiture Using Speedlights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Walti View Post
Did you use the Olympus setup for communications or a wireless system (Cactus etc...)?
Always radio triggers.
However, this system will work extremely well with an optical TTL triggering system, as the photographer is behind the umbrellas. The triggering light will reflect off the interior of the umbrella, and fire both speddlights without issue.

Another option would be to set both speedlights to manual, and have them triggered by standard optical slave (S1). Then use a small on board speedlight (the one that came with the E-M1 mkII would be ideal) and angle it into the top umbrella. Set it to manual and minimum output.
The bottom speedlight doesn't need to see the on board flash, as it will be triggered by the higher output of the top speedlight.
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