Posts Tagged ‘ portrait ’

Hard light portraits


I’ve been thinking about some Yousuf Karsh pictures lately. He has amazing portraits done with hard light. I know that we’re “supposed” to use soft light, but I think that some hard light portraits might be a nice change.

In order to kind of dip my feet in the hard light water, we quickly got some pictures of Norah. This was taken outside on a partly cloudy day. The sun was moving in and out of the clouds, and judging by the shadows in the picture, it was probably overcast when the picture was taken. I used a small speed light on a light stand, camera right, as my main light. If I remember correctly it was set for 1/4 power. I shot at f/5.6 @ 1/100 sec.

Aesthetically, I’m pretty happy with how this turned out. You can see the hard line of the shadows under Norah’s arms and on her legs. I’d say the she could be sharper, but she was very antsy, so I was lucky to get what I got.


Turning around, we decided to put Norah on our wooden bench. The light is now camera left, and behind Norah. You can just see a bit of rim light on her right side. It’s a bit of a deviation from what I had originally set out to do, but not too bad. I wish that I had thought to bring another light with me in order to get a catch light.

Overall not too bad. I’ll have to try some more standard portrait work with the hard lights and see what I can do with that.

Weekend Favorite

This is, without a doubt, my favorite picture from this weekend. I’ve been trying to get a satisfying picture of that piano for quite some time. Turns out I had to put a little girl in front of it. Go figure.

A bit unusual for me lately, but no strobes used. It was a bit later in the afternoon so the sun was giving us the nice long shadows. I used a diffuser to soften the light on Stella.

Another one I like of Norah:

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The Flying Jungels Sisters

The Flying Jungels Sisters.
Stella (top), Lucy (bottom, camera left), and Lily

We were all just having some fun. I wanted to try to get some hair lighting using the boom and maybe try some ballerina poses. Well, the ballerina poses didn’t really work out, but when we decided to just start messing around, this picture presented itself.

Now if I could convince my wife to let the girls jump through a ring of fire….

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Portrait Mood

Sarah and Norah

I’ve definitely been in a portrait mood lately. Sarah and Norah were kind enough to pose for several frames. This is probably my favorite, but there are a couple of “out-takes” that I find funny as well.

Norah whacking Mom                         Lucy wanders into view

The portraiture work has been both rewarding and difficult. I think my viewfinder awareness is getting better. I’m becoming more adept at posing too. I think the practice is helping. Also, using the light meter has been fantastic. Maybe several facets are simply “clicking” at the same time, but it seems that using the light meter has really enabled me to think about what each element will look like, and more importantly, what I want each element to look like.

In fact, I wanted to revisit using the pink background. The first time I used it (for Lucy’s birthday pictures) the colors seem to have an almost orange tint. So, I decided to add some light to the background and make the pink “pink-er” whilst photographing Norah.

Norah looking cute.

I’m very pleased with the background color. Just what I wanted. I think that had I moved the flags in closer I’d have at least mitigated the shadow line, if not mostly eliminated it.

Making progress.

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Lighting and Portraits

I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, photographically speaking. I really have had a hard time seeing anything interesting to capture. But, since I did get a light meter a few weeks ago I wanted to practice with it. Stella has been very cooperative lately so she’s been my main subject. I did manage to get a few pictures of the other girls, but they were a bit more on the “hostile model” side.

The first photo is Stella in front of a backdrop in the basement. The main light is a Canon 430EX strobe shooting into a bounce umbrella. The background light is a Vivitar 285HV shooting directly into the background, but angled down to get the differential exposure that I wanted around Stella’s head. Since the flash unit is on the ground, the bottom is brighter than the top. I’m not sure how I like that effect, but it’s not a bad picture. I’m trying to remember to pose, get the hands occupied, watch the height of the light so the catch lights line up correctly, etc.

The second picture was taken outside, in the shade. I wanted to try lighting from behind to get a bit of a rim light on Stella’s hair, and use a reflector to provide the main light. So, the setup was a snooted Canon 430EX shooting behind Stella and into a silver reflector. The reflector was angled to provide the main light source.

I think that it worked okay, but only okay. It seems a bit flat to me. I may have to play with it some more. A major flaw here (in my opinion) is the lack of distinctive catch lights in her eyes. There is a bit of reflection, but just not enough for my taste.

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Playing with Lights

From Playing with lights

Such good models….Watching TV in the background

Well, I finally did it. I got some “professional” strobes. Well, at least that’s what Alien Bees says. I got two lights, light stands, a reflector, a boom arm, and wireless triggers all around.

I don’t think that it will be possible to really describe just how awesome these lights are compared to using my two small strobes with crappy intermittent wireless triggers. It totally rocks.

From Playing with lights

Barbie thinks they rock too

Once the kids are in bed, I’m out of models. So, Barbie had to do.

From Playing with lights

You want me to what?

The lights have way more power than I think that I’ll need in the near future. For these pictures I was shooting at 1/8 power out, and f/8, 1/250. I’m pretty pleased with that. If I need to light up a few kids, I’ll have the juice and if I need to spray and pray with a young one, the lights should be able to keep up.

Now I need to practice. When our new one arrives, I want to get pictures with all of the grandparents. I don’t know if they’ll like it, but I’m sure that I will.

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Birthday pictures

We finally got in Lucy’s 4th birthday pictures. Lucy is my middle daughter, and she turned 4 a couple of weeks ago. We just got around to getting her pictures. We do a birthday shoot for each of the kids on their birthday (or there abouts) so that we can see how they change as the grow.

It’s been a while since we’ve done one, and I’m now reminded how challenging it can be taking pictures of Lucy. All in all I think that it worked out, but she’s a strong minded person.


My personal favorite (above), except for her foot. We were running and gunning, and I didn’t notice it at the time. Dang! Perhaps with some cropping….


An out-take. Knock-knock jokes work great on Lucy.


My wife’s favorite. She took this one (have to give credit where it’s due).


Ah, the picture that could have been. Lucy just didn’t want to cooperate for this one. This is my “the-one-that-got-away” for this shoot.

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Portrait contest at DIYP

This certainly isn’t new news, but is giving away 3 copies of Portrait Professional 8 (more info here).

Being a sucker for free stuff (especially photography related), I entered 2 pictures. One for the B&W portrait and one for the color portrait.

The B&W:


This is my oldest daughter. I was trying out a lighting mod I had made out of PVC pipe and a shower curtain. She was moving around and moved mostly out of the light. A happy accident.

I’m actually a bit disappointed at how the deep shadows on camera right turned out in the conversion for flickr. There is detail in there, but it seems to have been mashed a bit. While I’m a bit disappointed, I don’t want to spend anymore time on this picture. While I like it, my wife isn’t fond, and so it’s future lies in eating up hard drive space. Never shall it see ink printed onto paper.

The color:


My middle daughter. I will rightly admit that this is one of those pictures that I’m biased towards. Other people probably won’t have the same reaction but then again I’m emotionally attached. Love it. Of course, I also know how difficult it was to get this shot too. Another reason I’m biased towards it.

That’s it.

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