Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nightime portrait fail

One of my goals for this blog for the rest of the year is to start using people as my subjects more often.  Portraiture is where I'm weakest, because I never do it, and because I'm pretty shy.  So, I thought I would start with someone easy - namely, my husband.  I know the concepts of an outdoor, nighttime portrait - set your camera settings to catch the desired amount of environment and ambient light, then add flashes to light your subject.  Sounds easy, and the first part is, but the second is a whole different ballgame. 

I had a couple of things working against me:  1) no tripod and 2) no light stands.  So, I had to put one flash down low on a bench, and hold the other one above my head and as far to the left of the camera as possible.  Given my stature (5'4"), that really didn't get the light up too far.

The main light, or key, was fired through a plastic diffuser about 5' in front of the subject and slightly overhead.  The fill light was fired from about 8' away but unfortunately down on a park bench.  It didn't contribute a whole lot. 

In retrospect, I should have moved the fill light behind him somehow (again, no light stand) to create separation from the background.  Because he insists on wearing all black all the time, it is especially important.  But, these things didn't cross my mind in the limited amount of time that we had.

This picture isn't even in focus, but it was the best-lit one of the bunch.  Sigh.  I also don't like that he is looking down into the camera.  Basically I hate everything about it, but you have to start somewhere, right?

Lots of lessons learned tonight. I'm thinking about getting this softbox that attaches to the flash head, to increase the effective light size of my flash, while diffusing the light.  And possibly a light stand or two.  But most of all, practice, practice, practice!

By the way, he really is a good sport about posing for pictures, but it was taking me too long to get everything set up, and it had been a long weekend.  I'll try to get a happier portrait of him some other time.

Canon 5D Mark II
93mm - ISO 800
1/50s- f/4

Nikon SB900
14mm zoom @ 1/16 power
Fired approximately 1' above subject from 5' away

 Canon 580EXII
14mm zoom @ 1/16 power
Fired approximately 5' below subject from 8' away

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