multiple off-camera flash – adding some pop with back-lighting
Lea is a model I’ve worked with on previous occasions. With her striking looks and easy demeanor, she is just a pleasure to photograph. We spent some time this afternoon in down-town Manhattan, looking for interesting spots as backdrops. Jessica, (my infamous assistant with an attitude), spotted this dramatic gate and interesting glass front. It seemed like the perfect place to start the photo session, but it needed something extra to give the photos some drama.
The final image is shown here at the top, but let’s look at how we got there …
Available light only: 1/125 @ f6.3 @ 200 ISO
I posed Lea so that her gaze was upwards. This meant that the available light was falling more evenly on her face, largely avoiding shadows under her eyebrows.
It looks interesting, but needs something more to give it some snap. The next step was to add soft light from the front (via a speedlight in a softbox), and some back-lighting via a direct flash on a light-stand behind her. (The pull-back shot will show the positioning.)
The flash behind her also lit up the framework of the gate, and I like how this creates more of a grid pattern behind her. The concave glass elements in the wall behind her also picked up the reflection of the flash in the gate, so those high-lights also help giving the image more sparkle. An accidental benefit. I’ll take it!
Here is the placement of the lights.
I had Jessica stand right behind me with the softbox, since any position to my side had the softbox appear as a reflection in the glass. So the light on Lea (our model), is quite even.
The SB-900 (pointed out by the red arrow) was fired with a PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceiver (B&H). The speedlight was unmodified, pointed directly at Lea from behind. It was mounted on the light-weight Manfrotto 1051BAC light-stand. I didn’t even edit it out in the top photograph, since I don’t think the light-stand’s legs are that obvious in the image unless pointed out.
The (main) flash in the softbox was set to TTL and had the FEC dialed down to -1EV. The flash behind Lea was set to manual (via the PocketWizard AC3 zone controller), and was set to around 1/16th full power.
Both the flashes were controlled by my on-camera PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceiver (B&H)
With the final sequence of images (of which the photo at the top was my favorite), I dropped much to my knees and shot upwards, and was able to get the sun flaring into the image. More drama to the light! I love it. The image was processed with my usual method for retouching portraits, although Lea’s flawless skin needed no retouching. I did push the contrast and saturation more than usual, for some extra punch to the image.
With the final image, I do believe the back-lighting added that extra depth to the image, helping to separate her from the scene.
Equipment used with this photo session:
Nikon D3; Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S (B&H)
Nikon SB-900 (B&H); Nikon SD-9 battery pack (B&H)
(3x) PocketWizard FlexTT5 transceiver (B&H)
PocketWizard AC3 Zone Controller (B&H)
Lastolite EZYBOX Softbox Kit (24″x24″) (B&H)
Manfrotto 1051BAC light-stand (B&H)
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