Outdoor photo session with kids, using off-camera flash
When I posted photos from this session on FB, there were questions about the lighting (and whether I had used off-camera flash), as well as camera settings. There were also questions about which lens I had used for this sequence – whether it was perhaps an 85mm lens. The surprise perhaps might be that this isn’t out of the ordinary from how I usually approach a photo session – Checklist for portrait photography on location. A systematic way to make sure I get images that look really good.
With kids being their usual rambunctious selves, I need to be able to concentrate on them, and their expressions … rather than be overly concerned with camera settings.
My camera settings were fairly conservative for this sequence:
1/250 @ f/4.5 @ 125 ISO
The f/4.5 aperture was still shallow enough for the 135mm focal length to give me separation from the autumn foliage in the background. The 135mm focal length (on my 70-200mm lens) was tight enough to fill the background with colors. Had the patch of color in the background been smaller, I would’ve zoomed to a longer focal length – that would have “enlarged” the background because of the perspective compression with me moving even further back. This is a topic touched on in a related article – Using tele-converters: Extra lens compression for tighter portraits.
Lighting was done with my workhorse Profoto B1 battery powered flash (B&H / Amazon). The softbox was the Westcott Rapid Box 36″ Octabox (B&H / Amazon), because it is so easy to set up and collapse. I used TTL mode here (with negative FEC) to get to the initial exposure, and then locked it in manual flash mode via the Profoto controller on my camera. Elegance … while laying flat on my stomach on the ground. The reason for shooting from so low down … a better perspective.
In a sense then, there is nothing new here about shooting like this. It’s an accumulation of a few essential techniques, applied again. It works every time.
Camera settings, and photo gear (or equivalents) used for these photos
- 1/250 @ f/4.5 @ 125 ISO
- Nikon D4
- Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR II /equivalent Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
- Westcott Rapid Box 36″ Octabox (B&H / Amazon)
- 75″ tall Gitzo monopod to hold up the light
This pull-back shot will place everything into context and give you a better sense of where we were shooting.
And two more photos from this sequence:
A little bit of homework
I used a powerful flash here. Would these results shown here be possible with a single speedlight and a softbox?
- Checklist for portrait photography on location
- More spontaneous portrait photography
- more articles about Off-camera Flash Photography
- Dramatic portraits of kids – Lighting and intent
- Using tele-converters: Extra lens compression for tighter portraits
- More from this Family & kids photo session, NJ