Thursday, August 15, 2013

High Key Creative Portraiture Using Gel

The wife needed a portrait for her latest Rappler article (Rappler is an online news website operating in the Philippines). I immediately set my mind to making a high-key portrait.

In the first attempt, I just did a simple one light set-up: an umbrella set up high in front of my subject. But I felt it was a little common so I decided to use a reflector to bounce up some of the light and also to illuminate my subject. Also, the background faded into grey.

I wanted to add some style to the set up so I used a second speedlite, gelled with an orange gel and with the second speedlite used to illuminate the background.

To do some variations, I placed the second speedlite on camera left. This will still illuminate the background but it has the pleasant effect of illuminating the subject's right cheek.

For the last style, I placed the second speedlite back behind the subject, but this time, I pointed the speedlite towards the back of the subject so that this secondary light source will serve as a rim light. I love this effect. The only thing that I would have corrected is to overexpose the background, something that could be done by a third speedlite.

The wife ended up choosing the one with the second speedlite on camera left. My personal favorite is the one from the last set up, but she's the client so she gets to choose what she wants to use. :)

Bonus photo... The keylight speedlite turned off - it took me some time to make an adjustment and the speedlite turned itself off - and you can see here the effect of just the second speedlite aimed at the background.

Another bonus photo: the actual shot of the second set up. There really wasn't a professional-made background... That actually was our off-white door! :)

The key accessories here are the light modifiers and the wireless triggers. The bounced light coming from the Westcott umbrella softened the light and the Flashbender, used as a snoot, limited the light to a cone. And of course, the Phottix Ares units were critical in this set up: I was standing behind the umbrella and the second speedlite was nowhere seen by the camera so there is no direct line-of-sight between the camera and the speedlites - the radio trigger still enabled me to use my speedlites despite this limitation.

And of course, my favorite go-to lens for portraitures and tight spaces is the Canon 100mm Macro (second best for a more limited space is the Canon 50mm).

Hope this lighting set up and how-to helps!


PS. The wife's top is from Victoria's Secret...

Gear used to make this post:

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