My wife has two sisters, both of them younger, both good looking and both rather keen on posing. With two willing models working for free, obviously I had to take a few photos of them.
The thing is that they wanted modelly shots, posing and looking pretty and all that, which isn’t exactly my style. However, I tried to make the best of it and get some practice with the limitations I had to work with. If I were to do these kind of shots seriously I would want to use bigger light modifiers for softer light. Unfortunately it’s not very convenient to lug around light stands and umbrellas when you go half way around the world, so I had to make due with my small softbox. I also used the backgrounds that were readily available instead of trying to set up some kind of studio, a lot easier and less work – and less work is always a big plus in my book.
For this first shot on the left we waited until the sun was almost set in the evening. We were up on a balcony and I wanted to use the sky as the main background to avoid clutter. I guess the light is decent, considering the fact that the softbox isn’t that big, it’s reasonably soft but there are some pretty deep shadows as well. Normally I don’t mind shadows at all in my portraits but if you’re going for a magazine look, it’s not really what you want. I could have experimented with some fill light to control the shadows but I’m always shy to direct my models so I didn’t want to take up too much time.
One thing I’m quite happy with is the editing of these shots. As usual I haven’t done that much, mostly changed the tones and curves a bit, but I think the tones turned out really nice. For those of you interested: I use lightroom for my editing and I have a few presets saved that I often come back to and use as a base when I find it suitable. Sometimes I start from scratch when I have a different look in mind (or when I don’t know what I want yet), like I did this time – actually I didn’t start completely from scratch here either, I used one of my other presets and then changed almost everything. One thing most of my presets have in common is desaturated colours, I just like a more pale look for most of my photos.
If any of you are interested in more details about my editing, feel free to send me an email and I’ll send you a preset that you can import to lightroom and play with. By no means am I very good at the editing process but I’ve definitely improved a lot since I got started about a year ago.
This next shot is of sister in law number two on the beach, a very dirty beach. I kind of regret not shooting some available light portraits while we were on the beach; the sun was low and would have given some nice light. However, my flash was also available so instead I used the sun as rim light and then used my trusty LP160 and softbox combo for the key light – coming in from camera left thanks to my wife who was acting light stand in all these shots.
The problem here was that it was still pretty bright so I had to close down the aperture a bit to kill the ambient, meaning that the background was less blurred than I would have wanted. The solution to that would have been to shoot at a faster sync speed (which my camera can’t do) or to use a ND filter on the lens (which I don’t have) and increase the power of the flash. The results are ok but the sky is a bit over exposed and you can see quite a lot of the trash on the beach.
A ND (Neutral Density) filter is definitely something I’ll invest in eventually but I want to more or less complete my lens kit first so I know how many and what sizes I’ll need (if I’m really lucky I’ll get away with using just one). For now I’ll make due without it, I don’t shoot outside in the sun that often anyway. In these shots I don’t mind the over exposure that much, it’s only natural that it’s bright at the beach. However, being able to open up the aperture and get better bokeh would certainly be desirable. That being said, the light here is rather nice; cross lighting like this with a single light working against the sun is a very effective way to create a pleasing light.
Next time I have some free models on my hands I should try to be a bit more daring and do more interesting stuff. Hopefully by then my light stand won’t be busy keeping an eye on my daughter, it would make things smoother if the position of the lights is more consistent and doesn’t wander off every now and then.