Creative Portrait Photography Tips

Canadian photographer Ryan Doco Connors shows the versatility of a one light setup in a short video he made documenting a photo shoot in which four models represented the four elements. To photograph wind, fire, water, and earth Connors employed his Nikon D300 with Nikkor 85mm f/1.8, a 50′ Wescot Apollo softbox, and a single Nikon SB-600 flash. Take a look at the video and let’s discuss the setup:

After scouting the location, sketching out the shots, and getting talent and make-up artists on the same page, Connors delves into the how and why of his one light setup. Now, some may argue that, after taking the sun into consideration, this is actually a two light setup. Technically speaking, they’re correct. The flash acts as a supplement to the ambient light, in this case, the sun. But for the sake of this article we’re going to focus on the light produced by the Nikon SB-600.

creative portrait photography

Creative Portrait Photography Lighting

  • The wide, flat light the Wescot Apollo produces assures that the entire frame will be well lit
  • To freeze the frame while photographing wind, Connors boosted the SB600 up to 1/4 power. This delivers a bright enough light to allow for a faster shutter speed.
  • To enhance the natural beauty of the earth tones present in the earth segment of the shoot, the SB600 was pushed back down to 1/16 power, which ensured that the light could be evenly distributed through the Westcott Apollo

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