Tuesday, July 20, 2010


There's definitely been a lot on my plate lately which would explain my absence from the blog, but I'm doing my best to come up with some juicy posts in the near future.

In the meantime I'd like to talk about keeping it simple (thus the title = Keep It Simple Stupid).  My girlfriend's daughter (which is pretty much my daughter now) is starting to experiment with makeup.  I can't possibly tell you how mixed I am over this.  On the one hand, I think she looks absolutely adorable, and on the other hand, I think she looks absolutely adorable, cough cough.

I know this child is going to cause me a lot of heart break and bring trouble my way as she matures, so I'm getting my knives and handgun out so that I can make sure any little boys with impure thoughts setting foot in my house will be able to see my proud arsenal and my obvious willingness to use it when tempted.  I know this is still down the road a ways, but I like planning ahead.

In any case, since she was all dazzled up I thought this was a good opportunity to snap a few photos of her.  Please understand that this is not a difficult task because Lexi is always ready to have her photo taken.  She's actually quite the model imho.

So being the lighting guy that I am, I quickly tried to think of some nice light to throw on her when I just decided to keep it simple.  In all of these shots (except the one with rainbow---which was a bonus) I used a single Nikon SB-800 in a 43" Westcott Double fold shoot thru umbrella to camera right.  I had the power set to 1/8 on my flash and I set my shutter speed to my fastest, native flash sync speed to 1/250 sec to nuke the unwanted ambient light in the room.  I picked an aperture of f/5.6 just because this seems to be my go-to aperture for portraits indoors.  It gives me plenty of depth of field to hold focus through both eyes, and the larger aperture also allows my flash to work less hard. (I'm certain that's not good grammar, but I ain't no Engrish teacher).  This enables me to shoot as fast as I want and the flash will keep up with me, recycling quickly.

I am constantly experimenting with different types of light and light modifiers but I almost always find myself going back to that shoot thru umbrella.  It creates such a beautiful, soft, wrapping light and its so easy and quick to setup that I have one with me on every single shoot I do.  As a matter of fact, I usually have several.

The shoot thru umbrella won't do everything I want my lights to do, but if I could have only one light modifier with me, that would be the one.

These portraits couldn't be any simpler and I absolutely love the soft light and the highlight-to-shadow transfer area as it falls gracefully across her face.

The last shot of the rainbow was an on-the-fly thing, so I had to use my on-camera flash to fill Lexi in after I balanced my exposure for the rainbow.  There I said it, I actually used on camera flash, my pop-up flash to be precise, set to TTL.

David Hobby would faint. ;)



Jenn Lee said...

Beautifully done portrait series...you complimented our little Lexi Loo's beauty wonderfully. I am not looking forward to her teen years either but the boys better watch out...she carries a mean left hook! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Im sort of reverting back to a KISS approach. I spent the last year going hog wild with gear. Im trying to build the worlds smallest strobist bag right now. So much easier to carry on location :)

Good to see you shooting and blogging again!

John said...

Thanks guys!

@Jenn - I think you're partial ;)

@Michael - I've gone down the same road, and I'm a firm believer in the Strobist mantra "less gear, more brains, better light"

Unknown said...

Amazing set, and she is absolutely adorable.