I was asked to help take some photos of a few people in the office for some consistent profile photos, and thought that would be super fun, so why not?
Since my commute to the office now involves walking, a bus, a little more walking, a train, and a little more walking again, the thought of taking a pile of gear wasn’t appealing at all, so I tried to make the journey as lightweight as possible.
The result was bringing my camera with a 50mm attached, two strobes, a MagSphere (which folds up into nothing), a reflector (which folds up but is still sizeable), an umbrella, and a stand. The last two were sticking out of my backpack, but all in all it wasn’t too much hassle to get around with it.
I converted this equipment into something of a mobile studio in the corner of the office. First order of business was to make sure the fluorescents and windowlight would not infect the shot, so I upped my aperture to a nice sharp f8, kept ISO down at 100, and set a 1/100 of a second shutter duration.
From there I plopped my strobe with the MagSphere on a footstool and pointed it at the back wall. Cranked up the power to full blast in order to make the background as white as possible behind the subject. In retrospect I might have been able to get away with a bare flash, as it would have been brighter and extended farther, however the falloff into shadow would have been much harsher. Ah well. Next time.
In front, I put my other flash on the stand and mounted the umbrella pointed away from the subject with the black covering on. This causes the light to bounce out from inside the umbrella onto the subject. I chose to do this rather than shoot through the umbrella as it tends to make for softer light that wraps around the subject a lot more, and doesn’t have as harsh a shadow. Plus less overall spill. This was positioned directly to my left, pointing down at the subject.
I often think of reflectors as those things everyone is told they need to get, so they get it, then they never use it because it’s a hassle or needs its own stand or an assistant to hold. Save for maybe three prior instances, that’s basically how my reflector has lived. However this time I had someone available to hold it, and WOW was the difference noticeable. Without the reflector or when it wasn’t held close enough, the right side of the subject was in deep shadow. Having it up opposite to the umbrella was enough to fill in that shadow nicely while still keeping shape and definition. Definitely cheaper and easier than setting up a second light on the other side.
While working with this subject, someone walked by and made a joke that got genuine laughter out of him, so I decided to take a shot since everything was in position. It likely won’t get used for the profile shot, but I thought it was a great capture of his genuine personality and emotion.
Also it feels good to be photographing people for a change.