A portrait with three speedlites

Here’s a portrait I just shot.

I used the Canon 1D Mark IV with a 580 EX II flash on the camera, used only to drive three 430 EX II flashes using remote e-TTL. This is easier than ever: with the right knowledge and tools it takes mere seconds to arrange.

So here’s how I did it.

I used a 50mm prime lens (meaning 65mm effective focal length) with the camera on manual, 100 ISO, f/5.6 at 1/125th second.

The lights were:

  • One 430 speedlite, the key light, is on camera left one foot away from the subject and is mounted on a cheap light stand. It is equipped with a new Honl Traveller 8 softbox.
  • The second, the accent light, also on a light stand, is one foot behind the subject, is aimed forward at her, and has a Honl 1/4″ grid fitted.
  • The third flash, aimed at the wall, is mounted on its little plastic light stand and has a green Honl gel fitted to its speed strap in order to add a splash of colour to the background.
  • I set an 8:1 A:B ratio to stop the accent lights from becoming too bright (the key light was A). I also used – 1/3 stop Flash Exposure Compensation, since the initial frame showed the face a bit bright.

That setup was:

Simple and effective. And if I say so myself, I think the green gelled background accent was an inspired choice.

Today, with small flashes and modifiers, using TTL, you can do professional studio work in no time.

0 thoughts on “A portrait with three speedlites

  1. Awesome. You know, one of my favorite parts of David’s instruction dvd was post shoot when he sat down with his sketch pad and diagrammed out an overhead view of exactly where everything was during the shoot.

  2. Honl Traveller 8 softbox?
    It’s not on his website. I assume that it’s coming soon, and you are lucky to have one already.

    • Andre: yes. See the softbox on the stand closest to us. View the pic at original size. It’s coming very soon indeed. Dave gave me one back in Phoenix a few weeks ago. It’s very good.

  3. Very good!
    I would like it better with smaller aperture than f/5.6, but its a great tut for 3 speedlights.
    I’m happy to see than someone uses the Canon flashes like myself
    (every body else is “fascinated” by the Nikons)

  4. Shalom, Moshe. I am glad you are enjoying the posts!

    Canon and Nikon both have excellent systems. I am a Canon shooter and I prefer the Canon TTL flash system. But Nikon also has good points. In my courses I teach the pros and cons of both, and the differences.

    And above all: whichever brand you use: small flashes with modifiers are fantastic and are so sophisticated that you can use them instead of studio lights most of the time.


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