A simple chiaroscuro portrait or two

In the last few days I took two people’s portraits using just one off camera flash. Here’s Michelle and Adnan, respectively:

How did I take those?

First, I set the camera so that the ambient light looks dark. The room was not dark – it just looked dark to the camera, because I had set the camera up specifically to achieve that. 100 ISO, f/5.6, 1/200th second. You could use any combination of ISO-Apertyure-Shutter that gives the same brightness, but keep in mind:

  • High aperture or low ISOs mean the flash has to work harder, and it may not have enough light
  • The shutter speed cannot achieve 1/200th second; your camera’s fl;ash sync speed.

Then I added the flash. I used an off-camera speedlight on our right. I could have used TTL remote control or pocketwizards: I used TTL in Michelle’s portrait and Pocketwizards in Adnan’s. Light is light! Note that I put a Honlphoto Grid on the fl;ash, else the light would have lit up the background too. The flash (fitted with the grid) was aimed directly at the subject. To get the right exposure, I metered the Pocketwizard-driven flash, and I “flash exposure compensated” the TTL-driven flash.

Then I positioned the subject properly. I wanted the light to hit them just about from their front, with their face turned to get short lighting. I also wanted to see both eyes, even if one is only just visible.

And that was all. A one minute portrait, and a pretty cool one, no?


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