About that portrait

Several of you asked “How do you take a portrait such as the one you posted yesterday? Looks like you’ve photoshopped her in.

You mean this one:

And nope, no photoshopping or Lightrooming done at all.

Here in a nutshell is my technique. I have mentioned these things before but they bear repeating, often:

  1. I set my camera to manual exposure.
  2. I select a low ISO – 100 ISO in this case.
  3. Next, I select a location where the sun, coming in from behind, provides a hair/rim light for the model.
  4. Now, I will want to darken the background, in order to (a) get saturated colours and (b) make my subject “the bright pixels”.
  5. I am looking for perhaps -2 stops on the meter (evaluative metering, wide angle) in this shot.
  6. To achieve this, first I go to my flash sync speed, in this case 1/250th second. That way I am not stealing my flash power.
  7. I then do further darkening with aperture. This photo needed f/5.6. Perfect.
  8. I now set up my umbrella. On the left in this case.

That looks like this:

An umbrella with an off-camera speedlight. A small one: a Canon 430EX.

I now meter the flash – or I use TTL. Depends on how much time I have. TTL is much faster and very convenient,. but can be tricky in terms of consistency. In my courses I teach you all about it.

I position the umbrella 45 degrees of centre and 45 degrees up.

And I shoot.

And I’m done.


Everyone can learn to do this! Of course there’s a lot of subtlety here (like, why go to the synch speed first, exactly?), and in my flash courses, I teach you all you need to know to do this. Contact me to learn more.


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