Let there be…

…you have heard me say it many times: photographers who know light are real photographers. Or put differently: all artistic photographers understand light.

Here’s my basement studio:

And traditional light like in that setup (key light, fill light, hair light, perhaps background light) gives me traditional portraits. Nothing wrong with those, as this portrait of Lana from last night shows:

Good, standard light, good for many purposes. But now let’s get creative. Instead of a key light with a big softbox, let’s use a speedlight with a grid, and no other modifier. Yes, an unmodified flash for a key light:

Very different, no? Dramatic rembrandt lighting. And not bad at all, contrary to popular belief: yes, you can use a simple unmodified flash. As long as it is not where your camera is.

In fact, many women like hard light, and it can be quite beautiful.  Here, the same setup with another speedlight added for the background, with a yellow gel. Loop lighting:

(TIP: It is important that you have a dark background before you add colour. You cannot add colour to white. It’s not paint!)

So your assignment, should you choose to accept it: go shoot a portrait where the main light is off camera and is direct, without softening. Grids and snoots and gobos are OK, but no umbrellas, softboxes, or bouncing.


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