Set-up a Portrait Studio Almost Anywhere

I'm just back from my weekend workshop organized by Amy Davies, who heads up Photography Events by Amy in Plymouth, MA. Great fun as always, and I can't wait for our 2013 workshop.

Day two was about speedlites. My goal was to illustrate that you can set up a portrait studio almost anywhere - and get cool results - with two speedlites and a few inexpensive accessories.

Our "studio" for the shoot was the hallway of an office building in Plymouth. Above is a behind-the-scenes shot.

The main light was positioned above and in front of the model, and to camera right. A grid was placed over the speedlite to focus the light. The speedlite was aimed at the model.

The background light was positioned to camera left and slightly behind the model. It was aimed at the background. A blue gel was placed over the speedlite, which was fired through a cardboard cutout.

Both speedlites were set at TTL. The main speedlight was set to 0 EV, and the background speedlite was set to – 2 EV, so as not to blast the background with light.

Both speedlites were fired via a radio transmitter/receiver set. My camera was set on the Manual exposure mode.

I demonstrate this and other speedlite set-ups on some of my workshops and at my seminars. I hope to see you there.

Gear for this shoot:
Canon 5D Mark III.
Canon 24-105mm IS lens.
Canon Speedlite 580EX II (two), which has been replaced with 600EX- RT.
Phottix TTL wireless transmitter/receiver - transmitter on camera, receiver on each speedlite.
Two stands from Westcott Apollo softbox kit.
Honl gel kit.
Honl grid.
Honl speed strap (for attaching grids and gels to speedlite)
Hand-made and expertly crafted cardboard cutout :-)

Explore the light,

P.S. Learn more about light in my latest Kelby Training class - Light, the main element in every photograph. My apps also include lighting tips.

Six Days of Speedlite Tips: Day 3

© Rick Sammon
It's Day 3 of my Six Days of Speedlite Shooting tips.

Today's tip: Light Up the Background.

Concept: Use a second speedlite to add some light to the background. This background light is also called a separation light because it separates the subject from the background. Above: Susan Sammon is holding a flash that is fired through some artificial palm leaves. For the opening shot for this post, the flash was fired through the cardboard cutout on the floor behind Susan.

My cardboard cut-out was also used on the two  images below. Honl gels were used to add the color.

© Rick Sammon
© Rick Sammon

For more detailed lighting tips, see my apps.

For hand-on learning, check out my workshops.

Explore the light,

Six Days of Speedlite Tips: Day 2

© Rick Sammon
It's Day 2 of my Six Days of Speedlite Shooting tips.

Today's tip: Create Terrific Top Light.

Concept: Position the light directly above the subject. Use "voice activated" light stands to save on real light stands. Use a softbox to soften and direct the light.

© Rick Sammon
I used this technique when I photographed photographer Catherine Hall at Google.


For more detailed lighting tips, see my apps.

For hand-on learning, check out my workshops.

Explore the light,

6.19.12: Free Webinar Presented by Pocket Wizard

I had a blast today shooting the videos for my free webinar next week with Joe Brady from the MAC Group.

Tuesday, June 19.
1 PM Easter Time for about one hour.
Topic: Using one speedlite (in a soft box) triggered by a Pocket Wizard for creative portraits - indoors and out.

Here's the link to the webinar.

If you miss the webinar, it will be archived here.

If you want to get on the mailing list for future workshops, webinars and seminars, shoot me an email.

I created the opening image for this post using one of the shots I took during the session. I added the light burst in Photoshop using the Lens Flare filter.

We shot the indoor segments in my office. I don't have a studio, but we made it work – just as you can with a little photo know-how.

Our crew, from right to left: MAC Group's Rick Calvelli, camera and sound; MAC Group's Joe Brady; Donna Bradley, our model; and yours truly.

If my basic speedlite setup looks familiar, it's because it's the same one I used for my portrait, The Photograph of The Girl with a Pearl Earring.

I also teach this setup on some of my group and private lighting workshops.

After shooting indoors, we went outside and demonstrated daylight fill-in flash - and more.

We hope to see you on the webinar. Good learning. Good people. Good fun.

For more lighting tips, check out my apps: Rick Sammon's 24/7 Photo Buffet and Light It!

Explore the light,

Gear I used for the shoot:
Canon 7D
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens
Canon 24-105mm IS lens
Pocket Wizard AC3 Zone Controller
Pocket Wizard Flex Transceiver
Pocket Wizard Mini
Canon 580EX II Speedlite
Lexar 16GB Professional 400X Compact Flash Cards
Westcott Apollo Soft Box
Westcott 6-in-1 Delux Illuminate Kit
Tether Tools Essentials Pack

Sammon's Speedlite Sessions in Oldsmar, Florida

© Rick Sammon. Canon 5D Mark II. Two Canon 580 EX II Speedlites. Honl grids and gels
Day II one of my workshop at the Dave Cross Studio in Oldsmar, Florida was a blast! I had eight students learning the benefits of shooting with speedlites - which I teach on all my workshops.

I illustrated how to created dramatic lighting with speedlites. Above is one end-result photograph; below is a behind the scenes shot of the same scene.

© Kathy Porupski
Above: For my shot, I used two Canon 580 EX speedlites. 

Right speedlite: a Honl grid was placed over the flash head to create direct lighting - and a cool shadow.

Left speedlite: a Honl grid and Honl grid was placed over the flash head to direct and to add color to the light. A small piece of cardboard with cut-out slits was held in front of the flash head to create the dramatic lines of light.

Click on the Honl image on the right side my blog to get a discount on Honl speedlite accessories. See my gear page to read about my gear.

© Rick Sammon. Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm IS lens. Canon 580 EX II. Honl gel.
Above: I also illustrated the impact of a silhouette.

Above: One speedlite placed directly behind the subject and aimed at the white background was used to create the dramatic silhouette.

Below: While I was demonstrating a posting technique, workshop participant Tom Spatig snapped the shot. Thank you Tom for the fun shot.

I hope to see you on one of my workshops - having fun in #1.

For now, if you'd like to learn more about lighting, and photography in general, check out my apps.

© Tom Spatig