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Shoot: Nose to The Gridded Light

A great tip to remember when shooting portraits with hard light is that if you aim the flash directly at the subject’s nose (or vice versa), the harshness of the hard shadows is minimized.

Grids Are A Favorite Modifier

As you can see in Figure 19.27, I placed a gridded Speedlite to the right side of my camera and aimed it straight at Arlan’s nose. The purpose for the 1by16.jpg″ grid was to create a tight pool of light on his face and hat. My visual strategy was to reveal just enough of his environment and wardrobe so that you would get a sense of his persona and then encourage you to focus on his handsome face.

A Window Creates Rim Light

Take a close look at the left edge of the jacket, neck, and hat in Figure 19.28. See the edge of light that provides the critical separation between the subject and the background? It is ambient light that came from a window about 45° to the left of and 8′ behind the model. Without that edge of rim light, his jacket, neck, and hat would have merged into the background.

So my ambient exposure was based on two goals:

  • Dim the background so that the viewer will focus on my subject’s face.
  • Maintain just enough of the ambient rim light to provide a clear separation between the subject and the background.

Lighting Details

Environment: Old warehouse

Time of Day: Early afternoon

Ambient: Diffuse windowlight

Speedlite: One 600EX-RT

Mode: Manual

Zoom: Zoomed to 200mm

Modifier: Strobros Grid 1by16.jpg

Distance: About 5′

Height: 7′ (angled down)

Trigger: ST-E3-RT Transmitter

Camera Details

Camera: 5D Mark III

Lens: 24–105mm f/4L IS at 60mm

Distance to Subject: 5′

Exposure Mode: Manual

Exposure: 1by30.jpg″, f/8, ISO 800

White Balance: Daylight

Figure 19.26

Figure 19.26 Lighting diagram

Figure 19.27

Figure 19.27 Our location for the shoot

Figure 19.28

Figure 19.28 I dimmed the ambient light by two stops with my shutter speed and aimed the gridded flash directly at Arlan’s nose. You will note that the nose and chin shadows are hard, but their placement accentuates his features.

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