Portraiture with Ruth – three types of light

I’ve done tons of shoots (PEW PEW PEW) with Ruth over the years, and here are a few of my favourites, using available light on a sunny day, reflected light, and off-camera flashes.

Everything comes together with Ruth. She is the ideal model, and always a pleasure to work with. She has the four qualities that I value when photographing people:

– She has a striking, yet versatile look.

– She knows how to pose herself, and is also open to direction.

– She is fearless! We did one of our most “revealing” shoots in the middle of Liverpool in the middle of the day.

– She is also a wonderful human being. That always helps!

136-1-2dUsing available light

I shoot portraits pretty much exclusively with my 70-200mm f2.8 Sigma lens because it is sharp where it needs to be, and its a flattering focal length. It is, however, HUGE, so not the most subtle set up. The photo above I shot with available light, utilising a nice patch of shade to keep everything even. Shade is a photographers best friend on a sunny day. You don’t get any harsh shadows and the model can actually keep her eyes open.

ruth_small1Using reflectors

At the beach on the Isle of Man, we timed our shoot for the Magic Hour, so the light was soft and directional as the sun went down. It’s called the Magic hour for a reason – its ideal for all types of photography. I used a 6 foot white reflector to bounce some fill light onto Ruth so I could get all of that beautiful sunset exposed correctly. Without the reflected light, I’d have to meter the shot to expose her face correctly, which would blow out the sky. With the reflector, I can meter for the background light, and add in more light where it is needed. Photography is a balancing act most of the time.

And seriously, how cool are those pants? The juxtaposition between the pants and her black top worked really well, I think.

ruth13-1gUsing strobist/off-camera flash techniques

This shot was taken in direct sunlight at midday in the middle of Liverpool, believe it or not. This is the joy of off-camera flash. You can completely control the light, and make anywhere your own personal studio.

Man, did we get a crowd after a while! There was a lot of waiting with a long coat on until the coast was clear! I had a hair light on a tripod behind Ruth (not modified), to get some separation between her and the background. I had a key light positioned at camera right, shot through a white umbrella to make the light softer and more pleasing.

Ruth was a genius with the outfit choice. Her leather pants caught the lights in an interesting way, and her spiky bra made the shot a little more out of the ordinary. Later on in the day, I asked her to climb some rocks, and the pants did noooottt like that. Honestly, you haven’t lived until you’re in the toilets at Subway, pulling ripped leather pants off your model on a busy summer’s day! It was a really fun shoot, regardless!

Here are a few more examples of the shots that I’ve done with Ruth – a mixture of the three techniques I’ve talked about today. You can check out some more of my photography on my Flickr or Facebook

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