Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 118, Room Light

Had a quick little portrait session with Jacob this morning. The photo above was my favourite. He always has that Curious look about him.

Amy Jo really liked this one, so might as well put up both.

The next part is for those of you who are interested in the technical aspect of photography. If all you were looking for was cuteness, scroll back up.

It was pretty dark in the room this morning, seeing as how it's cloudy outside and there is only a small window in his room. When it's that dark you have a few options. One thing you can do is bump up the ISO. I tried that at first but even at ISO 1600 it was still too dark at f4. I don't like going much higher than that or you start to loose too much quality. I could of set up a bunch of umbrellas, softboxes and reflectors, but in a small room like that, it's not very practical. And it was a little too much effort that early in the morning. Then there's on camera flash........ not that it's a valid option. Unless you enjoy "Deer in the headlights" portraiture.

So, without being too fancy, I grabbed a flash on a stand and pointed it at the white door in the room. The closet door now became my large diffused light source. My camera was set to ISO 400. I wanted to be able to keep my flash power setting at around 1/4 power for faster recycle time and I didn't want to zap my baby with full power flash pops (just an annoyance, small flash isn't bright enough to cause harm). With my camera set to manual with an aperture of f5.6 (I find it gives good depth of field and still knocks out the background) I started my shutter speed at 1/60 of a second. Now, changing my shutter speed does not affect the power of the flash, because the flash duration is over in 1/250 of a second. So any change under 1/250s only changes the ambient light, which I used for my fill light. At 1/60s the shadows were pretty harsh, so to increase the ambient light all I needed was a longer shutter speed, which would then decrease the contrast. So I decreased the shutter speed to 1/30s, still had hard shadows, so I slowed it down some more. At 1/15 s I had the look I was looking for. You might be thinking that at 1/15 of a second your pictures will be blurry, well, luckily the flash freezes the motion, so no worries, even after three cups of coffee...

So the settings for both photos above were: ISO 400 f5.6 1/15s with flash set to 1/4 power bounced off the white closet door. With everything in manual like that, I could walk around the room and know that my lighting would stay the same. This set up took 5 minutes to put together. Hope that all made sense, my first time trying to explain anything. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.


  1. Well done Stephane, both shots capture his blossoming personality. Great captures! Love the description of your set up and shooting technique.

  2. Grammy thinks he is the cutest little boy ever....Keep up the good work Steph !

  3. Such a handsome little man!!