Studio Portraiture – Mixed Ambient and Flash (reshoot)

Following on from this post, I wanted to try again at getting the studio lighting just right in a mixed ambient/flash lighting portrait. Mabel kindly wore the same outfit as before to model for me. Taking on feedback from the previous shoot, I was cautious about exposing the scene primarily for the ambient light (ceiling lights in the studio). I then took a series of photos: 1) ambient light only; 2) key flash only; and 3) mixed ambient and flash.

I introduced the fill flash to the scene too, and the rim light. The fill light brought up the shadows in the red chair and in the model’s front, but the rim light wasn’t adding anything to the scene so my final shot doesn’t involve it.

At ISO 100, shutter speed was 1″ and an aperture of f/8 was achieved. The key light (boom light with beauty dish) was almost directly above the model, set to two f/stops higher than ambient exposure. The fill light was two stops lower than the key light, so f/1.4. This helped to lift those shadows without washing out the model or casting shadows in the background.

Ambient light only, exposed to f/8 at ISO 100 and shutter speed 1″.
Flash only, set to f/4 at ISO 100 and shutter speed 1″. The flash offers a nice lifting of the model’s face and shoulders, but her legs and the chair are unaffected.
Ambient light, key light, and fill flash combined. The fill flash is weak enough to not cast shadows on the far wall, but is strong enough to bring out some detail in the model’s legs and the back of the chair.

I am much more satisfied with these images than I am with the previous attempt. I understand better what the purpose of each of the lights was, and I feel more confident with every stage of the shoot – I was able to guide a couple of other students through my process, which felt good. The results were exactly what I set out to achieve.

Thanks again to Mabel for modelling, and Kay and Boyd for assisting during this shoot!

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