Setup Notes on the December Portraits (Part 3 of 3)

Part 3 of the 'behind the scenes' notes from my December Portrait series.  Here are parts One and Two if you missed them.  

21: Minx

Pretty basic setup. Three speedlights. One up and to the right of Charity as something like a key light. Another slightly behind to her left and the last next to the camera for fill. Overall not too difficult to shoot a pretty lady lounging on a couch. Slight crop and light shaping in post.

22: Birthday

One of my favorite in the series.  My friend Kecia on the evening of her birthday sitting and blowing out candles on a toy birthday cake with my adorable nephew Bert. Not the kind of thing you can make an 18 month old do. Luckily he was interested enough to sit down and play with Kecia for the 30 seconds it took to get the shot. Composited together a shot of him and one of her in the end.


23: Escape

24: Late

As I was down with my family for the holidays in DC, I had a couple volunteers to help me out while I was down there including Adrianne. Who climbed up the chimney of an abandoned picnic house in the woods down the trail of a park near her house. Felt very fairy tale so I thought it would be fun to have her trying to escape her captors and then climbing too high.  One speedlight through a diffuser as I recall, camera left aiming up.


My sister and her husband Kevin, who you might remember as the crazy man with the knife in the shot from December 2nd. Since it was Christmas Eve and their 2nd wedding anniversary, I cast them as the wife waiting for her husband who's late for the party.  One speedlight through an umbrella.  Composite of two shots to get the expressions right.


25: Together

Christmas Day.  Perfect time to do an homage to the Rockwell painting of the family at the table. It was dark out by the time we ate though, so light is from a speedlight bouncing off the wall camera left to mimic window light.


26: Espionage

Youri is a friend of mine from NYC who's family lives in northern VA, so we met up in town and shot her as a spy stealing from the national archives. It's got a distinctly Boris and Natasha feel, but it was fun. Shot in the daytime with a speedlight through a diffuser to the right.  A bit of post to darken the whole thing and make it look more like a headlight on her as well as turn on the streetlights.

27: Wrestle

My little redhead friend Mary is always game to take some pictures and had an idea about arm wrestling. Her idea was to be a dame watching two men wrestle, but I thought it would be more fun to have her be one of the contestants. Her mustached friend Tad played a good shill.  Held a speedlight with diffusion panel over the two of them with a lightstand and a reflector underneath. Added a little lens flare and stole smoke from the Capcom shot earlier in the month to complete the mood.


28: Blustery

Crazy windy day gave me the idea of having someone actually picked up by their umbrella.  Had Annie jump off a foot stool and then later comped her into a plate shot taken a few minutes later.  Available light on a cloudy day.  Had to shoot at 1600 ISO to get a fast enough shutter speed to catch her in mid air.


29: Bathe

Zed (the on with the razor) and I talked a few months ago about doing a shot with her washing her girlfriend's hair in a big old bathtub.  My friend Dave has one which I shot him in during my Drabbles series a couple years ago and he kindly volunteered it again.   There was windowlight but not quite enough of it for the aperture I needed so I ended up bouncing a speedlight off the ceiling which in a white tile room just bounces it everywhere. Wished that I could have backed up and used a slightly longer lens, but the space is quite cramped so I had to go wide and try to minimize the distortion of the size of her leg for instance. Though I think it makes the razor and her hand more interested and 3D.

30: Gaming


My buddy, frequent assistant, and podcast partner Dan is a Words with Friends nut, and plays with a number of people at any one time. So I thought it would be fun having him playing everyone at once in a virtual blackness. Overhead softbox and additional gridded strobe straight onto the game board. Moved the camera in relation to the board and took several shots which I composited together.

31: Boudoir

Eleanor is one of my favorite people. So on the morning of New Year's Eve I went round to her place and spent an hour shooting her rolling around in a sheet on her bed.  It's a tough job people, it really is. I wanted the bright sunlight but wasn't getting enough so I put a monolight out on her fire escape and then laid a big 4x6' diffuser right outside the right window, effectively mimicking as much sunlight as I wanted.