Urban Portrait with the OctoDome nxt: extra small

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Photoflex Lighting School is pleased to welcome Vered Koshlano as a guest contributor! This lesson features an outdoor portrait of a male model. Learn about lighting techniques and posing options for males.

This lesson examines the many benefits of a compact lighting solution the XS OctoDome nxt Basic Kit mixed with available light. See how Vered quickly makes significant changes in looks captured just by a few tweaks on set to get the desired result.

Vered is a New York City photographer specializing in beauty and fashion. Her clients include Canon USA, Royal Apparel and Benzo magazine to name a few. Vered is a self-taught photographer who has worked her way up to great success through experimenting and learning what works and what doesn't.

"Train your eyes to capture the story your brain wants to tell," says Vered.

Topics Covered:

  • Shooting the Outdoor Portrait
  • Using Reflectors to Enhance Available Light
  • Adding a Compact Main Light to Available Light

Camera/Media

  • Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III

Shooting the Outdoor Portrait

The big benefit of having to shoot outdoors on an overcast day is that you don’t have to deal with unwanted sun flare or be concerned with the sun’s position (it is somewhere behind the clouds). But in order to light your subject properly, you'll usually want to have an additional source of light.

The first shot of our model here, Lorenzo, was taken using only available light. The exposure was determined by the in-camera metering system of the Canon 1Ds Mark II.

Using Reflectors to Enhance Available Light

Next, I had my assistant, Noga, hold up a reflector to bounce some light into the shadows. We started with the silver side up and then flipped the reflector to use the gold side up.

As you can see in the results of both the silver and gold reflectors, there is little reflection, since there was not a focused light source from which to bounce light.

Adding a Compact Main Light to Available Light

Next, I set up my Photoflex extra small OctoDome nxt soft box and mounted it to a stand via shoe-mount hardware that accommodates almost any speedlight/off-camera/shoe-mount flash. The box is very compact, only 18-inches so it’s easy to take on location, or use on a sidewalk without blocking the way for pedestrians!

Once it was set up, I positioned the light off to one side and in front of Lorenzo.

As you can see, adding this light creates better overall definition in the image. Plus, the main light created a nice catch-light in Lorenzo’s eye. Notice now how the image looks bright and sunny, as though it happened to be a cloudless day. Ah, the transformational qualities of artificial lighting!

Below is a comparison of Lorenzo’s eyes from each result:

ambient light + silver reflector
ambient light + gold reflector
ambient light + OctoDome nxt: extra small

As you can see, the catchlights of the final result are much more articulated and create a classic finishing touch to this portrait.

It was a chilly day in New York City, so I had Lorenzo move and jump around not only for some fun images, but to keep the blood circulating! I used the “freezing power” of the flash to “freeze” Lorenzo in mid-air as he jumped in front of the colorful graffiti wall. Once you get your lighting configured, you have the freedom to have your subject experiment with different posing.

Stay tuned for more lessons from Vered, and as always, remember to experiment with your lighting and have fun!

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Written and photographed by Vered Koshlano.

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