Jay P. Morgan: One Light Dramatic Portraits On-Location


For this shoot, Jay P. Morgan traveled to coastal Maine to photograph commecrial fishermen. The goal was to demonstrate one light dramatic portraits on location working solo. Jay P only had his traveling partner Julene shooting behind-the-scenes footage, but otherwise he shot alone, without his usual Slanted Lens crew.

My Run and Gun Setup
For this shoot, I used a Photoflex TritonFlash on a stand with an OctoDome that had a soft Grid attached to it. I choose this setup a lot because it is small and easy to move around. The footprint isn’t very big and the soft box is not overly large, which keeps it from getting blown around in the wind. I hung two TritonFlash lithium-ion batteries from the stand to act as a weight, but also to give me backup in case I needed it. Though a fully-charged TritonFlash battery will last a long time (approx 750 full-power flashes), I didn’t want to take any chances and risk having to take additional trips back to the car. I didn’t have a lot of time with these fishermen before the sun went down. To add more weight to the stand, I used a Photoflex RockSteady portable sandbag with a couple water bottles in each side. Here’s a shot of my setup:

Shooting Process
My lighting strategy was to mix strobe light with the ambient. The TritonFlash was my key light and the ambient light was the fill. Essentially, I carried the strobe in one hand and the camera and tripod in the other, which allowed me to move around easily.

I shot with a Canon 5D Mark III with a Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I wanted to capture backgrounds with the portraits, so this wider angle lens was perfect. Secured to my hip with a Spider Holster, I had a secondary 5D Mark III with a Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 lens, which would be good for tight shots. I used a Pocket Wizard on the camera to trigger the TritonFlash. It would have been nice to use two triggers (one for each camera) but with the secondary camera at my side, I would have knocked the trigger off the hot shoe. Moving the trigger from camera to camera slowed me down a little, but not too much.

Camera Settings
For this type of work, I always shoot in Manual Exposure mode, as it is very hard to balance strobes and daylight with any other setting. I set my shutter speed to 1/60th of a second and then opened the aperture up until I got an ambient exposure that looked good. I used the daylight to serve as fill on the face, then added the TritonFlash and adjusted power until I got a nice highlight on the face. I used a Grid on the face of the OctoDome to focus the light and not have it spill all over the dock.

Here’s a shot without the added strobe:

And here’s the result with the TritonFlash and OctoDome:

Here’s another with and without the strobe:

I photographed several fishermen of Stonington, Maine that afternoon and into the evening. This method of shooting for open shadows is easy to do and ideal when you are working alone with one light.

To see more of Jay P’s work, visit his Pro Showcase page.

Equipment Used
Photoflex TritonFlash (The TritonFlash is currently sold out, but the TritonFlash2, with remote power and increased watt/esconds, will be available soon!)
Photoflex OctoDome: small
Small Softbox Grids For OctoDome
Photoflex RockSteady Bag

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