Simple group portrait

One light Portrait

Some of my wife’s family was passing through from Florida on their way up to Syracuse, New York. You may remember me mentioning my house is a modest 1,200sq ft, leaving me little room  if I wanted to use any space at all as a make-shift “studio”.

Now imagine fitting 7 extra people in that house….needless to say, our house started to look like an amusement park with all of the inflatable mattresses :-).

My wife’s uncle wanted a family portrait he could get printed on a canvas. Luckily Groupon still had a Canvas on Demand special going on (I love that company, and it shows…..I have 6 canvases hanging in my house, with many other canvases I purchased that have been given away as gifts).

Anyway….back to the group portrait. They wanted to take a picture outside because it was nice and sunny. Harsh sunlight sucks…. It brings out harsh, dark shadows, makes people squint, and then everyone looks asian (no offense to anyone…I’m half asian myself :-)).

We found a somewhat shaded area under a tree. Looking at the photo, you can tell that I need to fire my landscaper (me). The photo was taken at 1PM, so the sun was in full force. I couldn’t take it later in the evening because they needed to pack up and leave for the remainder of their trip up to New York.

I knew I would need some power. Unfortunately, all I use are small speedlites. Competing against the sun with AA battery powered speedlites is like trying to race a Maserati with a Pinto…with a flat tire…

Here is the lighting diagram of the shot.

Instead of relying solely on my single 580 EX II, I opted for two of my Yongnuo YN-560s.
(If you haven’t tried these Yongnuo flashes yet, give them a chance. they are excellent for the price…considering 1 580 EX II will set you back $400, and with that same amount of cash, you could buy 6 Yongnuo flashes). I used two since competing with an already bright sun, and in addition using a 60″ shoot-through umbrella, I knew I was going to be eating up much needed light.

I set both speedlites to 1/2 power (basically getting the power of 1 flash on full power, but getting a faster recycle time, and saving my flashes from overheating).

I mounted my two flashes with my Phottix Multi-boom, and then mounted the umbrella. The light stand was about 7-7.5 feet high, with the umbrella pointed down at about a 45 degree angle.

 Here is the finished shot.

Without using a lightmeter, I can typically get to the exposure I want after a few test shots.

I ended up shooting at f/7.1 as I wanted a wider depth of field so everyone was in focus.

1/160s shutter speed

ISO 400

A little bit of sharpening, and a little tweaking on color temperature, (I also enhanced the greens to make the vegetation look alive and healthy because….let’s face it….I suck at keeping my yard healthy. My yard looks like Luke Skywalker’s home planet….only more lifeless).

In the end, we have one happy family portrait.

no highlights were blown (or harmed) in the making of this photograph.

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