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How I Got the Photo - Home Studio Portrait

Close-up of beautiful blonde woman

For many years I considered myself to be a "natural light" photographer. In reality, what that meant was that I simply had not spent the necessary time to get the results I desired from my lighting equipment. A couple of years ago I decided that it was long past time to learn off-camera flash. The image above came out of a practice session with an aspiring model. We decided to meet up and spend some time working on creating different looks. Finding enthusiastic (and patient) models who are willing to be patient as you work with your lighting set-ups is an incredible gift.


I have a strobe on the ground, with a MagSphere, aimed up at the backdrop, to create the illuminated and separated effect behind her hair. During this session, I was working on two- and three-light set-ups. In this particular image, there is a key light up above and to camera right with a 38-inch umbrella. There was one speedlight in the umbrella, and I was controlling the power manually. I actually don't remember the power setting of the flash.

Behind the model was a Savage Universal Rustic Planks collapsible backdrop. I lit the backdrop with a flash positioned on the floor and aimed up with a MagSphere to diffuse the light onto the backdrop.

Camera Settings

Canon 5D Mark IV

ISO 200

Lens: Canon 70-200 2.8L II (at 200 mm)


1/200 sec


I actually had my key light aimed slightly too low. To boost exposure in one part of the image, I used the Graduated Filter tool in Lightroom and turned it on an angle, so it caught the top of her forehead. I lined it up with the angle of her hair on the left side of the image so it wasn't too obvious. I did VERY little else to the image. I bumped up the exposure by .35, bumped the saturation up a bit, and I used a skin smoothing brush and iris enhance tool right from Lightroom, both at relatively low opacities. Highlights +4, Shadows +13, and that's it.

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