Sunday, February 12, 2012

Environmental Portrait

From Joe McNally's new book Sketching Light:

Straight flash be ugly, right? You can take someone who has a wisp of a chance of being attractive, and easily turn them into Quasimodo via the transformational wonders of bad light. But sometimes it's the only game in town. Sometimes, you have to use it. And sometimes, maybe, it's not so bad.

I normally don't post too many photos from my work at UTMB in Galveston on the blog, but I thought this one was interesting. I'm in the middle of reading Joe McNally's new book, and he had a section about on-camera flash and use of ring flash. See quote above. Not too long after that, I was taking an environmental portrait of a researcher at UTMB. I've walked this hallway many times over the past couple of years and always wanted to try a long compressed portrait here. Trouble was this trip became an impromptu portrait with my subject, and my only light was an on-camera SB900 in a Lumiquest 80-20. So I used the beige walls about 3-4 feet from camera left to shoot the 80-20 directly into ... letting it bounce and fill. Not ideal, but like McNally says, "sometimes it's the only game in town. And sometimes it's not so bad."


  1. Great, great example with what you can do with on-camera flash. Your subject jumps off the page and the flash gives sparkle in her eyes that make them look alive.

    The light on her and the ambient light is very balanced both in terms of brightness and color. Did you gel your flash and change your color temp in your camera?

    Good job--both with the photo and providing information.

  2. No, I didn't gel the flash or make any significant white balance adjustments. I was lucky to have a nearby beige wall to bounce the flash off; and even luckier that the whole ambient scene was just about the same color temperature.

  3. I have to mirror what Larry said about how well you balanced the light acorss the whole scene. I feel you were very successful in what you were trying to do. Nice job.