Featured Photography

Get 3 different looks using the same blah background

Sometimes mother nature gets in the way of your carefully planned photo shoots. Take this headshot session I had with model/actress, Siri (makeup by Mika). I had scouted 3 different urban locations for my shoot with Siri, but my plans were foiled by a summer rainstorm. There was only one covered spot near my apartment, so I had to make one dull grey metallic background work for the three different looks.

Look One: Create interest with a gelled strobe

5DMKII, 85mm f/1.8 lens, 1/80, f/2.5, ISO 100.

Since I had little ambient light, the only thing I could control was the light that I could add. We placed a orange gelled (full CTO) 430EX strobe on a stand behind Siri, camera left. We stuck my bag on the base to keep it planted. The second strobe (530EX) with a shoot through umbrella was placed directly in front of Siri. For anyone who has worked in windy conditions, you will know the fear of having an unsecured umbrella stand right in front of your model. Models don’t exactly love it when light stands impale them.

So as an added precaution, I kept keep one foot on the base of the umbrella stand. At this point I was flying solo, so I had to hold the light disc in my left hand bouncing light on the right side of her face, while pressing the shutter one-handed. Tricky stuff!

Look Two: Change up your framing & processing
5DMKII, 85mm f/1.8, 1/125, f/2.5, ISO 100.

Because Siri is both a model and an actress, I wanted to capture a fashion/beauty shot. I used the same lighting as look one, but framed much tighter to focus on her makeup and skin. I also processed this a lot more severely and creatively to give it an edgier feel.

Look Three: Shoot through an umbrella
Sultry Siri
5DMKII, 85mm f/1.8 lens, 1/60, f/1.8, ISO 100.

In this shot, I took away the second hair light strobe and used a really shallow DOF to make her hair almost disappear into the background. I wanted to the shot to be about her face and her eyes and her gorgeous skin. I used one strobe (580EX) shot through an umbrella really close to her face to create a nice soft, even light.

This shoot was challenging, and forced me to change my lighting using off-camera flashes, instead of just relying on magic hour light. As you know I love warm light, but sometimes, rain clouds form, and light shifts from warm to cool, and your derelict barn location gets destroyed in a wind storm and you just have to wing it. That’s when all those hours of reading Strobist pay off!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    August 4, 2009 at 12:13 AM

    Lisa, I love your work! especially the 2nd one. Mind sharing on how do you get that great tone? Maybe you can direct me to a tutorial link or something?

    First and third are gorgeous too. Lookin forward to more photos and inspiration from you, especially since I recently decided to upgrade to a 5D mkII, and I’ve already owned a 85 f/1.8 lens too :D

  • Reply
    David Oastler
    August 4, 2009 at 1:37 AM

    Great work as usual Lisa.
    Your work always inspires me to move forward with my photography.


  • Reply
    Chris Lawrence
    August 4, 2009 at 1:55 AM

    Amazing photos! Makes me really want an 85mm f/1.8.

  • Reply
    August 4, 2009 at 2:25 AM

    get it Chris, it’s a wonderful, sharp lens, yet still affordable :) highly recommended hehe

  • Reply
    Dileep K Sharma
    August 4, 2009 at 3:50 AM

    Stunning as always!

  • Reply
    August 4, 2009 at 4:04 AM

    Awesome shots! Strobist has taught me many things, truely a blog to read for all photographers.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2009 at 5:27 PM

    Such inspiring images!

  • Reply
    Wayne Sims
    August 6, 2009 at 5:27 PM

    I love the eyes in the second one. How did you process this image?

  • Reply
    Alex I.
    August 6, 2009 at 5:29 PM

    Wow! All I can say is wow!

  • Reply
    Tales From A Bar Stool
    August 8, 2009 at 1:07 PM

    Love Look 2 and how the light catches the model’s hair… gorgeous!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2009 at 10:11 PM

    Hi there,
    I really like your work… its so cool.

  • Leave a Reply