Casual-Executive Portrait- FINAL RESULTS (5pic).

PropilotBW

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Somebody approached me from my church and asked if I would be willing to take staff portraits (headshot) for the launch of their website.
They know I'm not an established professional; however, they've seen some of my pictures and like what they see.
Now I need to do some research to help produce the best I can do.

What I have and what I would use:
-Olympus EM-5 Mark ii
-Olympus 45mm 1.8
-Olympus 12-40 pro
Olympus 75-300
-Olympus FL600 Flash
-Olympus on-camera flash
-Tripod
-(2) 42" 5-in-one reflector screens
-tripod stand for reflector screen

With all the above, I have been researching setups for 1 flash light source, possibly utilizing the small on-camera flash for a ceiling bounce or fill-flash.
I also considered outdoors using the sun as a 2nd light source.
I would utilize a reflector screen for opposite side of flash.
I'm undecided if the background is going to be the interior of the church, or if it will be a plain wall for a backdrop.

I was leaning toward the Rembrandt style lighting, at the 45*. This is also more of a casual portrait, so I'm unsure if that style of light is too "strong".

Am I on the right track?

Thanks for your help.
 
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tirediron

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As long as you can trigger that speedlight off-camera, your golden. If not, well, it's still 100% do-able. Ideally, have the speedlight off-camera , 30 degrees off of lens-axis, use some sort of diffuser if possible, if not consider bouncing off of a white card or wall, and have your reflector close in on the opposite side. Have the client turn their body so they're facing the light ("See the light") and then turn their head back to you. This is my quick & dirty headshot recipe and produces images like this:

_DSC0985.jpg

This was done with one speedlight, a 30" Lastolite Ezy-Box and a 42" reflector.
 
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As long as you can trigger that speedlight off-camera, your golden. If not, well, it's still 100% do-able. Ideally, have the speedlight off-camera , 30 degrees off of lens-axis, use some sort of diffuser if possible, if not consider bouncing off of a white card or wall, and have your reflector close in on the opposite side. Have the client turn their body so they're facing the light ("See the light") and then turn their head back to you. This is my quick & dirty headshot recipe and produces images like this:

_DSC0985.jpg

This was done with one speedlight, a 30" Lastolite Ezy-Box and a 42" reflector.


Thanks for that tip, Tirediron!
I was considering purchasing an umbrella reflector or softbox to use with my off-camera flash. I think I can get a decent one for under $50. Do you think this is necessary?
The Olympus FL600 is a TTL flash. Since I don't have a wireless trigger, I would be using the on-camera flash to trigger it. The nice thing about the EM-5ii's supplemental flash, is that it can tilt away!
 
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One thing that is really going to be an experiment is the power of the flash and the distance from the subject.
How did you figure that distance of 30" for the flash softbox?
 

tirediron

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I was considering purchasing an umbrella reflector or softbox to use with my off-camera flash. I think I can get a decent one for under $50. Do you think this is necessary?
The Olympus FL600 is a TTL flash. Since I don't have a wireless trigger, I would be using the on-camera flash to trigger it. The nice thing about the EM-5ii's supplemental flash, is that it can tilt away!
I definitely would purchase the umbrella; that will make your life much, much easier, and you can get a serviceable one for much less than $50 these days. As for working distance, 30" was the size of my softbox, as in 30" square. In the above example, my light was about 2' away and at 1/64 power IIRC. Determining exposure is easy, simply use the guide-number method.
 
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I was considering purchasing an umbrella reflector or softbox to use with my off-camera flash. I think I can get a decent one for under $50. Do you think this is necessary?
The Olympus FL600 is a TTL flash. Since I don't have a wireless trigger, I would be using the on-camera flash to trigger it. The nice thing about the EM-5ii's supplemental flash, is that it can tilt away!
I definitely would purchase the umbrella; that will make your life much, much easier, and you can get a serviceable one for much less than $50 these days. As for working distance, 30" was the size of my softbox, as in 30" square. In the above example, my light was about 2' away and at 1/64 power IIRC. Determining exposure is easy, simply use the guide-number method.

Is an umbrella more versatile than a softbox? After I typed my response, I was actually researching your Lastolite softball.

Another option I was considering is using the 75-300mm @75mm f/4.8.
 
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tirediron

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I would say that the umbrella is more versatile, but the softbox produces a marginally nicer quality of light.. umbrellas are also cheaper, easier to store and less of a pain in general. If you have room, the 75-300 would be an option. I generally use an 85 1.4 for portrait work.
 

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If I am going for a light, delicate feel to the light, I usually do not move my modifiers close than about six feet. That keeps the rate of light fall-off very low on the shadow side. The closer the light is to the face, the more the shadow side falls off quickly. Moving the light back a ways keeps the highlight side and the shadow side closer in actual exposure levels, so this lessens the need for fill light.

You can do plenty of good portraiture with just one flash in a 40 to 43-inch umbrella, either a reflecting umbrella, or something like the Lastolite Umbrella Box, or a low-priced made in China knock-off, something like the ones that sell for $23 - $29 from Steve Kaeser Enterprises.

I would try not to over-complicate the portrait shooting process.
 
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If I am going for a light, delicate feel to the light, I usually do not move my modifiers close than about six feet. That keeps the rate of light fall-off very low on the shadow side. The closer the light is to the face, the more the shadow side falls off quickly. Moving the light back a ways keeps the highlight side and the shadow side closer in actual exposure levels, so this lessens the need for fill light.

You can do plenty of good portraiture with just one flash in a 40 to 43-inch umbrella, either a reflecting umbrella, or something like the Lastolite Umbrella Box, or a low-priced made in China knock-off, something like the ones that sell for $23 - $29 from Steve Kaeser Enterprises.

I would try not to over-complicate the portrait shooting process.

Thanks for your tip with the light fall-off/shadowing. I didn't even think about that. That is very helpful.

I don't want to complicate it, nor do I want to make it expensive. I think I can swing $100 for a nice umbrella kit with stand, so I think that'll be what I do.
This shoot is on January 8th...so I have about 2 weeks to test out some shots with varying guide numbers.
 
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I would say that the umbrella is more versatile, but the softbox produces a marginally nicer quality of light.. umbrellas are also cheaper, easier to store and less of a pain in general. If you have room, the 75-300 would be an option. I generally use an 85 1.4 for portrait work.

Nice lens! Wouldn't you say you stop it down to around f/5.6 for depth?
That's why I was thinking my 75-300 would work at the low end of 75mm f/4.8 since I would most likely use the 45mm prime at f/4 or f/5.6 anyway.
 

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Just a thought but, if those 5-in-1 reflectors you have contain the inner panel with the diffusion screen, you can simply use that as an alternative to the softbox or umbrella without spending another penny. Set it up on the light stand and position it as suggested above. Then fire the flash into it.

Keep the flash about 2ft away to allow the light to spread and illuminate the diffusion panel more evenly. Place the other 5-in-1 reflector at 180 degrees to the diffusion panel, behind your subject. This will give you clamshell lighting and essentially act as a soft fill, giving a nice hair/rim lighting effect. Keep this out of frame if possible. If not just crop or edit out later. It will be less bright than the front light, due to the inverse square law but, if it is too bright you can control the exposure by moving it further away or vice versus. Just watch for lens flares and angle the reflector away from you if you can, and still have the light hitting them from behind. Try and keep the main light source above your subjects too. Light tends to come from above normally. You can sit your subjects on a chair so you don't have to raise the light stands so high, or if ceiling heights are a problem.

Personally I would use the 75-300mm at the longest focal length you can comfortably work with. Typically I avoid using focal lengths below 70mm for beauty/headshots. The reason being is they give less flattering compression on the face. 105mm - 135mm are my preferred. It will also give you a tighter background so you won't have to crop or edit stuff out. Stop the lens down to f/8-f/11 to give optimum sharpness and also increase the DOF so that both eyes are in focus if the head is slightly angled.

If you want to step it up a notch, then you can aim for specific lighting styles like loop, short, broad, Rembrandt or butterfly, to add a bit more of a professional look.
 

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I purchased one of the cheap lightstands from Adorama (about $50ish including shipping) and got 2-42" diffused umbrellas for about $15 on eBay. That was over a year ago and I still use those for everything from soft, portrait lighting to more contrasty stuff. Can't beat the versatility and improvement in image quality for the price...
 

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If I am going for a light, delicate feel to the light, I usually do not move my modifiers close than about six feet. That keeps the rate of light fall-off very low on the shadow side. The closer the light is to the face, the more the shadow side falls off quickly. Moving the light back a ways keeps the highlight side and the shadow side closer in actual exposure levels, so this lessens the need for fill light.
Excellent point; my technique has evolved from the fact that invariably when I do these, I wind up stuck in the corner of a board room fight with the table, or at the end of a hall against the fire-escape and moving the light 6' back isn't an option. If you have room, Derrel's recommendation will definitely be simpler.
 
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Just a thought but, if those 5-in-1 reflectors you have contain the inner panel with the diffusion screen, you can simply use that as an alternative to the softbox or umbrella without spending another penny. Set it up on the light stand and position it as suggested above. Then fire the flash into it.

Keep the flash about 2ft away to allow the light to spread and illuminate the diffusion panel more evenly. Place the other 5-in-1 reflector at 180 degrees to the diffusion panel, behind your subject. This will give you clamshell lighting and essentially act as a soft fill, giving a nice hair/rim lighting effect. Keep this out of frame if possible. If not just crop or edit out later. It will be less bright than the front light, due to the inverse square law but, if it is too bright you can control the exposure by moving it further away or vice versus. Just watch for lens flares and angle the reflector away from you if you can, and still have the light hitting them from behind. Try and keep the main light source above your subjects too. Light tends to come from above normally. You can sit your subjects on a chair so you don't have to raise the light stands so high, or if ceiling heights are a problem.

Personally I would use the 75-300mm at the longest focal length you can comfortably work with. Typically I avoid using focal lengths below 70mm for beauty/headshots. The reason being is they give less flattering compression on the face. 105mm - 135mm are my preferred. It will also give you a tighter background so you won't have to crop or edit stuff out. Stop the lens down to f/8-f/11 to give optimum sharpness and also increase the DOF so that both eyes are in focus if the head is slightly angled.

If you want to step it up a notch, then you can aim for specific lighting styles like loop, short, broad, Rembrandt or butterfly, to add a bit more of a professional look.

Thanks for your post. I had thought about shooting the flash through one of the diffuser screens; however, I'd still need to buy a light stand with the shoe mount to hold the flash (since I don't own one). I currently have a stand that holds a reflector, but I'd still need to supplement that with either a shoe mount adapter, or another stand all together. I was leaning towards having a 2nd stand all together.

I agree with using the 75-300. I did a couple test shots on myself, and the nice focal length for head plus shoulders was about 7'. Keeping in mind, this is a Olympus M4/3 sensor, so the 75mm is equivalent to your 150mm on your full frame. Any longer than 75, I feel requires too much space.
 
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How could I go about illuminating the backdrop slightly?
As low cost is the goal, I was considering purchasing an Impact Ac Flashi screwed into a desk lamp like this one.

Will this work at all? Is there another option?
 

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