So you could see how simple the lighting setup can be, I shot this Canon speedlite portrait video.
Let's face it, we all like to keep portrait lighting simple. With that in mind, I gave myself a challenge to create professional studio lighting by using just one Canon speedlite. Hopefully this blog post will inspire you to play around with using just a single speedlite for shooting a nice portrait
I set-up the mannequin-my wife was off at work-camera, tripod and speedlite in my basement to avoid any stray window light from affecting my lighting.
The portrait shown here was shot with a single Canon Speedlite 270EX II. A Canon G11 camera was turned sideways to get a Portrait orientation.
The tilting head on the 270EX II was in the in the 90 degree position. Molly the Mannequin was placed about 3 feet in front of the wall.
The camera and flash were 6 feet from Molly.
The Canon Speedlite 270EX II is a very small shoe mounted flash. When aimed at the white cinder block wall it becomes a large light source.
I did a slight modification to my first lighting set-up by adding another surface to bounce light onto my subject.
I set-up a large piece of white Foam-Core to the left of my subject to fill in the shadow just a bit.
The resulting speedlite portrait has a nice natural-looking soft feel to it. I agree it's not dramatic lighting, but it gives you a nice pleasant rendering of my standin model.
It's simple and achievable if you are in a situation where you can bounce a single speedlite against a large surface.
You can add a little fill light with any portable light-reflecting surface that doesn't have too much of a color cast to it. The ceiling is 8 feet high and painted white so it provides a nice amount of light to give good hair detail as well.
The 270EX II does not have its own built in reflector panel, so you can rig one up with any small white card and a rubber band. This "amatuer" setup was one I used very successfully when I was a newbie wedding photographer.
You can use a colored wall to bounce off of, but it can be very tricky to color correct afterwards. It's much better to only use this technique when the wall has a neutral tone to it.
It was dark in my basement so the video quality is not so good. You can at least see how the speedlite is mounted on top of the camera and faces sideways. I shot the video vertically, so you may want to hit the full-screen option to see it better.
I shot this Canon speedlite portrait video with my most recently acquired camera, the Canon 5D Mark III. (Sorry for the vertical format-I'm a newbie at shooting video and didn't realize how awkward it would look).
I forgot to mention in the Canon speedlite portrait video that the "foam-core" used as a reflector is a very lightweight cardboard-type of material available at your local art or hobby store.
I use it a lot when I am shooting portraits. It is rigid and very lightweight. I can use it with Speedlites, my studio lights as well as with outdoor portraits and natural fill.
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Keep shooting your Canon!
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This is the only source of light in these portraits, a Canon 270EX II Speedlite
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