Portrait 7/52 - Janine

As a continuation of my recent trend of shooting portraits close to the subject’s birthday, this week I photographed my mom Janine. She is an excellent pianist and music has always played an important part of her life so I decided to shoot her at her piano in her living room.


After some light tests and more posed shots, my mom started playing and I kept shooting.



Technical Details

This shoot was a little more involved as I was dealing with both ambient light and my own flashes. The main light was a large umbrella to camera left. As I was trying to balance my light with that in the background, my power settings were pretty low. I think I had the main flash set to 1/8 power. I also had my 8x36 strip box to camera left to add a little fill. I believe this was also set to 1/8 power. There was a mirror on the wall above the piano and I added a silver reflector at floor level leaning against the wall to try and push as much light as possible back into the scen from the right side. My final light was a bare flash set on the couch behind my mom. This was a hair/rim light and was set fairly low — 1/16 power if my memory is correct. Camera settings were ISO 800, f4.0, and 1/160s.



There were definitely some difficulties with this shoot. First, the ambient light presented the problem of what to do about it. I did a lot of testing trying to push it both dark and light. I ended somewhere in the middle which was unfortunate as that meant I had to do some manual burning in post. I also was limited space wise which pushed my zoom lens all the way down to 24mm. This meant I saw a lot of background and had way more depth of field than I wanted even at f4.0. I generally gravitate to more simple/clean backgrounds and so the sharpness and amount of stuff that I had to include in my background was a little troublesome. I ended up manually blurring the background in most of the above images just to get to more of the look I wanted. I think the photos would have been stronger if I had been able to step back, zoom in to at least a normal (or even a slight telephoto) focal length, and throw the background more out of focus in-camera. Regardless, I’m pretty pleased with the pictures even if they took a little extra work in post to fix some of the issues I caused in capture.

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Reader Comments (2)

Really wonderful photos Greg. I love the first one best. You have a gift. I felt emotional just looking at your Mom. Thank you. Terri

March 7, 2014 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerri Nelson

Thanks Terri for your kind comments. I'm glad the photos connected with you - that's the best compliment in my opinion.

March 8, 2014 at 3:47 PM | Registered CommenterGregory Jones

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