Studio Portrait Experiments

I’m SO giddy right now! Like, so giddy and happy and excited it feels like I drank a million cups of coffee.

I spent four hours in the studio. My friend Rachel modeled for me again (since she’s gorgeous and can model her butt off,) and she let me cover her face in unconventional materials and clothe her in weird clothes. So that was fun. But you know what made it even more fun?


We were able to get two experiments in today. I had a lot more, but I was being so picky, we ran out of time. The first one I did was ambient light vs. flash. I had Rachel in a highly reflective dress. My goal was to do some light painting with the tiny reflections of light that were bouncing off of the dress. I’d say it went well.

I was inspired by the photographer Oleg Tityaev. His mastery of lighting is so motivating to me, and I have even more respect for him now that I’ve tried to do some of the effects he does. It’s hard to get it just right.

How did I do this? You need a strobe and a continuous light. When the strobe goes off, it doesn’t matter the shutter speed, the scene that you are photographing in that 1/1000th (or whatever it is) of a second will be frozen. Everything after that, though, is not. The continuous light is still being recorded by the camera. So, if you’re not using a tripod and you’re shooting with a slow shutter (I kept switched between 1 and 2 seconds,) interesting things can happen. Have your model move around, you can move around, zoom your lens in and out… Just play with it and have fun!

Here’s the tutorial I used to get started, if you are interested in trying something like this out:

I can’t wait to practice this technique more so I can get good at it like these photographers!

For the second experiment, I played with low-key lighting and the flash sync speed on my camera (which is 1/250th of a second.) I was shooting at 1/320th of a second, which caused the shutter to appear in my photos. I did this on purpose, and it really added to the mood of the photographs. I also took some without the flash sync speed all funky, and I like how those turned out as well.

I honestly cannot wait to get back into the studio. I admit these past few months have been boring in there, just setting up still lifes and trying to learn the basic principles of studio lighting… but now I get to be creative and take pictures of people (my favorite!)

These next couple of weeks should be awesome for photography. I’ll be on spring break, and I get to take one of the portable studio lighting kits home with me. Then, after break, I have more experiments to do in the studio.

There are more good things to come!