Recommendation needed for shooting portraits at conference

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by Peter Floyd, Nov 3, 2015.

  1. Peter Floyd

    Peter Floyd New to Mu-43

    Nov 3, 2015
    Peter Floyd
    I am attending a scientific conference and need to be able to do portrait shots of attendees I shoot with and EM5 and EM5 mark 2 and am looking at some suggestions for lighting. I have done some portrait off camera flash photography before with good results but not like this and getting good images at the conference will be important

    I plan to shoot stationary with a backdrop I already have a Oly FL600R and plan to use it plus additional lights where needed. So could I get some help answering the following questions i would really appreciate it?

    For these type of corporate/business/scientific researcher head shots, will two point lighting suffice or do I need three lights?

    Is it best to use a softbox or an umbrella in conjunction with the FL600r and if I need extra lights are there cheaper alternatives to the FL600r

    I am looking at getting CowboyStudio NPT-04 4 Channel Wireless triggers to fire the flashes. Is this a good strategy or should I just use the RC mode on the EM-5

    Would a neutral grey mottled pattern backdrop be good to use

    If anyone has experience and would like to chip in i would appreciate it

    Thanks for your help
  2. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    I would think two lights would work fine. For portability, setup/down time, etc. I think a couple of umbrellas would be preferable to softboxes. Get the ones with the removable backs so you can play around and decide if you prefer to use them as shoot through (softbox style) or reflective.

    The problem with shooting just one flash on the camera pointed at the subject is you will tend to get distracting shadows on your backdrop. With two flashes mounted in stands with umbrellas on either side of you (so each one flashing at a 45° angle onto your subject) you should get much more even lighting and minimize shadow on the background. Just be sure your subject is several feet in front of your background and not right up against it. If you do have to place your subject close to the backdrop, then one trick is to drop a third flash on the floor behind your subject facing up and at the backdrop to flash away those shadows.

    Since you will be setup in one location with what I assume will be constant convention lighting, you will only need to set up once for your distances and flash power and should be all set for the day. So you don't need TTL flashes or anything fancy and can use simply radio triggers.

    Before you go setup at home with a model to help you. Put the flashes in manual mode, set the power, set their distance to subject and take test shots. Then simply adjust flash power and/or distance to subject to find the setup that gives you the look you want. You probably will want to set your camera up in manual mode as well to fix the settings so you can easily repeat them later. Keep in mind that with lighting, closer lights give softer more diffused results. So it is preferable to place the umbrellas closer to your subject than it is to have to increase the flash power.

    Edited to add: Here is a web page that shows the kind of setup I was thinking of...
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    Agree with the above.
    You can also use one or two lights w/reflector opposite the side/front light...or use a white wall close by to bounce some of it. I've done headshots with just one light and a reflector...and definitely keep the person at least 3-4' in front of the can use a plain wall as a backdrop will turn some shade of grey anyway or can be tweaked in PP. Hopefully you are familiar with the location.
  4. Peter Floyd

    Peter Floyd New to Mu-43

    Nov 3, 2015
    Peter Floyd
    Hi PakkyT,

    You're a champion, just the type of information I was looking for. Thanks for taking the time to write such a helpful reply.

    Wisertime, thanks for your input too. the reflector setup will come in handy in future situatuions.

    Regards Pete
  5. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    When this type of question appears on, it is almost always asked and answered in the context of lighting. As here. But (as a scientist or logician might say), good lighting is necessary but not sufficient. To get a good portrait you have to engage your subject and capture his or her personality.

    Possibly the most famous portrait ever:
    One of the great portrait photographers:
    General purpose inspiration:

    Since you have the luxury of a static setup, I would put the camera on a tripod and set its height to be slightly below eye level of your subjects. Then use a corded or a radio remote shutter release. This frees you to move around and to engage freely with the subjects rather than having your face obscured by the camera. Below-eye-level seems to produce better portraits, too; this angle is more difficult for photographer holding a camera and shooting a seated subject.

    Presumably these are "mug shots" to be used together in conference documentation, publicity pieces, etc. For this you will probably want a consistent style, somewhat standardizing the framing, maybe sticking to fairly classical head-and-shoulders shots with a lens in the 85-105mm (35mm equivalent) range. Or, my style, tight head shots (105mm or a little more) that show some personality. When you set up at home as PakkyT suggests, don't stop with getting the lighting the way you like it. Play around with alternative ways to approach your practice model or, ideally, models.

    If you can't check out the location ahead of time, it might be a good idea to take one of those pop-up backgrounds and a white reflector on a stand just in case the room is papered in chartreuse wallpaper with a big pattern. (or some other wall finish that is not suitable for a background or for bouncing.)
    • Winner Winner x 1
  6. Peter Floyd

    Peter Floyd New to Mu-43

    Nov 3, 2015
    Peter Floyd
    thanks oldracer, great advice there
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.