The Boss – A Self Portrait

They say practice makes perfect.  I’m attempting to do a 52-week photo challenge and the first assignment was a self portrait.  I would normally do a standard head shot on a white backdrop, but that’s not the point of doing this type of challenge.  It’s about learning and self discovery, so I wanted to do something a bit more dramatic and have a bit of fun.

For this setup I have a softbox with a Canon 430EXII flash inside.  The box is positioned so my face is just on the inside; when the flash is fired the light clips my face and body giving a nice dramatic shadows but just barley lighting me up.  The camera is positioned at waist level angled upwards with a small reflector at it’s right – I found without the reflector my left arm got lost in the shadow so it needed something to cast just a bit more light onto the coat.

Now for the black background – it’s actually my white backdrop that I always use.  Now I bet you’re thinking I used Photoshop to get it black, but I didn’t.  Knowing a bit about the inverse square law and how it affects light helped me to get the background really dark.  There’s a good write up of the concept at Digital Photography School, however you don’t really need to know the math to do this successfully.  All you need to know is when you are using a flash its power falls off dramatically the further away it is from the subject – faster than you think.  For this photo I’m standing 6 feet from the background; when the flash fires it is pointed 45 degrees away from the backdrop.  Even though there is light spillage from the softbox the background almost comes out totally black.


A sample of portraits and headshots I’ve done.  Although I’d rather be doing this type of work outside or at a client location, sometimes you just need a simple plain background.

Favorite Photos

Here are a few of my favorite photos that I have taken through my journey to become a better photographer.  I love getting into situations that stretch my capabilities and learn what works and doesn’t work.



The Preston Figure Skating Club is a registered member of Skate Canada.  As such athletes have access to world class coaches to prepare them for competition while recreational skaters can see if they wish to take the sport more seriously.  Every year the club holds their annual skating gala for parents and supporters as a thank you for the contributions they have made to their careers.  I had the fortunate opportunity to be the official photographer for the 2015 year and was amazed at the skills being demonstrated.  I hope I managed to capture the elegance and grace that was being exhibited.

This was a particular interesting photoshoot.  I went to several practices to understand the timing and key moments of the routines, however this didn’t prepare me for having to deal with constantly changing lighting conditions at the actual event.  The exposure metre in the camera was mostly useless as it was confused by the strobes and spotlights forcing me to make make decisions on what camera settings would work.  I’m extremely pleased with the end result and how attending the rehearsals allowed me to focus on lighting challenges and not worrying about missing the critical shot.

Moral of the story: Athletes practice and when taking photos of athletes – practice when they practice.


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