high key lighting « Jurgen Doom

Using Nikon SB900 speedlights for creative photographic lighting

12 November 2010 om 13:16 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie advertising,Camera,Commercial,Flashlight,Gear,Photography,Sports,Uncategorized,workshop fotografie

As an advertising photographer, creating images for clients that will make their products look good, I try to be creative with my photography and my gear.  Let’s look at an example.

Image of a gymnast.

Image of a gymnast.

Imagine a huge indoor sports hall.  Imagine the yellow/green illumination these sports halls typically have and that cast an “ugly” type of light on the subjects (which you don’t want, you want your subject to look good).  Imagine the cluttered background one usually gets in such sport halls, which will destroy the impact of the image ……

Situation - available light.

Situation - available light.

As a photographer I try to overcome problems – let’ call them challenges – instead of creating them.

When I had to photograph a young sportster, doing all sorts of neck-braking, leg-twisting, arm-bending exercices on a gym device, I had to be creative to get a shot of it that could be used as a double spread in the brochure.

Firstly, I figured I wanted to eliminate the natural lighting of the sports hall.  Using a shutter speed of 1/250th at ISO 100 on a Nikon D3x (24Mpix) was good enough at f 4 to eliminate the ambiant light.  That means, if you would not use flash, you would end up with a dark (black) image at these settings.

Next step was to bring in the Nikon SB900 speedlights.  I used 3 of them.  The main flash comes from directly above me (on-axis with the lens) but shot through a softbox in order to soften the light.  It provides the main light for the subject, but because we are working very close to the subject and far away from the background, that light doesn’t reach the background, so it remains black (or under exposed).

The last step was to position two SB900 speedlights behind the subject, at either side of the girl, and aimed towards her.  Those light provide the rim lighting, which make her stand out from the background even more.

The image was ultimately used as a double spread in the SPORTA brochure as shown above.

All shots were taken on the Nikon D3x, using a 85mm f1.4 lens and using the Nikon CLS lighting system.

Alternative image of the gymnast.

Alternative image of the gymnast.

Nikon CLS system is a fantastic system to work on-location.  It’s versatile, works well, easy to handle and learn and enables a photographer to be very flexible in his work and quickly adapt to different situations and lighting conditions.  I use it all the time in my photography.

If you want to learn it as well, I run workshops on photography and flash photograph (also for users of other brands).

More to come,


Portrait Photography – on location shoot with Myrte – part 2: natural light with flash light

14 May 2009 om 12:26 door Jürgen geplaatst in de categorie Flashlight,kids,Portrait

In the previous post I explained how I photographed Myrte, a 6 year old girl, in a field on a bright sunny day.

After the initial shots without flash, I decided to use a flash (Nikon SB 900, triggerd with pocket wizards) to brighten up the shadow side of Myrte.  Since the sun was coming in from behind her (at left), I had to lighten up the right side of her face and body.  In order to do so, I choose to balance the light from my strobe (speedlight) against the sun so that the amount of flash added to Myrte would compensate for the loss of light on her shadow side.

This was done by adjusting the level of the speedlight.  It was aimed directly at Myrte (no use of any translucent material such as umbrella, ….).

The images were downloaded into Adobe Lightroom 2, where I adjusted the image to my liking (by boosting the blacks, exposure and by bringing back the saturation).



This next image was converted into black and white (with boosted highlights and blacks, in order to keep a balance in the image).


After about 10 minutes into the shoot, Myrte wanted to wear her “princess” dress.  So after a change of clothing we continued the shoot.  Notice the very light sky which, in effect, had a rather deep blue appearance.  But by overexposing a bit I rendered the sky lighter than it was in reality.


Finally we had some action going.  I asked Myrte to turn around a few times in order to get movement in her dress.  Due to the fact that I used a flashlight I was able to “stop” the action without getting blur in her face.