Home studio

Last year, as a member of the photo-club of the university, I had access to a professional studio equiped with tons of backdrops, flashes and light modifiers… all things I had never seen before, and which opened a completely new field of possibilities. This sparked some interest towards portrait photography. I, the misanthrope, always happy to avoid the crowd, started to take pictures of people. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to this place very long (Finland called, you know), so in addition to reading a lot about this topic, I bought an external flashlight that I put to good use in Bornholm. Still, I rarely use it.

On the other hand, I have also been experimenting with my two plastic white tigers, Iso and Lyhyt, shooting them in scenic locations. This kind of photography asks for more work than I have put into it yet, but I like it, maybe because it’s so different from what I usually produce. My mom offered me two elves (and a chandelier) when she stayed here in December, and ideas started to form inside my head.

I really started to work on them when I received my new gear. A Canon 7DII and a Canon 100-400mm II arrived on Friday, in the middle of a cloudy period. I wanted to try those marvels, but the ever-greyness outside stuck me home. So I transformed my dining room into a studio.

Please meet, from left to right, Lyhyt, Elmer and Puna.

234mm on a cropped sensor - f/5.0 - 1/10s - ISO640 - Manual mode

234mm on a cropped sensor – f/5.0 – 1/10s – ISO640 – Manual mode

For this shot, I used my new telelens and my new body, mounted on an old, shaky tripod. I set my friends on the kitchen table, and lowered my camera to their level. To provide a fancy background, I laid my coat on a chair and put it as far as I could. Finally, I used my Yongnuo YN565EXII external flash unit to give this bright lining you can see on the right edge of Elmer and Puna. This is a technique dear to my friend Marci, he always suggests it to me and, for once, I thought about it!
To reduce the flash intensity, I hid it under a white t-shirt.

Because a picture can be worth a thousand words, here is a behind-the-scenes shot:

15935133_10208799044150345_1027161576_o

The flash was triggered optically, with the built-in flash that you can see deployed on top of my camera. Sometimes, it can be hard to trigger the flash this way, especially outdoors in the sun, but in my apartment I had absolutely no trouble with that (it was actually surprisingly easy). I don’t really master the different flash modes; I chose the power manually.
I used a great focal length for two reasons: first, I wanted to try out my new toy (:P), but also I wanted a rather shallow depth of field, to have a nice bokeh (a nicely blurred background). As a consequence, it was a challenge to have all my models’ eyes sharp. They are definitely not “tack sharp”, but it’s good enough for me at the moment.

234mm on a cropped sensor - f/5.0 - 1/10s - ISO640 - Manual mode

234mm on a cropped sensor – f/5.0 – 1/10s – ISO640 – Manual mode

The essential point in the next shot is the flash direction: instead of pointing it to Elmer, I illuminated the background. Once again a technique I learnt from Marci 😉 The flash unit was positioned on the chair, right under the jacket: I was afraid I couldn’t trigger it there, but it went without trouble.

182mm - f/5.0 - 1/320s - ISO640 - Aperture Priority mode

182mm on a cropped sensor – f/5.0 – 1/320s – ISO640 – Aperture Priority mode

The last picture was taken in early afternoon. I had just come back from a walk in the countryside, and the sun was shining through my windows. I had little time to spare, but I went for it. The background is a table towel from the French Basque Country, once again laid on a chair. It was difficult to align the models (Puna & Puna) and the towel while keeping them all in sunlight and not spreading my own shadow on them. A game of geometry that turned out pretty well. Body and lens are the same as on the previous shots.

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