Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Soft, Wrapping Light

with 8 comments

Suki likes to hang out in the same room where I keep all my photographic equipment, so often times I’ll just go in the room, set up, and start photographing her. She’s there anyway, right? Last week, I decided to get a nice shot of her face, especially since I didn’t have a chance to go outdoors and make an image of her for week 11 of my 52 week project. There aren’t any large windows in the room and it was late afternoon, so it was artificial light or no shot. Suki is just about as soft to the touch as she looks, so I wanted to convey that softness in the photo.

Light from a bare strobe is not soft. It’s hard and harsh. So to make it as soft as possible, you need to diffuse it…a LOT. This is how I did it:

What you see here are two SB units (SB-800 and SB-900), firing up into an all-in-one umbrella with its reflective shroud in place. The light from the two units will hit the umbrella and come back down towards Suki, but not before it hits another layer of diffusion: a skylite diffusion panel. Using two units increases my light volume and keeps my recycle times shorter than using just one, since all this diffusion makes the SB units work harder. Now I have a bigger light source relative to my subject, and a softer quality of light (learned all this from Joe McNally!).

Poor Suki. Relaxing in a room, and all of a sudden these huge pops of light start going off above her head. This was her initial reaction to the big diffusion panel:

The sounds of the camera, the pop of light, the whine of the flashes as they recharge, the big beeps they make to indicate they’re ready to go, someone’s voice saying “look at me! look at me! stay! stay!” …. it’s a lot for a dog to hear and see. But Suki’s pretty used to it now.  In fact, she gets bored and sleepy after a while:

But hey, the final week 11 shot was worth the trouble, right Suki?!

Camera: Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC and Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8

8 Responses

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  1. wow, I want to cuddle with this dog so bad you have no idea


    March 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm

  2. Last shot – Suki’s good good teeth & gums! Such a perfect specimen.

    Good tut! I’ve gotta invest in a second flash and try some stuff! You think how I think and that helps alot for learning.


    March 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

  3. Great photos! Love your dog, I have a Shiba Inu as well. She’s a little over a year now and she’s awesome!


    March 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm

  4. she’s a trooper, and what a great setup.


    April 12, 2010 at 7:36 am

  5. I think suki is so lovely and very interesting to shoot.Nice set up buddy!!!
    I like your blog as well


    April 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

  6. Hi, what is the name of this mini boom stand that you used? Thanks in advance 🙂


    March 14, 2011 at 7:05 am

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