CT – Studio Portraiture – Test Shots and Submission – Group

Following on from research and test shots for individuals, the group shots were going to be far more challenging. The set composed, 2 back light gels (purple and blue), 2 studio lights with softboxes, a spot light and a hand held speed light. The class all brought coloured clothing agreed ahead of time. I wanted to use reds, blue and fuchsia within the colour palette. Complimentary colours of green and orange were also in the mix, to exemplify the same use of colour by LaChapelle. We were never going to recreate the same diversity or use of props seen in the last supper, but it was our take on a classical group image.

I continued using the 24 – 70mm f/2.8 lens, manually shots at ISO 100, f/7.1 1/200sec. Pulling the group closer to the table and the lights was a necessity as the first few shots were very dark and not well lit. The skin tone mix was also tricky as the reflected light was going to alter through the shot.

Group Shot
Despite the technical elements of the shot we did get some interesting final images using both black and white backgrounds:

I think everyone enjoyed the shoot and grateful for everyone taking part so have included some outtakes from the session:

The final image selected for submission was the shot which I felt had the right balance of exposure and correct pose.  The framing throughout the shoot was actually the most difficult aspect.  I tried to get the table in shot as much as I could, but think we ended up with a more intimate group shot.  The exposure was as I wanted but disappointed the white backdrop could not be used as the pastel colours worked, but the highlights were just too far gone.  As a follow up next term, another studio shoot with a white background would be interesting, as it was harder to shoot compared to a black background and wasn’t happy with the balance of lighting in the first half of the shoot.



It was a great shoot and delighted that despite the number of studio lights required it came together.  Wont forget this studio session everyone had fun taking part.

Criteria 1, 2, 3, 4

CT – Studio Portraiture – Test Shots Single Portrait

Session 1: Side lighting and chiaroscuro
The studio test shots for individual portraits were over two separate sessions. In the first, Jason modelled for Louise and I. The spot lights were set with barn doors and instead of using normal ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/7.1, I stopped down 3 stops to expose for the highlights and experiment with halo and side lighting effects (Grey, 2004). Having used a 105mm in prior shots, I wanted the flexibility to frame more easily so used a 24 – 70mm f/2.8. We followed up with a spot light on slightly lower power with open barn doors for the first of my portrait shots:

CT Portrait TS 3a

CT Portrait TS 2



CT Portrait TS 1


Holly modelled in the same session in which we varied a studio light with a soft box and a reflector. I really liked the effect of shadows in the final result, a warm skin tone really came through in the final images (Perkins 2006), shot with aperture back at f/7.1:

CT Portrait TS 5

CT Portrait TS 4a


Session 2: Softbox and spot light
In a second session in the studio, Paula’s portrait shoot was underway. we looked at the effects of drapes and netting in the shoot. The power settings for the studio lights were much higher than in previous shoots and needed to top down one or two stops to expose correctly. Soft box and reflectors were in use in these shots:


CT Portrait TS 8

CT Portrait TS 7

CT Portrait TS 10

I was pleased with my first portrait test shots, exposing correctly for the images and adjusting lighting as needed.  I really wanted to shoot more side lit and highlight shots, but we ran out of time.
Criteria: 1, 2, 3, 4

Grey, C. ‘Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers’ (Amherst Media, 2004)
Montizambert, D ‘Creative lighting Techniques’ (Amherst Media, 2003)
Perkins, M. ‘Professional Portrait Lighting: Techniques and Images from Master Photographers’ (Amherst Media, 2006)
Tuck, K ‘Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Studio Photography’ (Focal Press, 2009)

CT – Studio Portraiture – Research

The studio portraiture was, like the still life, new for me in the sense this is a departure from what I would naturally shoot and prior to this term, had not shot in a studio or with lighting other than speed lights. I conducted a lot of research for the still life, but my inspiration for the studio portrait shoot was something I found while looking into professional photographers during the first term. I discovered a photographer for whom I have come to greatly admire, David LaChapelle. His use of vibrant colour has produced some of the most vivid images in modern culture:

Deluge (Deluvio):

Guilty Things:

Last Supper:
DavidLC LS

Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper:
LaChapelle’s interpretation of The Last Supper was for me one of the most striking images I have seen in the collective research from both first and second term. The Last Supper has been reworked so many times, I knew that any interpretation I may make would fall into the cliche of so many other reworked images of its kind. The shoot would be limited to the materials in the studio we could use and I would not be able to have such diverse texture and colour in supporting props as LaChapelle. Significant more technical challenges were posed in a group shoot compared to a single portrait in controlling so much lighting in the studio effectively. Despite the challenges, I was the only person doing a group shoot and felt a great way to get the entire class involved in a single shot.

I started test shots with simple lighting for individual portraits.

Criteria: 1, 2

Childer, J., Galer, M. ‘Photographic Lighting Essential Skills’ (4th Ed., Focal Press, 2008)
Kelby, S ‘Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image’ (New Riders, 2015)
Montizambert, D ‘Creative lighting Techniques’ (Amherst Media, 2003)
Perkins, M. ‘Professional Portrait Lighting: Techniques and Images from Master Photographers’ (Amherst Media, 2006)
Prakel, D ‘Basics Photography: Lighting’ (AVA Publishing, 2007)
Tuck, K ‘Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Studio Photography’ (Focal Press, 2009)