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Spatial awareness and painting with strobes - part 2 of 1 2 3

by Damian McGillicuddy Published 01/06/2014

From the behind the scenes image you can see that the location was not that inspiring, so I used an old trick of throwing a little colour around to give the image an edge and a little more interest.

My first light, light 'A' on the diagram, was a simple barefaced FL50r speedlight fitted with a CTO gel. This light was aimed at the back wall to give a little warmth and depth. I'd measured the ambient at a 1/30 at f2 so this light was metered at f2.5, just enough for it to take control.

My ''key' or main light again was an FL50r speedlight, this time though it was modified by my multi use 'BIG softie' light modifier. It was set to camera left, raised until it touched the ceiling and reverse feathered off the background. It was positioned to light the outfit and give a pleasing soft Rembrandt pattern to the mask of the subjects face. This light was metered to f2.8

The Third light, light 'B' on my diagram was actually the hardest to place. Once more this was a barefaced FL50r fitted with a quarter cut CTB gel.

I needed this light to do double duty for me. I wanted it to not only act as a 'kicker' on the subject and carve her out of the background but I also wanted it to add a cool wash of light on the curve of the wall to separate this from the warmly lit background and offer a greater sense of separation and depth.

To achieve this a placed this light to camera left behind the 'BIG softie' and set the zoom on the flash for a wide coverage. I let most of the light spill on the wall and allowed just the edge to act as the 'kicker' making sure not to strike her nose! this light was metered at f2.5 Its interesting to note that the light striking the wall, because it's more powerful, has a lighter blue hue to it than the light sneaking under the table to the seating - gels can be funny things.

The final light in the mix was the ambient light in the room. By dragging the shutter I used this light to control the density of the shadows on the subject's face. This image was shot hand-held at a 1/50s. I shot the picture on my EM-1 fitted with my favourite 45mm f1.8. I chose this for its compression and separation.

Sooooooo silk purse and sow's ear springs to mind... but, and it's a BIG but as a pro, I believe we should be able to get the very best possible from any situation. Even in less than ideal circumstances. After all isn't that what being in control of your craft and having the skills to pay the bills means?

Like I've said repeatedly I don't expect everybody to automatically know these things but I do hope people have the desire to want to know.

This is another great thing regarding Olympus. Irrespective of what camera you use, Olympus are on a mission to share the delight that is photography. That's one of the reasons I'm here... if you're interested and can take something from my experience I'm happy to share. You can check out what's going on and hopefully find a little inspiration at

I'm in the process of organising some new, exciting workshops and many minimal budget or FREE events. All you need is a love for photography and the desire to want to know just a little more.

Watch this space - well actually watch

till next time


Contact Damian McGillicuddy

1st Published 01/06/2014
last update 12/11/2019 13:27:13

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