Headshot, Boot Camp II

One of my favorite blogers, David Hobby that runs strobist.com is well know for running free assignment based workshops every now and then. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to participate in the past but last month he announced Strobist Boot Camp II. The idea of Boot Camp is for people to put the knowledge gained from his site about off camera lighting into action. The assignments are sort based off real world situations.

The first assignment for this year was to take a nice headshot of someone unemployed or similar that they could use on their resumé so as to stand out from other applicants.

So my subject for the shoot was my wife Anna who is just about to finish a Masters of Environment – Education for Sustainability. She has been applying for relevant jobs like crazy and has had a few interviews of late that she has finished up 2nd best even though the relevant HR Departments couldn’t give her a decent reason why she was just overlooked for the position considering she fulfilled all requirements well. I nice headshot on her resumé may be just what she needs.

So I had my subject but now I had to decide on how I wanted to shoot her and where. Considering Anna is in the environmental field I wanted to give her a natural and warm look. The assignment also happened to begin while we were preparing to go on holidays to the bottom of Australia. At first i was worried the holiday would stop me from getting the assignment done but then it dawned on me. We are going to a massive national park with prehistoric ferns. What better environment to shoot in to convey my subjects passion.

It was getting late into the afternoon and we came across this perfect location for the shoot. I wanted to have Anna backed up against the tree and have the ferns in the background.

Gear for the shoot was:

  • Canon 40D
  • Canon 50mm f1.8 mk2
  • Remote shutter control
  • Canon 430ex
  • Home made light mod(shown below)
  • Cactus remotes
  • Tripod for camera
  • Voice activated light stand

With the camera in manual mode I set my exposure to 1/200th and an aperture of f1.8. My ISO was set to 400. I setup the camera on my tripod right next to the ferns trunk seen in the location shot. I then used myself as a voice activated light stand to camera left shooting the flash (1/32th power) with my mod through the ferns branches.

I don’t own a light stand or umbrella yet and there was no way I was going to bring one with me to the other side of Australia on holidays. So it was now time to test my newest flash mod.

Yep that’s one massive yogurt container converted into a diffuser sort of thingy. I have been keeping a keen eye on the container ever since my wife bought the yogurt. After a nice clean and removal of the label all I needed to do was make a nice X cut to the lid and BAM.

After a few test shots I had something i was liking and it was Anna turn behind the camera. I made sure she set the focal point to my leading eye and using the shutter remote she held the flash in a similar area to where I had it and lets just say us photographers are not great at smiling of que. Anna did get a few laughs out of me and she has done very well considering the complexity of the situation.

Next time I may use an aperture of around 4 or 5.6 so as not to blur as much of the background ferns. Also the addition of a 2nd light would be a luxury so as I could have a rim light for our heads to stand out more from the tree. Anna’s blonde hair was a savior here. But overall I’m very happy with my first ever headshot and my first proper go at a on location shoot. This is what Strobist boot camp is all about, pushing our boundaries and exploring the awesome world of off camera lighting. Bring on assignment 2.