Portrait lighting tutorial with Lea Vendetta and Westcott Apollo Strip

Portrait lighting tutorial with Lea Vendetta and Westcott Apollo Strip. Lea is the kind of model you dream of capturing photographically for her energy and her personality. You may like or hate her tattoos, but they are part of who she is. I like her very much, and she is very easy to work with. We have worked together frequently for a year, and we produced some awesome images, for example making the cover of Slinders Magazine with one of my favorite composite images.

The photo above was taken at my buddy’s house in Delray Beach, Florida. I love the handmade iron circular stairway you see in the image; follow the link for more interior images of his mansion.

The Lighting

My goal for this shot was to create a dramatic look while maintaining the glamorous spirit of Lea. Notice the way she was dressed, and the amazing Saint Laurent hat in particular.
I used two Westcott Apollo Strip boxes each housing a Westcott Strobelite Plus monolight. The Strobelite is capable of an effective 400 watt seconds of power; I set each to 1/4 power, effectively 100 watt seconds. I triggered the Strobelites with an Elinchrom EL-Skyport radio slave set.
I added a 40 degree grid over the diffuser in the strip soft box facing her about 2 feet slightly on her left to create this beautiful soft light; I placed the second strip at her right at 2:30 o’clock to give a trim light around her, and to get some spark on the iron stair. (See my diagram below.)

Cam Ranger

Because I was shooting with my wireless Cam Ranger camera controller driving my DSLR and displaying the live image on a tablet, Lea could place herself exactly the way she wanted and see what was happening. The Cam Ranger has improved my portrait work, and my architecture photography as well.

My favorite Softboxes

I really like my Apollo Strip boxes, and my portrait workhorse, the 43″ Octagonal Apollo Orb softbox. (See what I created with Lea with just 3 speed lights mounted in the Orb in another lighting tutorial.) The Apollo Orb and the two Apollo Strips travel with me now for all my trips. Since they are built on umbrella frames, they are easy to fold and carry, with amazing construction and high efficiency. When I chose the Strips I was looking for an ideal rim light, hair light or accent light for my composite images. You can mount them either vertically or horizontally, which gives you a lot of flexibility. The Apollo Strips are built for speedlights; I have mostly used them with the Canon 580 Ex II speedlight. You can also add a strobe light, as the maximum power the Strip can handle is 500W if you open the zip to keep your softbox ventilated. The Strip is a super-light softbox, with a weight is 2.0 lbs (0.9 kg), and it collapses to 3.5” x 35.5” (8.9 x 90.2 cm).

I shot this image in manual mode at f/5.0, 1/80 sec, ISO 160, 33 mm with my Canon F/2.8 27-70 mm lens. The editing was simple, from Photoshop CC, I launched Nik Software Color Efex Pro (now part of the Google Nik Collection) to apply the Dynamic Skin Softener filter. After that I applied one of my own Silver Efex Pro presets (from 006 High Structured, I have updated the global adjustments) to get this dramatic look and feel.

To see more Portraits photos, click here

© Thierry Dehove Photography. All rights reserved. These images, or derivative works, can not be used, published, distributed or sold without written permission of the owner.