Bollin Valley model shoot / by Neil Alexander

Model shoot with off camera flash by Neil Alexander

I'm getting more into environmental portrait shooting again lately, and loving every minute of it. After going to Leeds the other week for a workshop with the legendary David Hobby (@strobist), I decided to order myself an Orbis ring flash to play with using this primarily as an on axis fill. I left the workshop positively brimming with ideas and eager to experiment. So I've been flogging a few of the model forums of late, and have hooked up with a few willing subjects who are going to test for me over the next few weeks. These images are from the most recent outing down to the Bollin Valley not far from where I live with the wonderful Steph Owens In total we probably spent about 4 hours at 2 or 3 different locations, and luckily the rain held off until we were packing up and heading back to the car. Competing with the sun however proved to be quite tricky. It was one of those typical British summer days where the sun was out 'n' about, but there was also plenty cloud. So no sooner had I got my exposure and flash settings right, then the sun would disappear. Rather than wait patiently, I'd then try to reconfigure for the changed light, get it down, and bam, the sun would come out again. It proved rather challenging all in all, but I learnt a lot.

The top image was shot under a bridge where the river and the footpath go underneath the Motorway. I placed Steph half in the shadows and used an SB900 on a large shoot through umbrella camera left to try to lift the shadows so there wasn't too much contrast, and then used the Orbis as an on-axis fill just to add a little soft light to fill in the gaps.

Model shoot with off camera flash by Neil Alexander

For the second image, Steph was in the middle of a rather precarious & rickety footbridge over the river. I placed her with her back to the sun, and a large shoot through brolly with an SB pointing straight at her. Nothing very fancy, but it did the job.

For the bottom image, the sun was up high camera right, and there was next to no room for a light stand camera left, so I dug out a reflector and bungeed it to a tree. I had to improvise with a gorilla pod wrapped round the fence next to the tree to keep the reflector at exactly the right angle, and then used the Orbis on camera again to produce that lovely soft fill.

All in all, not a bad afternoon's work....

Model shoot with off camera flash by Neil Alexander