Quick and easy portrait shoot / by Neil Alexander

Alex by Neil Alexander (Click for larger)

These are a couple of simple portraits I did on Monday. The location was a city centre flat, which had a lot of reflected sunlight coming in through a very large floor to ceiling window. There was no direct sunlight, so the result was a lovely soft and diffused light source. A great start from which to work. We did a few poses with just ambient but I was really looking for something a little more "high key". The natural light was great on Alex's face (camera right), but left a bit of a grey-ish background. To counter this I set up the large Ezybox softbox camera left and feathered it, a lot. That is to say that only the very right hand edge of the light was set to fall on Alex and the rest on the wall behind her. This accomplished two things - it gave me a much cleaner background and it produced a little fill on what would have been the darker side of Alex's face. The processing was just a little Dynamic Skin Softening with Nik's Colour Efex Pro and a small curves contrast tweek.

Alex by Neil Alexander (Click for larger)

For the image above, we moved outside into the grounds of a church opposite which still had lots of lovely pink blossom around, though mostly on the floor. Initially I envisaged shooting full length with Alex's feet amongst the fallen petals. But by this time, the direct sunlight was harsh and as we were in amongst a bunch of trees, harsh and speckled. Not good. In the end, I decided waist up was the way to go. This way I could keep nearly all of Alex in the shade, and use a simple reflector camera right to throw a little fill back into the shadows and give me some catch lights in her eyes. Job done in a very short space of time - I surprised myself at how quickly I got the lighting down :-)