There has been a lot of interest in the soccer portraits posted last week. I thought over the next few posts I would show how I created one of my favorite photographs from that session. I say created because it was just that – a creation. The sky in the background was the only part of the photo that was provided to me. In fact, it was the sky that inspired me to take the photograph. We were playing soccer in the back yard when I saw these clouds start rolling by just as dusk began to set in. I grabbed a light stand, a shoot through umbrella, a Nikon SB-900 speedlight and my camera and we ran to the back part of the yard to take some photos.
This particular lighting technique was one that I had studied before at the Strobist website. The technique is to make your skies a deep blue color, while keeping the skin tones of your subject nice and warm. It creates great color contrast, which adds visual interest to your image. The first step to achieving this look is to take control of your white balance setting. For this photo, I set my white balance to fluorescent. The tungsten setting will also work. These settings shift white colors more to the blue, making blue skies even more rich and blue. This also starts making your subject look like a Smurf when you’re outside in fading daylight. To compensate, I placed a CTO (color temperature orange) gel on my speedlight. This warms the light from the flash that is hitting my subject, making the skin tones look normal again.
The lighting was a very simple setup. One speedlight (flash) at camera left (the right of the subject), shooting through a 45″ umbrella. Below is the lighting diagram for the photo.
This simple setup yielded the following photo:
In my next post, I describe how I took this photo one step further and ended up with a more “epic” look that could easily be dropped into an commercial advertisement.