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Here comes the sun. Soon.

February 28, 2012 · 0 comments

Outdoor portrait with reflector and diffusion panel in sunlight

This is just a reminder that soon a lot of my assignments can be done with just a reflector and a diffusion panel. And not having to freeze while taking a stiff portrait of some poor guy or girl outside in the cold just to use the little natural light that might be available around lunch just before it gets dark again.


Sunlight is very hard to beat when it comes to lighting a portrait, and even if you surround your models with stands and screens, they are a lot more relaxed out in the open than they are in the studio.

I really look forward to be able to work with sunlight again.

Portrait on location in office environment

Very often my clients want photos taken in their office, but to make it look a little better, often with a stock photo as some kind of visual reference. Trying to imitate something very polished, sunny and designed, in an ordinary office has its challenges. Especially when the sky outside is covered with dark clouds.

That is exactly what happened to me lately, when shooting portraits for a client. We had just shot the ordinary portraits against a medium grey background in one of their rooms, when they asked if I could take a couple more. If I could use their office as background, they would be delighted.

[Read the full post here…]

Behind the scenes, portrait photography using reflector to reflect har sunlight sunlight indoors

When shooting portraits for a law firm in Stockholm recently I found that one of them was very interested in film making and he asked me about photography, lighting and especially about the large reflector I used for his portrait (a 1 by 2 meter large frame with white and silver/gold fabric).

portrait-indoors-using-hard-reflected-sunlight-via-reflectorWhen talking about reflectors and film making, it is very easy to mention movies made in the sixties and seventies.

I have a two year old son and he loves to watch the old Astrid Lindgren movies, especially Saltkråkan which is shot on a small island in the Stockholm archipelago, mostly in the summer with clear blue skies.

And they used reflectors a lot. Almost every shot shows the wiggling reflections that can only come from someone standing near the actors, trying to reduce the hard shadows from the sun with a large reflector, often with a silvery or golden surface.

Just for fun, I got the chance to try lighting him with just the hard light coming from a window, and reflected, a bit like when you reflect the sun in a watch or a knife, making spots of light on the wall (or maybe in someones eye). In Sweden we call that “solkatt” (“sun cat” if you translate it directly). Maybe not the easiest light for a model to handle, at least not when it comes from an angle straight into the eyes.

But, this was just an experiment just for fun, if I would try it again, I would probably use a better light stand, maybe a boom, so I can make the light come from above a little more, now it just makes him squint.

beauty portrait headshot with studio lighting setup diagram

This is just a closer headshot from the beauty portrait post I wrote about earlier. The setup is the same, I just moved a little closer to the model (or former model to be correct, she now works at an ad agency.

You can find the lighting diagram together with everything else here:
2-light beauty portrait setup

Shot on medium grey background paper, using two Profoto lights, one with a white Softlight reflector on a boom stand (the top catchlight), and the other in a 5 foot Softbox Octa behind me (the smaller catchlight below). And a reflector below.

Developed in Lightroom 3 and retouch was made in Photoshop, mostly skin retouch and some minor contrast adjustments.

Profoto Magnum reflector used for portrait of Swedish Author Ulf Stark. Photographer Stefan Tell, Stockholm, Sweden

The Profoto Magnum is not one of my most used light modifiers, but every time I feel to give a portrait some extra contrast it never fails to produce great results. But, it is not for every face, at least not the way I used it when I shot some press images for a well-known Swedish author, Ulf Stark.

Ulf is very used to having his picture taken, and we met earlier a couple of years ago when I took a lot of portraits of authors and illustrators for a publishing house, his included.

Lighting setup, and more Magnum-portraits…