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Autumn light and flash


The autumn is here in Sweden and the light is hard and low. Mostly.

My latest assignment was to shoot author portrait of Anna, in her garden one afternoon last week. I had been there once before, so I knew the layout pretty well but couldn’t really be sure how much the tall trees surrounding the house would shadow the lawn. In this time of the year here in Sweden, the light is fantastic but quite unforgiving, especially for portraits.

So I brought a Profoto AcuteB 600R and a Magnum reflector to battle the sun.


Freedom of movement with big lights

This portrait above could easily been done with a Speedlight, but I would have been restricted to stay quite near and not being able to move around as much as I wanted. And I would have a hard time going wide angle.

We started with a few shots in her house near a window, and later shooting against the sun with the yellow leaves all around. Then I put the Magnum reflector high on a stand and added a sheet of diffusion fabric to soften the light a bit.


The distance from Anna to the light stand was maybe five meters or so. With the light so far away, it lit up the area and made it possible for me to move in close as well as capture more of the autumn colours around her.

Using a reflector instead of an umbrella or softbox is good for many reasons, mostly because of its effectiveness light-wise and that it doesn’t blow away as easily. Three meters up, maybe a bit more, it sways a bit but the AcuteB with the heavy battery works fine as a counter-weight.


Changing my position, and moving the flash just a little bit made it possible to get a new angle without much work. To mix ambient and flash, I varied the aperture between f/5.6 and f/7.1, the shutter speed stayed between 1/80 and 1/125 second.

I mostly work with lights very near the model, but this was a nice way of doing it an easier way. Just by placing the light high up and far away, I stopped thinking about the small lighting adjustments I usually do all the time just to get it right. Now I did that but with my feet instead.

All portraits are shot with  a 50 mm lens, exactly like David Hobby just did.

If you have any questions, please write a comment. Or just press “Like”. Thanks.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andrew Burgess October 15, 2013, 01:28

    I love the light, subtle and retaining the golden autumn colour.

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