An autumnal location shoot with Becky Frodsham

25th October 2014


Every season has its own charm and beauty. When you are shooting outside, it is often an idea to utilise this. Becky is a singer studying at the Leeds College of Music and this shoot was designed to provide her with promotional shots of a non-performance nature.

rebecca frodsham

1. Jonny managed to position the flashgun behind the bush so it lit the top left of Becky head. It had an orange gel on it so give it a warmer look. The main light is from the sun. The flashgun was at full power because the sunlight was still very bright. This was shot with a 50mm lens.

The shoot

The shoot was in and around the house that my studio is in. There are a number of locations in the grounds that lend themselves as spots. I also wanted to try out a new item of equipment, the Westcott octagonal rapid box . This is a light modifier designed for flashguns so they can mimic the look of studio gear, but in the field. The octagonal rapid box collapses into a very small bag and therefore is very portable and you do not need to cart around a large and heavy battery pack. I bought it because a number of pro photographs had recommended it and I had seen photographs that were taken using it. The results from the shoot justified the purchase!

We started off faking a sunset using a flashgun, but when the sun was in the right position we utilised an actual one. The changing colours of the leaves on the trees were used as a background and to dapple the light.

rrebecca frodsham

2. With the sun coming through a gap in the clouds we took this shot from the other side of the bush. If this shot was taken in one of the auto modes Becky's face would be very dark because the camera would have compensated for the sun in the background. By shooting in manual her face has the correct exposure. I love the rich yellows and pale greens on the left and the highlights in her hair. This was shot with a 50mm lens.

After this, I wanted use the canopy of a tree as a background. To achieve this, I had to lie on the ground shooting up towards Becky. This was also the first time I used the octagonal rapid box . The results were amazing!

The final outdoor shoot featured some brick work as a background. A second flashgun was used to light Becky's hair from behind or colour the back wall. We finished indoors using the stairs to frame the shots.

rebecca frodsham

3. This was shot a step to the left from the previous one so the sun is a stronger feature. There is a hint of lens flare and rays of light across Becky's face. If I wanted more I would have removed the lens hood. A large silver reflector was used to bounce some of the light back into her face thus reducing the contrast between the fore and background. This was shot with a 50mm lens.

A quick mention must go to Jonny Yeoman who helped move the gear around, made adjustments where and when necessary and (most importantly) made Becky laugh at all the right moments.

Post processing

I do very little post production as a rule. I had to lighten the leaves and branches in the background to bring out the autumnal colours. I could have done this at the time to shooting by reducing the power output of the flashgun, but I did not want to experiment too much when I am using a new piece of kit and I did not have lots of time to play with. Sometimes there are more than one way of producing the same results. I also performed a few minor skin corrections. Apart from that a bit of cropping and rotating.

rebecca frodsham

4. The idea behind the following shots was to use the canopy of the tree as a background. To achieve this I had lie on the grass on my back. This was the first time the octagonal rapid box was used to light Becky's face and the branch in the top right-hand corner. But it look very natural. A stop of extra exposure was added to the leaves in post processing because they were too dark in the original photo. The tilt of her head matches the demarcation between light and shadow. I shifted to the 85mm lens from here onwards.

rebecca frodsham

5. This is one of my favourite shots. I love the way Becky is looking in the same direction as the branch is pointing. This was not deliberate, but one of those fortuitous shots.

Technical details

A full-frame camera with two lens were used throughout the session. These were a 50mm f/1.8 and my favourite 85mm f/1.8. The camera was set to manual with a shutter speed of 1/125s, ISO 200 or 100% and the aperture ranged from f/1.8 - 6.3 depending on the situation. Either one or two flashguns were used. They were triggered either by the camera's built-in flash or with a remote radio trigger.

Coloured gels were used to change the colour of the brick work in the background and a Wescott octagonal rapid box with the reflector plate inside was the primary light modifier. I must say the octagonal rapid box is a beautiful piece of kit for location portrait lighting. It means I can bring part of the studio on location with me.

rebecca frodsham

6. The next two photographs were taken in a disused carriage house. The main light, once again, is from the octagonal rapid box beauty dish placed high and to the right of the camera. A second flash was used to the right (of the shot) and behind Becky to create the flare and light her hair. The shot was timed with a small gust of wind. Who needs a hair drier! The camera was tilted to stop the horizontal lines created by the brick work from being too strong. These were taken with an 85mm lens.

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rebecca frodsham

7. The same set up as the shot above, but with the flash reduced in power, pointing onto the corner and a red gel fitted. A large silver reflector was used to bounce some light off the ground and provide a bit of fill light under her chin. This group of shots have a very strong 'studio' look to them.

rebecca frodsham

8. Here the camera is level and the lines created by the bricks lead the viewers eyes towards Becky. We used a blue gel to light the background. It also highlights the shape of her hair.

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rebecca frodsham

9. We ended indoors on the stairwell. The octagonal rapid box was placed on the landing to the right of the picture. The strong diagonal lines created by the banister, ceil decoration and stairs all help to frame and lead the viewer's eyes towards Becky. I also love the shadow across her face bringing out the curvature of her cheek.

Your thoughts


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