When I completed Strobist as a project in 2021, I promised to check back in when I had something worth sharing. Today, I’m announcing my new book, The Traveling Photographer’s Manifesto, which seeks to do for traveling photographers what Strobist always tried to do for lighting photographers.

Thanks for giving it a look—and for your comments and feedback.

Lighting 102: Umbrella Specular Portrait

So, did you catch the post yesterday when we talked about the umbrella-background-reflection thing? I hope so, because that is your assignment this week.

This one is sort of a cross between an exercise and an assignment, as it requires a specific technique. You'll be doing a photo of a person, using one soft light source (shoot-through or reflective umbrella, soft box, scrim, whatever) and angling it so it becomes a specular highlight in a darkish, semi-reflective background.

I gave you some ideas on where to find such a backdrop in the previous post (see link above) but be creative. And speaking of being creative, try to look beyond the mere technique and make a real photo of someone. Add some personal style, catch a nice moment -- do something to make this a photo, rather than just a lighting technique.

This photo, shot by DINFOS workshop student Jason Robertson, uses the dark headboard of a bed for the dark backdrop. And he caught a nice moment, too.

That last part is very important. Light is not enough. In fact, you might want to take a moment to read this post on the topic.

As for light positioning, Jason used a pretty scary-looking human boom for holding the umbrella.

This is a fun, easy, one-light technique that yields a very polished-looking photo if done right. Give it a whirl and see what you can come up with.

Your tags will be:


Add "final" as a tag to your best shot, and "setup" if you are including a pull-back shot for the benefit of other readers. Those setup pix are much appreciated, BTW.

You can see all turned in photos here, and just the final edits here.

The assignment is due at the end of the day on August 26th.

Discussion for the assignment is here

NEXT: Umbrella Specular Discussion.


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