Portrait of a farmer lit with three remote flashes

Off-Camera Lighting for Character Portraits Easy as 1-2-3

Recently we were working with a business partner who wanted to learn more about our products. He wasn’t a professional photographer and he was asking us lots of questions like:

What is off camera flash?

How many remote lights can you trigger?

Why is PocketWizard the best radio trigger?

Involve me!

Benjamin Franklin once said “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” We took his advice and set up a photoshoot to show our partner how PocketWizards can be used to create beautiful lighting for creative character portraits. Since we are located in Vermont, we went to a local family dairy farm for the perfect backdrop. We created 3 different lighting set ups for 3 different portraits to show the versatility of our products.

1 – Single Off Camera Flash for a Natural Outdoor Portrait

Our first shot using off camera flash was taken outdoors and being early winter, the light was fading fast. A simple one light set up was all we needed to make our subject pop while allowing the ambient light to give the viewer a sense of place. Our flash was placed on one side of him with a warming gel, to light one side more than the other and mimic the look of the setting sun.  

2 – Two Remotely Triggered Lights for a Natural Indoor Portrait

For this portrait we moved indoors to the machine shop at the farm. While our subject worked, we set up 2 lights. The main light was set to one side of him, almost to give the appearance that he was working near a window. To create a moodier shot and create a rich depth to the contrast, we placed a black foam core board directly opposite the light, on the other side of our subject, which darkened the negative space. Finally, to add a little separation between our subject and our background, we added a rim light.

3 – Remotely Triggering Three Lights for a Dramatic Indoor Portrait

For this last shot we wanted to remotely trigger our lights to show the whole scene, so we used a slightly wider lens. We moved our main light back a little bit and eliminated the black board. On our test shot, we noticed that the truck was like a black hole – there was no light and it offered no detail. It was an interesting part of the machine shop, so in order give the scene a little more visual interest, we decided we needed just one more light. Luckily, we had an extra speedlight and another PocketWizard on hand. We placed the speedlight right on the engine pointing toward the hood to add an accent light to our image.

Universal Compatibility

One advantage of PocketWizard is that we are universally compatible and work with virtually any camera or flash on the market. We always encourage photographers to have a few extra PocketWizards in your bag and an extra light to boot! As you invest in lights, it’s nice to know that PocketWizard should be able to trigger all of them and you’ll be able to integrate your older lights with your newer lights when necessary. This might not be possible with some other brands that have proprietary solutions that require you to stay within a single brand. Luckily in our situation with PocketWizard, we were able to use multiple lights from multiple brands. Just one of the many reasons we think PocketWizard is the best radio trigger on the market.

Have you had a situation where you needed just one more light?  Nice that with PocketWizard – it’s possible!


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