Wentworth gardens

Wentworth gardens

This shot, taken on the grounds of The Wentworth by the Sea just outside of Portsmouth, NH, was all about balance - not like holding-on-to-that-railing-for-balance but as in, balancing 3 different light sources, all independently adjustable (in power anyway), to get the result I wanted. It was also an exercise in futility, trying to see that little TFT screen on the back of the camera in bright, overcast conditions but I digress.

1st light source, the sun, was bright and hidden behind the overcast sky to camera right. The clouds turned it into a very soft light, which I intended to use to fill in the shadows on our faces created by the flash(es), but first I had to make us dark enough so the soon-to-be-shadow-side (camera right) of our faces was actually, well, a shadow... hence the gazebo. Under the roof (and without flashes yet) and cranking up the shutter speed our (entire) faces were plenty dark. After adding the 2nd & 3rd lights, I slowed the shutter speed to brighten the ambient a bit.

2nd light source was used to brighten one side of our faces and create shadows on the other. We tried (probably too many) different positions and directions for this flash. The best one was from hard camera left, to light the camera left sides of our faces and create some subtle shadows on the other sides of our faces. I would have liked to have it up high(er), aiming down at our heads, but didn't have anything to hold it up with so it just rested on the railing about waist-high.

3rd light source was a flash just to camera left, aimed just over our heads so our faces caught the softer falloff of the light. This one had a 1/4 CTO (light amber-colored) gel on it to add a warmer looking light to the front of our faces. This flash was used to help fill in the shadows to be created with the 2nd light, so you don't see big nose shadows on the camera right sides of our faces.

After the descriptions above, you can see the 3 different light levels in the final photo: bright camera-left sides of our faces, the slightly darker camera-right sides of our faces, and the yet-a-little-darker gazebo itself and surrounding shrubbery. Overall, I like the way it came out. If I changed anything, I would turn down the power of the 2nd light (if I couldn't raise it up higher). It looked good on her when we tested it, but when I got in the frame, I stood closer to the light than she was, making it a little too bright on my head and created a few hard shadows from my shirt collar and her hair.

And if you're ever in the Portsmouth, NH area for dinner, you have to try The Wellington Room. To quote Anthony Bourdain, "It is mindblowingly good!" - but make reservations, there are only ~10 tables in the whole restaurant. It was easily the best meal I've had in years! Strobist info: SB-600 camera left zoomed to 24mm with 1/4 CTO gel fired at 1/4 power (+2/3 stop). SB-25 to camera hard left and behind, zoomed to 85mm and fired at 1/8 power. Balanced with overcast sky from camera right.