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10-17-2009, 02:47 PM   #1
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Portrait Question...

Hello I am new to photography and have been trying to get portraits down...i would like to know if this setup would work...a white backdrop lit by two soft boxes at half power flash...with the person in front of the backdrop and the flash from the soft boxes..then the flash from my k20d to light the person. so in order it would be me (photographer), the person or object, then the soft boxes, then the backdrop. And also is the portrait setting on the k20d the best for portraits? I have the stock lens

10-18-2009, 02:49 AM   #2
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I don't like the flash on the camera in this setup, but would have to see some results to comment on it. Are you using color filters on the softboxes?
There is a lot of good documentation on the internet on this topic.

Also benjikan did a lot of work on this, you may want to search this and other forums for his contributions.

Good portrait photography takes more than lighting alone. You may want to google: "Rules to good portraiture: by Benji" as a starter for reading on the topic as well.

- Bert
10-18-2009, 04:12 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.
As Bert says it's hard to know what kind of results you'll get until you produce them. And again, onboard flash is a most primitive option that will stifle lighting creativity.
Use the softboxes with a wireless/off-camera strobe setup (if you have it).
It will offer you much more in terms of texture, use of directional lighting and a flattering lighting effect that suits portraiture well.
The as Bert says also, work on what makes portraiture work (pose, framing, makeup, dress, etc.)
10-18-2009, 05:02 AM   #4
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I would try to not use the built-in flash on the K20D. Becaue you can't set the power manually, you risk getting inconsistent exposures. Check out Benji's tutorial for some good info.
Benji's Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial
LightPoseGuide's Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial

10-18-2009, 09:13 AM   #5
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You've asked a big question. The "best" answers are probably not what you want to hear:

- You really need a different lens to improve your portrait photography. One that covers the traditional portrait focal lengths (50mm-100mm or so on your camera) and provides a larger maximum aperture (f/2.8 or better) to allow for shallower depth of field. Not that decent pictures can't be taken with the kit lens, but you'll always be quite limited by it.

- As for "settings", there are only three that really ever matter: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Learn what these are, how they work, and how you can control them using the various exposure modes (Av, Tv, TAv, Sv, M). On the K20D, I believe the portrait settings is just a means of quickly setting JPEG parameters like sharpness, saturation, and contrast, not as way of controlling exposure. So first you need to deal with the exposure basics. Then you can worry about the JPEG parameters. If you *really* care about the results, shoot RAW and fiddle with sharpness, saturation, contrast and so forth in post processing. if you do shoot JPEG, you'll want to experiment with those setting more directly to find the ones that please you for your particular subject and lighting setup - no way would one group of settings be right for everyone in every settings.
10-18-2009, 09:19 AM   #6
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A good reference for off-camera flash is the Strobist website, at


Read "Lighting 101" for a good discussion of the basic. Then read the rest of his articles for more info.

Last edited by noblepa; 10-18-2009 at 06:10 PM.
10-18-2009, 10:25 AM   #7
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Your making things way to complicated. No on camera flash; use one bank lite; white seeless.

This is a typical acting headshot, not my favorite shot to do, but the it pays well. Very Simple lighting - 5' Octodome & with white seemless


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