Lighting: It’s all about Repetition

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: July 23, 2018

Category: Photography

Well I’m back now from a fabulous holiday; just over 2 weeks away spent in a beautiful cottage, on a farm in West Wales where the only noise came from the leaves rustling in the wind, distant sheep and cows in fields and chickens browsing. Pure Bliss!

I’ve never slept so much in my entire life getting in around 10 hours each night when my usual sleep is about 5 hours or so. I guess it shows how much your body needs time out to recharge because I tell you, I feel completely different now; even my face feels different and yeah I know that sounds strange but it does.

Anyway thought I’d post a little something about a picture that I took whilst away. Yes I took a bit of kit away with me just in case the opportunity arose and sure enough it did with me taking a portrait of the farm owner Mick on his prized vintage Ferguson Tractor…


For this picture I kept things really simple using just one light and after no more than say 5 minutes we were done. Now I don’t say that to show off or give it loads of “Check me out aren’t I good?!?” … far from it; the reason I mention how long it took was simply to reinforce what I’ve eluded to many times in the past and that’s repetition.

The best advice I was ever given was by Joel Grimes and that was to pick a lighting style and do it over and over and over again until it becomes second nature and to the point where the lighting isn’t taking all your mental energy because then you can work on the subject of your picture and help bring the best out of them … does that make sense?

Below you can see the set up for this picture with one light off to the side and forward of Mick which allowed me to light him and the tractor but in such a way that one side of his face was lit and the other in shadow except for some light on his cheek under his eye…


The lighting style used here you can check out in this video that I recorded for my YouTube Channel:

Now because we’re currently experiencing some exceptionally good weather here in the UK when we took the picture it was quite bight to say the least so shooting in what Elinchrom call Hi-Sync ‘HS’ I was able to sync shutter speed and my flash at 1/400th second (if needed I could have shot at 1/8000 sec).

In the above picture on the right you can see how I positioned my camera because a) I wanted a very low angle, and b) I didn’t bring my tripod away with me. Having the camera resting on the ground like this did give a solid, steady base which was ideal because for this picture I took two pictures in quick succession (although Mick did move). Reason being that in the picture with the flash firing Mick was lit great but there were highlights / hot spots cast onto the tractor that I didn’t want. By taking two shots in quick succession I could take a shot with flash and then one without; then it was a simple case of masking in what I did and didn’t want from each picture during the retouching.

Note: You might wonder why I didn’t put my camera into High Speed Continuous so that it would take photographs in quick succession so that one would have flash and then the next wouldn’t because the flash wouldn’t have recycle in time. Well the reason was simply because the power I was using the flash at meant it was recycling crazy fast.


So just in case you’re interested, here’s the kit I used:

  • Sony A7RII
  • Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master Lens
  • Elinchrom ELB 400 HS
  • Westcott XXL Rapid Box Octa

Right, can’t think of anything more to add other than to tell you that tomorrow (Tuesday 24th July 2018) I’m doing a Webinar with Rocky Nook (my publisher) and will be going through some of the retouching steps for this picture of Mick as well as other techniques. It’s FREE so if you want to check it out CLICK HERE for more information.

As always if you have any questions / comments then please feel free to make use of the comments section below.


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1 Comment

  1. briandunkelphotography

    Just curious, would you have been able to do this with a Speedlite? or dual Speedlites?

    Pre-ordered your new book also. Can’t wait to get it use it in conjunction with my PLAT book.


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