Making “Wait For Me” War Time Portraits – NEW Picture PLUS Lighting Set Up

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: February 22, 2017

Category: Photography

Following on from a photo a shoot last week where I was continuing work on my Home Guard / World War 2 project I thought today I’d share a new picture with you and also give you a look Behind the Scenes at the lighting and set up.

Glyn Dewis - Bicester Home Guard

The picture above is of Steven Harris whom I’ve got to know through working with the Oxfordshire Home Guard and is what I affectionately call a ‘Wait for me’ portrait which was a style so often seen back in the day.

Here’s a screen grab from a Google search I did showing pictures I found that inspired this series of pictures that I’m adding into the project…

Bicester Home Guard - Glyn Dewis

From looking at the majority of the pictures I found online and ones I have in several history books I noticed that there are certain characteristics about them, namely:

  1. Vignetting / Brighter area of light directly behind the subjects
  2. Camera angle appears to be low and aimed up at subject
  3. Subjects upper body angled away from camera but face (on most) turned toward.

With this in mind here’s a look at my set up:

Glyn Dewis - Bicester Home Guard

The main light on the subject you can see is the same as I used in previous portraits, namely my Elinchrom Rotalux 135cm Octa positioned to the side and forward of the subject in order to give a Rembrandt style of lighting with one side of the subject’s face lit and the other in shadow, except for a pattern of light on the eye and cheek.

Bicester Home Guard - Glyn Dewis

For the background I again used a grey seamless roll of paper but also lit it with an Elinchrom D-Lite RX One fitted with reflector aimed so that it would create a brighter spot of light directly behind the subject. Because of it’s closeness to the background and photographing fairly wide open at f/4.0 I needed to reduce the power of this light further than it’s controls would allow. So what to use? Well thankfully in the village hall there’s a kitchen and in the kitchen a roll of paper kitchen towel, so….

Bicester Home Guard - Glyn Dewis

In the picture below you can clearly see the paper kitchen towel that I stuck across the front of the reflector and grid on the D-Lite RX One. Doing so reduced the light output by roughly a full stop.

Bicester Home Guard - Glyn Dewis

I also notice from the images online and in my books that the shadows aren’t particularly deep so to fill in shadow areas and add some light back into the image on the other side of the subject from the Octa, I had one of the Home Guard hold a reflector (silver side towards light); you can see the reflector being held in place in this Behind the Scenes picture…

Bicester Home Guard - Glyn Dewis

As always I was shooting tethered into my MacBook Pro using TetherTools orange cable and a Jerk Stopper to prevent the cable being pulled out of the camera and potentially causing damage to the port. Here’s a look at the complete set up from a different angle showing my camera on a tripod (3Legged Thing – Winston) and tethered to my MacBook Pro which you’ll notice is resting on top of my Peli Case. Some folks tend to have their laptops on a dedicated stand but I prefer to keep mine as low to the ground as possible for fear of knocking it over … as almost happened before more than once.

Bicester Home Guard - Glyn Dewis

Below you can see the battery pack for my Elinchrom ELB 400 hanging from a C-Stand, and also my MacBook Pro ontop of my Peli Case, the Tether Tools orange cable and my Sekonic EL-478 Light Meter which works directly with my Elinchrom lights controlling power and triggering.

Bicester Home Guard - Glyn Dewis

In the picture below you can see my camera on my tripod, the 3Legged Thing ‘Winston’ and then on the floor my iPad with reference pictures on display; something I will often do to help with my lighting set up and also posing when photographing the subject.

Bicester Home Guard - Glyn Dewis

The two pictures below show the BEFORE (Out of Camera) and AFTER (Print Ready) image…

Bicester Home Guard - Glyn Dewis

Glyn Dewis - Bicester Home Guard

So that’s pretty much it but if you have any questions at all about this then feel free to make use of the comments section below and I’ll be sure to reply.

In the mean time though, CLICK HERE to take a look at a BIG version of this image over on my 500px portfolio page.

Catch you next time,

•Check out my HOME GUARD – Tutorial Download in my Web Store taking you through the entire photography and retouching process for pictures like this – CLICK HERE

Glyn Dewis Home Guard Complete Retouching Workflow in Photoshop and Lightroom

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  1. philslide

    Hi Glyn. How did you get that “brown’ish” look in your series ? It suits the whole concept very well. And as for sharpening – did you use high frequency separation for this ?
    Cheers mate, Phillip

  2. Anthony Crothers

    Great post mate, very informative and an awesome image, great work. I think shooting slightly up towards the subject helps give it the ‘noble’ feel and works very well. Love the way you’ve analysed the old photos’ and stamped your own style and look on the image.
    From the BTS pictures it looks as if the centre of your lens is about in line with the subjects Adam’s apple, is that the case?

  3. Rhinda Larsen

    Thanks for sharing this series Glyn. Highlights the importance of photography and making images before it is too late. I love that tobacco colour look too. Again thanks. R


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