A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, August 27, 2009


The first portrait session with Michael DeVault went well. Michael DeVaultMichael approached me for a few portraits after seeing some of my work online. I took photos of him in his office, as well as in a friend's courtyard.

So far, I have not relied on strobes or typical photographer's lighting gear. I rely on sunlight. I'm cheap and low tech, I guess. That's the main reason. I suppose investing in some lighting equipment would give me more flexibility, enabling me to shoot when and how I would like. It would also involve managing more gear however, and also invest in the time required to learn to use it well. I like to see what I am getting when I press the shutter. I do own a collapsible reflector. I haven't used it much....

Michael is a novelist, currently working on his third book. He is the author of Anything But Ordinary and Thunder in the Distance. The shots I took will be used on the "about the author" section of the book jacket on subsequent books. These two frames are my personal favorites, and aren't necessarily the ones he will chose to use.

I find that I enjoy the spontaneity and serendipity of shooting environmental portraiture. Being able to adjust to available lighting conditions and still squeeze out a decent shot is what excites me. Taking a bunch of supplemental lighting gear up a couple of flights of stairs does not. If I continue to shoot portraiture for profit though, I may have to readjust my way of thinking........

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Anonymous Sans Authoritas said...

The top photo is great. Very well done.

You've definitely got a God-given talent for it.

11:21 PM  
Blogger DouginSalcha said...


I had someone a number of years ago give me a couple of pointers for taking pictures of porcelain dolls. I made one at the local military post craft shop about 12 or 15 years back (the wife still has it stored somewhere).

You need a piece of black velvet (about 9 or 10 square feed) and at least two portable lamp shades. You can usually find portable work light 'shades' that are made out of aluminum with spring loaded clamps at a hardware store.

Clamp them onto anthing that allows you to focus them on your subject (one high and one low and offset to one side) with the subject (porcelain dolls in my case) on the black velvet at the center of my focus. Lighting need not be 'expensive'.

Good luck and best wishes,


12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the color portrait. Very nicely done.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...


I use two aluminum clamp lights and a large piece (2X3 yards) of black fleece in some of my work that has the black background. I also use a car windshield reflector that is sold to keep the car cool in a parking lot. I recently bought a real reflector, just so it would stay open better.

I use ths gear for some shots. Sometimes though, I want more of the person's environment in the shot. The direct incadescent light can be rather harsh, even when diffused. Regardless of the type of light, it's still more gear to truck around and fiddle with.

I'm still adjusting to directing a model and managing equipment while thinking and composing and planning.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Xavier, when my wife was starting out her photography business, we were cheap and low tech as well. If you want to get a bit more out of outdoor sunlit portraits, shooting at the right time of day is obviously important. Also helpful would be a decent reflector and a friend to aim it on the fly. We have one that's about 5 feet across, collapsible, with silver on one side and gold on the other for warmer tones. It really makes a difference.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Freddyboomboom said...


Ron Davis has some tutorial type stuff at his blog as well as his professional website on portraiture photography.

Check them out.

Hope you're doing well.


12:57 PM  
OpenID reflectoscope said...

If you can get results like this with expedient kit... go with it.


3:03 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

Xav, I have to admit to being partial to the color shot myself. it looks more natural, the shot with him looking over his glasses looks a bit posed and it gives him a bit of a double chin.

my two centavos.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

There is the irony.... The B&W was unposed, the color shot was posed..... But I agree with the rest. The color is superior overall.....

4:04 PM  
Blogger Laughingdog said...

There are a few professional photographers in the photography club that I attend, and one of them has never used flashes for any of her work. She uses natural light exclusively, with white, gold, and silver reflectors for fill-light on the shaded side of the face.

She's especially fond of Rembrandt-styled lighting (i.e., interior shot with sunlight from a window on the north side of the room). Her stuff looks fantastic, and she's doing quite well for herself financially without using a single flash.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Laughingdog said...

I'm surprised that I found this post related to the subject so quickly.


which I got too from this blog I check periodically.


2:21 AM  

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