Day 27, and I thought I would use today to experiment with techniques I am not really familiar with.

I rarely shoot below 1/60th of a second but for this session, all of my shutter speeds ranged between 1 to 3.2 seconds.

In truth, this is my third or fourth attempt using this technique but I haven’t been thrilled with my result so far.

I am a big fan of portrait and fashion photographer Oleg Ti and I enjoy reading the articles he has so graciously posted on his blog covering his techniques and tips.

He made this look so easy and it inspired me to try it for myself several months ago. It did not work so well but I keep revisiting the technique. It is really fun and very much out of my comfort zone, you never really know what you are going to get. Plus, I can always convince the kids to model for me for this style of images as they think it is pretty cool.

The Light Setup

I placed a gridded and diffused beauty dish in front of my subjects and a 20-degree grid spot behind them, aiming toward their backs. I did my very best to keep the light from the grid spot off of my kid’s faces.

I set the grid spot’s modeling lamp on almost full power and disabled the flash for the session.

I paired my Alienbee strobe with the gridded beauty dish and set my shutter speed for 1.6 seconds.


Here is one of the first images. This image has no editing except to burn the backdrop that was showing on the left. 

My son was assisting and changing out colored gels as he desired.

I like to give my kids some creative license when they assist my mini-sessions, I have found they are more enthusiastic to help if I give them some say in the creation of the image.

This image was 3.2 second shutter speed and had a red gel over the modeling lamp.

I currently have a 30 day trial to a photo editing plug-in called Alien Skin.  Having access to this software gave me a chance to edit in a completely different way than I normally would. Since this session was all about experimenting I felt pushing myself out of my normal editing process was the right way to go.

I included a color and BW version of the next image.

This image was 2.5 second and I had her remain still but moved my camera. I was hoping more of the sparkly headband would catch the light to give light trails. It didn’t work as I hoped, but I feel close to getting there and I will definitely retry this in the future.

My son spent some time in front of the camra as well.

This was his pose, he was going for a “punching myself in the face” look.

Here, my flash did not fire but I thought it was kind of a cool “ghostly” look.

Occasionally my flash would fire twice throughout the exposure. I am not sure if this is a sync cord issue or if it is operator timing and headspace. When it fired twice, I would get something like this:

Lesson Learned

  • This is not a lesson learned as much as a question I need to find the answer too, why is my flash firing multiple times during a long exposure?
  • Keep trying. Each time I attempt these technique, I am a bit more pleased with the images. This may be something I keep playing with for years. And I am happy to do it.

Thanks for looking and I encourage you to go attempt something again that you have failed at previously.

Happy picture making!

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