Today is the final day of my 30-day portrait challenge.

I used the last 30 days to experiment with 30 unique OCF (off camera flash) setups in order to grow and stretch my lighting skills. The last 30 days have been an overdose of lighting gear and modifier research and education. Not only have I been photographing portraits daily but I have also been reading blog posts, watching videos and reading books regarding OCF education.

I plan on making a blog post detailing the resources I used during this time to help out anyone else who may be interested.

I am so glad I took this challenge and feel like I compressed 6 months of learning into 30 days.

The Light Setup

This started with three lights but turned into a two-light and then a one-light setup as my new-ish DigiBee800 strobe, that I unaffectionately have named  “I only work when I want to”, kept going on the fritz.

I had a softbox center front, above and angled down toward my model and a shoot through umbrella directly under the softbox and angled up. I photographed in the space in between those two modifiers. There was a 30-degree grid spot directed toward the background.


I would like to retry this setup with black panels very close to the sides of her face to add some dimension, like so many of the challenges this month, I am finding that I really love to create images with heavy shadows on the face.

I also would have liked the upper light to be positioneded slightly lower so that I could see the catchlight better.

I switched to my beauty dish placed high and to camera right. We also added some wind. Wind, shadows and long hair, in my opinion, is the trifecta of dramatic portraits.

I tried different angles with the beauty dish for a variety of lighting looks.

And I ended with my softbox.

Mina was super patient with my tinkering and never complained about the cold wind I blasted her with for the majority of the session.

 Lessons Learned

  • I should have experimented with black panels at the sides of her face to add depth and dimension in the first light setup.
  • Use all new gear immediately so that you can take advantage of its warranty period. This will give you time to return it if you have any problems.
  • Try new things. Always. Then go back to it and investigate further.

Well, that is a wrap!

I am celebrating the successful completion of the challenge by taking my kids out to a restaurant of their choice tonight as they were such a big help during this project.

For the future, I am hooked on giving myself a focused challenge and I have been kicking around what my next one will be. I have to admit that I am ready to come out from my dark basement and see the light and smell the spring air.

I think I may dedicate the month of April to lifestyle and natural light images. This is a one-eighty from what I have spent the last month working on and I wouldn’t mind the change of pace.

I do not plan on daily posts but I will post a recap of each week on Friday. This will give me another day to blog posts on educational material, gear reviews, and sessions.

Thanks for reading and I hope you are inspired to do a personal project of your own. I don’t think you will regret it.

Happy creating!


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