Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Lighting for Street Portraits

Also in this issue:
  • Vegas Seminar
  • A9 v5 update
  • A6400 ebook
  • Other updates...
Lighting for Street Portraits

This is the famous Acorn Street in Boston, where I recently took some family portraits.  It's a very popular street for this purpose; I had to fight other people and other photographers just to get a few minutes of ideal shooting time.

This lighting technique is pretty routine for me now but it did raise the curiosity level of at least one area photographer.  "How was the lighting done?"  I'll explain it, but not before I point out that you can tell where the light was by examining the direction of the shadows.

The answer?  You know it's wireless flash. :-)  I put my camera into Manual Exposure mode, underexposed the ambient light by one stop (so it wouldn't compete with the subject as much), and had an assistant hold a flash with paper diffuser in the "Rembrandt" lighting position (45 degrees up; 45 degrees to the side).  Below is a behind-the-scenes shot (click on any image here to see it larger):

We used the same technique throughout the day:

(Nobody ever wants to wait for the final pics.  See my blog post on The Value of Immediacy.)

Later that afternoon I had a much harder challenge: the background was too cluttered for the full family shot.  What to do?

Cluttered background on the left... fixed with Photoshop on the right.

I'll explain how I did that after a few announcements.

Vegas Seminar

The Las Vegas seminar is just a couple of weeks away - April 26-27, 2019 (that's a Friday and Saturday, so we can all attend the "Cadillac Through The Years" classic car show on Sunday).  An exciting event!  Sign up here for a weekend of clarity and cars.  

The Copenhagen seminar will be happening September 14-15th.  The signup page won't be ready for awhile, so just shoot me an email (Gary at Friedman Archives dot com) if you're interested in learning more.

In the Pipeline

Yes, I'll be creating a new supplement for the Firmware v5 update for the Sony A9.  No need to ask.  Every ebook owner (and everyone who's registered their Kindle and Printed Book purchase) will automatically receive a download link via email once it's done.

What about Updates for Other Cameras?

Below is a timeline that's been circulating around the web.  It specifies that the A7 III series will receive a firmware update in April, and the A9 will receive yet another firmware update in "summer".  Free updates for all of these will be provided to ebook purchasers and registered owners when these are completed.

Alpha 6400 Ebook almost finished!  Hope to have it in pre-release by the time the Vegas Seminar happens.  You can pre-order the book here at a discount.

A7 III Ebook en fran├žais!

Let me know if you'd like to be notified when this is available.


To solve the problem of crowded background, I merged two photos from the session together - using the background of the 1st picture as a backdrop.

Here's how I created the right image, step-by-step:

Yikes!  Look at that distracting background!
Using Photoshop's Quick Selection tool, I selected just the participants (and some of the stone ground by their feet, because shadows near the feet are essential to make it not look photoshopped):

Then I pasted it onto the background of the first picture, knowing the larger family would cover the two kids:

Voila!  I should point out that very few photoshop fixes are this easy or straightforward.  I lucked out on this one.

Until next time,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman


  1. Thank you! You have wonderful and simple techniques! I wish we could attend your seminars this year!

  2. You have epitomized the meaning of K.I.S.S.

  3. Well done Gary looks good. Updates for the A9911 ???any news on the subject. Thanks .

    1. Are you asking me if there will be firmware updates for the A99 II? I have heard no such rumors (and no, I have no inside information about these thing).

  4. I guess I can't use a wireless the flash trick because I've been told by a good camera store that the only trigger on my A6000 is another sony flash on the camera which fires the other Sony flash IF it can see the infrared light signal. Am I right?

    1. It's true that it takes a Sony flash mounted on top of the A6000 to trigger another wireless flash. If you want to spend less money you can always go with Godox which makes affordable flashes and radio triggers.

  5. May I optimisme my sony rx10 iv camera with your innovatieve technique.

    1. Yes, this technique works with any camera that uses wireless flash. See my blog post here (toward the bottom) where I used this technique with an RX-10 IV:

  6. Very interested to get the A7III book in French !
    Please let me know when available :)
    I'm looking forward to reading your update after firmawre update also :)

  7. Another brilliant blog Gary, many thanks.

  8. to add to what Gary said about Godox flash units. I have the Godox TT350 which is a small - lower power but adequate for images the portrait shots in the blog. It is a great size for the 7R3. It matches nicely with the Godox XITTL wireless flash trigger. Got bothlast December for about $130. Very happy with them.


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