Controlling Light for an Edge on Tough Portraits with Jeff Rojas and FlashBender 2

Some shoots don't require an elaborate set up in order to get the shot, as the old adage goes, "less is more." For this shoot, that couldn't be any more true.

Here we're trying to capture a tough, undercut-man-bun-sporting, leather-jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding, 100% tough guy. He's modern, but rugged, detail-oriented, but casual, and in order to capture that which is cool about him, we've got to get in that same mindset.

New York City is a tight-quartered region, with little room to work and difficulty traveling with elaborate setups that don't require a film or photography permit of some type. So on this shoot, we're going to work with one speedlight and one modifier.

In our small garage, we can easily set up one light stand with one Phottix Mitros+ and a FlashBender 2 Large Reflector. We're going curve the edges of the FlashBender 2 in and place it behind the subject on camera left. This will allow a controlled narrow beam to illuminate the side of my subject's head and arm, creating a subtle difference in the image.

Our gray floor on the garage will bounce sunlight back up in to my subject's face for a soft fill resulting in an image that looks almost completely lit by ambient, but still has that subtle effect of the rim light.

Still keeping things simple, lets change angles and talk posing and lighting intensity.

In order to change my lighting intensity or exposure, we can move the the light away from or closer to the subject because the farther away the light is, the less intense it will expose on the subject, and vice versa.  This way we don't blowout any highlights on the leather jacket and properly separate him from the background when we capture some straight on shots.

In sitting positions on a motorcycle, we have to work carefully. We want the subject to look natural on the bike, but not hunched over and with a wrinkled jacket. By leaning on the gas tank, straightening his back, and slightly tilting his chin up with his neck stretched we can achieve a natural looking pose on the motorcycle.

We've captured all of these images on the Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD in order to get as close as we can to the subject and pick up a lot of detail. This detail adds to the grunge and grit of the garage and overall portrait.

Final Images:

Jeff Rojas
Jeff Rojas


Bio: Jeff Rojas is an American Photographer based in New York City. His primary body of work includes Portrait and Fashion Photography, although he’s directed misc. fashion films and commercials. Rojas also frequents as a photography instructor and has taught on various photographic platforms including: CreativeLIVE, WPPI, PhotoPlus Expo, Gulf Photo Plus and APA.

1 Response

John D Pappas
John D Pappas

September 23, 2016

Really appreciate the informational/instructional videos that Rogue provides, and the simple solutions for otherwise challenging light. Really have enjoyed following Jeff Rogas over the last few years since he ran a workshop at Unique Photo, and of course since he has photographed one of my favorite iconic photographers, Lindsay Adler. Thanks for yet another inspirational clip!

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