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Golden Hour Senior Portrait How To

Marine City Senior Session Portrait

Utilizing off camera lighting for clean, correct colors during golden hour.

Another hot and sunny day without a could in the sky (there seems to be a theme unveiling itself here) which means another chance for the little strobe to prove its mettle. For this shoot I wanted to balance golden hour with off camera flash to get a nice mood. I recently got really into color grading and getting correct colors and I wanted this shoot to be the culmination of all my research and practice. FYI anyone looking to learn more on high-end retouching and color grading I HIGHLY recommend looking up Julia Kuzmenko. IMO she is one of the top retouchers in the world and has an amazing resource in RetouchingAcademy.com that has a wealth of both free and paid information and courses, including some invaluable tools that I use everyday.

For this particular shoot I used the following: (click for links to Amazon)

For this particular shot the sun was beaming so I looked for some shade. We were in an open field with a huge barn so I moved us to the shaded side of the barn so that it was between us and the sun. There was big sky and grass behind us that was reflecting plenty of sunlight and the background was a bit more shaded so all I needed to make this scene really pop was a touch of off camera lighting. I placed the strobe 45 degrees camera left about 10 feet away from the subject at 1/8 power. I was able to place it a bit further than my previous shoots because of the shade we were in. I chose a wide aperture for subject isolation and zoomed in to 130mm to enhance that effect a little more. I really wanted him to pop. After deciding on f4, I exposed for a slightly underexposed background which gave me the rest of the settings listed below. After that I turned on the strobe and fired off.

Camera Settings: (view this image full res on my Flickr page)

  • Aperture: f4
  • Shutter Speed: 1/800
  • ISO: 400
  • Focal Length: 130mm

For the edit I cloned & cropped away the brolly box on the left side of the image and cropped a bit more for dramatic effect. After that I imported into Photoshop and used the Retouching Panel from Julia Kuzmenko for color and lighting corrections.