Location lighting with Bill Turnbull – contact sheet critique

Editorial photography usually involves little or no time to photograph your subject. Typically you arrive not knowing where you can photograph, whether the person is running late / has time / is in the mood to be photographed so your decisions have to be quick and flexible. This week I had 8 seconds to photograph Professor Robert Winston – that’s 3 frames and enough time to say “please sit here”. With the shots of Bill Turnbull I had 6 frames and so I thought a critique of the contact sheet might be helpful to look at why I rejected 3 of the 6 frames and how the shot was done.


4.30pm, the sun is low and falling away but thankfully lighting the cathedral. I rejected an earlier position against a metal gate and went for the stone post. This was completely in shadow so I could control the lighting. A small softbox camera left and then a second light behind Bill. I wanted it to look more like an August afternoon than a cold October evening. The first shot or two (one light firing) was good but a bit moody. The second light really brought things alive, adding definition to neck and shoulder line. The shots that I rejected where to do with expression – teeth were better than just a smile. Note the post production to remove the distracting ironwork, cones and people! Kit – 2 x Canon 580EXII, Pocketwizards x 3, Lastolite Ezybox and 2 lightstands (my standard kit). Canon 5D + 24-105L.