Have you wondered how I create the beautiful low key black background portraits? This article will give you a behind the scenes look into how I use powerful portable studio lights that I can use almost anywhere within reason. I personally favour a one light set up as I like the dramatic shadows that can be created although the light angle does need to be near on perfect to the cm. A cloudy day is my best friend and allows me to shoot almost anywhere as the photos below will show. If it is sunny I just need a bit of shade and a solid background whether that is from trees, a building or otherwise. I can normally be quite creative with acquiring suitable conditions when required. Indoor schools can be amazing

I start by desensitising my subject to the light at a lower power before cracking on with producing some portraits. I discussed desensitising horses in an earlier blog. I often work with a number of different positions and angles to create a range of dynamic and dramatic portraits where possible. I use a selection of different ‘modifiers’ to control the light both the direction and strength, from a plain plastic diffuser to shaped light boxes.

Here are a few examples of behind the scenes images that show how I created some of my portraits and how dramatic just a couple of cm’s difference in lighting angle can be.


Behind The Scenes


equine photographer black background hambleden studio lit

On the left my set up on the right the resulting image

Light Angles

Looking at how much the angle of the light can affect the portraits here are a few examples where the lighting angles has been changed by just a few centimetres but in doing so has created very different portraits. Roll over the images to read where lights were placed in each instance.

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