Making an Image in Spotty Lighting

Gage Young photographs a musician in a tough lighting situation.

For his portrait of musician Dave Melillo, photographer Gage Young used a 320 watt-second AlienBees B800 strobe (A) mounted in a Paul C. Buff medium softbox (C), which he fired with Buff’s CyberSync wireless radio slave flash trigger kit (B). He powered the strobe with a Buff Vagabond II portable battery (D). To stop the dappled sunlight from producing high-contrast hot spots on his subject, Young flagged it by clamping a 36×42-inch sheet of black foamcore board (E) onto a Buff 13-foot lightstand (F). Young strongly defocused his background by shooting his 50mm f/1.4 EF USM Canon lens nearly wide open—he was able to do this despite the bright daylight thanks to two Promaster 58mm 2-stop neutral-density filters threaded onto the lens (G), which together dimmed the exposure by a total of 4 stops. Kris Holland/Mafic Studios (illustration)
AlienBees B800 mono- light ($280, direct)
Paul C. Buff medium softbox ($120, direct)
Paul C. Buff Cyber- Sync flash trigger ($160, direct)