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I shot a bear

I shot a bear. Not a real bear but a big, soft and fluffy teddy bear.

In order to learn how to use the new Nikon Speedlight SB-900, I did some quick setup in the living room and shot some pictures of a teddy bear I borrowed from Kevin.

Teddy bear

It was my first time shooting with a remote speedlight through an umbrella. My setup was fairly simple and classic — white background, speedlight on the right and a reflector on the left.

Bedsheet as the background, remote speedlight on the right and white cardboard as the reflector on the left.

First few shots were all failures as I have no idea how to make use of a remote speedlight. After experimenting for while, things started to become clear.

Experiment with remote speedlight. Fail fail fail fail.

I then started to experiment with different lighting. First I took a few shots without the umbrella just to see what’s the outcome.

Left: Speedlight from 45 degrees. Right: Speedlight from approximately 22 degrees.

Like what I’ve expected, direct speedlight produced harsh shadows which is not what I wanted.

After that, I put on the shoot-through umbrella and tried position the speedlight from different directions.

Left: Speedlight from the top. Right: Speedlight from 45 degrees.

Speedlight from the top overexposed the hair while Speedlight from 45 degrees evenly exposed the subject, but in-turn, making it looks flat.

I then pushed the speedlight a little bit further to approximately 22 degrees from the subject and suddenly the shadow between the hair gave the teddy bear more contrast, depth and textures as you can see from the picture below.

Final shot with speedlight coming from 22 degrees from the subject.

I settled with this picture and brought it into Photoshop for post processing. After background removal, colour balance, level adjustment, increase contrast and some other touch-ups, I finally have my final image.

Post-processed final image.

I’ve learned a lot during the process especially in setting the background. Firstly, using a cloth as the background produced a lot of unwanted shadow which makes it difficult to remove it in post. Secondly, I should’ve used another reflector to lighten up the background so that shadows can be reduced.

It’s not perfect but I think I’m happy with what I got from my first attempt at flash photography.

Published in Photography


  1. Ted Ted

    i love bears, nice shot. you gotta teach us now.

  2. Thanks! Now you know why I bought the umbrella 🙂 Lets go do some outdoor portraits soon.

  3. Ted Ted

    Can use umbrellas in my car? 😛 Yeap, I need to shoot somethin desperately, lol. Be it portrait or landscape anything goes.

  4. Zen Zen

    omg….i want it tooo~~~ dennis, nice one!!

  5. Hahaha… thanks… actually very difficult to find one like this lor… and it’s not cheap…

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