Home » Reflections » Behind the Shot: Chrissy Marie on 2014-05-25 in Lucerne Valley

Behind the Shot: Chrissy Marie on 2014-05-25 in Lucerne Valley

It has been quite some time since I wrote a “Behind the Shot” post. Frankly, I just haven’t been shooting much at all in the past several months. Anyway, this past Memorial Day weekend I was out with some friends in what is known as the “High Desert” of Southern California (specifically Lucerne Valley).

I had a new rifle build in my truck since I had gone to the range that morning, so I wanted to take the opportunity to get a product shot for a build report to be posted on my blog.

The following photo is what I ended up using:


Model: Chrissy Marie (Model Mayhem Profile | Twitter | Facebook)

Rifle: Custom (built by me) 16″ AR-15 mid-length with 13″ KeyMod handguard (read build report)

Pistol: Glock 19 Gen 3 with Surefire X300 Ultra in a Raven Concealment Systems Phantom LC Holster

Accessories: HSGI “Costa” Leg Rig (V1) on an Ares Gear Ranger Belt


As you can see in the above diagram, it’s a simple one light set up consisting of an Alien Bees B1600 with a 47″ octabox.

What’s not really explained in the above diagram is that the model (Chrissy Marie) is just inside the doorway of an abandoned, dilapidated house. There are open window frames (no glass or shutters) and the wood roof is primarily ‘intact’, but there are gaps and cracks in the roof and walls where the house wore away due to weather (wind, heat, rain) and time, allowing rays of light to fall in.

The sun was still fairly high in the sky at the time the photo was taken (2014-05-25 at 1631PDT), but on the latter half of it’s apex.

The original camera exposure settings for the photograph in question were:

Aperture: f/4

Shutter Speed: 1/200sec

ISO: 100

Focal Length: 85mm

Lens: Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Alien Bees B1600: 1/8th power

The shutter speed of 1/200sec was chosen simply because it is the flash-sync speed of my camera.

I’m always on ISO 100 by default (base ISO), and I opened up to an aperture of f/4 because the interior of the house was too dark at f/8-f/11. I didn’t want to take the time and effort to setup a background light.

I’m really big on using hair light, particularly with brunette and raven hair. I want some separation for the head and the background, even if when shooting thin depth of field, and I was able to utilize the conditions of the abandoned house to get sunlight to fall on the model to highlight the side of the head/hair and some of the body. This helps to give separation between the model and the rough background (bokeh’ed interior of the house) and shadows.

In retrospect, I probably should have kept my camera’s aperture at f/8 and bumped the sensitivity up to ISO 200 just to get a little more depth of field since the intent was more of a product shot than a glamour shot. But it is what it is and the photo is still fine.

Would I have gained much from a second light to light up the background or to rim the model? I don’t think so.

The single light setup works fine because of the fact I was still able to leverage the sunlight through the cracks in the house, and (im)balancing the exposure of the background with respect to the model was still within the dynamic range of my camera with the natural lighting conditions at the time.

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