Coal Harbor with Christine Anne

This weekend I had the pleasure to capture Christine Anne (@christinean) with my camera. We headed to a apartment in Coal Harbor, provided to us by the amazing Jill Sinclair (@hotrodrealtor), in an area pretty close to Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver. The view was amazing, but we weren’t there to observe the scenery, we were there to shoot.

Upon arriving, I was immediately impressed with the lighting in the place: very ambient. Also, I was very happy with the furniture, I loved the couch we were able to use.

Christine Anne hadn’t done much modeling before, but she was amazing to work with, smiled very nicely, and, well, you can see for yourself how stunning she is.

What I used for the shoot was my Canon T1i. I don’t like to use it, but because of close quarters of the apartment, I was forced to either use my wide-angle or my 18-55mm kit lens, so I chose the 18-55 to use because it would allow me to also get detail shots without having to change my lens. It turned out to work pretty good afterall. I also had my Yongnuo flash in hand, attached by a coil-cable to my hotshoe so I could have more freedom to place it wherever I wanted, since I didn’t have a stand for it. For the most part, I used the natural reflector built into the flash, with the flat surface of the reflector pointed at Miss C.

I’m trying to learn lighting, so if you have any suggestions as to what you would have done differently, I’d love to hear.

Hope you enjoy!







6 responses to “Coal Harbor with Christine Anne”

  1. Ryan Avatar

    This shoot turned out pretty well, your framing is nice and you have done a good job of capturing the personality of your model. However, there are some points you could work on.

    The first being that I know you mentioned you were tight on space, however, most of the photos are not very close on your subject. It would have been great to see some more portrait style close up shots taken with longer glass.

    Second, you need to work on lighting the subject better so that she becomes the primary focus of the frame. Human eyes are naturally drawn to bright areas and away from dark.

    Your model is wearing dark clothing and has dark hair while the rest of the scene is a very bright white. I love this contract. The black on white creates a great dichotomy of emotion. however, when viewing the photos I find my eyes being drawn towards the window and not the model which is because humans eyes operate by detecting light.

    To solve this problem you need to light in a way that makes the skin of your model pop and overpower the whiteness of the scene around you. There are a number of ways this can be accomplished.

    First you could simply punch up more power with your artificial lighting. Since you only had a single speed-light I would suggest getting it as close to your model as possible. Although in order to do this you would have to shoot through some sort of light shaper to keep the light even and smooth.

    Another option would be setting up a few reflectors to leverage the window’s natural light and shoot it back at your model to help give your flash unit a little extra punch.

    You could also hang sheets between the drapes and the window to provide an extra layer of diffusion so the natural sunlight is more muted. (although, I don’t think that would necessarily work all that well in this case since you would likely lose the “whiteness” of the scene)

    For future shoots I suggest investing in another speed light or two so that when shooting in a bright backdrop like this you can use your flash to overpower the sunlight and make your model “pop” as the primary focus of the frame.

    As a whole, good job though, Shooting with a light source as your backdrop can be very difficult as you often have to choose between losing detail in either background or foreground and you were able to preserve both.

    1. ned Avatar

      Man, thanks a lot for this feedback. I appreciate it a lot. I’ve been thinking about a lot of this stuff too. Bringing in some reflectors to make the subject pop. That’s why I have my flash in hand so that I can direct the pop, but it’s not doing the trick I don’t think, or it’s not ambient enough.

      I’ve just got a diffuser for the flash, so hopefully that will do something good for me!

      Thanks again for your time to comment! Glad you enjoyed the shots!

      1. Ryan Avatar

        Ya for sure. Speedlights aren’t very heavy, I would suggest picking up a cheap plastic lightstand with a hotshoe mount so that you don’t have to hold the light. If you have a tripod that can work too. (i think a threaded hotshoe mount goes for about $10) (Also I suggest buddying up with some other photogs of your experience level and taking turns assisting each other, having an assistant during a shoot makes things sooo much easier.)

        As for having enough pop, you definitely chose a really difficult setting. You need a lot of juice to overpower the sun. The problem with speed lights is that you don’t get a lot of punch for the price. You pay for the versatility and portability. It is ultimately why I invested in strobes personally, I was budgeting out a pair of speed lights and realized for less money I could get a couple strobes with enough punch to light up a building. (They do get heavy to lug around though hahaha)

        I say just keep at it the way you are doing it. Grab a light stand, maybe a couple more cheap reflectors and stands to hold them and if you are going to shoot with window backgrounds maybe wait until sunset when the sun is a little bit less aggressive. 😉

        1. ned Avatar


          Thanks a bunch for the tips. The reason why I hold the light in my hand is because every shot I hold it in a different place, if I had to move the light stand or tripod every shot, it would make things waay slower, but it might be nice to have one on hand anyways, there have been some time where I’m lying on the floor and want the light straight down from above. I’ve heard even a white board will work nicely for a reflector, as well as some Styrofoam..

          And yes, I’ve definitely got my eyes peeled on some strobes, suggest any in particular? I’ve been kind of eying up the Alien Bee 800’s.

          1. Ryan Avatar

            As you become more experienced with your lighting it will quickly become much less about moving the light for every frame and more about setting up your lighting and nudging it until you are happy with it and then trying a number of poses until you are happy with the exposure. Joe McNally’s new book: “Sketching Light” is an excellent read that I think you would really benefit from.

            As for a reflector, a white board can work but I suggest just getting some 5-in-1 reflectors that are much lighter, fold up smaller, and are more versatile. (plus they only cost $12)

            As for strobes it will be heavily impacted by your budget. I suggest making sure that you go with a brand who has a fairly generic speedring or has access to many adapters. I have heard good things about Alien Bees but I don’t know much about how easily it is to hook up other light shapers to them.

            Personally I use Impact strobes because they work great and give a lot of bang for your buck. They also use a Bowens speed ring mount so you have access to a very large variety of softboxes.

            I have also heard Elinchron makes sensational lights but I think they are a bit on the more expensive side.

            Also make sure to research how they can be triggered. For example each Impact light I have has a little IR reciever so I can hardline my camera into one as a master and they all fire. Not all strobes do this. Many have to each have a “line in” which pretty much forces you to buy an expensive remote triggering system or have way to many cords dangling off your camera 😉

          2. ned Avatar

            Thank you Ryan for taking the time to give me some advice here. I appreciate it, and will head on to the reflector. 🙂 dear light.

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