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Never Alone

Extreme Family portrait by Justin Van Leeuwen

My inspiration of this series is Jason Lee, or “jwlphotography” on Flickr. I first heard of him when the Strobist blog featured his work – doing amazing setups with his two little girls – I’ve been hooked ever since. His own work has taken a bit of a departure from the surreal and comical – no less excellent, mind you – I’m sure he won’t mind if I pick up where he left off.

Due dilligence done.

So this idea, basically came about the same as any other: a friend and client mentioned to me, how Mel’s first week back at work would include some “adjusting to going to the bathroom alone”. How true that is – these kids pop up everywhere – if you want them around or not. But that’s our role as parents right? We don’t get to turn “off” our children at will unless we have enough NyQuil (I joke).

Here’s a setup shot for those interested in the lights I used:


You’ll see I’ve toned down that back light a bit – I know it’s “necessary” to give things a good 3D feel, but had a habit of blowing it out of proportion early on. A great thing about the 7D is I can tune the flashes, remotely, from the camera, to exactly the ratio/output that I want. It’s fired through a Lumiquest LTp, which I mentioned with it’s younger brother the SBIII in this post about softboxes.

The Softbox gives the light a little spread, so it will pass by me and hit the kids, wherever they decided to end up. After that, I’m just concerned with lighting the room. With my sons moving around, I don’t have a lot of choice if I wanted to create isolated, dramatic light, so I go for big bounce fill by sticking the 580exII right up into the ceiling (which is white) and that’ll fall down and cover most of the small area.

To make sure we have lighting at eye-level, I bounced a 430ex into a reflector, which is toned down to not dominate or be the obvious light source (lights come from “up” right?) but enough so that we’re not cast in shadow. You’ll see a little flag on the 430; that’s to keep the light from hitting my lens and creating flare. It’s a Honl Photo Gobo. You should just load up a cart with pretty much all his stuff now, because you never know when you’re gonna need a handy flash modifier.

Of course I’ve posted this image to Flickr, which you can see larger there. As always, I’d love to hear what you think – about the series, about this image, technically or whatever – so comments are welcome.

4 thoughts on “Never Alone

  1. Miles says:

    Brilliant! I wish I knew the first thing about lighting but it seems like such a hassle, results like these make it look worthwhile though!

  2. OMG! How similar our lives must be…but obviously you're a better house keeper than me. With my bride in Kuwait I'm single parenting it, even though I'm not a true single parent.

    It helps me get through the days to see and hear your stories.

  3. I can't comment on the lighting, etc, since I'm all lazy/scared/cheap when it comes to that… I mean, I "prefer" natural lighting. 😉

    Love the series though! Your boys will get such a kick out of these (and how much effort you put into them) when they're older.

  4. faisal says:

    thats normal… I usually film myself pooping all the time for archival reasons. 🙂