If you are interested in a bright, vibrant, beautifully coloured portrait session, this one’s for you. It is a great way to mix things up and really capture some fun! All you need is a fun-loving couple like Christa and Ernst, lots of brightly coloured powder and two Speedlights.
Tips for a successful powder session:
- You need a powder that is environmentally friendly. Follow this link to view a video that will show you how to manufacture your own using starch and food colouring.
- Pick a location that will be colour mess friendly, haha, although it will all wash away with the first rain.
- Keep the colours separated in clear plastic bags or containers, so that you know which ones you want to use next.
- Wear light coloured clothes, preferably white, so that the colours will pop during the shoot.
- Once you start throwing the powder, there is no turning back!
- Don’t smear it, throw it. It looks better in the pictures that way.
- Start with small amounts of powder and then go big, although our couple went for gold from the word go!
- Go for it, don’t be scared at all and have fun!
The lighting setup:
We used a very basic light sandwich. On camera left, I had a speed light at a 105 mm zoom to expose for their faces. At camera right, but at the back, I had a speed light on a 50 mm zoom, for a wider spread of light, in order to highlight the powder at the back. This back-light was double the power than the speed light aimed at their faces. Shutter speed was at 1/200 with the aperture at 2.8 and my ISO was at 400 for most of the shoot. When it really started to get dark, I increased the ISO, with the opposite drop in the power in the strobes, to keep the balance I had in the setup.
It is also very important to make sure that your camera and lens is protected during this session. The powder particles are very small and can easily cause damage in your camera and lens. I opted to shoot with a long focal length (200mm) in order to ensure that I am far away from the action and dust problems. The two-speed lights were protected with clear plastic bags over them, using an elastic band to seal it against the stand.
Let the fun begin!
- In picture 1 we can see Christa and Ernst ready for action while I do a final check on settings and lighting.
- In picture 2 the war started, and it is clear that Christa is the main aggressor. Haha.
- In picture 3 we needed more powder to enhance the effect and cupfuls of powder were thrown at them from two different directions.
This was a lot of fun and an enjoyable Saturday evening, doing what we love most, taking pictures. This is a fun way to capture a couple that will enjoy something completely different. We ended up doing this shoot early evening, and the colour showed off well against the darker background. I can also see this working in a very bright environment. I want to close this tutorial with a frame we grabbed during the shoot. They were taking a break from throwing powder at each other and we got a typical happy pose!
Photographers : Deon & Rina Coetzee
The happy couple : Christa & Ernst