DJ Denzil

denzil -12s

I recently had a morning portrait session with DJ Denzil Lacey at the radio studio in Bray. Denzil is an up and coming DJ and I reckon we will be hearing more from him in the future. He is looking to update his website and he booked me to take some images for it. We spent the morning trying out a few different looks, from a typical DJ shot to some more unique portraits.

He was looking for for some nice shots around the studio, so I kinda had the shot pre-visualised in my head, headphones, microphones, loads of buttons etc. Upon arriving on the location and having a look around, it was pretty much how I thought. This pre-visualising was key in the end as the studio was only free for short period of time, so our shooting window here was quick.

I only started to think about lighting once I got there, as I had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be pretty dark, with just a few tungsten spot lights in the ceiling. So I knew straight away that my flashes would need either 1/2 cto or full cto gels depending on the temp of the lights.

I didn’t have the light meter at hand,  so I done a David Hobby on it and took some test shots and chimped it. At 1/50, F2 @ ISO200, the exposure was about right. So it was pretty grim in there. I could not shoot at F2 as the depth of field would be too shallow. I closed the aperture until I got reasonable sharpness and this was at F4, which then brought my shutter speed down to 1/30s, as I did want to under expose the ambient anyways. At 1/30s there was a risk of motion blur, but I knew that the burst of the flash would be able to freeze most of he shake, while a good sturdy grip would reduce any potential shake.

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So now that I have my settings, time to bring in the lights. So far, we are in the studio about 60 seconds. Sorting out the base exposure values only takes a couple of test shots with pratice. It’s the placing of the lighting that is usually the biggest challenge. For this shot, I kept it fairly simple lighting wise. I used a Nikon SB600 speedlight in an Orbis Ring Flash as the key light. I placed it right in front of Denzil, just out the frame. I adjusted the power manually to suite my F4 aperture setting.  I think it settled at 1/2 power. I love using the orbis, expecially at this kinda range as is directional light that is also has a nice softness to it. It is like a mini soft box in a way.

So the key light is in place and I start to work on the composition for the shot. A couple of frames later and I felt the shot was missing a little something something. As the studio was pretty dark, Denzil’s head was getting lost in the background.  I realised that it was a hair light that was needed to add some separation from the background. I quickly grabbed another light that I had and a stand and gel’d it up. I placed it up high, behind Denzil. A few test shots later to dial in the power and we were good to go again. A few more shots and we got what we needed.

The hair light was a Youngo YN-460-II,  triggered by its built in optical slave. They are a great little flash for the price. They have a built in optical slave with smart TTL sensing, as well as having pretty similar power levels to branded flashes. The only thing with them is that they are a manual flash, which is perfect for off camera usage.


The next shot is pretty well documented by the following series. It is a basic two light setup. Hard key light from the left with a hair light from the right. The hair light in this instance is probably a bit underpowered in the end result. It could have been a bit brighter, but there was no room to move the light, and the next stop up on the Youngo flash was very bright. That is one draw backs about using the YN-460, is that the power levels would not very accurate. That is, for each stop of power that you think your are increasing the power, you are not getting that from the flash. End of the day though, you get what you pay for.

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Thats it for now. Comments or questions can be posted below.

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