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  • Writer's pictureSudhir Damerla

Black in Back

father and baby portrait photography
© Sudhir Damerla 2018

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about my lighting technique from a photoshoot for a good friend and newborn. The shoot was done at her home with a simple two light setup. This blog is part-II of the shoot where I decided to take a completely different approach with the dad and shoot a different mood.

I asked the dad to wear a black shirt to contrast with the mood of the previous shot where the mum was shot on all white and in colour. Doing the complete opposite for them was going to give the shoot a variety and also challenge me as a photographer.

Now, as you can probably already understand, when shooting a baby you have very limited time. And after the first session with the mother I already knew I had nothing more that 10 minutes for this shoot before the baby might get cranky or tired. (These were shot all on the same day)

lightroom screenshot photography workflow
© Sudhir Damerla 2018

I think i shot about a 100 frames before I finished up with this series. As you can see, from the sequence of images above, it was a pretty quick shoot.

So in the few minutes I had between the shots, I quickly swapped the white background with a black one, put the Godox AD200 on a boom with a small 80 cm octa box, positioned it 3 feet in front and 3 feet above the subject pointed down. The octa box, although not classified as one, is a deep octa from an amazon brand called Neewer. I bought this from amazon US, but is available in India now. The Nikon SB800 was placed to the rear left of the subject with a grid, but I ended up using it only for one shot. All in all, a quick and easy setup which took less than 5 minutes for some really consistent results. Mind you, I wasn’t playing with the powers but had the flashes set in TTL mode. Maybe I did underexpose the key light by a stop to keep the blacks from becoming mid grey (TTL likes to overexpose blacks and underexpose whites to make them a mid grey)

father baby newborn photography black and white
© Sudhir Damerla 2018

Here is the first shot with and without the kicker light (left and right). I would have loved to have a bigger and softer light just to get some light into the eyes, but oh well... you have to work with the space and time you have.

And a few bonus shots of the mother and that's a wrap for the day!

mother portrait black background lightroom screenshot
© Sudhir Damerla 2018

Tech : Nikon D800E + Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D Lighting: Godox AD200 + Nikon SB700

Questions / Comments? Please feel free to post in the comments below or email me at

Cheers, Sudhir

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