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  • Writer's pictureSudhir Damerla

White and Light

Suhasini and Bodhi
© Sudhir Damerla 2018

I really don’t enjoy shooting family portraits but when one of your dearest friends from school has a baby, one must succumb to uncle behavior! Good for me, this was a wonderful experience and I got to experiment with lighting - my favorite thing about photography!

Earlier this year I did an audit of my camera equipment and light kit and realized that I had way too much redundant and bloated hardware for my requirement. This is a result of years of accumulation and while my shooting style and use of light has become more minimal and less complex, I haven't really done the same with my equipment. So I decided to build a very tight single brand lighting system to keep it simple.

I had been keeping my eyes and ears open and knew that the Godox system was the way to go - I even managed to integrate my old Nikon SB700 with it (since I already own one). The AD200 is a giant killer, one that far outperforms the Nikons and Elinchroms. In my opinion, it is a location photographer’s dream come true.

Here is a quick visual run down of the equipment used in the shoot. (The Nikon D800e isn't in the frame because I had to use it to take this picture!).

  1. Godox AD 200 with the small bowl attachment

  2. The Nikon SB 700 in a shoot through umbrella coupled to a Godox X1R

  3. The trusty old Nikon 85 1.8D.

  4. Radio Trigger and receiver for the Sb700

The backdrop used is a simple ripstop white nylon cloth hung on stands. This also serves as the back light. The AD200 is placed at a distance of about 5 feet behind the cloth with the bare bulb attachment firing through a small reflector. The key light was the SB700 shooting through a white shoot-through umbrella placed to the camera left (I have made a quick diagram showing the setup). The lights were programmed to shoot with an exposure compensation of +1.5 for the background light and -.3 for the key light.

Controlling the flare into the lens is the tough part of working with the backdrop-as-light approach. As you can see from the image the position of the hotspot is pretty well defined which works to our advantage actually, as this is easy to deal with simply by positioning the subject at the hotspot.

I have opted not to use the usual manual metering system and have used a complete TTL approach with this shoot. Simple, quick and easy. The complete shoot took under 15 minutes to set up with predictable results. I was most likely shooting at f2.8-3.5 the entire time. Shutter was hovering around the 250th mark at 400 ISO to make sure there was no natural light was creeping into the image.

What the background looks like - with and without the flash

And voila - Here are the results … a couple of more pictures from the shoot which we liked! Hope you guys had fun reading this article and please shoot across any question you may have and I will try to answer them as best as I can! Next week I will be posting more from the same series but a completely different look with the dad!!

Tech : Nikon D800E + Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D

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

Cheers, Sudhir

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