Using Constant Light for portraits

I’ve been talking a lot about flash lately and typically flash photographers have a certain “disdain” for constant light which leads me to want to discuss with you the usage of constant light for photographers. Being a portrait and a sports photographer in the beautiful (but cold) city of Montreal, flash in important to me as I need motion to be frozen and images to be crisp.  Well, I did a little test run for this and I spoke to David Lee, an Arizona photographer who uses all 3 sources of light which are natural light, flash or constant light. to see him in the video - skip to 56 seconds! For this test I am using D&O Kino 180W light panel. 

Full disclosure: I wasn’t paid to review or use this but I did receive this unit for free. 

Here are a few things I’ve noticed:

  • When using constant light with flash you have to lower both shutter speed & aperture to let the constant light blend in. Flash is really powerful and can overpower most constant lights. 
  • If used alone with a light less powerful than 180W, you will need to bump your ISO to avoid either a too low shutter speed or shooting too wide open. 
  • This was lighten strictly with a single source of light.

  • Some constant light source are single color. All example the D&O has both colors (5600, 3200K) to match your flash you need to it to have it balanced at 5600K. Keep that in mind if you plan to mix it in your flash workflow.
  • Light panels are great at seeing light. You can easily control how the light behaves by rotating and seeing it’s behavior. Quite refreshing from those low powered modeling lights.
  • Typically, lights that are constant produce harsh/hard light make sure there is a diffusing panel available or that you can modify it with the aid of an umbrella or a modifier. 

  • So that’s it for this blog. I wanted to thank David for his thoughts on lighting. David has a Youtube channel. I encourage you to give him a sub! I also want to thank D&O for sending me this. If you are interested in adding this light to your arsenal, D&O gave me a link where you can get 15% off this panel which is already discounted (600$ off). Use code SUMMER15 on your checkout.

    Hope you enjoyed this and I’ll see you in the next video/blog. 


    Gear used to make this video (Disclosure : The links included in this blog entry are affiliate links to and and other websites. Which means that if you click on them and buy an item, I get a small commission for the referral. Prices do not increase whether you click the links above or found them yourselves. Purchasing through those links allows me to publish more content for you!)

    Sony a7rIII:

    Sony 85mm 1.8 FE: 

    Nikon d810:

    Sigma 35mm ART 1.4:

    Godox SL-60 : 

    A proud father

    A proud father

    I never really liked kids. They scared me a little if I have to be completely honest. These little beings full of energy that really can’t express themselves other than crying, I thought I would find it difficult to handle. Then, things changed a lot over the course of a few months. 

    If you didn’t know, 8 months ago I became a father. She’s an amazing little girl. She’s the cutest thing alive, is always happy, barely cries (except at night of course - who needs sleep!), curious about everything and she’s growing up so fast. It’s impressive seeing her grow and do new things everyday. She makes me proud.

    This brings me to last weekend. I was booked by an awesome young lady, Rachel, to take photos of her boyfriend who is participating in this year’s Mont-Tremblant’s 2019 IronMan. The Ironman competition is kind of insane; the event consists of 3.8 km/ 2.4 mile of swimming, 180 km / 112 miles of biking and to finish, a 42.2 km /26.2 miles of running. It’s gnarly. It’s tough. People die from the exertion of this event. If you finish it, “You are an IronMan!” as the announcer would say. 

    I show up quite early to grab some photos of the starting line. It’s a warm but cloudy day. The air is humid. There is a literal sea of people. You can feel the energy in the air, it’s amazing. All these athletes have been prepping for so long to get there, families are on the shore watching over them with a nervous excitement. 

    The pro’s start first, then the rest follows. After the swim start, I head over to the first ‘leg’ of the event, the arrival from the 3.8km swim. The client, Rachel, sent me photos of Joe prior to the event so that I could know what he looked like. People are screaming words of encouragement and praise at the participants. After seeing a bunch of participants, I finally see Joe Greeman running towards the bikes. 

    This is off to a good start! I was scared I could not identify him correctly but luck and tons of patience was on my side. The next leg is the bike race. I coordinate with Rachel to follow them along key points of the race. This is where I meet Joe’s father, Mr. Greenman, and his mother who came directly from the UK to see their son participate in his first Ironman. Mr. Greenman is clearly dialed in, noting his son’s times and progress on a small piece of paper. We finally get to see him on his first lap of the bike leg, he looks happy and in control. Mom and Dad looked a little relieved from seeing this.

    “Mom and Dad looked a little relieved from seeing this.”

    Rachel, her sister, and Joe’s parents and I took some more angles of Joe during his bike leg. He looked focus and in the zone. Dad is clearly happy, leading the group to where we could catch Joe exactly at the right spots and explaining what would happen next. He was so right!

    While we were walking to the best spot, Rachel was explaining to me that her boyfriend Joe was racing for a foundation called camp Ooch, a camp dedicated to children with cancer. Camp Ooch mission is to provide a camp experience with a complete IV chemotherapy and blood transfusions so that kids can enjoy social activities while getting healed - the only camp in Canada offering such an experience.

    While Joe converts to the running portion, I sneak up in the streets to grab some last shots of him before he hopefully finishes this tough race. 

    A few hours pass, and Joe is now racing to the finish line. Joe is doing well, keeping a high pace and increasing towards the end. He finishes the race looking sharp and healthy. A true champion finish. He reunites with his family.

    A little exhausted, we found Joe on the floor sipping on some what I presume, delicious carbs, in the form of a can of Coca-Cola. 

    Then, I turn on street photography mode and start capturing reactions and emotions. The entire family is ecstatic. Joe finished the race in 12 hours and 31 seconds, an incredible time for a first time Ironman participant (which apparently he did with less than 6 months of training). The emotions are palpable. Rachel is over the moon and the rest of the family also. 

    Joe and Rachel

    Let’s celebrate!

    But one thing caught my attention. Mr.Greenman typically vocal at times, wasn’t saying much. He was unusually silent. I then raised my camera to capture some moments. 

    He was emotional but so proud. It was at this moment that I understood what fatherhood was. It’s a responsibility. Ownership of training your kids to run the race by themselves. Helping them push their boundaries. Be the shoulders they can always land on. Be the person that works from 9AM to midnight everyday and smile whenever you see them. Be the person who doesn’t complain. But it’s also enjoying seeing them accomplish things that very few in the world can claim the same.  

    Because you’ve done something good in this world by raising such a person. You’ve raised someone who puts his body in harm’s way so that sick children can experience the good in life while still getting treated. That is pride I wish all fathers can experience. That is all I wish for, to experience pride in my daughters achievements. 

    These are only a few words but I hope they express how I felt when capturing those portraits.  I want to thank Rachel for letting me in part of the experience and hope Joe will keep on crushing those miles, and dad will remain as proud as he was on his son’s first Ironman. 

    Have a great week,


    P.S.: If your finances allow you - please donate to camp Ooch

    My 3 favorite YouTube Channels

    “Knowledge has a beginning but no end.” - Geeta Iyengar

    Let’s be clear here, education is crucial. Everyday, new lighting techniques, new retouching methods, classic composition methods and remembering the basics is a necessary part of the photographer’s working tool belt.

    Keeping up to date is crucial to stay relevant as a photographer or adding depth to your style.

    In this video, I will be sharing my 3 favorite YouTube channels connected to photography and visual artists. They won’t be purely about photography or even lighting but the lessons you will learn are sure to impact the way you work.

    #1 Curtis Judd 

    My videos used to sound bad…really bad. Thanks to Curtis’, my understanding of how sound works for video improved a lot.

    Who may wonder, who is Curtis Judd and why should I care? Curtis is a part-time photographer & part-time videographer plus a full time software manager located in Utah, Rocky Mountains.

    Wait, he’s a part-timer? Yes but that takes NOTHING away from the quality of information provided by Curtis. Since 2009, Curtis uploads regularly streams and videos on the tools you need to be a better videographer - mostly sound but also some lighting. His in-depth review of the different sound recording devices, techniques and lighting will translate into much better work for you.  They range from the entry-level gear to the expensive setups for demanding professionals.

    My favorite video of Curtis has to be his review and comparison of the Zoom H1N - a device that I now own and love. His channel truly shows the depth that you can go in one subject, in this case - sound for video.

    To wrap a bow around Curtis Judd’s channel, he is a no-nonsense and full disclosure kind of guy, qualities that I love.

    #2 Cooke Optics

    Ok, Cooke Optics are not ‘creators’ per sé since they do sell cinema lenses but the team behind Cooke Optics has one of the best channels on cinematography out there. Don’t believe me? Here is a partial list of DP’s, cinematographers and lighting artist they had a discussion with:

    • Phil Meheux: Goldeneye, Casino Royale
    • Dan Mindel: Start Trek: Into Darkness
    • Vittorio Stotaro: Apocalypse Now
    • Terry Acland-Snow: Aliens 
    • Seamus McGarvey: Avengers
    • Bradford Young: Arrival

    The lessons you can get from learning from those seasoned cinematographers from movies you probably have seen are impactful. Let me reinstate that these are the best in the world at what they do and you can see the way they work and approach difficult moments.

    Here’s a quick list of subjects Cooke Optics  frequently discuss:

    • Color Theory
    • Lens Choice (it’s shocking to see how important that is - not just depth of field)
    • Crop ratio
    • Working with Talent
    • And many many more subjects 

    So do yourself a favor and go check them out.

    #3 Art Storefronts

    Again….ANOTHER COMPANY!?!? Urgh unfollowing!

    Art Storefronts is a YouTube channel that tackles one of the most challenging issues a photographer faces in his career: marketing.

    You may have a cool camera, some lights and a studio space but without income …you are dead in the water. Art Storefronts goes over strategies you can implement TODAY to make your business successful…and for FREE!

    Which means: 

    • No E-Book
    • No joining emails
    • No purchase necessary

    ART Storefronts provides strategies that will help you grow and sustain an income generating business. A subject that is not often covered in today’s world.

    So that covers my current love affairs with those 3 YouTube channels. I truly believe the content that these 3 channels will help you stay on the path of constant improvement - tagging along with my YouTube Channel. I encourage to check them out and subscribe if you like what you read and what they do! 

    Cheers and as always, happy shooting.