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Hi and welcome back.

One of my signature looks is the 40’s Hollywood Glamour Portrait.

I developed this look using speed lights and Rogue Flashbenders a few years ago and use it in my professional work and teach it extensively.

One of the most enduring and uniquely American photography styles is the 40’s Hollywood Glamour shot.

Expoimaging Rogue Flashbenders


Here is the gear:

3 speedlights

Phottix Ares triggers at workshops; Phottix Odin for my own work

1 Small Rogue Flashbender

1 Large Rogue Flashbender

1 Rogue Grid

And that is about it.

The key to the look is hard direct light with the commonplace shadows of the time: Loop Light, Paramount Light, Rembrandt Light.

The other commonplace look is a 3 light setup: Key, Hair, Back.

Here is my basic setup for the look, remember to aim your speed lights down beyond 45 degrees for the sharp shadows:

Key is a Small Flashbender rolled into a snoot

Hair is a Large Flashbended rolled into a snoot

Back is a Rogue Grid, usually 25 degrees


In my initial setup, I set all my flashes to Manual Mode and 1/4 power.  I test shoot my exposure and then adjust each light to taste.  Normally, my key is set to 1/16 power and the hair and back remain at 1/4 power, but each person is different so this is just a start point.

My exposure is 1/200 @ f/5.6 or thereabouts.  I try to stay to 5.6 for enough detail in the face but still have the back go out of focus.

Speed lights don’t have modeling lights and any model light feature on any trigger really doesn’t give you enough light to work with, but this is the beauty of shooting this way: you don’t know what you are getting till you shoot.  I like the mystery here.

Always set your exposure in color to view and check for clipped highlights.  Black and white captures don’t show all of the file information and my may clip highlights in b/w without realizing it.  Then I swap to b/w in the camera.  The look is all about shadow and tone, so why not shoot it in b/w?

Here is the initial shot out of my camera, perfect exposure and no clipped highlights:

_RVH3991_originalAfter I’ve gotten exposure and light setup done, I shoot. I try to shoot multiple looks and move around my light setup so the light hits my model in different locations and changes the look on her face without changing the light position.

Then I head to Photoshop where I clean the photo, remove stray hair, blemishes, etc, sharpen it selectively, and then apply a light Glamour Glow, all still while in color.

Notice the Paramount or Butterfly light under her nose: perfect!

_RVH3991Once I’m satisfied with the overall look and feel in color, I swap to b/w.  I have been using actions for this and love either Totally Rad Bitchen B/W or Kevin Kubota the New Black and White.

However, a simple b/w desaturation and add a bit of contrast and a vignette and the effect is the same.

Here is the final:

_RVH3991_bwKat has that dreamy, alluring, faraway look of the Glamour portrait, as if Kirk Douglas or Montgomery Clift were waiting for her offstage.

This is the most fun look I teach and use professionally.  You simply must try it!  Be forewarned, it is not an easy setup so don’t get discouraged, just shoot it and have fun!

Many thanks to my model Kat for being so great!

Till next time, happy shooting!