top of page




  • Facebook Clean Grey
  • Twitter Clean Grey
  • Instagram Clean Grey

Using Speedlites to Recreate the Sun

Sometimes you get a great idea, but just don’t have the location for it. What do you do? Make your location fit your idea!

As a serious photographer, you should be using lighting in most circumstances. Even used outdoors, strobes add a twinkle to your subject’s eyes. In this shot, my client showed me a photo on Instagram and asked if I could replicate it. Not wanting to copy another photographer, I changed it up a bit but kept the general concept.

Here’s the photo in question, I’ll be referring to it occasionally:

I used a super-wide 16-35mm 2.8L II for the shot. This lens produces amazing starburst shapes when used with a small aperture (I think f16 was used here) and shot directly into the light. I was pleasantly surprised to see the rays of light wrapping right around the front of the leaf.

You might think that this is “Photoshopped” in, but it’s not. I positioned the couple under a tree so that the overhead sunlight was illuminating their faces but the background was in enough shade for me to do my magic. I then took one of my strobes (Canon 580EX-II, now I’ve replaced them with 5-600RT-EX’s), placed a full CTO gel over the flash and blasted it at full power. No special equipmet was used to mount the gel, although there are many out there to choose from. I just use gaffers tape. The gel warms up the daylight-balanced light emitted from then strobe and gives it a warmer, setting-sun temperature.

The Bride wrote their wedding date on a leaf that she found with a silver marker, I had no idea how to get it to stand up... So I lay down in the grass and dirt on my stomach, placed the leaf in the overturned lens hood and it worked! (You can see the black semi-circular outline of the lens hood at the bottom of the leaf. )

The only additional developing that I added, apart from my usual sharpening/contrast/lens correction/clarity/saturation formula was to add a little exposure to the bottom of the photo to get some detail back into the grass beside the leaf. Lightroom CC was the only software used here, I do about 99% of my work in that one program. Photoshop CC is reserved for removing blemishes or fly-away hairs. Lightroom can do this also, I just feel that I have more control over the process in Photoshop.

I also used 3-580EX II’s in a Triple-Threat and a 36” un-diffused octabox to camera left to fill in a bit of light on the subjects. The softbox focuses the speedlites, making them more efficient and giving a little bit more reach. I later moved the “sun” a little closer behind the couple to try to place it into the sky a bit, but I liked the effect on the leaf better in this shot.

There you have it: instant sun! If you have questions or comments, feel free to post them!


Jeff / Prestige Photo, Niagara Wedding Photographer


bottom of page