Simple Location Lighting Kit for Cuban Boxing Portraits – BTS

Posted January 25th, 2017 by   |  Flash Photography, Photography, Travel  |  Permalink

Cuban boxer

Portrait of a young boxer. Havana, Cuba. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8, Profoto white 32″ umbrella.

Portable Lighting Kit

Creating unique images while traveling to popular destinations like Cuba is always difficult. One of the easiest ways you can step up your photography game while traveling is to bring along a simple location lighting kit.

As lots of other photographers have noted throughout the years (i.e. Strobist), one of the easiest lighting kits for traveling is a foldable light stand, a white umbrella, and a small off-camera flash (speedlight). This little kit fits in most luggage and doesn’t weigh much at all. The extra pop of light you get with this setup will make a big difference in the overall impact of your travel images.



Photo showing lighting equipment on location with boxer and blue wall.

Behind the Scenes

During our photo workshop to Cuba this year, I wanted to spend some time at a boxing gym taking portraits of athletes in training. I knew that a boxing venue would be a prime location to create compelling images, so I brought along a Manfrotto 6-foot light stand, a Profoto White 32” umbrella and a couple of small Nikon flashes. When we arrived at the boxing training center in Havana, I found a beautiful blue wall to serve as a backdrop and set up the lighting kit about 6 feet from the wall.

Since I was guiding a group of photographers, I set up my remote flash so that it would trigger as a simple slave. The workshop participants used a wide variety of Canon, Fuji, Leica and Nikon cameras, so I couldn’t use any brand-specific wireless triggering technology. Each photographer would be able to trigger the remote flash with their own on-camera flash set to manual output. I placed my remote flash on the light stand and set the power to manual output at about 1/8 energy. Again, I programmed the remote flash to work as a slave unit, so it would trigger as soon as it sensed a pulse of light from the photographer’s on-camera flash.

After snapping a few test shots to dial in the exposure, we set about creating portraits of the young boxers. Since the lighting kit was so simple and light, we could quickly change location, power, and height as our creative energy took over.


Profoto boxer

Here’s the simple setup with the Profoto umbrella, photographer, and model situated in front of a blue wall. The photographer is triggering my remote flash with her own speedlight on the camera’s hotshoe. Ignore the flash on the ground, that’s just an extra flash that wasn’t being used at the time.

Try it Yourself

This was a really fun photo shoot and it was very easy to set up. I encourage you to consider bringing a small lighting kit along on your future travels. A kit like this is inexpensive and doesn’t take much extra space at all. I guarantee your images will stand out from all the other tourist’s photographs!

Here are some more pics from the boxing training center in Havana, Cuba.

Boxing training

Students learning boxing skills. Havana, Cuba. Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8.


Group pic! Here are some of the kids at the boxing center. Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8.

Boxer focus

Young boxer’s focus. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8.

three boxers

Three boxers in training. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8


Becoming a champion is hard work! Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8.

CreativeLive Photoshop Week Panorama Workshop

Posted February 16th, 2016 by   |  Photography, Software  |  Permalink


New CreativeLive Panorama Workshop

I’ll be teaching a class for CreativeLive during the industry’s biggest event of the year – Photoshop Week 2016. My workshop will be on producing beautiful panoramas using Lightroom CC, ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) and Photoshop CC. During the week, there are multiple instructors teaching in different learning tracks that you’ll be able to watch live for free. Other instructors include Tim Grey, Ben Willmore, Lindsay Adler, Matt Kloskowski, Jared Platt, Dave Cross and many more.

Tune in to watch the live panorama workshop broadcast at 1:15 PM PST, February 22, 2016. For more information on this specific class, check out the workshop page over at CreativeLive: Creating Panoramas in Photoshop and Lightroom – Mike Hagen

Photoshop Week 2016 Full Schedule:

RSVP today to watch live for free. Signing up early also allows you to pre-order the complete Photoshop Week training package for half-price.

More Press from CreativeLive’s Website

Discover the tools you need to remake the world in your image. Learn from some of the world’s most inspiring photographers and retouchers. Unlock the power of Photoshop and Lightroom to transform the images you have into the images you want.

On February 22nd-27th watch the free live stream of the industry’s biggest week. Learn exciting new ways to enhance your work and remake your post-production workflow. Create images that stand out and inspire. No matter how many years you’ve been in the game, find the tools, techniques and shortcuts you need to bring your unique creative vision to life.

This year, you can chose from 4 unique course tracks to find the skills you need. We now have a Beginner’s track and an Advanced track, so you can master the essentials and then graduate to more complex techniques. Get in the habit of shooting with post-production ideas in mind with our Shoot to Edit classes. After you get your skills locked down, keep up to date on the latest Photoshop techniques and designs with the Trends series.

Make the most out of what you learn this week! Our partners at Adobe are offering 20% off the Creative Cloud Photography plan to new subscribers if you join us for Photoshop Week – get access to Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Adobe’s versatile mobile apps to craft amazing images anytime. RSVP now, and we’ll email you a link to this exclusive offer.

Enthusiasm for Learning

Posted January 6th, 2010 by   |  Photography, Workshops  |  Permalink

I ran a private workshop yesterday for a lady who is producing her own cookbook. She loves photography, loves cooking and wants to write individual stories about the people who’s recipes she uses in the book. Her goals during the private workshop were to learn all about her camera while also learning how to do professional food photography in her kitchen.

I was so impressed with her enthusiasm for learning that I couldn’t help to be affected by it. We spent a full day going 100 miles per hour, putting together photos, setting up lights, diffusers, backdrops, food, etc. I kept asking if she wanted to take a break and her answer was “no way, let’s keep learning.” Before we knew it, the day was over and it was time for me to go. By the time I got back to my office, she had already sent emails talking about her passion and asking more questions. It was a wonderful reminder of what its like to pursue a passion.

I can guarantee you that she’ll produce a wonderful book. The photos will be fantastic and the writing will be superb. Her enthusiasm for learning was infectious and it brought a huge smile to my face.

How’s your enthusiasm for learning more about photography? Do you have the passion and commitment it takes to become great?

Unconscious Competence

Posted June 30th, 2009 by   |  Photography, Uncategorized  |  Permalink

Last week, I was down in Texas running photography workshops and I was talking about the importance of practicing your photography skills. I strongly encouraged folks in the class to get out and take photographs every day until their camera becomes a natural extension of their mind.

All too often, photographers go weeks and months between taking photographs, only to find that when it is time to trip the shutter for real, they are rusty. They aren’t sure if the camera is set up correctly or if the autofocus is in the right mode. Their photographs lack inspiration and become record shots of the event, rather than inspired images.

During the workshop, a participant named Brian Stark suggested that his goal was to become Unconsciously Competent with his camera. In other words, he wanted to become so comfortable with the camera settings, menus, and buttons, that he could operate it without thinking.


That’s what I am talking about. Unconscious competence is the only way to really become a skilled photographer. A great photographer is able to do the following:

1. Look at a scene
2. Visualize an image
3. Configure the camera
4. Take the photo
5. Have the resulting photo match your vision

A master photographer is able to do this all unconsciously. My goal is Unconscious Competence and I’m still working on achieving it. I force myself to take photographs every day in order to keep mentally sharp and creatively fit!

If you’d like to do some more reading on Unconscious Competence, then follow this Wikipedia Link.

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