Most of my shooting occurs on the road, sometimes in very exotic locations with stunning backgrounds, other times in dreary hotel rooms that can’t get any uglier! So you learn tricks to come away with a decent image, even in uninspiring locations. Show your client some photo magic, and you will be hired again. I always have at least two SB 900s in my bag, and with two lights you can create some nice portraits. One light will be the main light on your subject, the other light will be aimed at your background. If you just shoot your background flash directly at the wall, you will get an oval shape outline from the light, the size being determined how zoomed out the flash is. But if you want to make things interesting, try shooting the background flash through an object. Plants, baskets, glasses all can create interesting patterns on the background. But since the hotel staff sometimes isn’t thrilled to see me sneaking down the hall with a plant from the lobby, I have found a better solution; tin foil. Simply take a standard piece of tin foil, maybe 5 x5 inches square, and cut a pattern into it. Basically you are creating your own cookie, something flash projects through and creates a pattern on the background. I use black wrap foil, a little sturdier and doesn’t reflect the light, but standard tin foil works too. My favorite pattern is a piece with a bunch of random pencil holes into it. If I add a blue gel to my flash, and shoot through this foil aimed at a white background, I get a great background for a portrait. Take a look at the images below. The first shot is just a plain background with the flash shot at it…nothing much, just a blue background. The second image is the same background, but this time the flash is shot through the foil with pencil holes, looks great. To vary the effect, try moving your flash different distances from the foil. Once you have your background down, then all you need is a subject. Annelise is a local model, and she always shines in front of the lens. Tech data: Nikon D3, 70-200mm 2.8 lens, f 5.6 at 1/250 sec. Main light SB 900 shot through a Lastolite Ezybox positioned above and in front of the model. Background light SB 900 shot a blue seamless background, zoomed to 120mm. Flashed triggered by an SU800.