Ugly Mug

This is what happens on road trips in lonely hotels…

Artificial light is something that I’m kind of nervous about. There is so much involved with it…umbrellas, softboxes, transmitters, receivers, stobes, speedlites, light metering…it seems overwhelming to me. I’ve learned a decent amount about a one-light off-camera flash setup for doing simple photobooth kind of things at events. My buddy Rick Young helped a lot with that. I am doing that again this weekend at a charity event and this time with my very own Speedlite EX II and Alien Bee transmitters.

I think it was Rick or Ken…but one of them told me to just practice. Photography is fun, and supposed to be fun…so enjoy playing and trying things out.

This is what you get when I practice 🙂

I dragged all my gear to Las Vegas last week, but left the umbrella and light stand at home. Figured I’d find a way to make it all work.

I had the camera on a tripod using a remote trigger. To the right of the picture was a giant mirror, so I decided to setup there and use that as a way to kind of bounce the light to the other side of my face. I held up the flash manually with my right hand, and used a white sock as a diffuser.

Yeah, a sock.

I asked my wife if I should even post this, she said totally. Maybe she hates me, I dunno. I also have no idea what face I’m making…I believe it’s a goofy, exaggerated wink that my wife and I sometimes do back and forth to each other to get the other person to laugh.

Either way, I wanted to have some fun on Friday. Hopefully this doesn’t give you nightmares tonight!

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, 50mm 1.4, f/10, iso200, 1/80, speedlite exii off left)



  • Heath O’Fee


    Great use of the sock…improvisation is a good skill to have in this biz. Nice work 🙂

  • Scott

    I got scared there for a second. Great shot dude!

  • Scott Frederick

    Socks and duct tape go a long way! 🙂

  • Tom Baker`

    Ha Mike that totally rocks. It’s a really good portrait by itself but the story is great.

  • Heather

    I think Jesus is going to come back now……Props for being willing to be your own guinea pig Mike 🙂

  • Jesse

    Im a big proponent of making ridiculous faces, so I applaud your efforts.

    Artificial lighting scares me as well but its time to learn.

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  • murphyz

    “I also have no idea what face I’m making…I believe it’s a goofy, exaggerated wink that my wife and I sometimes do back and forth to each other to get the other person to laugh.”

    oh. I see. riiiiight.
    Only…when I saw this I just thought ‘nervous tick’. ho hum.
    Thanks for posting – all that light stuff completely overwhelms me as well…have a great weekend.

  • Bob Lussier

    Great shot, but damn … you are ugly.

  • Toad Hollow Photography

    Dude, you know I love you like a brother, but really… you gotta see a Doctor about that. LOL I am just about to get into the whole lighting thing myself here in the next 8 weeks or so, so that we can start doing portrait work for local customers. To say I am intimidated is an understatement. Looking forward to playing around, but there is no WAY I’m gonna put my ugly mug in front of my lens… I can’t afford to replace it. Nice work, Mike, and I applaud your courage.

  • Steve Beal

    Very creative self-portrait! Great shot!

  • Dave

    A wink? You look more baffled to me. 😉
    Practice makes perfect like you say. I need to learn about strobes and stuff too. Not gone much further than a simple flashgun, like your good self.

  • Chris Kenison

    I guess a sock is better than starched underwear!

  • Mark Torrey

    Excellent shot Mike !!!! always knew you had a goofy side, and no your wife doesn’t hate you. Experiment with socks of all colors to lend a unique lighting hue to still and portrait photography … allows for a multitude of other tweeks. Nice Job!!!