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  • Writer's pictureLutzR2

Blaso BJJ Portraits & Techniques

Playing with Lightning, fun with Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flashes

Brazilian, jiu, jitsu, Blaso, O-goshi, judo,
Gabriel Helmich & Kyle Peterson demonstrate O-goshi (Large Hip Throw)

Thales Blaso reached out to me about taking portraits of his Black & Brown Belts at his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy. I knew he had the logo of his school painted in orange on a black painted wall. It was an easy to set up, and very straight forward shoot. My chosen equipment for this shoot was a Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR Camera, four Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite Flashes controlled with a Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT and two lenses; the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens for the action shots, and portraits used the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF.

The orange phoenix is painted sort of close to a corner, with the other wall being mirrored. I set up my flashes with two Impact Turtle Base C-Stands, one towards the corner to the viewer's right, and the other opposite and forward to the viewer’s left. The front stand held an all metal, triple flash mount that is no longer manufactured. Attached to that was a Westcott Recessed Mega JS Apollo (50 x 50") softbox. The three flashes were all set to Group B on their radio frequency settings, and aimed towards the silvery interior of the box. I knew that the mirrored wall to the viewer’s right would be a giant, perfect reflector. No Group A flashes would be needed.

Brazilian, jiu, jitsu, Blaso, jeff, Thales, Lee, judo, gi, throw, Tai, otoshi,
Thales Blaso & Jeff Lees demonstrate Tai otoshi

What I mean by that is for this sort of shoot I typically use three points of light to illuminate the subject. The “A” light is always my variable light source and can change from scene to scene, moment to moment. “B” is always my main source of light, and “C” is always my hair, or back edge light. I can also expand and control D & E groups if needed, and they are usually for ambient or background lighting.

The C-stand to the viewer’s right was to the back corner, but not all the way in the corner. It held up a mounted flash, Group C, with a Vello 1/4" Honeycomb Grid covering. These grid modifiers help make the emitted light to be more linear in nature. I place this light as high as I want or can, and have it aimed at the top of the back of the head of the subject.

Using the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT on camera I was able to control the light output of both groups setting them to High Sync Speed. I dialed down Group C to -2 stops & Group B was pumped up two f-stops. Camera settings were f/4, 500iso, 1/1000s.

What a fun couple of days of shooting. We did these on two consecutive Sundays, one hour for each session. It was also fun seeing the guys I used to train with.

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