How I Got The Shot: Pregnant Glow

Camera: Canon 7D
Lens: Canon EF-S 17 – 55mm f/2.8 IS USM
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
ISO: 100
Flash: Off-camera flash, using Lastolite Ezybox 24″ x 24″ Softbox Kit and 580 EX II Flash
Focal Length: 35 mm
Shooting Mode: Aperture Priority
Post processing: Lightroom 3; increased fill light, slight increase in exposure, added vignette.

pregnant glow off camera flash

'Pregnant Glow'

This is a shot of my wife; we’re expecting our first child in just under a week’s time (eeek!), and we wanted some nice photos of the ‘bump’ – this is our favourite shot from an evening’s photoshoot we did in our lounge last week. I’m still learning lots about off-camera flash, but I’m really happy with how this shot came out.

For anyone who’s on the fence about whether to try their hand at off-camera flash, I really recommend going out there and doing it. Sure, there’s a lot to learn, and it can seem daunting at first, but when you get a really nice shot, it’s all worth it. There’s also a fantastic book about off-camera flash called ‘The Speedliter’s Handbook’, which I did a review of – it really talks to you in a no-nonsense, practical way; cutting through all the jargon and just showing you how to light things – I heartily recommend it.

For this shot, we got rid of some paintings on the wall in our lounge, and I set up my 580 EX II Flash in a softbox, camera-right (using the fantastic Lastolite Ezybox 24″ x 24″ Softbox Kit). The below lighting diagram is my (incredibly bad) way of showing you how the lighting setup looked like (idea taken from the great

Yep, I'm obviously not an artist...!

I couldn’t really show it in the drawing very well, but the softbox was actually positioned a little way behind my wife, so it was pointing a little bit more towards camera, rather than directly at her. This meant that the light from the flash wrapped around her somewhat, and gives a really nice sense of depth to the image.


I shot at ISO 100 so that the image was as clean as possible, and used a shutter speed of 1/250 sec and aperture of f/8 so that no other light – apart from the flash – was part of the exposure. There were some low-level lights in the room (so we could see what we were doing, and could achieve focus!), but because I was shooting at 1/250 sec, with an aperture of f/8 and ISO 100, it meant that this low-level light was not part of the exposure – exactly what I wanted, as I just wanted the light from the flash to be the only light source.

So, I dialed in those settings, and took a test shot (before turning on the flash). The shot looked totally black, which is what I wanted. I then turned on the flash, using the 7D’s built-in wireless trigger capabilities to fire the 580 EX II through the softbox. After some trial and error with changing the power of the flash (I shot in manual flash mode, changing the power of the flash down if I thought it was too bright, or up if it was too dark) I got the shot above!

As I mentioned above, I really recommend reading ‘The Speedliter’s Handbook‘ if you want to get into off-camera flash; I tried to find out information on the internet about doing it, but didn’t find information half as good (or half as easy to understand) as in The Speedliter’s Handbook.


  1. I really like your writing style, very easy to read and understand :) And I couldn’t agree with you more about “The Speedlighter’s Handbook”, I’m on Chapter 12 and I can’t wait to read it all… has tons of valuable & practical information

  2. Thanks, Bashar, it is a great book! I really like your ‘Empty Station shot, by the way.

  3. Beautiful shot of such a beautiful mama to be! Great soft light! Love it… Congrats on the newest addition to the family!

  4. Iliana /

    Beautiful shot and congratulations on the new addition! Quick question: at what approx. distance where you standing from the subject?

  5. Nice pic! I’ve been doing single light off camera photos myself :-) I’m using a Vivitar 285 with reflector and shoot thru umbrellas. Loving all this off camera fun!

  6. Thanks a lot, Bob! :)

  7. Thanks! I was probably about 2 meters away.

  8. No problem, thanks for your comment!

  9. Simple use of light but the effects are dramatic. Love it, specially for maternity shots. I especially love your little drawing… (smile) no worries, we got the idea.

  10. Heh heh, thanks – an artist I am not…!

  11. I have a question about the lens you used (Canon EF-S 17 – 55mm f/2.8 IS USM). Is there any difference in this lens from the kit lens of the rebel, other than the aperture?

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