This time I want you guys to meet Mark Castilo from London, Mark tells the story behind this image:

natural light portrait photography

Hi everyone! My name is Mark Castillo, I’m a self-taught photographer and I shoot

lifestyle, portraits and events. I grew up watching my dad always taking photos; and in

2010 I picked up his old film camera and fell in love with photography ever since. It is

because of him that this passion, turned into a hobby and now a career.

I started off my photographic journey by learning and using natural light. Only recently

have I dabbled into strobist work and learning to play around with light ratios. I love

creamy, rich and shallow depth of field photos (bokeh!). I also love the emotions that can

be evoked when viewers connect with your art.

For the image below, I had an opportunity to shoot with a model in a grand hotel.

The look we were going for was a classy and attractive evening look – the type of Bond

girl look you see in the James Bond movies.


I had come from a day of on-location shooting and so being indoors offered a little

change of pace and set up. This was the last concept and outfit of the day.

I wanted to create enough light to fall on the model, whilst allowing the beautiful ambient

light to supplement the photo.

Here’s how I did it:

Gear used:

  • Nikon D700
  • Nikkor 85mm 1.8D
  • Settings: f2.5 | 1/250s | ISO 200
  • YongNuo 50 IV right of camera at 1/16th power
  • Triggered by YN 560-TX inside an 80cm October with grid

I wanted to blur out the background whilst making it obvious of the type of location we

were shooting in, so the 85mm creates lovely bokeh and compression at f2.5; where I

find this lens to be at it’s sharpest. It also allows me to be somewhat near to the model

to be able to direct without shouting. (50mm is deemed too close sometimes and

105mm/200mm you may need to raise your voice and that may end up disturbing others


one light photography

Keeping the ISO as low at ISO 200 allowed me to avoid noise and retain richness of

The grid on the octobox was helpful to produce linear light (as opposed to light

spreading out), whilst shooting at a speed of 1/250th allowed enough ambient light in to

balance the strobe power.


For pleasing light and shadows, I asked the model to point her face towards the light

source, which created an aesthetically pleasing butterfly lighting pattern (semi split

lighting) effect, whilst maintaining a demure pose.

Shooting from a low angle, keeping parallel to the floor allows for this angle on this

image, as opposed to shooting at eye level.

Post Processing:

I did my basic edits in Lightroom: fixed exposure, added saturation and

contrast, increased shadows, the normal stuff! Then in Photoshop, I did the obligatory

healing, retouched any shadows under the eyes and then I had to mask the ambient

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