Nikon Learn & Explore

Speedlights add Starburst Effect

Behind the Scenes at Portrait Lighting Workshops With Speedlight Flash Master David X. Tejada

David Tejada photo of a model with four starburst lights in the background

© David Tejada

D4S, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, 1/250 second, f/11, ISO 100, manual exposure.

The Portrait Workshop Series

If you're visiting for the first time, we're presenting here a dozen photos taken at portrait photography workshops by the noted commercial photographer and Nikon Creative Lighting System expert David X. Tejada.

To get the most from his tips, techniques and comments, be sure to take a few moments to check out our notes on flash, metering and the CLS before viewing the photos.


This location at the educational tech center was giving David nothing when it came to background—and solving that problem was, in fact, a perfect topic for a demo. "There are no excuses in the corporate photography business," David says. "You can't tell a client, 'Well, maybe next year when you move to a new building I'll be able to do a better picture.' You have to get the shot anywhere and everywhere—and lighting and angle can make all the difference."

David used five SB-900 Speedlights here—four on stands behind the model, and one, the main light, in a 16x16 Westcott Mini Apollo softbox to her right at 11 o'clock. "I shot at f/11 to give a bit of a sunburst effect to the background lights. The main light was very close to her."

The key to this photo was the steps, as shooting at an angle eliminated the distracting background, and setting the light stands on the landing effectively turned their illumination into the background. It was a similar solution to the outdoor technique of crouching to use the sky as background.

David recalled that once used a low angle to help with a corporate shot he made in an office cubicle jungle. The ceiling tiles were a lot nicer looking than the little partition offices.

"it's sometimes challenging to pull something out of nothing," David says, "but there's always a shot."

David Tejada setup photo of a model on a staircase with lights behind her

© David Tejada