Creating the Photograph: Corey Boland’s “Daughter Performing Magic”

Daughter Performing Magic

Creating the Photograph is an original series where we interview photographers about a photo that they shot and how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed on to you. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

Photographer Corey Boland is a physical therapist that wears the photographer cape and cowl at night, but like the great Williams Carlos Williams before him, he surely has a creative and artistic side. We found the image that is the center of this post when he posted it on Reddit–naturally though, we know exactly how it was lit. But even though the methodology is fairly common, many don’t know how a photo like this is achieved. Nor do they always have the creative vision to pull something like this off in a very smart way.

Here’s Corey’s story.

The Concept

I wanted to invoke a feeling of walking into the unknown with a deep background and a “magical” umbrella. Being a hobbyist photographer and father, I have to use minimal equipment to get maximum results. The inspiration for this picture is how light rain can be turned into a glowing mist with flash lighting. I had my daughter Gwen face away from the camera to both hide the speedlight which she was holding in her hand and to give the viewer open interpretation on to her emotion and facial expression. Thankfully, shoot through umbrellas are waterproof and this shot turned out great!

The Gear

Nikon D7100

Sigma 17-50 F2.8

Yongnuo RF603n trigger (image 1 of flash and trigger)

Yongnuo YN-560III

Promaster 38″ shoot through satin umbrella

Wife and hose

The Shoot

Seeing as how I have a very cluttered backyard I wanted to make sure only light from the flash was visible so I had shot this with the maximum flash sync of 1/250th, F/4 and ISO 100 to kill any ambient light. This was taken on a cloudy day around 6pm just as the sun was beginning to set into golden hour.

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I had Gwen hold the flash right in front of her body so that it may be hidden and I zoomed the flash out to 24mm to allow for maximum dispersion of light into the umbrella. Due to the umbrella’s satin finish, some light was reflected down to illuminate her. The flash has a built in receiver and therefore only one on-camera trigger was necessary. My wife held a hose to camera right and sprayed water at an arc to allow for a rainy appearance


Post processing for this image was very minor. A slight crop to eliminate the distracting element of the bottom of her shorts and to eliminate a pink phone in the pocket helped to create more of a focus on her blonde hair.

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After the crop, highlights were dropped shadows boosted as well as blacks to allow for more hair to appear. Then finally, saturation was boosted slightly.

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The last piece of post processing was in the curves panel where I altered the blues to create more color in the water.

Here is one more image from the shoot.

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This was a very fun shoot to try and I highly recommend anyone to experiment with the “magical umbrella” whenever they can.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.