Spring Fashion with Hunter Cavanagh and the OMD-EM5

All images by Sam Dorado. Used with permission.

It has been a goal of mine to make portraits since I started learning the basics of photography. After a long while of avoiding it, I began dabbling in self portraiture after purchasing a GX7; implementing its remote shooting mode to experiment with lighting set-ups in my spare bedroom (examples here). From there, I moved on to photograph my partner which gave me a little experience on shooting another person. I liked the results of all these “studio” efforts but really wanted to make an attempt at environmental portraiture. I knew that the nature trail by my apartment would make the perfect setting to try this, but my partner is terrified of snakes and refuses to step foot in leaf littered terrain. So without any talent, I’ve just spent my time at Shingle Creek scouting sites and practicing general composition for when the opportunity did arise to shoot there.


Handy-Dandy Notebook

Hunter, the aspiring model centered around this shoot contacted me through Instagram at the end of last year wanting to work with me based on my non-portrait work. After a several month long discussion and scheduling conflicts and then more discussion we decided to do a bohemian style fashion shoot against a natural setting. The day of the shoot I woke up quite nervous and decided I needed to plan the anxiety away. I wrote down the equipment I was wanting to use, ideas we had discussed, and drew out several shots with information on what camera body and lens to try first, lighting, and how much time to dedicate to the shot. I knew that I wanted to limit myself to two focal lengths and chose to have the 45mm f/1.8 and coco ringflash mounted to my EM5 and the OM 28mm f/2.8 + generic focal reducer mounted to my GX7. I also used two Yongnuo YN560-III speelights, the YN560-TX flash controller, and a silver umbrella. For a few of the shots I abandoned artificial lighting and relied on the wonderful natural light that was streaming in through the forest canopy.


28mm f/2.8 + generic focal reducer
Natural Light

In the end I found that trying to use two systems simultaneously was frustrating so I abandoned the GX7 and just switched lenses a few times throughout the shoot. Like I said in the GX7 review, my EM5 just feels like home and handling it is just more intuitive for me since I learned on this system. In regards to areas of improvements/changes, I wish that I would have brought something heavy to stabilize my light stand. In one instance, it fell over and ended up bending the umbrella on one side :/ Also, I should have used my OM 35mm f/2.8 instead of the 28mm f/2.8 because I could not use the ringflash with the latter without it interfering with the shot. Next time, this will be my second focal length. My last “head-desk” moment happened when I came home, put my card in the computer to download the images only to realize that I had shot the entire session in JPEG only. Despite all this, I learned a lot and wanted to share some of the gear and lighting scenarios I used to create these images. As far as post processing goes, I edited one image from scratch in Lightroom, saved the edits as a preset and then applied the preset to the other images in that set/”look”. I then made made minor adjustments to ensure the images were similar in aesthetic and exported them to VSCOcam for final edits using the VSCO uploader.

All That Glitters

  • EM5 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8
  • Ringflash + Yongnuo YN560-III mounted to hotshoe
  • Lighting Diagram:

All that glitters

15 - 1



Inspired by Misty Day

  • EM5 and 28mm f/2.8 + generic focal reducer
  • Yongnuo YN560-III bounced off silver lined umbrella
  • Yongnuo YN560-TX mounted to hotshoe
  • Lighting Diagram:

misty day



Same lighting diagram as above, except model stood and I moved to the other side of the tree, ie. position of umbrella did not change.


Umbrella camera right


  • EM5 and 28mm f/2.8 + generic focal reducer
  • Yongnuo YN560-III bounced off silver lined umbrella
  • Yongnuo YN560-TX mounted to hotshoe
  • Lighting Diagram (only applies to first image):





Natural Light




  • EM5 and Olympus 45mm f/1.8
  • Ringflash + Yongnuo YN560-III mounted to hotshoe



15 - 4

Natural light

We shot all these in the shade between 3:30 and 05:00 pm. Hunter did her own make-up and provided most of the wardrobe and we both contributed to the styling. In general, I shot at iso 200, with a shutter speed of 1/125 to 1/200 and was stopped down between f/4 and 8 when using the speedlights and ringflash or silver umbrella. For the natural light shots, I shot wide open and increased my shutter speed accordingly. All this was based off experimentation as I do not own a light meter and for each of the scenes I let Hunter know when to start modeling once I had figured out what parameters worked best. I would love to hear any additional questions you have in the comments section. I hope this inspires others to try and shoot portraits using off camera flash. It really is not that hard and although there are more efficient ways of figuring out exposure I hope this shows that it can all be done using a little guess work.

This blog post was originally published on Sam Dorado’s blog. It is being syndicated here with permission. The Phoblographer has the exclusive rights to the syndication.

Chris Gampat

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