Sir Ranulph Fiennes – A portrait shoot unwrapped

I recently had the pleasure of photographing the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

This is a man who has spent the majority of his career in life-threatening conditions. He is in my eyes, the definition of true celebrity. People like this command respect. His modesty, despite his incomprehensible achievements, is simply astounding. I wanted to create a portrait that echoed this.

© Jack Terry_Portraits_04

I decided that the mood of the image would have to be dark, strong and powerful to convey his past. The lighting would need to be harsh and high in contrast to pick up the detail in his skin and accentuate his features. I wanted draw focus into his eyes and give a feel of confidence and power.

I decided to use speedlights for the convenience, but since it was mid day to underexpose the background sufficiently meant shooting at f14. I knew getting enough power from the main light was going to be a struggle. I used a power pack to give me a full power recycle time of 1 second and set the back  lights to ½ power which were fine with batteries.

I have recently started shooting a lot of my male portraits on a 100mm macro, this lens is razor sharp and a beautifully natural length for portraits. It is almost too sharp to shoot women because it leaves nothing to the imagination, but with a subject like this every little hair and wrinkle is accentuated which is exactly what I wanted.

Light Setup

56” octabox for the main light

white reflector, fill camera right

rim 1 light either side (bare head)

lighting schematic ranulph fiennes


Equipment list

Camera – Canon 5Dmk3

Lens – Canon 100mm f2.8 L (macro)

Main light – Yongnuo 565ex 24mm full power

Fill – White Lastolite reflector

Rim lights 2 x Yongnuo 565ex 24mm ½ power

Exif Data

Aperture F14, Shutter 160/sec, ISO 100


© Jack Terry_BHTS_41