While vacationing in a Tuscan villa...

Or, somewhere in Rock Island, Illinois...

This is when the aesthetic of neoclassical portraits enter my work. This early morning scene, that became the background, reminds me of backgrounds in many neoclassical portraits I've seen. The prominent late evening or early morning light hitting the subject gives it just enough strength to separate it from the soft, ambient lit background.

The third image above illustrates the technique I use. I control the amount of separation between the subject and background by using a neutral density filter on the lens. This allows me to separate the ambient exposure and flash exposure so I can manipulate them as distinct entities. The neutral density filter also allows me to control the depth of focus in the scene.