Hindsight, 20/20 – as always. A few notes for myself (for next time), and to answer a few questions of readers:
For fill/kicker light, don’t use the softbox
When you look back at the photo, you’ll see that the shadows to the left are nice and soft. This is good, but I don’t think it fits this particular subject. We’re not looking for a soft look – not for some hippie with a beard. A little roughness is just fine. Should have gone with, or at least tried, a bare bulb.
Use a fill reflector
Anyone want to get me a California bounce reflector? I use cheap, and often rigged-on-the-spot reflectors. I should use something better & would love a good-quality reflector. Why? In this case, the eyes kept coming out dark. Too dark, in many. Fixable, but should be better out of the camera.
Bonus: with a good reflector, I probably wouldn’t have needed the flash to camera left at all.
Turn down the brightness on the display
Yes, everyone that you’ll ever talk to will say “don’t use the display to gauge picture quality.” It’s bad – it’s chimping. Well guess what: I didn’t call this blog “photo-chimp” for nothing. People do it, and I do it. If you’re going to do it, check the histograms. I did, so these came out fine. However, by looking on the display, I thought they were much brighter. Some images, including the posted one here, needed as much as a +1.5ev adjustment in ACR, just to get skin tones right.
It’s minor, but could have been mitigated in camera. A pre-emptive responst to the question: why didn’t the histogram tell you it was off? Because of the dark background. This is a very low-key photo, and the histogram only tells me that there is detail in the photo itself.