Each month we take a closer look at a certain item in Profoto’s assortment of Light Shaping Tools. We have previously covered the Umbrella XL, the HR Lantern, the Softlight Reflector, the Softbox 3×4’ RF, the ProRing 2, the Zoom Reflector, the Giant Silver and the Softbox 5’ Octa. This time we will take a closer look at the TeleZoom Reflector.
The TeleZoom Reflector is hardly the most well-known Light Shaping Tool out there but it has its devotees nevertheless. Swedish photographer and lighting instructor David Bicho is one of them.
“When I show images like these to my students, the first question I get is usually: how did you light that? When I tell them I did it with flash only, the second question is: how did you do that? What do I need to create such depth in the light? Now, the reason that they ask is that many photographers would use a couple of softboxes and put the lights right next to the subjects. But if you look more closely at these images, you can see that the people in the foreground are lit exactly the same way as the people in the background. The light covers much more distance than a softbox ever could. This is more like sunlight, right?”
So how did you do that?
“I used the TeleZoom Reflector. It’s an amazing tool for throwing light over large distances, and it allows you to work with much deeper light than any other Light Shaping Tool that I know of. The light it produces is almost like a sunbeam. In addition, the fact that it throws light over such large distances allows you to put your flash heads really far away. This means that you have a relatively small light source with defined shadows to work with. If you want to soften the shadows, you could diffuse it near the subjects and by that save a lot of energy instead of diffusing it near the light source. All this – the depth of light, the distance and the ability to control the shadows – there is no other Light Shaping Tool that can do all that!”
Then what’s the third question your students ask?
“Wow, I guess you need a lot of power to do that!? And yes, that’s true. If you want to imitate the distance of the sun, you’ll need a lot power, no question about it.”
Can you tell us some more about the images? What client were they taken for?
“A company called Aveqia. You can see their logo on the aprons. They hold cookery courses for companies who want to do something a bit more fun and interactive than just going to a restaurant. Because of this, the Art Director wanted me shoot something bright, fresh and happy that focused on the people and the interaction. It was also important that I shot the images on location at Aveqia’s premises.”
Care to give us a quick rundown of how you lit the images?
“On this particular shoot, I believe I had two ProTwin heads, equipped with TeleZoom Reflectors, standing outside the building.”
So the flash packs and the reflectors are outside the building, firing through the windows?
“Yes, exactly. If you look at the image with the smiling, dark-haired girl grabbing a piece of meat (the first image), there’s a ProTwin with a TeleZoom coming through diffused window on camera right. It’s standing about 20 meters away, across the street on the roof of my truck. That’s another thing about imitating sunlight. To get the angle right, you need a certain altitude. Lucky for me, Aveqia’s premises was on the ground floor.”
So that’s the main light?
“Yes, that and the second ProTwin with a TeleZoom, coming through the window on camera left. Then there was like a dark corner in the background, which I had to light up with a D1 monolight. Finally, there’s a second D1 monolight, shot through a white diffuser, right above my camera. This was necessary to light up the shadows and get the right contrasts.
“So, all in all, there are four lights, all of which are either bounced off or diffused through something.”
What were the greatest challenges on this particular shoot?
“Two things. First, I had to mess around a bit to get the right focus. When the flash packs are outside and this far away, you obviously have to keep it dark inside to get the right exposure and no mixed color temperatures. But the lack of light makes it tricky to get the camera to focus correctly. I solved this problem by using the Canon ST-E2 transmitter – a clever device that sends out a grid of focus light just before the exposure.
“The second issue was, of course, time. There were a lot people at Aveqia, working under a very tight schedule. But here’s another great thing about working with this depth of light: people can move around. It’s almost like a movie light. The fact that I never had to reposition or recalibrate the lights saved me a lot time.”
Now, we’ve talked a lot about working with the TeleZoom at longer distances. What’s it like up close?
“Well, the size of the light source creates shadow edges that reminds me of the Beauty Dish, and if you add some sort of thicker diffusion, it’s actually not all that different in terms of light quality. The spread is different, though. It’s not as wide as that of the Beauty Dish. This makes it a lot easier to work with. But I prefer it without diffusion. In my opinion, the light that the Beauty Dish produces is almost too … beautiful. This is admittedly really nerdy stuff, but the TeleZoom creates a slightly more rough light. If the Beauty Dish is your typical studio light, this is more realistic and raw.
“On a final note, I love packing the TeleZoom Reflector. It’s pretty big, yes, but you can put all sorts of neat stuff inside,” laughs David.
More information about the TeleZoom Reflector can be found here.
And if you want to see more David’s work, click here.
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