In the Creating the Right Light series, Click Pro photographer Meg Loeks explores lighting using the Profoto A1, transforming from a natural light shooter to one who finds new inspiration in creating and shaping her own light. Based in Michigan, USA, Meg lives with her husband, three boys and a Saint Bernard. As an image creator, she is drawn to environmental portraiture, lifestyle photography, landscapes, and moody low light and color. Inspired by the changing seasons and the beautiful landscapes in her surroundings, Meg is a true storyteller who loves capturing her children and bringing out the beauty in her everyday life.
Like most photographers, I love golden hour. But the long summer days make it nearly impossible to shoot with little ones. With the sun setting close to 10 pm — hours after my boys’ bedtime — I haven’t traditionally been able to take advantage of shooting on beautiful summer evenings. The Profoto A1 changed that. I was able to create golden hour light in the middle of the day.
Let’s catch a sunset at 11 am
The first location was on a trail near our home where we frequently take walks. It was a sunny day, and at 11 am the light was harsh. To create golden hour backlight, I placed one A1 on a tripod along the trail in the woods, behind my son. To warm the light, I quickly attached a CTO gel. When I’m working with natural light and want to capture flare, I typically place the sun at the very edge of my frame and let the light filter through the trees to soften it. I operated the same way with the A1, placing the light at the very edge of my frame, letting it filter through the trees behind my son. Since we were on a trail and there wasn’t much of an open sky in front of my son, I attached another A1 to my camera with a Dome Diffuser to create a soft light facing him.
I love to shoot outside with telephoto lenses because of the compression. However, it can be challenging in harsh light with a wide-open aperture. By adjusting my A1 to High-Speed Sync mode, I was able to have a fast shutter speed and keep my aperture close to wide open. Just like working with natural light, I only had to make small adjustments to my position to capture the golden hour flare I wanted. I was also able to quickly control the strength of the off-camera light with the on-camera unit. I loved this feature because when working with little children, I need to move quickly; I don’t have time to run back and forth and adjust lighting.
Bringing still life to life
One genre of photography that I find incredibly therapeutic is still life. We have a lot of wildflowers that grow in the meadows surrounding our home. I placed some of the freshly cut wildflowers in a mason jar on my barn wood coffee table. Normally, when I’m shooting still life, I must move my dining room table to make room for my coffee table and the still. I’ve found the light to be best in that part of the house, so that’s why I gravitate towards that area for my stills. Since I was using the A1, I didn’t have to move any furniture for this shot. I could simply set up my still right on my coffee table, in the living room where I have a lot of space to work in.
I placed a Profoto A1 with an Umbrella Deep White M on a tripod right next to my still to bounce and soften the light. To control the strength of the off-camera light, I used my on-camera A1 as a remote. The head of the on-camera A1 was turned off to avoid flat light. As usual, this was a quick and easy setup, and I was able to achieve soft, directional light on my still. The best part was that I didn’t have to move any furniture to achieve the light I desired.
A dreamy moment at high noon
I avoid shooting at high noon at all costs. It’s typically an editing nightmare with the harsh light directly overhead. If I was going to shoot during this time of day, I needed to overpower the harsh sunlight with my own light. I placed my son in the direct sun at the edge of a cornfield. I wanted to capture more of an environmental portrait and include a lot of the landscape for this shot, so I placed myself a good distance away from my son.
For the first few shots, I used the light from my A1 on camera, lighting my son from a good distance. I wanted softer, more directional light, however. I turned off the head of the on-camera A1 and placed another A1 with an Umbrella Deep Translucent M on a tripod to the left of my son. Firing the A1 off camera through the umbrella would help soften the light. This was the perfect solution to overpower the harsh sunlight and to provide soft, directional light at high noon.
Capturing the night
I love trying new things with photography. This evening shot of my home and dog was definitely novel. My goal was to capture my dog, Juni, in my front yard with the ambient glow from my old farmhouse in the background. Since it was night and there was no natural light available, I used the modeling light on my Profoto A1s to quickly focus on Juni. I had one A1 off camera on a tripod with an Umbrella Deep White XL to soften the light, another A1 on camera simply to use as a remote, as well as another modeling light on Juni. The A1 off camera was to the side of Juni to provide directional light.
One of the incredible things about this session was that even though it was dark outside, I was able to keep my ISO at 100 thanks to the Profoto A1. I was able to capture Juni laying in our front yard with the ambient glow of my farmhouse behind her and even with a few fireflies in the background.
“Shooting off camera opened up new possibilities for me”
One of the things I loved about taking the Profoto A1 off camera was simply the flexibility to move the light anywhere I wanted to. If I wanted to stand further back from my subject to capture more of the surrounding environment, I was able to do so while capturing soft, directional light from the A1 off camera on my subject. In addition, using the A1 off camera with the warm gel allowed me to recreate golden hour during the middle of the day, something I never thought possible. It was a simple and quick setup that only took a few minutes to achieve. Features like the modeling light on the A1 helped me immediately grab focus on my subject when I lacked natural light. The ease of use and versatility of these lights are incredible!