On October 1, Profoto released a new speedring that makes the RFi softboxes compatible with speedlights of most brands. Jeremiah Stanley brought it with him to shoot some cowboys at a rodeo in Florida. Here is his story.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Florida”? We are guessing it is not cowboys, right? But that is something Jeremiah Stanley wants to change with his most recent portrait series.
“A 45 minute drive from where I live there is a small town called Williston where the western culture is very prominent, “ says Jeremiah. “People wear cowboy hats, there are tractors on the roads – they even have rodeos, which obviously isn’t something you’d normally associate with Florida. So, the idea was to go to this rodeo, set up some seamless and take some nice portraits of these nice people and this fascinating culture.”
Jeremiah had already started planning the shoot when he stumbled across our blog post asking for volunteers to try a not yet released Light Shaping Tool for speedlights. The announcement sparked Jeremiah’s interested, and the email he sent us sparked ours. Two weeks later he arrived at the Williston rodeo with the then yet to be released RFi Speedlight Speeding and a brand new Softbox RFi Octa 5’ in his bag.
You got to pick any RFi softbox you wanted. Why did you pick the five-foot octa and a Softgrid?
“I choose an octa because I like the round catch light they create. Square catch lights look fake to me. I choose the largest size of octa you guys have because I wanted a large and soft good-quality light. Also, I asked for the Softgrid because I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to light. I want to know exactly where all my lights are going, and the Softgrid gives me that control.”
Was the Softbox RFi Octa 5’ the only light source you used for these shots?
“No. I did however use the same setup for all of the shots. The Softbox RFi Octa 5’ was always my main light. The octa was mounted on the RFi Speedlight Speedring together with two speedlights and radio receivers and placed eight feet up high, camera left. I also had a third speedlight with a really small softbox mounted on a boom right above the subjects. This was my hair light. Finally, I had a silver reflector on the opposite side of the octa, pumping back some of the light and lightening up the shadows.”
You mentioned that you used you used the same setup for all of the shots?
“We really had two shots we wanted to get with each subject, so our lighting game plan and recipe had to make two really great portraits with each subject without having to adjust the lights constantly. I think we were able to accomplish that. The only exception was, of course, the horse. That horse was huge, so I had to remove the hair light, or he was going to knock it over….”
The five-foot octa was enough to light up the entire horse?
“Yup. As I said before, I picked the largest octa because I wanted a soft, clean and even light. What I didn’t want was a gimmicky or obvious light. The people at the rodeo were such strong characters. I wanted to portray them in a way that felt natural and made their personalities shine through.”
So, would you say that the RFi Speedlight Speedring made your job easier?
“Yes, definitely. First of all, you obviously need a lot of power to light up such a large softbox, so being able to attach not one but two speedlight to the bracket was a great help. Also, having two lights gave me a much more even light spread, plus it allowed me to set the speedlights to 1/4 power, which in turn meant that the lights would recycle faster and allow me to shoot at a much higher speed. Once you’re there on the shoot with the person that you’re shooting standing right in front of you, you really don’t want to waste more time than absolute necessary waiting for the flash.”
You also mentioned that you attached your radio receivers to the RFi Speedlight Speedring?
“Yes, and this is something I couldn’t do with my old speedring. I used to attach the receivers with homemade pieces of Velcro. Needless to say, it wasn’t optimal…”
For more information about the RFi Speedlight Speedring and the RFi softboxes, click here.