Kyle Cong captures the natural look with Profoto B2
“I like shooting on location,” Kyle says. “My lighting and camera setting are all about blending my strobe lights with ambient. I want the quality of the light that strobes can give and I also want my photos have that natural look.”
The natural look he seeks extends to the way the models pose, with a blend of candid and directed shots. “I found most of my favorite works are the ones captured when the models are not looking at the camera or not even posing or waiting for me to take the shot,” he says.
The Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, British Columbia has so many vintage aircraft that composing a shot isn’t easy. “I would like to have had a shot of the whole airplane but it’s impossible to do without letting the other ones getting into the frame,” Kyle says.
To showcase the airplane, Kyle needed to shoot upwards which meant using the sky as the background. “Unless there is a good sunset with beautiful clouds, the sky will look pretty boring most of the time,” he says. “Many times, I had to choose between a better composition with a boring sky or compromise my composition to avoid it.”
Changeable weather also complicated the shoot because it was a windy day with some fast moving clouds that blocked the sun from time to time. “My ambient light kept changing dramatically,” he says. “I needed to keep changing my settings to match up, so I used TTL mode to quickly get to my start point and tweaked from there when necessary. I find this is a very efficient way to handle this type of situation.”
Portable, versatile, easy to set up
Kyle says that for him, equipment must be battery powered, lightweight and easy to set up. The system also has to offer a wide variety of light shaping tools.
“I really like Profoto B2 with its OCF light modifiers,” Kyle says. “It offers everything that I need. It’s so small that I can pack everything in one bag. It’s easy to setup. The OCF Softboxes have the front diffuser and inner baffle prebuilt. All I need to do is put it on the OCF Speedring. It’s as easy as setting up an umbrella.”
The package comes with a small strap, which Kyle uses to attach his B2 near the bottom of the light stand to make it work as a sand bag. “The combination of B2 and OCF Softbox is very light weight, I can move it around with just one hand,” he says. “I can confidently tell you that without these, I wouldn’t be able to get to where I am now.”
Constant movement—without an assistant
On the day of the shoot, the portability of the Profoto B2 was a big advantage because Kyle was constantly raising, lowering or changing the angle of his lights. “It was lovely that I could move the whole setup with one hand. This was critical for me because I needed to keep moving my light whenever I changed spots or my shooting angles.
“Also, I was shooting by myself with no assistant. Large and heavy duty gear just wouldn’t have worked. The other thing is High-speed Sync. I shoot wide open most of the time. That day, we were shooting during the noon. It would have been pretty much impossible to get any shots if I hadn’t had HSS.”
With one B2 and one softbox for the whole shoot, the lighting was relatively simple. “The OCF Softbox 2×3’ gives very nice and diffuse light and the size is good for most situations,” he explains. “When shooting close ups, I wanted the light a bit smaller to get more shadows under the model’s chin and on her cheek. Just feathering the light a bit—tilting it a bit upward and swinging it slightly away gave me the effect I was looking for.”
Most of shots were lit with Kyle’s light coming from the same direction as the sun. “I didn’t want to compete with the sun, just needed to enhance it,” he says.
“Lighting is the most important thing”
Largely self-taught (“The Internet is my best teacher”), Kyle says he didn’t get serious about photography until he started shooting portraits and using monolights. “At the beginning, I thought those beautiful shots I admired were the result of good editing. It took me a while to realize that good lighting is far more important than that.
“Now I think that lighting is the most important thing in photography. I can make a boring setup look a lot more interesting if I can give it good lighting, but not much I can do with bad lighting, no matter how beautiful everything else is or how good my post editing is.”
Seeing everything in a whole new way
What does Kyle think is the most fascinating thing about being a photographer? “The top one probably will be being able to see everything in a whole new way,” he says. “There are many beautiful moments in our everyday life.
Before I started photography I barely paid attention to them. Photography totally changed the way I see the world around me. I started paying attention to the details, to the light. When that happens, my world looks a lot more fascinating. It’s really cool to be a photographer.”