Portrait

Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Softbox + Speedlight

07 January, 2013

Written by: Fredrik Franzén

Each month we highlight a certain item in Profoto’s rich assortment of Light Shaping Tools. (If you want to browse through previous articles, click the Light Shaping Tool of the Month banner on the right.) This month we will talk to Richard Walch about our smallest softbox: the Softbox 1×1.3’ RFi.

Richard Walch is a German photographer with a knack for shooting things that move fast in water or on snow. His list of clients includes such brands as Audi, Apple, Oakley, Tommy Hilfiger and RedBull. Richard is also a Canon Ambassador and was recently asked to travel to Iceland with his colleague Thorsten Milse to shoot with the new Canon EOS 6D. This portrait was shot during that trip, and Richard used the following setup: one speedlight equipped with a Softbox 1×1.3’ RFi on each side of the subject, plus a bare speedlight from behind, acting as rim light.

“We traveled to some pretty remote areas, and we had to charter a private plane to reach our destination,” says Richard. “In other words, the luggage restrictions were severe. There was just no way I could bring a battery generator with me. Nevertheless, it was crucial that I could control the light, and the solution I came up with was to use small speedlights and professional softboxes. This way I got the best of both worlds!”

 

 

Why did you choose the Softbox 1×1.3’ RFi in particular?

“Because it is the smallest softbox you guys have. Like I said, I needed to travel lightly. I also believe that particular size works very well with your speedlight adapter and the relatively small size of a speedlight. Plus it is a great light source for portraits.”

How come you decided that you need a softbox in the first place?

“Speedlight are small and handy, but they are not very powerful compared to Profoto strobes. You have to stand very close to the subject to be able to overpower the sun. But if you stand that close to the subject, the light doesn’t look very good, and it was absolutely necessary that I had a natural-looking light that could blend with the environment.”

But why did you not just use the light available if you were traveling under these extreme restrictions?

“The photography business is evolving fast, and if you plan on keeping up, or perhaps even staying ahead, you need professional lighting. That’s my opinion. Some might consider postproduction a good alternative, but since I was doing a shoot for Canon, I had to get it right in-camera. Another solution is to bring the models to a proper studio, but that’s just not the same. The expressions you get when you’re standing there on the coast of Iceland and it’s raining and the cold wind hits your face – you just can’t fake that. So, the only solution is to bring along proper lighting equipment and head out there! In short, you need to make an effort if you are to stand out.”

All right. Is there anything you would like to add?

“Well, to be perfectly honest, at first I thought the softboxes were a bit heavy. But pretty soon I understood why. That’s what it takes to get that reliability and quality of light that you need. We were working under some pretty harsh conditions during this trip so it was incredibly important to have reliable equipment. I mean, what would I have done if the equipment broke down in the middle of the Icelandic countryside? That would’ve been a disaster! I need equipment I can trust.”

See more of Richard’s images at his website.

Read more about Richard trip to Iceland at Canon’s website.

Learn more about the Softbox 1×1.3 RFi here.

Learn more about the speedring adapter here.

Written by: Fredrik Franzén