On October 22, Profoto and photographer Jared Platt will host a free webinar on how to use light as an element. To get you in the mood for the webinar, Jared has written an article on the topic. Enjoy!
With only minutes to find, compose and take the wedding portrait my assistant, myself and the couple parked on the side of the road and hustled into the burned out forest just on the edge of the Grand Canyon. We had just a few more minute of twilight and wanted to make the most of it. With two Profoto B1 off-camera flashes, we knew we needed one as a main soft light and the other as a backlight or hair light to separate the couple from the background. Without that hair light, the groom’s suite would fade into the darkness of the trees and the sky from whence it would never return. Having that hair light also helps to create separation between the bushes and trees in the fore and mid ground areas. There is not disputing, we needed a hair light.
Often times, I will use the sun for the purpose of creating this rim light, but the sun was already gone and all that remained was the soft and blue twilight. You can see there was a sliver of separation between the clouds and the horizon, which allowed the sun to peek through as it dropped over the horizon minutes earlier, but the sun moves quickly, we were not in position. Besides, the sun would have set a little further to the left in the shot and that would have been less than perfect from my composition. So I manufactured my own sun with our B1 off-camera flash.
With the LED modeling lights on, I composed the couple in the shot got the focus locked in. We then moved the hair light side to side and up and down until it was exactly on the horizon line so that is could mimic the sun perching through a break in the clouds. This gave us a steady sun that would not move and a hair light to separate the couple from the darkness as well.
When we were ready to shoot, I turned off the modeling lights on the B1 heads from the camera with the Air Remote TTL-C (available for Canon and Nikon) because the shutter was burning in the sky at 1/5 of a second. With the modeling lights on, I would get too much movement on from the Bride and Groom. I wasn’t worried about camera movement because I had the camera on a tripod.
The important thing to keep in mind when you are using an off-camera flash is this: when you are asking yourself, “how will this flash make my subject look,” also ask yourself, can I include this flash in the shot in anyway to enhance the image. In this case, it makes the image. I don’t always include the flash, but there are times when the inclusion of a flash in the frame itself makes all the difference in the world to the shot.
I have included a few additional examples of this technique.
Image 1 Technical settings: Canon 5D Mark III Camera, ISO 400, 24mm (24-70 2.8 Mark II lens), 1/5 sec, f 4.0
We talked our way into a movie theater for this image. But movie projectors are not really all that bright, especially when you are shooting at f9 at 400 ISO. So we used a flash to simulate the projector.
Image 2 Technical settings: Canon 1D Mark IV Camera, ISO 400, 17mm (16-24 2.8L II lens), 1/125 sec, f 9
What looks like the sun peaking over the rooftops in London behind Westminster Abby, is actually a flash on a stand. The vantage point of the camera puts the flash just above the rooftops and to the right of the chimney. The stand had to be digitally removed, but the effect on a drab overcast day in London, is worth the few minutes in Lightroom to remove the stand.
Image 3 Technical settings: Canon 5D Mark III Camera, ISO 200, 102mm (70-200 2.8L IS II lens), 1/200 sec, f 4.0
In our next webinar on October 22, 2014, we will be explaining how I use off camera flash in my wedding work. I will be taking you on location to real weddings, showing you how I get my lighting set quickly to create maximum effect. Click here to register!
Tune in on October 22, 2014 (10AM Los Angeles, 1PM New York, 6PM London, 7PM Paris // October 23 at 1AM Beijing, 2AM Tokyo, 3AM Sydney)
If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to reply!