On to Light Shaping is a new video series in which get to see 18 renowned portrait and wedding photographer create magic with Profoto Off-Camera Flash. In this video we join photographer Dixie Dixon for a high wedding fashion shoot in a cold and drafty Mill. When you are done watching, click here to see the rest of the series.
The term ‘location’ can mean warm, sunny days under clear blue skies or a cold, damp warehouse with no place to plug in the lights. For Dixie Dixon, a commercial, fashion, lifestyle photographer based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, a recent high-fashion bridal shoot at the McKinney Cotton Mill in McKinney Texas took the latter track. Built in 1910 and shuttered in 1969, the structure has seen better days.
“The place is huge and there are hardly any outlets,” says Dixie. There wasn’t much in the way of heat either, and the drafty chill of the overcast day could be felt throughout the building. They couldn’t do much about the ambient temperatures, but they could do something about the ambient light. Without wasting time they began setting up their lights.
After assessing the situation Dixie decided to make use of the cooler, diffused ambient window light that filled the room and mix it with the neutral tonality of her flashes. For a main light they used a B1 Off-Camera Flash with an Umbrella Deep White S, which Dixie finds ‘soft enough yet contrasty enough’ to capture the detail of the gown and flattering skin tones.
For many of the shots they also used a fill card to open up shadows. Without the benefit of the controlled light source output by the B1 Heads and light modifiers, the details in the gown would have been lost.
A second B1 with a Profoto Softlight Reflector White was set up as a rim light. Finally, a bare-bulb B1 was set up facing the camera to backlight the strings of small crystals Dixie suspended in front of her lens through to create the random, out-of-focus specula highlights that add a playful dash of mystery into the image.
Shooting with a Nikon D810 with an Air Remote TTL-N and a Nikon AF DC-Nikkor 135mm/f2.0D lens, the final exposures were 1/200th-second at f/4.0, ISO 200.
“My assistants really love the B1s,” laughs Dixie. “They’re easy to travel with and the batteries seem to last forever even when shooting all day long. And the Light Shaping Tools are easy to maneuver, and they set up and break down quickly, which is especially important when you’re shooting models in cold, drafty cotton mills.”
3 x Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash
1 x Profoto Deep Umbrella White Small
1 x Profoto Softlight Reflector White (Beauty Dish)
1 x Air Remote TTL-N
Nikon AF DC-Nikkor 135mm/f2.0D