With bodies and powder flying through the air, Bahrain-based photographer Ali Alriffai was able to get the perfect exposure again and again at 14 fps, thanks to the fast recycling time of the Profoto D2.
To get his stunning images, Ali dressed skydivers from Gravity Bahrain in casual clothes and had them jump on a powder-covered trampoline. “It was incredibly fun to play with powder and trampoline, and the skydivers can control their body movements in mid-air,” he says. “So when they saw the first few results on the camera’s screen, they changed their body shapes to create a feeling of dancing in the air. I could not have done this right without their professional flying experience!”
Using a Canon EOS 1D-X Mark II shooting 14 frames per second and a 70-200mm lens, he positioned two Profoto D2 monolights at the trampoline from high angle. The key light was on the camera’s right covering the set, with a Profoto Umbrella Deep White XL and a diffuser to protect the head from the powder. On the left side, Ali used a Profoto RFi Softbox 2×3’ at much lower power just to fill the models’ feet.
A chance to really test the D2
Ali says he does not think there is any action faster than powder and models that can be captured in the studio. “I do shoot action time to time – water splashes, moving models, jumping et cetera – but it is difficult to freeze small particles like powder, even more difficult than water droplets. So this was a chance to really test the D2 by freezing the powder and getting a nice body shape from the models.”
Ali has been using the Profoto equipment for more than 10 years, in the studio and on location. “The equipment has always been up to speed and durable and it has never let me down. For this shoot I needed the highest performance in every aspect, from power, to fast recycling to short flash duration, all in a small package. And with the D2 I felt I had no restraints.”
“You can’t keep trying all day”
Speed is especially important in this type of shoot because the powder goes everywhere. “The biggest challenge is that you can’t keep trying all day to get the right shot,” he explains. “The colored powder really makes a mess in the studio. And the skydivers’ eyes, mouths and faces get full of the powder. So I have to get the shots I need as fast I can.”
Not all flashes can stay up to speed with a camera taking 14-16 frames per second. “I have seen many photographers wait for the right moment,” he explains. “And they might get it but only after repeating it again and again.
“With the D2 I was able to get the perfect exposure in all frames starting when they were in the air, then landing and then bouncing back up off the trampoline. Since all the pictures were perfectly lit, I could choose any whatever position I wanted from the skydivers and whatever powder spread I wanted.”