The streets of New York can be great for storytelling, but busy and distracting. In these three videos, we follow photographer Chris Knight as he captures amazing images in one of the busiest cities in the world. Here is how he created three completely different portraits using the portable Profoto B10 system.
“Shooting in New York is great, but we always try to keep production to a minimum to avoid attracting too much attention. Another thing that complicates things is the fact that we can’t use light stands without a permit. But with the lightweight and portability of the Profoto B10 system, that’s not an issue," Chris explains.
“With the Profoto B10 and B10 Plus we can use human light stands instead which makes us very mobile. The B10 Plus gives a good amount of power and the B10 is just remarkably small for its abilities.”
Setup 1 - How to create a dramatic portrait
Camera: Fujifilm GXF 100. Lens: GF63mm f/2.8.
Settings: ISO 100, 1/160th, f/2.8, 63mm
“The goal here with lighting was to create something that felt relatively natural - but just a little more dramatic. The light on the street is already soft, so the umbrella was an easy choice. A medium sized umbrella on location is still pretty manageable. The diffuser adds an extra layer of evenness and softness”, Chris explains.
“I typically like umbrellas because they are soft, so I often use white because it’s a softer light with less contrast. They are also very portable to use on location.”
In the video we can see that you are holding something in front of your lens. What is that and what effect are you looking for?
“I’m holding a piece of stretch glass (plastic can also work) to blur and distort part of the image. This has three effects. It adds a foreground element of depth, it creates a blur/flare that gives an illusion of motion, and it helps hide the ad on the roof of the cab in certain images.”
You used the new Fujifilm GFX 100 for this shoot. What’s so good about this camera? How well does it go with Profoto B10 system?
“The Fuji GFX 100 is an amazing camera. Its ability to resolve detail and capture information is really astounding. That kind of power is typically not that portable and easily maneuvered - and it makes my job very easy. It’s also really convenient to use with Profoto in general. The dedicated Air TTL transmitter for Fuji means I can use HSS (or TTL if I wanted to) so I can freeze and capture motion easily.”
Setup 2 - How to mix ambient light with flash
Camera: Fujifilm GXF 100. Lens: GF45mm f/2.8
Settings: ISO 100, 1/1250th, f/3.6, 45mm
What are the most important things to keep track of when you are mixing ambient light with flash?
“One of the most important things to keep track of is how bright the ambient light is making your fill / shadows. Even though this image uses two “lights” - the sun and a flash, I also need to be aware that the exposure of the shade is not lit by my flash. This means I’m actually keeping an eye on three exposures at once.”
What are the benefits of using Profoto B10 Plus when you are photographing with the sun as a rim light?
“When going up against the sun, I needed all the power I could get. The extra stop of light using a 500-watt second flash allowed me to do that.”
How do you think in terms of how to position the flash?
“Usually I try to follow the natural light of the environment, so it feels more natural or motivated. This was an instance that was a little unique. New York occasionally, at certain times of the day, has a unique light where the sun bounces off glass buildings and gives a couple of sources of light. This was the effect I was trying to achieve with the lighting here.”
Set up 3 - How to create golden hour light
Camera: Fujifilm GXF 100. Lens: GF45mm f/2.8
Settings: ISO 100, 1/125th, f/5, 45mm
When creating golden hour light, what are the most important things to keep track of?
“Flares are more effective when they are pointed at camera. This light needed to be far enough back to create a rim light on the subject (so the light feels like it’s actually there) and hit the camera lens. Making sure the angle is just right is a challenge. Also, sunlight is warm - especially sunset or golden hour sun. If I am creating the look of that light, a full CTO gives me a warm, realistic light and color.”
“I had two lights with me that day - the Profoto B10 Plus and the B10. For the sun, I needed as much power as I could get, so the B10 Plus was the obvious choice. For the light on the subject’s face, the B10 was nice because it needed to be handheld over the assistants head for an extended period of time.”
“I used an OCF Beauty Dish White here because of its portability and size. It is positioned on the right to show depth on the face (light, dark, light) and also because it has a consistency of light with the earlier bird image. Even though it’s tones and colors are a little different, the lighting has a degree of cohesion.”
So, Chris, last but not least, do you have any advice for people who want to start experimenting with flash and light shaping on location?
“My advice is to just get out and start shooting. The best way to learn is by doing.”