Portrait

From dawn to dusk – creating light for every occasion with TTL and HSS for Fujifilm

15 January, 2018

Written by: Steven Hanratty

Often when you’re shooting in the great outdoors, the natural light creates problems. Midday sun too bright? Too many dark and ugly shadows? Now there’s a solution that allows Fujifilm shooters to take control with TTL and HSS to transform the ordinary into extraordinary. Michelle Turner demonstrates.

Wedding, portrait and commercial photographer Michelle Turner is surrounded by beauty in her home state of California. From the sun-scorched rolling hills north of Santa Barbara to the shimmering Pacific Ocean at the point where land meets the sea at El Capitan, it's no surprise that Michelle is a product of her environment.

The surrounding landscape always plays a significant role in the images she creates. "It doesn't matter where the subject is, I like to find the beauty in the location and go from there." 

A significant development for Fujifilm shooters

An active Fujifilm shooter, Michelle is delighted that the Profoto Air Remote TTL-F is now available to the Fujifilm family. "I now have the opportunity to use Profoto products the way they were intended to be used together; it's very exciting."

"Having the ability to take advantage of TTL and HSS is a significant development for me because it helps me to better work with my clients. I can focus on the ambient exposure and, critically, on their expressions and actions while TTL thinks about how much light to put out. The power output changes as the distance between me and my subject changes; it's one less thing to think about."

"And HSS allows me to overpower the sun in broad daylight, which is great when I need to work with a faster shutter speed to compensate for a wider aperture."

Morning light

When Michelle was working in the morning light, she exposed for the ambient light to preserve the wonderful detail in the background and sky, not wanting to blow it out. But that presented a problem.

Because the sun was behind the family, their faces were in shadow. Using a Profoto A1 off camera firing into a white umbrella to soften and diffuse the light, she created just the right amount of fill to overcome the shadow and create two delightfully fresh morning images with excellent detail, both in her clients’ faces and in the epic background.

Overcast – it’s all a bit flat

In overcast conditions, Michelle had more issues with shadows and again needed the A1 off camera providing fill to illuminate their faces and to bring light and life into their eyes. Beneath the vast Santa Monica pier, the shadows were more pronounced still. Not only were the overcast conditions acting like one giant softbox, but the darkness beneath the pier had to be overcome.

"I like to move with my clients, and I want them to have fun when I'm photographing them. That would ordinarily mean I would constantly be adjusting the light, but that's where TTL becomes so essential by automatically managing the light output as I move – I just know I'm going to get the shot."

Midday sunlight – bright isn’t always right

While shooting a young woman in the glare of midday sun, Michelle dealt with distracting hotspots by underexposing the background, which also helped to bring a little more vibrancy to the colors. However, this meant that Michelle had to push significantly more light into the subject from a Profoto B2 held by her assistant high above the shooting position, creating an entirely balanced image.

In the meadow with the rolling Californian hills in the background, Michelle wanted to be free to move naturally with the young family, encouraging them to play with the baby and have fun.

Again, she used the Profoto A1 off camera in TTL mode, as a fill light to lift the shadows in their faces when their backs were to the sun.

Golden hour – Michelle’s favorite

Michelle freely admits that the golden hour is her favorite time to shoot. However, it's not without problems. "The sun sinking behind the family in the meadow was the composition I was looking for, but the golden light bouncing off the yellow ground was making their skin tones feel almost jaundiced; so, not ideal." To compensate for this, Michelle shot with an A1 off camera diffused through a white umbrella to provide fill and to ensure natural-looking skin tones.

Shooting in the shaded area of a large tree brought intimacy to a family portrait in a wide-open setting. The shade, however, meant there was a vast difference between the young family and the bright golden background. Michelle decided to hold the exposure for the sun and push light into the shaded areas, and her subjects with the A1 off camera. Then, she took advantage of the freedom of AirTTL to keep moving until she captured precisely the image she wanted.

Blue hour – a rhapsody in blue

For the final sequence of images, Michelle found herself in the magical setting of El Capitan, a place of breathtaking natural wonder. In the blue hour, the sun has dropped below the horizon, so it's about working fast to make the most of the remaining light before night falls.

In her first image, Michelle wanted to preserve the incredible colors both in the sky and reflecting off the water, so a lot of light was needed.

Here, the she used the Profoto B2 in conjunction with the white umbrella to push soft light into the couple standing on the cool, wet sand. She thus illuminated their faces and brought through the details of their clothes. Most importantly, however, this meant Michelle could preserve the mirror-like reflection of the couple in the water.

The final images portray the couple facing the remaining light, which was casting a pink hue across their faces and for which Michelle compensated by adding light from the Profoto B2 and by lifting the exposure. The result: romantic images that make the very most of nature's splendor – Michelle Turner to a T.

No barriers to creating something great

For Michelle, a Profoto trigger with TTL and HSS that seamlessly integrates with Fujifilm provides far greater freedom and flexibility than ever before.

But in the end, we should probably leave the final words to Michelle. “With TTL and HSS, I can relax knowing that while I can't always control the time of day that I shoot, the Profoto system allows me to create something that my clients will love anytime, anywhere. Whether I'm balancing the sun at midday or working after dark, my Profoto gear does the job perfectly every time.”

Written by: Steven Hanratty

Products used in this story

Air Remote TTL

New

Profoto A1

Campaign

Profoto B2