BEN AND ERIN CHRISMAN IMPROVISE WITH THE PROFOTO B2 ON THE STREETS OF OLD SAN JUAN.
THIS PAST NEW YEAR’S DAY, Erin and I were attending a wedding in San Juan, Puerto Rico with two other photographer friends, Brandon and Katrina Wong. We asked them to join us one night in Old San Juan to photograph them in the charming historic district.
Our original plan was to photograph Brandon and Katrina at sunset with a big view of the city or ocean to really show that we were in Puerto Rico, but with the holiday traffic, we didn’t get set up until after dark on one of Old San Juan’s cobblestone streets. We found some Christmas lights still strung around someone’s door and used them to frame Brandon and Katrina. When you place tiny lights up close against the lens, the constant twinkling of the tiny bulbs affects the photo in all sorts of wonderful ways.
To light Brandon and Katrina, we set up a B2 Off-Camera Flash with an OCF Softbox 2×3 in the vertical position. We found the exposure using the Air Remote TTL, then switched to manual mode in order to maintain a constant light on them from the handheld B2 head while allowing the twinkling foreground lights to fill the rest of the image field.
When we light a subject, we are generally trying to replicate natural light, or use a flash to create a sense of drama. Good light rarely means an abundance of light for us. It’s usually the absence of light that we like best, and we’ll use artificial light to fill in the gaps.
Improvising this shoot was nothing new for us. The shoot was very much like a typical wedding because plans never go as scheduled, and because of that, we’re always searching for portrait locations all night long at a reception instead of only the allocated time the wedding planner has arranged. It’s rare that our favorite photos are ever taken in the time we’re officially given to take portraits. The challenge is always to have an idea in the hardest conditions.
For more images and information about Ben and Erin Chrisman visit https://www.chrismanstudios.com/.
TIPS & TRICKS
- UNDEREXPOSE THE AMBIENT LIGHT. To create a sense of mood, use your Air Remote TTL to find the “right” exposure, then adjust to the scene in front of you.
- HAVE THE PERSON HOLDING YOUR LIGHT INTERACT WITH YOUR SUBJECTS. Make sure they have good expressions and don’t look stiff.
- WE LOVE LARGE LIGHT MODIFIERS, LIKE THE OCF SOFTBOX 2X3. They have helped us bring studio-quality lighting to our outdoor portraits.
- LOOK TO PAINTING FOR INSPIRATION. For centuries, the great Masters have been illustrating light that rivals contemporary lighting equipment.