JB Sallee, of Sallee Photography, on shaping light with the B10
Sometimes unexpected locations make for the most dynamic shots. One such place, where I’ve shot on six different occasions, is the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, Arizona. The grounds are filled with amazing aircraft—so many models that it can sometimes be overwhelming to choose the right aircraft to fit the client’s needs. But, luckily, at this point in my career I know the perspective I want: I look for clean lines and lots of negative space where in I can place my subject and lead the viewer’s eye toward the light.
I don’t usually go into a shoot with a set vision in mind. Rather, I love being surprised by what and who I’m working with. I do my best to make magic out of the elements in front of my camera’s lens. I often pre-scout and pre-visualize, but sometimes time constraints do now allow for this, so I have learned to adapt to the situation and roll with whatever develops in front of my lens.
For this shoot, part of the “See The Light” tour which is taking me to 26 different cities this year, I paired the model with a British bomber because I liked how the hue of her dress matched the plane.
Before having kids, my wife, DeEtte, and I always shot our wedding and portrait clients in perfect, soft, Golden Hour light. Today, with three young daughters (and less flexibility in our schedules), we have learned how to adapt our client sessions to less-than-ideal lighting conditions at high noon.
Now, much of our ability to create “perfect” light with less-than-perfect variables is due to the power of Profoto gear. Not only can we overpower harsh, direct sunlight, but we can also shape the light to our needs.
For this shoot, I used two Profoto B10 OCF flash heads, both, outfitted with OCF Magnum reflectors. The key light was positioned off-camera left and the second light, the kicker, was off-camera right to help fill in the shadows and separate the plane from the background. I chose this lighting setup to mimic the harsh light on the aircraft and match the scene. Balancing the lights allowed me to get even, soft light on the subject and direct, overhead, harsh light on the aircraft for a dramatic effect.
The B10s are clutch for travel photography because of their small size and light weight. The dry heat was overwhelming (I’m used to Texas humidity!) and I was shooting solo, so the ability to be light and fast with equipment was key to nailing this and more than 20 other great shots during a four-hour shoot.
When I go to a shoot, I’m always adapting to the situation at hand, and the Profoto tools allow me the flexibility to deliver a range of styles—dramatic, soft, punchy—but always light that will make an image pop. These tools have helped me to master the ability to shape the light!
Tips & Tricks
TURNING CHALLENGES INTO AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES.
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE YOUR LIGHTING DRAMATIC. To give your images that extra in- camera punch, place your strobes at extreme angles.
- USE THE SUN AS THE KICKER LIGHT and create a soft key light with the OCF Beauty Dish. (This is our go-to lighting setup for our wedding and portrait sessions.)
- CROSS-LIGHT IN A “SUNNY 16” SITUATION with two Profoto lights and the OCF Magnum— one as the key light and one as the kicker—to make your subjects pop (as shown in the “British Bomber” image).
- PAINT PROPS WITH LIGHT using the OCF snoot to pinpoint and sculpt the light with little light spill.
- SET UP YOUR LIGHT AT A HIGH ANGLE and ask your subject to turn their chin into the light for a flattering “butterfly” lighting effect.