Robert Woodcox weathers the storm with the Profoto B2.
I interact with a lot of people as I travel but there are a few that stand out to me: they are the quickest to smile, the fastest to share a meal and the first to offer assistance with no additional cost or strings attached. It’s these people I’ve chosen to document in my new personal series, “Electric Auras.”
This particular image is of my good friend, Long Tran, a fellow photographer and explorer. We shot this photo on a secluded stretch of the Mekong Rover in southwest Vietnam.
Creating this photo was quite an adventure in itself. My team and I arrived at the sunny Mekong River late morning. The plan was to explore for a bit and then shoot a small photo series of Long near sunset; as we stopped along the river for lunch however, we noticed some clouds in the distance.
We had to decide whether to immediately go in for the shoot, or risk waiting out the storm and potentially getting not photos. I decided to got for it. Our canoe guides rowed us into the storm, and we had plastic bags to cover the lights and enough crew members to hold the boats in place as I shot.
The lighting setup for this image was actually quite simple, I chose a single Profoto B2 light with a Profoto RFi 2 x 3-foot Softbox to accent Long and make him really stand out from the naturally lit scene. There were three boats involved in achieving this look: one to hold the subject, one to hold me and one to house my lighting assistant at camera right, achieving a dramatic side light. My goal was to give a look of strength and power to the subject by making him the most prominent element in the photo.
Natural and artificial light are brilliant complements to each other, and I prefer to have the most natural and realistic look possible with my lighting. I shoot on location - often in very secluded areas – and a small lighting kit is preferable. It’s especially helpful in impromptu situations such as this one. Although my original intention wasn’t to risk our lives in a tropical downpour, my creation was definitely better because of the unexpected circumstances. As the first bolt of lightning struck, that’s when we knew we might actually be crazy - and just like that, “Electric Auras” was born.
TIPS & TRICKS
TURNING CHALLENGES INTO AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES.
- TO GET EVEN LIGHT IN A TIGHT SPACE, take a photo of your subject with the light, then remove the light and shoot the same composition. In post, you can piece the two together for the desired lighting.
- ALWAYS STOW PLASTIC BAGS AND small clamps in your lighting kit— whatever elements you encounter, you can continue your shoot without a hitch.
- IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO PLAY WITH sunset, fire or other colorful settings, purchase colored gels to balance your lights. If you want to experiment, try different colored gels on multiple lights.
- IF YOU’RE GETTING BORED OF A perfect, evenly lit scene, unique modifiers in front of your light sources can add texture. I’ve used everything from textured glass and fabric to leaves and branches to add interesting shadows to my work.