Roberto Valenzuela balances light with the Profoto B1.
In September of this year, I was commissioned by Canon USA to take photographs for the launch of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV campaign in New York City. The concept was to create a beauty portrait of Rachel wearing a bridal dress designed by Los Angeles designer RMINÉ.
Because this was shot on a New York City rooftop in the mid-day sun, there was no escape from the harsh sunlight. To create a gorgeously lit image, many adjustments to the lighting had to take place. First, I had to clean up the harsh light by softening it. Second, I wanted to influence the light, changing, shaping and manipulating it so that I could contour Rachel’s face. As a photographic artist, it’s incredibly important to achieve the lighting you envision, and not just accept whatever light is available.
I had an assistant hold a 6 x 4-foot diffuser above Rachel’s body in order to soften the strong light from the sun. Because Rachel was standing over a light ground, there was plenty of reflective light bouncing back up toward her face. I still wanted a punchier, soft light in Rachel’s face, so I had my friend hold a Profoto B1 with a Profoto Wide Zoom Reflector on camera right. The Wide Zoom Reflector creates a wide, even and crisp light, and I wanted to stay true to the direction of the sunlight to get a nice contouring.
When it comes to lighting, I believe it’s imperative for a photographer to have a vision—to use light to communicate something, not just to illuminate the subject. I use lighting that flatters the subject, but at the same time blends in with the natural environment. It’s important to create a look where the light is well-crafted, but doesn’t distract from the subject. I don’t want the viewer wondering where the light is coming from because it doesn’t make sense. I believe that lighting should have a reference point.
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TIPS & TRICKS
TURNING CHALLENGES INTO AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL IMAGES.
- IF THERE IS INDIRECT WINDOW LIGHT—meaning the sun is not shining directly through the window—position a flash in the direction of the light with a di_ user to enhance the weak light. If there is direct window light, use a reflector to lift the shadows created by the intense light.
- WHEN SHOOTING OUTDOORS with strong light, find naturally occurring reflectors such as light walls and sidewalks. In harmony, they create “the glow zone.” Test exposure for “the glow zone” using these settings: ISO 100, f/4, 1/500 of a second.
- To neutralize shadows in the studio and create “equalizer light,” use the largest light source you can find (such as a white wall) to illuminate the entire area until it blends well with your studio lights.