Nicola Vincenzo Rinaldo on the Art of Creating One's Own Light

25 May, 2017

Written by: Susan Ely

Just as good acting should appear natural, not forced, and in the right hands simply believable, good lighting must look natural, not forced or artificial, but believable.
 
Nicola Vincenzo Rinaldo has been taking pictures since his parents bought him his first camera (a Nikon CoolPix point-and-shoot) when he was 13-years old. He initially wanted a camera so he could photograph his friends snowboarding. Being a photographer wasn't at all on his radar at that point, if anything, his plan was to pursue a career in music (He's a Cellist). Regardless, one photo jaunt led to another and before you know it Nicola was taking photography classes in high school and saving up for a Canon EOS 7D, his first Speedlite, and a wireless flash trigger. He was hooked.
 
 
Fast forward to June 2017 and he will be graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in Photography. Needless to say his photographic skills have improved greatly since he first started snap-shooting all those years ago.
 
Far from a one-trick-pony, Nicola's website and Instagram feed illustrate the work of somebody with many interests and an equal number of ways to illustrate these interests. 
 
 
Nicola has been fortunate to have none other than Greg Heisler as a mentor as he worked on his thesis and Heisler's influence is easy to note when viewing Nicola's work. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the accompanying photographs taken of his aging grandparents as they go through their personal ordeals and health-related hardships. 
 
A concept Heisler impressed upon Nicola was how the light in the photograph must look real - it shouldn't look forced or overly theatrical, if anything it should play its part by spotlighting the subject of the photograph in a supporting role.
 
 
 
Compositionally, his photographs are painstakingly perfect in form and he uses light in a most masterly manner. If photographs are a composite of light and shadow, Nicola Ronaldo's method of using light most sparingly is very reminiscent of the lighting found on classic renaissance paintings, in which the eye is ever so carefully guided through the scene through the use of lightness, darkness, and form. In a word, they're perfect.
 
Nicola Rinaldo's choice of lights are Profoto B1 AirTTL Location kits, a pair of which he purchased soon after trying them out in school. Around the same time he upped his game by investing in a Canon EOS 5D Mk III along with a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L an EF 50mm f/1.2L. 
 
Though he had ample opportunity to shoot with a variety of the schools Profoto light-shaping tools including softboxes, strip lights, and beauty dishes, the nature of this project, which included odd hours, last-minute changes of plans, and a fair degree of travel made it difficult for Nicola to rely on the availability of school gear when he needed it. That's when Nicola started making his own light shaping tools out of aluminum foil. If you think that's a joke one look at Nicola's work should put an end to the humor of the idea - the pictures work... and they work very well.
 
(Note - It's important to keep in mind most of the light-shaping tools we take for granted - reflectors, softboxes, etc., all started out as 'garage experiments', so no laughing out there.)
 
Depending on the intended mood of the image, Nicola would fold and wrap sheets of foil around the flash heads until the light fell upon his subject precisely as he wanted it to fall. 
   
The color photographs of his grandfather (in the fur hat) and the photo of the man with a suitcase (Part of a narrative for a school project) were shot with bare tubes gelled with a full CTO filters. They work because they're believable.
 
Upon graduating Nicola Vincenzo Rinaldo hopes to get into editorial and advertising photography, maybe portraits, but definitely a variety of subjects - he wants to play as much as he can!
 
 
Though it's too late, a project Nicola wished he could have followed through on was to be able to photograph President Trump's first 100 days in office in the same intense photographic style he documented his grandparents. As a bonus, he would have hoped to have Trump himself edit the photographs in a bid to 'see what happens'.
 
I for one would have loved to see the results.
 
To see more of Nicola Vincenzo Rinaldo's work visit his website and Instagram pages.               
 
Nicola Vincenzo Rinaldo's Tool Box
 
- Lots of tin foil
 

Written by: Susan Ely