Two Mann Studios create on the move in the Blue City, with the Profoto B10

12 September, 2018

Written by: Steve Hanratty

Erika and Lanny Mann take to the narrow, crowded streets of Jodhpur to experience the B10 for the first time, capturing romantic images of fellow wedding photographer Joseph Radhik and his wife, Devika.

At the heart of the Indian state of Rajasthan lies the beautiful blue city of Jodhpur. Founded in 1459 the city that lies beneath the imposing Mehrangarh Fort has since expanded far beyond the city walls into the tapestry of rooves and alleyways that today seem to stretch as far as the eye can see.

It was here that Erika and Lanny Mann of Two Mann Studios would experience the Profoto B10 for the very first time. Photographing their good friends Joseph and Devika Radhik in amongst the labyrinthine blue tinted streets and alleyways teeming with humanity.

Creating a canvas

Erika and Lanny's style is often organic, they embrace spontaneity and discover their images as they work, and today was to be no exception. After an early start, with the sun still just below the horizon, they explored those tight almost claustrophobic passages until they found a spot with potential.

They found a passageway with a turn at the end. That allowed Lanny to position himself out of shot just around the corner, holding the B10 by hand. Erika was standing below at the opposite end of the passageway shooting Joseph and Devika as they walked through the turn approaching the camera. With a half CTO gel on the B10, they fired warm light on to the back wall. As Erika put it, "I wanted to create a sort of canvas to silhouette them against."

Making the most of what’s around you

As a bonus, Erika was able to use one of the many dogs that roam free in the city in the foreground of the shot to create a pleasing shape.

"The dog kept moving because there was a lot of garbage and other stuff he was more interested in, but eventually he sat himself down in just the right position as Devika and Joseph were walking towards me - and I got the shot."

An ambitious idea

Lanny captured the second image just a few steps away from the first but shooting in the opposite direction from a high vantage point above the city. His idea, to find a way to pick Devika and Joseph out from all the seemingly endless rooves and alleyways.

Devika and Joseph took their position four to five blocks away with Erika close-by armed with a single B10, again with a CTO gel to warm up the light. High above them, Lanny chose to use a 50mm lens to pick them out among the maze of passageways. "They were so far away, just shy of 100 meters or so, so I was impressed that the Air Remote still allowed the B10 to fire perfectly."

Erika aimed the B10 just behind the couple's position to create a warm rim light to pull them out from the background. That warm golden light, allowed Devika and Joseph in the narrow passage far below to stand out from the patchwork quilt of blue painted buildings.

Creating drama and contrast

"We always ask ourselves where's the darkest spot and where's the lightest spot to create drama and contrast?" Erika and Lanny's philosophy is very much in evidence in their final image captured in the blue city.

Their final shot was taken later in the day in the same alleyway as the first. The bright sunlight was now casting harsh shadows that were perfect for the image The Manns had in mind. The darkest spot was the shadow cast on the foreground wall. That's where Erika positioned Devika and Joseph in a romantic embrace. To illuminate them in the shadow the first B10 was placed to their side with an OCF Grid to control the spill light. "I wanted to push light into Devika and Joseph without destroying the shadow, and the grid allowed me to be precise with the light."

Shooting in the beautiful chaos

At first, they had the first B10 on a stand, but because people were always moving through the passageway (and therefore the frame), Lanny decided to use the B10 hand-held using the B10’s stand adapter as an improvised handle, so he could change position slightly depending on how chaotic it was at the time.

The second B10 was positioned around the corner with a CTO gel to illuminate an old bicycle against the back wall creating a warm, bright spot. And because it was later in the day the local man observing from the rooftop and the kid captured moving through the frame added movement and humanity to the final image; the perfect demonstration of The Manns use of light and shade to create drama and contrast.

Erika was pretty excited by how the day turned out, "In no way did the B10 slow us down, and the light we created in harsh daylight - we just couldn't have achieved that with speedlights."

A couple in the blue city

Written by: Steve Hanratty

Products used in this story

Air Remote TTL

Wirelessly connects your AirTTL light with your camera

OCF Color Gel Starter Kit

A kit with a Grid and Gel Holder and 10 popular gels

OCF Grid Kit

A kit of three portable grids for our off-camera flashes