How to create soft and natural interior lighting with the Profoto D2
New York based fashion photographer Haiyin Lin prefers soft natural light. Something she accomplishes using Profoto monolights. We asked her to describe her experience of the Profoto D2.
During a recent photo shoot, I chose a studio that had both great natural light and a great environment to shoot a series of fashion portraits. I used the new ultra-fast D2 Monolight that Profoto had just launched and had a wonderful shooting experience!
I prefer the effects of soft natural light for environmental portraits, both indoor and outdoor. However, that does not mean that I do not use flash. In fact, for many fashion shoots, flash has been an essential tool for me. Being skillful at using flash and light shaping tools not only enables you to create soft light, but also adds dimensions to the images.
Since both the model and her outfits suited a soft tone for this shoot, I decided to use a smaller flash output and a larger aperture setting right from the start to retain more ambient light in the images. The brand new D2 Monolight comes in two versions: a 500 watt-second and 1,000 watt-second. For this shoot, I chose the 1,000 watt-second D2 Monolight. It has a 10-speed flash output range with a minimum of 2.0 watt-seconds. This supports large aperture shoots inside the studio and would be able to satisfy my needs for this shoot.
The light shaping tool that I used was a Profoto Umbrella Deep White M. It can create soft lighting very well. I also asked an assistant to fan the model’s hair from the side, allowing it to float naturally, giving the photographs a sense of motion.
As for the second scene, since the natural afternoon light that shone on the wall looked very beautiful, I retained the natural lighting. Once again, I used a lower output and Profoto’s Umbrella Deep White M to create a catch light effect for the model and to add a glow to the model’s outfit. In addition, I used a large aperture to create a soft close-up and to blur the foreground.
Once again, I placed a D2 Monolight with Full CTO behind the model to add warm light which suited her natural hair color well.
We also had a tiny model on set that day—the lovely Luffy. The puppy was very lively and it was hard getting him to sit still with the model. Thus, it was necessary to use a high-speed continuous shooting mode in order to capture the innocent look of Luffy. As a fashion photographer, I am often asked to capture models in running or jumping motions during both normal studio and outdoor shoots. The D2’s flash duration of 20 flashes per second enables me to capture every dynamic moment with ease.
Under such shooting conditions, D2 Monolight’s fast recycling speed becomes a major advantage. Energy setting for this scene was within the range of 6.0-7.0, and D2 recycled within 0.2 seconds. Even at an energy setting of 9.0, it can keep up with 2 images per second. This enabled me to capture every exciting moment without the need to wait.
For the outdoor shoot, the model changed into a silk-based attire and put on red lipstick. Hence, I used the Softlight Reflector White to make the light harder and to highlight the glimmer of the silk.
In addition, D2 supports High Speed Sync, enabling you to go beyond 1/250s shutter speed on Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras, up to 1/8000s. When there is sufficient ambient light, photographers can use large apertures and high shutter speed to get shallow depth of field and at the same time, use flash as fill light.
For the final scene, I used Softbox RFi 3’ Octa to maintain the soft tones and to light the scene with a more dimensional light.
We put a pair of sunglasses on Luffy. Amidst his adorable expression and the laughter of everyone, we wrapped up the shoot.
(Let me show you how we drew Luffy’s attention to the camera…)
Heavy equipment constantly poses a great challenge. The size of D2 Monolight is just 31 x 13 x 18 cm and the 1,000 watt-second version is just 3.4 kg in weight. It is very compact and portable among products with the same power output This is a big bonus point for outdoor shoots that require movement and set changes.
I am already looking forward to using this product again for my next shoot!
If you want to see more of Haiyin’s images, visit her website.