Tina Eisen discovers the speed, creativity and flexibility that shooting with not just one, but two A1s, brings to creating stylish, beautifully lit portraits in a full day in London.
German-born Tina Eisen moved to the UK 14 years ago, and it was there she found her love for photography. "I was working in a pretty dull marketing job, and I desperately wanted to do something more creative, so nine years ago I picked up a camera and never looked back."
Beginning by trial and error, Tina soon became fascinated by how the images she created had a transformative effect on the people she was shooting, and it's no surprise that she fell into the gravitational pull of the fashion and beauty category. So, when we approached Tina to create a series of creative beauty portraits with the Profoto A1 Duo Kit, she jumped at the chance.
Tina liked the idea of working within the current trend of pastel tones and muted colors and wanted to combine that with a floral theme. "I remember my early childhood in East Germany just before reunification, my mom was a very creative person and she always found ways to bring color into this grey world, so I guess she inspired the use of flowers."
Today’s shoot was the first time Tina had shot with two A1s, and she was immediately impressed with the large and even spread of light.
The first shot of the day took place in a gym setting with the model posing on a vaulting horse. The first A1 was positioned slightly to the right of the model as the primary light, bouncing from an Umbrella Deep White S. Tina placed the second A1 on a stand outside the room, with a half CTO gel for a touch of warmth. The idea was for this A1 to fire through large frosted windows, creating the feeling of natural light, and to bring detail and definition to the model's hair.
Next, the team moved outside to the rustic setting of the studio yard. The location had a unique personality with beaten-up wooden benches and crates, weathered, distressed brickwork and an old rusting bicycle.
However, the weather conditions were reasonably overcast, which meant the natural light was flat and lifeless. Tina overcame this by opting for a simple one-light setup with one A1 positioned high to the right of the model, fitted with the Soft Bounce modifier, and the other A1 on-camera as a trigger. The A1 blended perfectly with the ambient light to bring shape and form to the model's clothes and beautiful definition to her striking features.
Back inside for a more intimate portrait. With the model sitting in an old ornate chair in front of a frosted window, Tina placed the main A1 in front of her, firing into a white umbrella, and the second A1 to the right of the model on the window sill with a warm CTO gel fitted to the head. This second A1 acted as a rim light, bringing light and shape to her hair. Also, a silver Collapsible Reflector was used to create a pleasing catch light in her eyes to help the viewer connect with the image.
Tina spotted an interesting location outside on a high balcony against industrial metal pipes and weather-worn brickwork. The good news was that it wasn't as overcast as it was earlier; the bad news was, the conditions were changing rapidly, with the sun continually popping in and out. So it was a huge plus that she could make adjustments to her A1s instantly via the Air Remote TTL.
She used one A1 with a Soft Bounce firing into the model. And on a tall stand further to the right of the model she used the second A1, with a warm CTO gel as a rim light to separate her from the background and bring highlights to her hair.
In the studio, Tina got inspired to position the model on a luxurious leather sofa against the exposed brickwork. She used one A1 facing the model, again bouncing from the Umbrella White, and the second A1 as a fill, which she placed inside the skeleton of an old movie spotlight. "I didn't plan this shot, but the A1s allowed me to add my lighting style to the existing light and very quickly make the most of a creative opportunity that suddenly presented itself."
The final image of the day required a location move, which in this instance only involved jumping in a cab, because the A1s are so light and portable.
Shooting in the shadow of London's iconic Tower Bridge presented a few issues. First, it was a shoot in a public place. Second, the light was falling fast and this required decisiveness and quick moves. So, Tina's first decision was to use both A1s hand held. One assistant held the main A1 pretty much at full power to push light into the model. To keep the light soft, she added the Dome Diffuser modifier. The second A1, also with the Dome Diffuser, was positioned to the right of the model on half the power. This way, they were almost able to wrap the model in soft, beautiful light in failing conditions – and get the shot in record time.
Tina was delighted with the outcome after a full-on day. "I'm usually more comfortable in the studio, but the quality of light, the portability and the flexibility that the A1 Duo Kit gave me opened up a world of possibilities. I'll be shooting on location a lot more."