Lifestyle shot with one flash

11 02 2012

Hey,

Two weeks ago, I decided to bring some gear outside to try something I had on my mind for quite some time. There’s a great demand right now for lifestyle images that look natural. By natural, you need to understand that buyers don’t want to feel the flashes in the photographs. I put feel in bold because natural looking images don’t necessarily means natural light. It is ok (and essential in my opinion) to use flash in most shoots to be able to control your images.

Knowing that, I started to think of a way to create technically great images with flashes in a natural way. I started thinking of a way to get a very diffuse light as a starting point. The best tool I could come up with was the shoot thru umbrella. It gives a very soft light and is all over the place. That should do it for my main/fill light. I also wanted a kicker light to give depth to the images. As I wanted to go light on this shoot, I decided to use the cheapest light that I have, the sun. That’s it. One light setup and I was good to go.

For this shoot, I wanted to use very shallow depth of field with my 50mm F/1.4 and I wanted a nice background. I found a spot fairly close to the parking lot, so I didn’t have to carry all the gear to far.

I began with a reading of the available light and adjusted it at about 1/400 sec @ F/2 (I used a polarizing filter to bring the shutter speed down by two stop) I already knew that my camera was able to sync to the Profoto Acute B2 at 1/400sec without too much banding. I then adjust the Acute B2 to match my F/2 aperture. It was easy enough because the pack can go down to 9 watts. Combined with the shoot thru umbrella and a small distance, it was perfect.

I used myself as a model because it was easier. That means I needed a way to trigger the camera. I used two pocketwizards, one on the camera and one in my hand. With the autofocus on, that worked  pretty well. To trigger the flash, I decided to use a traditional sync cord because I felt it was more reliable than the auto relay mode of the pocketwizards and also because my other TT5 radio have some issues right now.

You can see the approximate setup in the following pictures (except for the pocketwizard).

As it was winter, I used the second setup to be sure to protect the head and the pack if the snow started to fall of simply to protect from snow that fall from trees. You’re never to  careful when you use expensive gear. You can also see that I used a hook to hold the pack. That way, it prevents to carry sand bags and it also helps a lot with the radios when they’re used. Pocketwizards don’t like to be close to the ground. Also, when it is possible to carry a c-stand instead of a normal tripod, this is the best thing to do, especially on the snow. Normal tripods have a hard time with packed snow and it is difficult to have a solid base because of the swing in the tripod legs.

So, finally, here are a few of the images. You can see the rest on my iStockphoto portfolio at:

Thanks for reading!

 

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4 responses

16 04 2012
Glen Johannes

Loved your post. Having just bought (and still learning) the same Profoto set I am glad to find such real world explanations of their use in the field – although we don’t have snow like you! Interested to know what protective bags and hook setup you are using to keep the system and pocket wizards off the ground and attached to the C stand. Cheers – Glen

16 04 2012
plbphoto

Thanks Glen,
Congrats on your new Profoto, you’ll love it!
To protect the gear, I use very simple and inexpensive dry bags. You can find those in most outdoor stores or where you can buy canoe or kayak gear. You have to make some cuts in the one for the head.
To keep the pack attached to the stand, I use a simple Manfrotto super clamp with a background hook, also from Manfrotto.
Come back in a few days, I will write a post about the same one strobe technique with a very different result.

12 05 2012
Michael agar

May I know where did you get the hook attached into your super clamp so that you can hang the acute b2 onto the light stand?

12 05 2012
plbphoto

Hi Micheal,
The hook that I used is a combination of a Manfrotto super clamp and u-hook cross bar holder. The hooks only come in pair.
This set up is very solid.

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