How to Light Using Strobes
So, I think, let's actually transition into, I just showed two pictures that work moderately well. They're kinda boring, frankly, with available light. They're not that interesting. We wanna add some drama to this situation. So, let's actually walk up the hill and I'm gonna describe what we're using here. Also, I wanna introduce-- Where's Jeff? This is Jeff Johnson. Jeff and I have worked on many projects together. He is a lighting master. (laughs) So Jeff, thanks for comin' up.
Yeah, no problem.
So, we're working with two Profoto B4 packs, and the reason that we have two packs right now is that it is, it's high noon, it's middle of the day, it's really bright out here, and we want the ability to shoot at high shutter speeds. So, these are thousand watt second packs, but we're shooting at a thousandth, fifteen hundredth, two thousandth of a second. So, we doubled the heads and we have Magnum Reflectors on top so that we can really capture and push as much of that light onto the rai...
l. Now, this is-- Bly, what is this stand called? A combo stand. That's it, a combo stand. So, this is a pretty cool stand. It's pretty heavy duty. There's a Rocky Mountain leg, and this is a great future in whatever kind of stand you decide to work with. You can see these two front legs are not adjustable, and then this has this Rocky Mountain adjustment feature. Which obviously, as it implies, the Rocky Mountains, when you're working in the mountains, it's really valuable to be able to level a stand by having that third leg, which is the Rocky Mountain leg. Now, the combo stand is pretty heavy duty. I mean, this thing weighs 30 pounds, I'm guessing, but without any lights on it. But, when you're in a park environment like this there's two reasons that I'm using the combo stand. One, it's pretty windy out right now, so I wanna be able to put some weight on it. I always hang my packs off of the stand, even if I'm using lighter weight stands, that's great weight. We had the luxury of we have a crew here today, so we brought some shot bags, so there's lead inside of these bags, 15 pounds each. And I'm always really contentious of just you cannot have that stand blow down. Not only are you gonna break your heads, but worst case scenarios, as Cody's hitting the rail, this stand blows down in a gust of wind and you hit the athlete. You're trying to, as a photographer, always avoid becoming the center of attention because you hurt the athlete or you break your gear. So, always hang this. You saw yesterday when I unpacked my bags, I have some climbing equipment. These are just carabiners with slings. It's a great way to clip stuff onto the stand. Make sure that when you're packing, this stand goes really high, that's the other reason for a combo stand. If we were shooting on the jump right now with strobes and it was a bigger feature, Cody could end up 30, 40 feet in the air, and we need to really get that stand up high so that we can get the light on him. Right now, the rail pretty low, so less of an issue. Now, obviously, I have help. Jeff is helping me today, so we could bring the combo stand, we could bring two packs to compensate for being in bright light. This is a much more, this is kinda the one man band set up. I'm using Manfrotto stacker stands. Sometimes just one, if I'm only gonna use one head. If I'm gonna use two heads, then I'll actually carry two stands, of course. This is my backup, or my smaller, kit. These are incredible heads. The 1B's, these are 500 watt second heads, but they allow me to do high speed sync. Very light weight. They're monoblocks, so everything is self-contained inside of this head. So, you can swap out batteries versus this set, the Profoto B4s, battery is inside the pack and then we run the extension cord up to the head. So, this is a pretty great self-contained unit. One backpack, two monoblock heads, two stands, and you're kind of in business. You can bring a couple of light modifiers. This has become one of the go-to kits for action photographers. Reasonably priced, but also very compact, high-quality light. Alright, so. So, you're gonna see us do a little of experimenting. Before we had technical issues, the sun was a little more behind the athlete, so the sun was actually backlighting the athlete. Now, we're kind of contending with clouds. So, I kinda made a decision, given that we have limited light, I wanted to put the light perpendicular to the athlete so that we can just create some shape. You saw how flat that light was, when we shot available light. So, Cody or Dylan, they're gonna be kinda perpendicular to our light. If the sun pops out, we're gonna use that sun as kind of a rim, or an edge light, coming from uphill. Then we're gonna fill them with this perpendicular light. Might take a little bit of experimenting, but Jeff and I we do lot of gimme more power, gimme less power. My guess is, we're gonna be at full power straight outta the gate because we're sorta battling how bright it is right now.
Yeah, in today's sun, we're gonna be all the way up to a thousand watts out of each. Gettin' two thousand watts like this--
Can't turn your back.
Jeff, anything else you would say about our setup in terms of--
No, I think you covered a lot of it. Maybe just the light modifiers. Did you talk about the modifiers at all?
No, go for it.
We're using Magnum Reflector and a Zoom Reflector, just because we want to focus the light, but we need a kind of a wider spread since they're gonna be in action. So, they're gonna be moving across this at a pretty high rate of speed, so we need to have a pretty big target that we can hit. So, instead of using grids, or anything like that, where we would kind of, if there was a little more control, we'd like to get in tight, get a grid on it, a nice really, really crisp edge, which would kinda make it a little bit more dramatic. But, in this case since we're, like you just saw, it just got two and a half, three stops brighter out here, we're battlin' with the elements. And this is more of a demonstrational purpose of how we can supplement light to an already existing natural light shot. Like you said, in perfect conditions, we'd be doin' this at the evening or at sunrise. Early mornings and late nights are no odd thing for photography.
One of the other realities is when you start getting this patchy sun slash shade because clouds are coming in and moving out, you kind of can't be prepared for both all the time, so we're gonna start building our lighting scenario for one or the other, and then as happens in photography, there's a lot of waiting. You're just standing there waiting until the cloud either covers the sun, or if we're waiting for the sun, we're waiting until the cloud moves so that we can capitalize on having the sun. And so, it's, I think photographers sometimes have this feeling of I'm waiting, I'm waiting, I wanna be making pictures. It's absolutely, in the action sports world, part of the game. If you can control the situation, there's a lot of just being patient. The athletes know what's happening. You've communicated with them. You've explained what you're waiting for, and it's just being patient, checking to make sure that you're ready, and when you see that window coming, in fact, just three weeks ago, I stood on this very mountain, on a very similar day, shooting on a powder day. I bet we spent 75% of the time waiting, but that other 25% of the time, when the light really came through the clouds, made for amazing pictures. So, it's not jumping the gun, because as Chase and I discussed yesterday, you only get one chance to have fresh snow, and if you shoot the gun too early, you just lost it, there's your opportunity. Park is a little bit different. Here you're more conscious, or I'm more conscious of how many times can the athlete actually hit that rail before they kind of say, "I'm done".