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Tips & Tricks

How a Strobe Can Enhance Soft Pastel Portraits

By Hanssie on March 22nd 2016

If you’ve followed along in the Ordinary to Extraordinary video series, you’ll have seen how we’ve used the Profoto B1 to recreate Golden Hour. This is a continuation of that video, where we will show you how a high-powered strobe can be a beneficial tool in any photographer’s kit – even for someone that shoots primarily natural light.

Using Flash to Recreate the Sun and Enhance Bright and Airy Portraiture


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We recently went out on a maternity shoot around the noon hour where there was plenty of natural light. Ryan and Jackie’s mood board had an airy and pastel feel that lent itself perfectly to a natural light look. Twenty minutes into the shoot, they encountered a little issue. The sun that had been peeking through the trees had disappeared, so Pye brought out his Profoto B1 and placed it on a Benro monopod to recreate the look Ryan and Jackie were looking for.

Using a speed ring (typically used for mounting accessories) as a makeshift reflector to funnel the light forward toward the subjects, he braced the monopod between two trees and aimed it toward the shooting area. Using techniques from Lighting 101 and Lighting 201, Pye made sure that, since he was shooting with a strobe, the ambient light was bright and natural to start with. With his Canon 5D Mark III on the following settings: 1/200th, ISO 50, f/1.6 and the B1 at full power, Pye was able to create the following images.

01-Profoto-Using-Flash-to-Recreate-the-Sun

05-Profoto-Using-Flash-to-Recreate-the-Sun

03-Profoto-Using-Flash-to-Recreate-the-Sun

02-Profoto-Using-Flash-to-Recreate-the-Sun

Can This Look Be Achieved With Regular Flashes?

Yes. You can achieve the same look with regular flashes, but at 500-watt seconds, you’ll need 8-10 flashes to get that much power, and who wants to carry around and set up all those flashes? The Profoto B1 also has an extremely fast recycle time. The powerful strobe really helps highlight Jackie’s form, adding a hair light and helping her stand out from the background. Look at the images below and you can tell the subtle differences that adding a high powered strobe can achieve.

profoto-b1

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About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Yen Xu

    I am curious though, how stable is the Profoto B1 on a Benro monopod? Did you use that set up only once, out of necessity or are you confident about the stabilityof the setup. If this is stable, that’s great for portability. What do you think?

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  2. Carey Smith

    One of my favorite articles. Very Informative.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Carey this one isn’t yet, but if we get enough votes, we can definitely create a full tutorial around it.

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  3. Alex Lucas

    Is this session in any of the full workshop tutorials? I would love to follow along with how he edited and posed them!

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  4. Felix Wu

    Nicely done! It’s educational write up like this that makes people wanna buy more. lol

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