Time Travel with Flash

With Erik Valind

Written by: Erik Valind

When the client calls for a warm uplifting vibe – But it’s early evening, the location is indoors and there’s a snow storm rolling in – What do you do? Make your own sun, that’s what! It’s incredible how much atmosphere you can create when you bring your own light and the right gels to a job. Let me run you through how I turned this bleak environment into a room bursting with light.

My approach to people photography is to make the subject pop off the page. So the subject is exactly where I start when building a multiple light setup. I knew that our fitness model would be doing a number of exercises both upright and on the ground. This meant I first needed to select a light and modifier to cover both variations. Secondly I wanted extra control of the light so that it wouldn’t spill all over the rest of the scene. The Siros 800 S and Softbox 30 x 120 with a Grid gave me enough size and control to cover the model, while still maintaining a focused and flattering quality of light. Step one done.

Now that the we have our frame and the subject is lit, we need to do something about that window in the background. This is where we ramp up the atmosphere! With the sun long gone at this point I needed to make my own. The plus side of making your own fake sun is that you can position it wherever you like. While this is great for the photographer, its not so lucky for your strobes when you want that sun outside in the wet and cold. Thankfully I had a Move 1200 L pack on hand, and they are made to handle some pretty harsh conditions. I layered up and headed outside with the Move, a single MobiLED head, a standard reflector, and 2 Full CTO gels. Once outside I placed the light near the window, carefully aiming back into the studio over the models shoulder. After walking back inside the very next shot blew everyone away. We had just turned a dark room into a warm brightly lit location in a matter of minutes.

But there’s more…

Not only can we create daylight, but with a little more finessing you can even change the time of day that you’re creating. To get some variation in our shots I setup a second Siros 800 S and bounced it into the corner of the room opposite the strip light. This created a nice cross lighting pattern that casts enough forward shadow to create nice definition to the model. You can see the results in the image below.

Next I switched the outside Move pack back on and we again have that warm Early Morning / Sunset glow.

Now to roll back time. By removing some of the CTO gel from the strobe outside we cool down the temperature of the light. This mimics the way daylight cools off to a nice white 5500 Kelvin around midday. Again in a matter of minutes we went from night light, to warm light, to midday light all without an ounce of real daylight to be found. By the end we worked this shot for less than an hour in all and walked away with options that represented an entire days worth of scenarios.

All of the strobes were controlled wirelessly using the RFS 2.2 transmitter, which saved me from having to repeatably run back out into the cold to make power adjustments too. And what started as major creative and technical curveball ended up as one of the smoothest shoots to date.

Broncolor ambassador Erik Valind is a freelance photographer, born and raised on the Florida beaches, now living in New York City. Specializing in commercial lifestyle photography and environmental portraiture – airy and energetic imagery defines the style and vision of this top pro photographer. You can see more of his work at erikvalind.com and follow him on Instagram as @erikvphoto.