Portrait Photography Without the Need For a Studio
Posted on February 17 2017
Sky is the Limit
Many of us know what it feels like to have or want to do an on-location portrait shoot while leaving behind the perks of working in a studio. When choosing strobe, people immediately think power, but when you have a location shoot you must choose between power or flexibility, but not anymore!
What if you are exploring a new city and the perfect shot is hidden away between two buildings that are blocking all natural light? Do you give up and walk away or are you like this month's feature, Dez Santana, a portrait photographer inspired by the streets of New York who takes the power with him by using our portable battery strobe? Portable lighting will help you enter into the hidden gems of city life much better without ever losing quality in your photos since portable strobes have much more power than conventional speed lights!
Strobe Meet Portable
Strobe lighting is just like flash because it lights up when you trigger it and needs a bit of recycle time so that it can be fully powered for the next shot. You cannot see exactly how your scene will be captured until you trigger the flash. Once you do, a high-intensity light will pulse for just a fraction of a section, lighting the scene as you expected when you positioned and set the specifications for your lights.
Now picture this lighting, but take away the cords and add a battery. Portable lights open your photography world to new possibilities and like the image below, Dez is here to show us exactly how to do it with help from model, Celines Tamarez!
Environmental portrait photographers like Dez, who rely on portable strobes that run entirely on external battery power are well familiar with the benefits: power that lasts and also, keeps pace with the event. For Dez Santana's last shoot, he used the StudioPRO 300W/s AC/DC Dual Power Portable Battery Monolight Strobe Kit which is a studio grade monolight flash unit with the power to run on AC power (standard US wall outlets) or DC power (portable battery pack).
The battery on this strobe recharges in 6-8 hours and provides 200 full powered flashes per charge. The monolight head has a built-in fan to cool the body down to ensure optimal and consistent flash performance, however as Dez mentions, the fan only runs when using AC power. This make sense, as the fan would simply drain the battery power quicker via DC mode.
For my sets, I've used this kit to photograph models both indoors & outdoors with wirelessly controlled Speedlights (or onboard Speedlights) triggering the strobe. -Dez Santana
It also features a variable step-less dial giving you the ability to control the light output in a 5 f-stop power range. Dez explains that the strobe can be used as a "main light, fill light or hair light behind your subject's head." He also notes that he is "triggering the light via sync cord or the embedded optical slave receiver, dependent on where the location is set." It allows the photographer the flexibility to move their set up from place to place while keeping the control! See below for an example of Dez's outdoor set.
Tips from the Professional
- Angle your light at a 45 degree angle between you and your subject
- Place the light up high and aim it down approximately 45 degrees
- Keep the light close to your subject to get even lighting across skin tones or the fabric they're wearing
- When using an umbrella, aim the strobe upwards which will direct light into your umbrella and bounce back to your subject with soft light
The degree of your angle will imitate natural light coming from the sun and depending on your creativity can eliminate or create dramatic shadows!
Dez Santana is a New York City based freelance commercial photographer specializing in event, portrait, models, weddings, city-scapes & night photography. To see more of his beautiful, artsy images click here. He is also available for digital SLR photography tutoring, workshops & photo tours in NYC.
Follow Dez Santana on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Follow Celines Tamarez on Instagram