To Mod or not to Mod

Did a shoot in the desert. In August. On a dry lake bed. With a dancer.

There was a mighty wind, as they say. And the sun was in the wrong position. The better view would have the model facing directly into the sun. We opted to have her at a diagonal to it, and use it as key (something I very rarely do). The job of the flash then was to fill shadow and lower the overall contrast on the model.

I had dragged the Deep Octa with me, but with the wind we decided to go nekkid – Quadra “A” head with just the standard 5″ reflector and its diffuser cover.

I had used it before like this:

I thought it nice but still is apparently (visibly) a small light source.

This image was key shifted, however. As fill or matched to the ambient, the size of the light source is much less obvious. As in this:

I almost always go with a modifier if given the choice. And the bigger the better. But there are times when you either can’t do it (wind) or want a harder look as in this image from the same shoot:


Here I wanted a direction of light, but as if from the sun so with a lot of contrast to it. It also works in with the grungier feel of the image (not the girl, the background!).

The real challenge is skin. Because the light is harder (meaning the transition from highlight to shadow is more abrupt), skin imperfections are emphasized as there tend to be a defined shadow.

On a side note, the Quadra is one fine beast. Beautiful light, small package, enough power (400WS) to at least match the ambient even with noon sun, if not able to key shift by 1/2 stop or so. Maybe a full stop bare. In the DO I can go 1/2 stop over – not bad for such a small unit. And its charge lasts a long time – I’ve never run out of juice (I have, but it has not).

Not having a modifier with you doesn’t mean you can’t get beautiful light. You might have to change your vision slightly to work with what you have, but excellent results are still attainable.

This entry was posted in Photo Shoot, Technique.