Ok, so you got your basic black room. And then, you light it. Extensively. Let’s start at the beginning.
Why can’t you use one flash and shutter drag?
A) Because the assignment was to use lots of lights.
B) And more importantly, the issue of control. If you had one subject, who could stand still, and you could shoot at f/1.4 and let the room drift into gauzy ambient lit context, ok. Go for it. But, if you need f/8, or 11, with multiple subjects, i.e., lots of depth of field, then your shutter drag gets waayyyyy long. Unless you make a trip to ISO heaven, which, when you are on assignment to render something sharp and beautifully detailed, and not an impressionist painting, is really not advisable. And one light doesn’t cover the group.
Well, simple would never cut it!
Indeed. John Loengard, a premier photog and DOP at LIFE, always said, “If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.” Hence the mood of the room dictated pools of light, glancing highlights here and there, a healthy crop of shadows, and a mix of colors. Notice the blue in the far doorway? Does it really make sense?
No. But it’s fun and it pivots in terms of color palette away from the predominant warm tones in a vibrant way.
Here’s where a professional system comes into play. Lights of various sizes and strengths. Big to small. Lights powerful enough to light the building from outside (see the behind-the-scenes video and screen grabs below from the video to illustrate), and lights small enough to fit under a silver dome over a serving tray. Grids and controls. Soft boxes of different dimensions and effects. Reliable, well-built generators like the Pro 11 packs that weathered two straight days of sitting in plastic bags in intense rain.
And one ring to rule them all. (Sorry, went a little Gandalf there.) but the Connect Pro, is the conductor here, of all the instruments, from the boom of the big lights to the barely felt accents of the small.
It has over 100 channnels, with six groups per channel. Links beautifully to the Profoto app on a smart phone. Switch from TTL to manual with your TTL values intact. (That’s huge.) The Air Remotes were flat out battery hogs, and the Connect Pro has seriously extended battery life. Which is excellent. Especially if you power it with Maha Powerex Triple A batteries. These triple A’s are powerful and make the unit go and go.
So, here we go. Lighting from back to front of the photo, which sounds counterintuitive. But for a room like this, which I chose because of those windows in the background, filling the room with light started with a large blast of light from three CTO gelled Pro 11 units, placed outside. And then another blue gelled Pro 11 filling the doorway. Those “outdoor” lights created the uplift, highlights and bounce I needed to fill good sections of the room with light, and do it naturally. In other words, those 2400 WS units pushed light into the space from the direction it would have come from natural daylight. From that point forward, it was B10X Plus units, and A10 units, spotted, gelled, and controlled, which piece by puzzle piece, enhanced the details of this very dark (and occasionally very crowded!) room.
We used the Profoto C1 series lights to good effect as well. Great to have a pro quality build on a light that literally fits in your palm and you can stash anywhere.
The BTS video has a cool grid with the placement of lights, and here’s a rough list of the gear: Profoto Connect Pro, Profoto B10X Plus, Profoto Pro-11, Profoto C1 Plus, Profoto Zoom Reflectors, Profoto TeleZoom Reflector, RFi Softbox Strip 1×4 with soft grids, RFi Softbox 1×3 with softgrids, Profoto Clic Grid & Gel Kit, Softlight Reflector Silver with grid, and diffuser sock.
Once again, have to thank an amazing crew and cast…
Lynn DelMastro – Executive Producer, Andrew Tomasino – Crew Chief, Casey Mathewson – 1st Assistant, Hannah Mitchell – 2nd Assistant, Samantha Brown – Lead Wardrobe Stylist, Sophia Phillips – Wardrobe Assistant, Michelle Coursey – Lead Make-Up Artist, Jayme Jennings – Assistant Make-Up Artist, Olivia Boucher – Assistant Make-up Artist, Hide Suzuki – Lead Hair Stylist, Ubu Nagano – Assistant Hair Stylist.
And the wonderful video crew….
Melanie Mclean Brooks – Director / Flying Giant Productions, Ryan Brooks – DP / Flying Giant Productions, Heather Ender – Producer / High Grove Productions, John Henri Cohn – B-Camera, Ruben Hernandez – Assistant Camera, Ray Suthinithet – Sound, Al Roberts – Gaffer.
Special thanks to our talent – June Nichols, our grande dame of the house and the party. Nik Pjeternikaj – the devilishly handsome diplomat, and his beautiful consort Laeticia De Valer. The lovely mystery guest – Marisa Roper. The suspicious butler, Parker Smith and the stunning Jarry Lee, and dashing movie producer, Charles Sammann.
All best to the Profoto team for being a wonderful partner and creating this content. Great teamwork across the board.