(by Erik Valind)
As a location photographer, there’s few things in life that I enjoy more then shooting at an amazing location, and then facing the unpredictable conditions that come with it. Due to the unpredictability of working outdoors, I’ve become a big lighting guy mostly out of necessity. Whether I’m dealing with scrims and reflectors, small flash, or large strobes, I’m always looking for ways to control the quality and direction of the light to flatter my subjects, and to enhance an image. When I first got my hands on the new Broncolor Siros L, I immediately recognized the possibilities that this new flash would open for me. Some of the most important qualities I look for in a strobe is mobility, power and control. To put the Siros L to the test I partnered up with Sierra – an incredible model and athlete with Wilhelmina Fitness in NYC, and we took off for Central Park to create some killer images!
Lights and Mobility
With the blossoming bright trees in the distant background, we had found our first location on a sun-lit patch of grass. I started with the sun as my key light, letting it doing most of the work to illuminate both the model and the background. With the sun doing the heavy lifting, a single strobe would be sufficient to perfect this initial setup. To further sculpt the model and to make her look more 3-Dimensional, I added a rim light behind her.
The battery-powered monolight is VERY mobile. I attached a Broncolor 30 x 120 cm Stripbox to a single Siros L 800 unit, and my assistant was able to hand-hold it the entire time. With one hand on the unit, and the other hand firmly on the built in handle, my assistant was able to track the model’s movement from pose to pose. Being able to work this quickly on location is invaluable, and at the same time can save you from having to pull expensive shooting permits in some major cities.
Lights and Power
One obvious reason for shooting outdoors vs. inside in the studio is the sun! The sun did a great job front-lighting the previous images, but what I really enjoy is the sun flare aesthetic. To achieve that backlit glowing light and streaming sun flare in your camera lens, you need to specifically place the sun behind the model, and just out of the frame. Unfortunately the resulting placement usually leaves your subject in the dark or as a partial silhouette.
To illuminate the model and achieve the look I wanted, I needed to fill in those shadows with some light. Here is where I put the power of the Siros L to the test. Two units were used for this setup. I chose the Siros 800 L again because it has a maximum 800ws, which is plenty of power to compete with the bright afternoon sun.
To modify the Siros, I used a Broncolor 75 cm Octabox on the models face, then I used a Broncolor 30 x 120 cm Stripbox to enhance the backlight wrapping around the model’s side. With the available power in this monolight, I didn’t have to turn the flash power up to maximum, which gave me fast recycle times for quick shooting. The extra power and fast recycling times allowed me to get more shots than usual, and this allowed the model to work quickly while not tiring herself out while holding difficult poses.
Lights and Control
The sun began to set, and we decided to try for one last setup before dark. With no more direct sunlight to utilize, I brought out the third Siros L in my kit for a total of three flash units. With this many flashes combined, the ability to precisely modify and control each of them becomes paramount. I started out with a rim light placed behind the model on either side. These were each modified with a Broncolor 30 x 120 cm Stripbox to soften and control the direction of the light. The design of the Siros L with its exposed flash tube is amazing in how it is designed for use with every existing Broncolor lighting modifier.
To save myself the hassle of running back and forth between all of the lights to get the exposure dialed in, I just turned on the Wi-Fi function on each Siros. This allowed me to easily control them from my shooting position while using the BronControl app on my iPhone. This saved me time and energy as we were racing the clock against the sun. Once the rim lights were correct I added the final Siros L with the super portable Broncolor Beauty Box for a punch of even contrasty light on the front of the model’s body.
Once my lights were in place and the lighting ratio perfect I began shooting. As I changed my aperture for creative control of my Depth of Field throughout the shoot I needed to adjust the power of all of the flashes accordingly. This was made even easier with the Broncolor RFS Transmitter on top of my camera, which gave me the ability to control all three lights as a group – maintaining the lighting ratio – while powering them up and down very precisely in 1/10th stop increments.
It was incredible how quickly we got everything setup, fine tuned and adjusted on the fly using the intuitive control of the BronControl App and RFS Transmitter.
That was a wrap on my first shoot with the Siros L! As we piled into the cab on the way back to the studio, I replayed in my mind all the many lighting setups we had just run through. I’m happy to say that the Siros L has passed all my tests, leaving me with a glowing first impression. The Siros L is an amazing kit for any photographer who enjoys shooting on location as much as I do! For more information on the Siros L, click here…
(All photos (c) Erik Valind)