Light of your life
Posted on Sep 10, 2019
With the Profoto A1X and B10, Kate Hopewell-Smith has found creating her inspiring wedding photography easier than ever.
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“I honestly don’t know how wedding photographers can say flash isn’t essential,” says wedding and portrait specialist, Kate Hopewell-Smith. “I hear the excuse that flash is intrusive and that ISO capabilities are so good nowadays that flash really isn’t necessary,” she explains, “but while high ISOs mean you can take an image in low light, most of the time, it just enhances bad light!”
Of course, for Kate, it’s not just about adding light, but how you add it. “With flash,” she says, “if we can improve the light as well as just adding illumination, we will. Weddings are all about compromise and using artificial light makes solving problems so much easier!” That might just mean moving people into better light, she says or adding light to the scene in ways that add beauty to the scene, rather than just filling shadows.
Set for success
For her wedding work, Kate uses a collection of lightweight and versatile Profoto flashes and modifiers. “We now have two B10s and four A1Xs on the go, and it’s great to have those options. I’ll often use the A1Xs to just add little kicks of extra light, or for hair lights using grids, while with the B10s it’s often more about the key and fill lighting. The whole system is so easy to use with the Air Remote and I haven’t had any issues with syncing at all. Both the A1Xs and B10s are light, portable and have the right power for how we shoot. They’re so easy to modify, shaping and colouring light in lots of flattering and creative ways. They work seamlessly together, too.
“The combination of the A1s and B10s is game-changing for us,” Kate continues. “Finally, we have absolutely beautiful light that is delivered by a system that is consistent, reliable, lightweight and portable. They are so easy to use and we particularly love the brilliant B10 app, which enables us to makes changes from our phones and remain discreet at all times.
“Along with the heads, we’ve invested in a variety of modifiers that, together, deliver everything from big, soft light through to hard and very directional light for contrast and mood. All the OCF modifiers are also lightweight and built for travel – a very clever system that is perfect for location wedding and portrait photographers who like to enhance the environment and ambient light with a bit of extra magic. We also do a lot of filming, so the temperature-controlled, dimmable LED continuous lights on the B10s have been very helpful,” she concludes.
The beauty of the bride
The rooms that brides get ready in vary so much, in terms of size, decor and, most importantly, in quality of light. If the natural light is good, that’s fantastic, but pictures so often benefit from adding flash, either to just fill shadows or put some much-needed light onto the bride herself, improving skin tone and adding depth to the dress. If the natural light is great, people are often tempted to expose for the shadows, and while that can give soft and dreamy images, when you zoom in they can be hazy. Instead, we like to add a touch of side light, which helps to give the image a little bite without losing the overall feel. I knew I needed side light here, which is best for showing shape and form, but I also needed to prevent any reflection in the window behind, so here she was lit from a single head bounced into an umbrella to the right of the camera.
Full of dreams
We’ll always encourage a couple to leave the wedding party for a short time during golden hour, and we like to use a little fill to lift shadows, improve skin, pop in catchlights and add some contrast. Here, we literally had five minutes of available light with this lovely couple and we asked them to run to the location before the sun disappeared for the day. I used an on-camera A1X with the diffusion dome on, but zoomed manually to get a much narrower angle, so the light just fell on the couple. For shots like this, I’ll generally just use TTL and then adjust the flash exposure with the compensation dial.
The beautiful Roman Baths in Somerset were a tricky venue to shoot. The ambient light was very low and atmospheric, and there was a lot of water between us and the wedding guests. We used two B10s, gelled to tungsten with umbrellas, while matching the available light in the scene. One light was placed either side of the wedding party and directed towards the centre to get the most even spread of light. In situations like this, I get my ambient exposure first, using a slowish shutter and with the camera on a tripod. It was important to maintain the warmth of the environment and the torches, so I set my white balance manually using the Kelvin function. Here, the B10s are not even at full power – I prefer to use flash and ISO to ensure the ambient light and mood is maintained – but it shows the power they’re capable of. It’s about balancing flash with what is available and making sure the people in the image are properly lit.
After graduating in Art History, Kate worked across numerous creative industries, including TV marketing, fine art publishing and brand design. As she now specialises in wedding, portrait and boudoir photography under her website, and runs a luxury events and destinations business with her husband, she’s no stranger to getting the perfect shot – and Profoto is on hand to help.
The Profoto A1 revolutionised the use of small lights on location and in the studio. Now, the A1X is here to build on its success. Mounting like a speedlight, or usable off-camera, the A1X delivers smooth and natural lighting effects thanks to its round flash emitter and suite of easy-to-fit accessories. Recycle times are improved to just 1sec at full power, with 450 full-power flashes per charge from the rechargeable and exchangeable li-ion battery.
An improved interface with a large and clear readout means it’s easy to use, and the TTL and HSS functions let you add flash to almost any situation with full control. The integrated AirTTL system also means you can seamlessly connect to other Profoto flashes for stunning multiple light set-ups.
It’s also a highly versatile light. Unlike regular speedlights, which often have a range of haphazard and ill-fitting accessories, the A1X has a dedicated range of magnetically attached and stackable shapers, including a dome diffuser, bounce card, wide lens, gel kit and a soft bounce. Even ‘naked’, the spread of light can be adjusted from narrow to wide with a simple twist of the head, or you can use the auto or preset zoom settings – accessible via the menu.
- Power 76Ws across 9 f/stops
- Recycle time 0.05-1.0s
- Modelling light Yes, LED
- Wireless Yes, up to 300m
- HSS/TTL Yes, up to 100m
- Measurements (WxLxH) 7.5×16.5x.10.8cm
- Weight 560g
Just a little larger than the A1, but still no bigger than many camera lenses, the B10 is a lightweight battery-powered monolight that opens up all sorts of possibilities on location. For instance, its small size and low weight mean you can more easily use multiple lights for a more complex arrangement.
With a maximum output of 250W/s, it has five times the power of the average speedlight, and light is delivered in a versatile fashion through ten stops of control. But that’s not all. The B10 also packs in a powerful and highly controllable, flicker-free continuous light, allowing you to set the brightness and colour, so it’s perfect for shooting movies or adding constant ambient light to a scene. Even more control is provided by the B10’s range of light shapers, as it’s compatible with over 120 Profoto modifiers, including umbrellas and the full OCF, which has softboxes, beauty dishes and more.
With clean and simple interface, the B10 is easy to use even for beginners, and highly versatile. Being compatible with all Profoto’s AirTTL remotes, as well as the A1X as a trigger, it can even be controlled using the Profoto app, where you can set everything from the mode to the power.
- Power 250Ws across 10 f/stops
- Recycle time 0.05-2s
- Modelling light 2500lm, dimmable 100-10%, adjustable 3000-6500K (+/-500K)
- Wireless Yes, up to 300m
- HSS/TTL Yes, up to 100m
- Measurements (WxLxH) 11×17.5x10cm
- Weight 1.5kg
As featured in issue 70 of Photography News.