Each month we highlight a certain item in Profoto’s rich assortment of Light Shaping Tools (previous articles can be found here). This month we talk to Profoto evangelist Andrea Belluso about a rare tool designed to get your creative juices flowing: the ZoomSpot.
Stage lighting is a fundamental part of the illusion created at the theater. The spotlight is probably the most recognizable tool used to achieve this effect. Its distinct light is used to follow the actor on stage and for projecting patterns on the background, to name just a few examples. The Profoto ZoomSpot works much in the same way. But it is not a continuous light – it is a flash.
In other words, the ZoomSpot is special application flash head that creates a hard and directed light, which can be focused and shaped into all kinds of shapes and patterns. The unit houses two lenses that can be pulled back and forth to either sharpen or diffuse the edges of the shadow, while the built-in iris diaphragm is used to adjust the diameter of the spotlight. Four metal inserts are also included. These are used to change the circular shape into a square, a triangle, a rectangle, and so on. There is also a holder for filters and gobos, so that you can project pretty much any shape you can imagine onto a background or the subject itself.
“I love the ZoomSpot,” says Andrea Belluso. “It’s not a tool I use every day, but for certain assignments it’s just perfect. It’s such a playful and fun thing to work with. You just can’t help but experiment with it, and you always end up discovering something new and exciting in the process.”
The image in this article is the outcome of Andrea’s most recent experience with the ZoomSpot. This particular event was initiated when a client contacted him asking for a dramatic and colorful beauty shot with a clear focus on lips and nails.
“I immediately realized that I would need a hard light,” says Andrea. “That’s what it takes to bring out the colors and achieve a sparkling effect in nails and lips. Of course, the ZoomSpot is not unique in that regard. Most hard reflectors can do that. But then I started thinking about how to draw attention toward the model’s lips and nails, and that was when the idea of using the ZoomSpot surfaced.”
And this is the idea that he put into practice. Andrea booked a studio, a model, a stylist and set a time and date. But unlike the majority of his shoots, he did not plan how he was going to set his lights. He only made sure that the team would have enough time to experiment.
“That’s what I’d recommend to any photographer interested in working with the ZoomSpot,” he says. “You get totally different images with a totally different look and feel depending on how the diaphragm is set, how the metal inserts are positioned, if a gobo is used or not, etc. So the best thing to do is to experiment and see where it takes you. In this case, I tried a lot of different things: using a vertical light, lighting the eyes only, lighting the background, etc. But as soon as I discovered this particular setting, I knew I had my shot.
“That’s another thing worth mentioning about the ZoomSpot: unlike many other tools, you don’t just shoot and shoot and shoot. No, you try a few things, you shoot a single frame, and you inspect the result. Then you decide if that’s the one or if you should move on and try something else. It’s quite a different way of working in this age of digital photography. To be honest, I find it refreshing.”
See more of Andrea’s work at his website.
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