How Jonathan Menga Used Flashes and Smoke Machines to Make His Neighborhood Park Look Like a Forest

Written by Fredrik Franzén on . Posted in Fashion Photography

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One day when Jonathan Menga was out walking in his neighborhood, he fell upon a baseball park he hadn’t really noticed before. Jonathan’s mind started working. Soon, he had an idea. With a clever use of gelled flashes and smoke machines, he would be able to turn the small park into something else. 

A few days later, Jonathan returned with a model, an assistant and a make up artist. In his gear bag was two Profoto Acute2 packs, two Acute/D4 Heads, a speedlight, a Softlight Reflector and a bunch of colored gels.

“I wanted these forest photoshoot images to have some sort of mood to them and give off a story,” writes Jonathan on his blog.

Jonathan had some help from the weather conditions. It was a cloudy day and the trees were dark. The mood was further enhanced by the gelled flashes and the smoke machine that Jonathan had brought.

 

Profoto Jonathan Menga WEB Forest Run 600x403 How Jonathan Menga Used Flashes and Smoke Machines to Make His Neighborhood Park Look Like a Forest

©Jonathan Menga

Profoto Jonathan Menga setup 3 600x591 How Jonathan Menga Used Flashes and Smoke Machines to Make His Neighborhood Park Look Like a Forest

Jonathan explains how the image above was created:

“I wanted to create a scene flooded with smoke to give it a little mystery. It was lit with 3 lights, a YoungNuo speedlight, a Profoto Acute/D4 Head and another one in a silver beauty dish. On camera left, my assistant held the speedlight up high and further within the woods while on the opposite side, I had the Acute/D4 Head on the stand and much closer to the model. This light was specifically placed behind the tree to create a light splash while defining the smoke. I used multiple coloured tiny smoke bombs that created rapid smoke burst,but didn’t last as long as I had hoped. Therefore, I had to use about 6 of them in different places and combined them in post later on. I used the beauty dish on camera left, slightly feathering the model. Shooting lights through trees created a very mystical mood, and by shutting down a bit of the ambient light, it really gave it a night look.”

Head over to Jonathan’s blog for the full story, including lighting breakdowns for the images below.

 

 How Jonathan Menga Used Flashes and Smoke Machines to Make His Neighborhood Park Look Like a Forest

©Jonathan Menga

 How Jonathan Menga Used Flashes and Smoke Machines to Make His Neighborhood Park Look Like a Forest

©Jonathan Menga

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Comments (9)

  • Marc

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    Do the 2. half Power Head work as a Slave (wireless) without another Acute2 Pack?
    I see just 1 Battery-Pack with 2 Heads at the Setup…

    Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

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      Hi Marc,

      I honestly don’t know how Jonathan did it. One possibility is that he triggered one AcuteB2 pack with the transceiver and had the other AcuteB2 pack and the speedlight set to slave mode. Try tweeting him at @MrMenga

      /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

      Reply

    • Jonathan Menga

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      Hi Marc,

      Fredrik was right. I had 2 packs + a speed light. My camera & 1 pack had a trigger and the other pack & speed light were on slave.

      The battery pack is a vagabond mini which I used to power both acute packs. One pack was beside the battery while I used a 16′ profoto acute head extension to connect the second pack to the power source. The heads cannot work without the packs.

      Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Reply

  • Marc

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    Thank you so much… ;-)

    Reply

  • Dennis Hoover

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    There seems to be a bit of confusion for me here.
    At the beginning of the article it states that 2 AcuteB2 packs and heads were used, and it links to that product. In the illustration is shows 2 Acute2 1200 packs and D4 heads. In the comments Jonathan states
    ” The battery pack is a vagabond mini…” Can you clear this up for me?
    Is he really running Acute2 1200 packs off of Vagabond Mini’s?

    Thanks,

    Reply

    • Jonathan Menga

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      Hi Dennis,

      Just for clarification, I used 2 profoto acute 2 1200w/s packs, 2 acute 2/d4 heads connected to the two packs. + 1 16′ head extension cable. The vagabond mini “battery pack” [ 1 ] powered both profoto 1200/ws packs because they are studio packs and require a power source like an outlet or the profoto batpac. The other light is a Yongnuo YN568EX II speed light.

      Hope it clears up the confusion.

      Reply

      • Dennis Hoover

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        Jonathan,

        Thanks for the info. much appreciated!

        If I may, what kind of recycle times are you getting off this set up?
        Sounds just like the what I need for my outdoor portraiture.

        All the best and thanks for your reply.

        Reply

        • Jonathan Menga

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          Dennis,

          I couldn’t exactly remember so I ran a quick test. Here are the results

          TEST 1
          2 profoto acute 2 1200 w/s at full power : 14 sec recycle on average
          2 profoto acute 2 1200 w/s at its lowest power : 1.2 sec recycle on average
          ———–
          TEST 2
          1 profoto acute 2 1200 w/s at full power : 8.5 sec recycle on average
          1 profoto acute 2 1200 w/s at its lowest : .4 sec recycle [ instantly ]

          These tests were done without the modelling light on, I wouldn’t recommend having them on because it would drain the battery & increase the recycling speed by 15-20 sec. Overall, the battery is ok but during the shoots I find myself waiting when its back to back shots after I’ve nailed my settings. The recycling speed slows down as the battery power goes down. I’ve compared the vagabond to the Bat Pac and the Bat Pac last much longer than this and provides more shots and faster recycling but the price is quite different. the built quality/features/brand can still justifies it. Well, the choice is yours.

          Reply

  • Dennis Hoover

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    Jonathan,

    Thanks so much for your input and time!
    Very nice of you to do this. I am sure others will find your results
    as interesting as I did.

    All the best.

    Reply

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