“The Light Shaper” Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

Written by Andrea Belluso on . Posted in The Light Shaper

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Andrea Belluso is an experienced photographer with more than three decades in the business. Once a month, Andrea takes us behind the scenes of a recent shoot to share some of the knowledge he has gained over the years. Today, we join him on a challenging on-location shoot where the forces of nature seem to conspire against him.

There are days when the whole world seems to smile upon you. But there are also days when the forces of nature seem to conspire against you. This shoot belongs in the latter category…

The shoot was done at Långtora Airfield outside Stockholm, which is the airfield where my gliding club is based. The look we were going for was a modern version of the flying ladies of the 1940s. Quite a few of the classic Hollywood stars flew gliders. The particular glider we were borrowing for this shoot was used by the Danish air force during the 1940s to train fighter pilots. Some people at the club claim that the gilder was once flown by Greta Garbo. But that fact is still to be verified…

Lighting-wise, we planned to shoot with sunlight and Collapsible Reflectors only. I wanted a subtle and natural backlight in the images, and Collapsible Reflectors are great for that. The fact that Profoto offer ten different Collapsible Reflectors in six fabrics (black, white, silver, sunsilver, gold and translucent) would be helpful, as that allowed us to create different light characters and moods by simply replacing one Collapsible Reflector with another.

That was the plan. But as it turned, the forces of nature refused to cooperate.

 

Profoto The Light Shaper Collapsible Reflectors bts 2 600x401 The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

When we arrived at the airfield, the sun was shining. So we pulled out the plane, unfolded our Collapsible Reflectors and prepared the set. Then came the clouds. So we had to unpack our Pro-B4 battery packs and create our own sunlight. But as soon as we had set up all the gear and were good to go, the sun returned. The whole day was like this – sunny, cloudy, sunny, cloudy… Sigh…

 

Profoto The Light Shaper Collapsible Reflectors bts 3 600x401 The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

So we had to stay on our toes and act fast. When there was sun, we used the Collapsible Reflectors. When the clouds came, we used the Pro-B4 to fake sunlight. It wasn’t easy. But once we got into the groove, we created some pretty stunning shots, if I might say so myself…

Below is a more detailed description of how each shot was created.

 

Collapsible Reflector Gold/White

Profoto Collapsible Reflectors Andrea Belluso The Light Shaper reflector gold The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

©Andrea Belluso

Profoto The Light Shaper Collapsible Reflectors bts 4 600x401 The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

For the picture where the model is standing under the glider’s wing, wearing an orange coat, I wanted there to be like a golden glow around here – a warm tone that would enhance the feel of the coat and bring the model’s skin to a similar level, thereby creating a more uniform tone range in the picture. So, for this image I used the gold side of the Collapsible Reflector Gold/White. At this point, the sun was nowhere to be seen, so we created our own sunlight with a Pro-B4 equipped with a Magnum Reflector.

 

Collapsible Reflector Silver/White

Profoto Collapsible Reflectors Andrea Belluso The Light Shaper reflector silver The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

©Andrea Belluso

Profoto The Light Shaper Collapsible Reflectors bts 6 600x401 The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

For the picture where the model is sitting on the grass next to the glider, I needed a punchier light. I wanted more contrast on the white fur. I also wanted her skin tone to match the colder feel of the white fur. So for this shot I used the silver side of the Collapsible Reflector Silver/White. The sun wasn’t cooperating, so, once again, we pulled out the Pro-B4 and the Magnum.

 

Collapsible Reflector Sunsilver/White

Profoto Collapsible Reflectors Andrea Belluso The Light Shaper reflector sunsilver The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

©Andrea Belluso

Profoto The Light Shaper Collapsible Reflectors bts 5 600x401 The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

For the picture where the model is standing in front of the glider, carrying a white hat box, I wanted a light that was warm but not quite as warm as in the picture with the orange coat. So for this one, I used the sunsilver side of the Collapsible Reflector Sunsilver/White, as it creates a light that is right in-between the crispiness of a silver-sided reflector and the warmth of a gold-sided reflector.

 

Collapsible Reflector White/Black

Profoto Collapsible Reflectors Andrea Belluso The Light Shaper reflector white The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

©Andrea Belluso

For the picture where the model is wearing a scarf flying in the wind, I wanted a more neutral, softer skin tone. So for this shot I chose the white side of the Collapsible Reflector White/Black. In addition, I used the black side of a second Collapsible Reflector to flag off some light from the white reflector, thereby creating a subtle shadow under the model’s chin, which enhanced the structure of her face. Without the black-sided Collapsible Reflector, the image would’ve been too flat!

 

Collapsible Reflector Translucent

Profoto Collapsible Reflectors Andrea Belluso The Light Shaper reflector translucent The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

©Andrea Belluso

Profoto The Light Shaper Collapsible Reflectors bts 7 600x401 The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

Finally, for the picture where the model is sitting in the glider’s cockpit, I wanted a direct but diffused light, as opposed to the reflected backlight I used in all the other pictures. This was the only picture where the model was actually sitting in the glider, as opposed to being in front of it or next to it. I wanted a slightly different feel to go with that. The Collapsible Reflector Translucent was the solution.

All in all, I’d say we did a pretty good job battling the forces of nature. In fact, I’m glad the weather was as bad as it was. It forced us all to be at our best, and the final outcome made our efforts worthwhile!

 

Profoto Andrea Belluso small The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

Ciao,

Andrea Belluso

Andrea’s website

More setups by The Light Shaper

 

 

Profoto The Light Shaper Collapsible Reflectors bts 1 600x401 The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

Profoto Collapsible Reflector 5 The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

Profoto Reflectors 600x527 The Light Shaper Battles the Forces of Nature with Flashes and Collapsible Reflectors

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Comments (20)

  • John

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    Love the way you manipulate the light with the reflectors. My question is when do you know when to use them. Does it depend on the location or the type of shoot you are going for?

    Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      Hi Jon!
      There are no rules, lighting is all a matter of personal taste and feeling. If you want a warmer light you go for the gold, if you want a crispier light for the silver, etc. just as I explain in the film. In lighting in general, when a light feels good for you, then it is right.
      Have fun shooting!
      :-)

      Reply

  • Bill Aston

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    The glider/model story motif was most effective in demonstrating the tools and contingencies on this shoot. I felt I was brought into the planing of each element of the shoot, via the video, in shaping the light to build the story- in the moment!

    Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      Thank you so much for the very nice comment Bill!
      Really glad you enjoyed the film. Please do share it so that even more photographers get to see it :-)
      All the best from Montreal!

      Reply

  • al kimble

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    “KEEP FOLLOWING ME” .PLEASE!! Been waiting for this posting for several days now! You are just TOO BADD!!! Great shoot. Great light manipulation , or should I say “LIGHT SHAPING”, Mixing strobes,daylight,and reflectors. So, I’ll watch this one for the nest month. in anticipation of the nest one. YOU GO GUY!!!

    Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      Al,
      what can I say? THANK you for your support! :-)
      Really glad you liked the film. Have you seen the other films in my playlist?
      Have a great summer and especially have fun shaping light and playing with different set-ups and light shaping tools, that’s what gives me the greatest joy when shooting :-)

      Reply

  • Paul Wynn

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    Thanks Andrea for sharing the details of this shoot and your insight into the use of reflectors, which are probably the most under rated tool available to photographers. With such a vast array of lighting equipment and shaping tools on the market these days, I find it fascinating to see how you use these to create different effects and stunning images. Just wondering when on a daylight shoot similar to the video, what circumstances makes you decide to change from a reflector to a strobe?

    Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      Hi Paul!
      Glad you like it!
      As I explained in the video, the day of the shoot the sun kept on coming in and out of the clouds, and when you’re shooting several images in just one day with a whole photo crew working for you, you cannot afford to take a chance and come home with half the shots, so I decided to take control of te situation and use the flash to simulate daylight so that I was the only one deciding when the “sun” would shine.
      :-)

      Reply

  • Robert Palomino

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    I really like your videos, I like that you discuss more the reasons for using certain equipment, getting into your desire for the style of lighting, while not getting to bogged down in the technical details. Excellent teaching methodology.

    Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      Thank you so much Robert!
      Really glad you like my videos. Well, as you probably noticed I am not so much into technical details. Photography is about feelings, not about technique. Very often people forget the first point of them buying a camera, which is about the results, the pictures, in other words the feelings that they convey, and they often get carried away with the technique, letting it take a first place and often forgetting about the images themselves. I am the opposite, for me it’s the images that are important and the technique is here to serve the photographers to allow us to take the best images and help us express ourselves properly.

      Reply

  • Chris Gilliand

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    Curious as to why you would not have used the new B1 on the shoot, would not one of two B1’s have been a simpler set up?

    Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      Chris,
      since I needed to simulate sunlight coming from behind the subject with pictures that are mainly with wide angles of field, I could not possibly place a B1 of 500 W/s right behind the model to have enough power, so I opted for the stronger Pro B4 that allowed me to place them much further away.

      Reply

  • Pedro Moreno

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    Love the result. I just got myself a pair ok profoto B1 and I can’t tell you how happy I am. What’s the size of the reflectors?

    Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      Thanks Pedro, and congratulations on your new B1 :-) They are fabulous!
      The reflectors used in the video are Magnum Reflectors that give me 1 and a half more f stop exposure than a Zoom reflector and that have the property of simulating sun light because of their hardness.

      Reply

    • Andrea Belluso

      Andrea Belluso

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      Thank you David. Very kind of you :-)

      Reply

  • Vladimir

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    Great experience master, i learn so much with your videos thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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