Middle Earth just got Lit

Since watching Lord of the Rings, my first ever 'M' Movie over 10 years ago now I dreamed of visiting this extraordinary place. Not only was I lucky enough when I started my career as a travel photographer to visit over 10 times but made friends for life there with one of my early mentors William Patino. Since then Will has not only just ran workshops in NZ but moved to Te Anu in the south island from wollongong in NSW, Australia.

As my career changed towards the love (and obsession) of portraiture I was lucky enough to be asked to visit again to capture some Commercial Stills for some workshops of his coming soon, I also got to work with a video crew helping direct (one of my other passions) some footage for him.

I knew having these two responsibilities and various locations would mean I had to keep setup simple. So I packed a light kit of the following:

Camera: H6D100c with 28mm; 80mm and 50-110 mm lenses

Lighting: Profoto Universal Trigger with B1x Profoto Studio Battery Light and a single modifier 4" double baffled (with an extra baffle) Octa Box and pole. 1 x Profoto Black/White Large Bounce

The thought behind it: I wanted flexibility of lens but a light kit and a modifier that could be soft and punchy in both respects and match the ambient light in one modifier. The 4" Profoto Octa was a good mix of all as at full power in the day with no or one baffle I can overpower the Sun with harder matching light and also come sunset or low light I could diffuse and have a nice wrap with the large circular shape and diffusion create soft light.


So heres a few examples from the trip and lighting diagrams to show you how I achieved these natural looking results:

Location  1: Milford Sound Sunset

Right on sunset the light was fading and this one was made easy for the Profoto Light location as my motto for natural light is simply "think about where the sun is". The sunset light was nice and soft but being direct also had a little bit of hardness, so 2 baffles a little bit further away just behind the subject boomed at a similar angle to the setting sun. Used ambient for Fill. I positioned will so that he would naturally have short light across his face looking natural and dramatic.

Will Milford

Will Milford

Lighting Diagram 4" Octa 2 Baffles B1x

Lighting Diagram 4" Octa 2 Baffles B1x

Set 2: Fiordland Forest

In the middle of the day, diffuse and overcast we entered the forest for the next stage of the video production. For this shot we were sandwiched between forest with a river running. The natural light source here was from the diffuse curtain of cloud peeking between the trees. This is scene with no additional light.

Will here gets lost among the trees a bit too much and as the hero of the image we needed him to stand out. I didn't mind the light being a bit brighter and as the source was the gap between the trees behind I got my assistant Ben to hold the Octa at a similar angle to the gap and a bit brighter to seperate Will from the scene. As there wasn't much space to get Ben out of scene I needed to blend the two images in post.

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Will Fiordland Forest.jpg
Diagram Profoto River

Finally I want to share the hero Headshot.

Location 3: The Plains between the Mountains

Simple headshot 1 hr before golden hour, the light was getting soft but was still fairly strong and direct. I wanted the Light slightly short again and just off the actual light that way the shape to Wills face remained and the light wasn't too flat even though it doesn't fit the 100% natural light angle, sometimes its a compromise. 

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Finally the light from the Profoto unlike any other flash meant the batteries I didn't need to charge once in the week having 4 batteries on me and the quality of light meant that it almost perfectly matched real sunlight colour and tone with the chosen modifier. Unlike other flashes with colour casts, the camera on 5500 k didn't need tweaking at all. Shows how reliable this simple lighting setup can be and provided me amazing results.  

Thanks for reading, hopefully this simple lighting setup can inspire your own images. Happy shooting.