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Comedian Portrait, test shot

Test shot, portrait of a comedian, with Profoto ring flash and a beautydish

Swedish comedian Lasse Nilsen is a guy I have been working with a couple of times now. And it is always a pleasure. He has studied mime in Paris, and works full-time as a standup comedy entertainer, both for companies and in clubs.

He needed new portraits, both the usual headshots, but also portraits with an idea that I can’t write more about right now. Will show you as soon as I am allowed to.

Having taken portraits of someone before teaches you a bit about how they are in front of the camera, but maybe more interestingly, how their face (and skin) reacts to light. That sets the limits for what kind of light setup you can use.

For this session, I used a gridded beauty dish as my main light with a ring flash as fill. Maybe not the combination I would use for company portraits, but when you have the time to adapt it to new ideas, it is very rewarding.

Portrait shot through a Profoto ring flash

Using a ring flash is still quite new to me, but as long as I have some time during a shoot to experiment and change the effect and light ratio to adapt, it works just fine. Most of the time, we shot on black background (a white background originally, but with the main light gridded and a little distance, it turned almost black).

I really like the effect of the ring flash, this time I used a 50mm/1.4 lens so I could get a little closer. The only downside is that I can’t work with short DOF so much that I would like, I need to tape ND filter on the ring flash first to bring down the light output to decent levels (at close distance, that is).

So far, I think that the ring flash main advantage over other types of light modifiers is that there is detail and light everywhere the camera sees it. Being on-axis with the camera, even eyes in deep shadow have a little sparkle. Just enough to make it interesting, then it is up to me in post processing to enhance that, or make it go black. But I can have detail there, if I want. Or not.

The photos above were shot with a Nikon D700 and a 50mm/1.4 lens, three Profoto D1 and a AcuteB 600R with the ring flash and a WideSoft reflector.

Here are other photo shoots with Lasse; group shot here and mime portrait here.

More to come.