Blending natural light and the Elinchrom THREE
Elinchrom ambassador Therese Asplund, shares her on-field experience with the Elinchrom THREE, the new 261 Ws Off-Camera Flash with integrated battery. For her first adventure with this flash, Therese did a photo shoot on a summer wedding theme, directly using the THREE blended with natural light. Discover her journey and impressions about the Elinchrom THREE.
The Elinchrom THREE is a fantastic tool suitable for both beginners venturing into studio flash photography and seasoned professionals like wedding photographers who need to adapt swiftly to various locations and lighting conditions. This versatile companion excels in both on-location and studio shooting scenarios. Additionally, it’s perfect for creative photographers eager to experiment and explore new possibilities.
The THREE is lightweight and easy to setup. The convenience extends to its intuitive control through the Elinchrom Studio App, adjusting a breeze. Remarkably compact, it easily fits in one hand, making it highly portable as you move from one location to another.
Today, our focus is on testing the Elinchrom THREE on location, and I created a summer wedding set. Our shooting adventure will take us on various locations, both indoors and outdoors. To capture the essence of the moment, we’ll combine the beauty of natural light with the power of flash, ensuring each set shines at its best.
For this shooting, I chose an old mansion just outside Avesta, in Sweden. This old mansion is surrounded with huge trees, and a big, lush park area, and a beautiful winter garden with vines clinging on to the roof. This location offers a diverse range of light conditions and locations, allowing us to capture a wide range of stunning pictures. Fingers crossed for favourable Swedish summer weather, with both sunshine and clouds to enhance our creative possibilities.
“I love creating things together and portrait photography is always a teamwork”
I love creating things together and portrait photography is always a teamwork. Achieving a remarkable portrait, classical, fine art, or commercial, requires building trust and comfort with your subject. It’s essential to involve them in your vision, making them an active participant in the creative process. The ultimate satisfaction comes when your model leaves the shoot with as much joy as you experienced during the process. That ́s why it ́s so important to work with equipment that is reliable and easy to use, the less you have to worry about the technical stuff during the shoot the more you can focus on the connection with the model and the better your images will turn out.
without flash, with flash, with flash and edited
We began our shoot in the old winter garden, which was located at the far end of the park. The winter garden’s natural light proved to be quite good, benefiting from the absence of direct sunlight and its glass walls on all sides, providing soft and indirect lighting ideal for portraits. When using the darker side of the park as the background, the exposure I set for the surroundings worked well for her face too.
However, as almost all the natural light hitting her face bounced off or shined through the surrounding green foliage, it created a greenish colour cast that somewhat obscured her lovely tan and rosy cheeks. Even though I am almost there with the exposure, I still need to lighten her face during post-production to make it stand out from the background and ensure her eyes are not the darkest part of her face.
Consequently, there’s still significant post-production work required to transform this image into a truly exceptional one, despite the favourable light conditions in the winter garden.
“This way, I obtained an image that’s almost ready for delivery straight out of the camera.”
All I needed for this was the compact Elinchrom THREE, the small Rotalux Deep Octa Softbox 70cm and a tripod. With this minimal setup, I could carry everything myself, and it took less than two minutes to set up. It provided a simple solution to fix the issues that otherwise would have required a significant amount of post-processing time. I can now imagine the time saved on delivering a set of twenty images! This way, I obtained an image that’s almost ready for delivery straight out of the camera.
Without flash, with flash, with flash and edited
When shooting the couple, I really wanted to use the left side of the winter garden, facing the part of the park with fewer trees and more sunlight, because on that side the vines made a magical setting, surrounding the couple on all sides. Choosing this location also made it possible for me to use a lower bush of herbs in the foreground to create more depth. Here the natural light conditions where not as good as on the other side, since the background was very much lighter than the couple.
Even though I turned up the exposure with my camera settings as much as I could without losing information in the light parts outside, their faces where very much to dark when using only natural light. Again, the THREE and the Rotalux Deep Octa Softbox 70cm solved the problem and gave me a well-balanced image with beautiful light in the faces straight out of camera.
The last thing we did in the winter garten was some portraits of the bride alone. What I wanted to show with these images was how easy it is to be creative and get a lot of variation on the same location if you do not have to depend only on natural light. And also, how using a flash to light our model gives you the opportunity to control the natural light with your camera settings.
In the first two images I have used a small aperture to darken the background and used two different set ups with the Elinchrom Three and the Rotalux Deep Octa Softbox 70cm to change the character. A backlight for a cinematic look with a little more drama and a classical portrait light to lift her face features and bring out her beautiful eyes. In the last image I have used a big aperture for a light background, and let the natural light lift the shadows, and just like that I got a light and airy portrait with a very natural look.
We then continued our photography adventure in the garden of this magnificent mansion, under the 4:00 PM sun, where the light is soft and less harsh than the 12-2 PM sun. I wanted these images to feel outdoors and very natural. I used the Elinchrom THREE and a 105cm Deep Umbrella White. A shoot through the white umbrella, set straight forward, a couple of meters away from the model, is an easy set up to use if you shoot mainly with natural light but just want a natural way to lighten up a model.
Here I decided to put the models in the sun with the sun hitting their backs to use that as a beautiful backlight. Since I control the light on the models with my flash I can control the highlights in the hair, and make sure that they are not burnt out, with the settings of my camera.
The most challenging thing here was that we now had gotten quite a lot of clouds in the sky which meant the weather change from sun to cloudy every other minute. To be able to keep shooting and not lose any time I therefore had to change settings all the time. Here it really showed how big an advantage it is that the THREE is so easy and quick to adjust. In a heartbeat I could change settings to adapt to the new light conditions and we could make the most of the time we got. A great thing is that I can always choose whether to make the changes directly on the flash, on my transmitter or on the app on my phone. Whatever is easiest for the set up I work with.
“Here it really showed how big an advantage it is that the THREE is so easy and quick to adjust”
I often get new ideas of things I want to try during the shoot and with the Three being so easy to adjust it is completely effortless to experiment and play around without having to keep the models waiting while I figure things out. Here I tried to lay on the ground, to get a low angle, and shoot directly into the sun for a dreamy and romantic feeling. With the Three through the umbrella, I could still decide just how much light I wanted to meet up with in the faces to be able to see facial expressions and not only silhouettes.
We ended our day in the barn, since it started to rain a little bit. This location had a very small window, so very little natural light, but the walls were rustic and beautiful and matched the styling of our bohemian bride to perfection. If I would have been forced to shoot in this location using only natural light, I would have had to turn up the ISO very high and loose quality. Now, with the Elinchrom THREE I could shoot like I do in the studio. To get some variation I used both a feathered classical portrait light, where I used one of the windows as a reflector to lift the shadows, and a cinematic short light to add a little drama.
The great thing about working with flash and knowing how to set a good light, especially if you are a wedding photographer where time is always an issue, is that, if you need to, you can make beautiful, professional looking images in any location. I have shot hundreds of weddings over the years and, no, the weather is not always working in my favour. I have had to finish up sessions in boring hallways or even in a hotel corridor but with a nice light no one can tell. Now with the THREE being both compact and powerful it ́s not even a hassle to bring it and in some situations, it can be the difference between getting the image or not.
Even though we had to adapt quickly to sudden changes in the weather and shot in so many different places it was a piece of cake with the Elinchrom THREE, and we got beautiful images from all the different locations. The fact that it is so powerful even though it is so small seems almost too good to be true. Even when I shot full, figure and couldn ́t work with the flash very close to the model it worked great even though I shot directly into the sun. It is also very easy to be creative on the spot.
In conclusion, the Elinchrom THREE allowed me to capture portraits swiftly and efficiently. I could easily blend it with natural light and a few additional accessories, allowing me to travel light and adapt rapidly to these three scenarios.
The Elinchrom THREE is available to pre-order at The Flash Centre Now! Pick up a single head Elinchrom THREE Off Camera Flash Kit for just £979, or a THREE Off Camera Flash Dual Kit for £1859.