Sometimes the best portrait settings and backgrounds are found on location. But shooting on location, especially on the street, can make creating dynamic lighting extremely difficult. In busy areas, it can be especially difficult to find somewhat secluded locations where it is possible to set up lighting equipment.

While shooting bridal portraits in the big city, renowned photography educator Zach Gray stumbled upon these set of stair while traveling to a different location and immediately noticed the way the sunlight accentuated the location’s texture and lines. However, he also recognized that the ambient lighting wouldn’t create the best image.

Available/Ambient Lighting

Available/Ambient Lighting ISO 100 • f2.8 • 1/320

To create better lighting despite the busy area and the limited amount of space he had for gear, Zach had his assistant bring in a battery-powered strobe modified by a quickly-collapsible Rapid Box Octa-L modifier. This compact light modifier sets up instantly and gives Zach control over the direction and softness of his light.

Key Light Only (Strobe + Rapid Box Octa-M)

Key Light Only (Strobe + Rapid Box Octa-M)

Then, to really create the dynamic lighting that he was looking for, Zach has a second assistant place a strobe with a tungsten gel to mimic and enhance the stairs in the background.

Dynamic Lighting for Bridal Street Portraits (1)

Key Light (Strobe + Rapid Box Octa-M) and Back Light (Strobe + Gel)

This simple, travel-friendly setup created some seriously stunning images in an otherwise bland location – and without taking up a ton of space or setup time.

Lighting Gear in Action

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