Shooting in the city or on the street can make creating professional lighting and finding locations for environmental portraits 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 a patch of reeds growing alongside a bench just off of the sidewalk. He immediately knew he could use this small space to create a unique setting for environmental portraits. However, he also recognized that the available sunlight wouldn’t create the best image.

Environmental Portraits - Available Light

Available Light Only

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. He sets his strobe at 1 stop brighter than the ambient light.

Environmental Portraits - Strobe

Strobe + Rapid Box Octa-L ISO 50 • f4.5 • 1/200

By using a longer lens and a 3-stop neutral density filter, Zach is able to open up his aperture while drawing in the background. This really tightens up the image, creating a portrait setting that looks miles away from the big city.

Environmental Portraits - Strobe (2)

Strobe + Rapid Box Octa-L ISO 50 • f4.5 • 1/200

Lighting Gear in Action

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