How to Mimic Sunlight with a Strobe

What do you need to produce Mad Max style fantasy portraits? Burnt up cars, flames, smoke, and a hot sun beating down. Jay P Morgan from The Slanted Lens sets out on this quest, but first he needed a backdrop that would be perfect for the scene; the backyard of a car salvage company seemed like a fine choice:

Once he found a gracious enough host who would allow the crew to shoot, the next steps were to set up the scene.

Camera settings for the shoot

Camera Settings

The sun was out and it was extremely bright. Morgan brought out a FotoFlex Lite Panel to diffuse the intensity of the light.

Fotoflex light panel

With the FotoFlex Lite Panel, the harsh light was subdued.

A similar effect was brought on the cars washed out by the sun by using a giant 12 x 12 silk panel.

diffusing the harsh light of the sun

12 x 12 silk panel

A critical element in the shot was the strobe. Morgan used the strobe wrapped with a yellow gel to mimic a low sun. This is the alternative to relying on the real thing—and it remains constant at an angle in the horizon. Morgan used a Dynalite Strobe head 800w pack with a Rosco gel.

Gelling strobe head

Dynalite Strobe head 800w pack with a Rosco gel in the background

Morgan next brought in a Dynalite Baja B6 paired with a FotoFlex medium octadome to act as the key light for the shoot. It illuminated the subject and most of the scene.

Dynalite Baja B6, FotoFlex medium octadome

Lighting diagram with the Dynalite Baja B6 paired with a FotoFlex medium octodome

Morgan uses a technique called feathering, tilting and panning the light constantly to ensure that the light is uniform across the scene.

fantasy portrait shoot

Being able to use a light as a stand-in for the sun means you can create photos with the “sun” low in the sky at any time of day. Try out this technique and let us know how it goes!

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