photo session – Modern Gypsies – Silver Birds

photo session – Modern Gypsies – Silver Birds

Regular followers of Tangents, and everyone who has a copy of my book, off-camera flash, should be familiar with the Modern Gypsies. They are a performance group in Brooklyn and I count myself fortunate that I sometimes get to collaborate with them on promotional photos for them. It’s always exciting to work with inspiringly creative people. At the start of the month, we got together for another series of photo shoots, of which this is the first of the four. I’ll post the other sections in follow-up articles.

The theme here – Silver Birds. This silver-painted rooftop in Brooklyn, and the expansive blue sky seemed to work work well as complementary colors.

The sun is brutally bright, so I knew I’d need take along powerful off-camera flash. For ease of use, and for portability, I went with the usual Profoto Acute B2 600 W/s powerpack (vendor) with a Profoto beauty dish (vendor) and a  22″ sock (vendor) over the beauty dish.

With that setup, I was able to easily pump out Sunny 16 kind of flash – 1/250 @ f11 @ 100 ISO. Those are the settings for all the images here. I varied the power of the AcuteB powerpack between full-power and half a stop down from full power for these images. The way the Profoto beauty dish clamps on, is super-easy. Fast.

The image at the top of the article was warmed up in post. Here is the neutral version of that photo.


The pull-back shot while prepping. My friend, Peter Salo, was helping (and Instagramming) on the day. Michael Saab, the driving force behind the Modern Gypsies, is in the blue T-shirt – aka PinkMan.


An initial setup which didn’t quite work because of the steep slant to this doorway’s roof. But it shows the huge difference the additional lighting makes, in comparison to the ambient-light only shot.


I would love to try this again with a more New York / Gothic building, and a dramatic sky. The sky was so clear blue here that it looks like a studio backdrop. That said, the quality of lighting from the beauty dish (with the sock), is just so much better than hard direct speedlight would’ve given.


photo gear (and equivalents) used in this photo session


the rest of this photo session


more info about the Modern Gypsies

9 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 2Glen says

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge to us..
    You are such a very good photographer, master of lights i can say..
    I learned a lot just by carefully observing your settings and techniques..
    from the BFT to OCF i have learned a lot and i will be thankful for that.
    My confidence went up ever since i followed your site and FB..
    Thank you Neil! you are my favourite photographer..Keep shooting and pls.
    keep posting i know theres thousands of people like me that learn and understand
    photography a lot easier because of you..thank you..


  2. 3Trev says

    Perfection, as usual. Great location for this shot regardless of the ‘slippery dip’ they perched on.

  3. 4Martian says

    Would using something like an Fuji X100 with high shutter speed mean less need for high power lights?

  4. 5 says

    I still have to properly check how much power a speedlight loses in comparison, when using the Fuji X100s at higher-than-normal shutter speeds.

    Ultimately though, the fixed focal length of the Fuji would be a limiting factor on a photo shoot like this. So I wouldn’t even consider it as the main camera.

  5. 6Steve Mac says

    Love the silver and blue contrast in your shots, though the slope looks like more than a challenge! Always enjoyable to read your posts and learn from your experience.

  6. 7Shawn says

    I have 3 x Nikon SB-28s with cheap Yongnuo triggers. Would it be possible to gang up Speedlights in order to achieve this much fill flash on a bright sunny day like this?

  7. 8David de Fortier says

    Would be nice to see an article from you about using ND filters in bright mid day sun to achieve wide open apertures with flash

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