Phottix recently lent me a set of Indra 500 lights to try out in some my model folio / tutorial shoots. I've heard much about this strobe, and got excited at the chance of using it. The challenge is how to incorporate a strobe into a naturally-lit shoot.
The weather was quite unpredictable when we shot. It was cloudy one minute, and sunny the next. There were several instances of a good pose, but would lose out to bad lighting. Now this was where the Indra provided that consistency in maintaining the overall feel of the images. The highlights were still there despite the sudden changes in natural light. There were just minor adjustments in the shutter speed when relying on the Indras.
The first image was exposed to open sun when the clouds parted, while the third had more light assist coming from the Indra. You could see the stark differences in output even though I had two various workflows executed on them. One tell-tale sign is the washout background. I had makeshift relfector (a.k.a styrofoam) placed the camera left.
Locations can be tricky in making a lighting guide since they're not as straight-forward as shooting in a studio.
The center image was shot against a mirror found in the room. The frames gave an interesting foreground blur factor, and added texture in the overall image. It adds a tinge of "voyeurism" into the image when you add blurred foreground elements.
Since it was getting dark (and about to rain), we had to simulate natural light streaming from a window. Combining the ambient lights (natural and artificial ones) found in the room and the Indras became the next challenge. Two sources were used: one outside the house streaming in, while the other acts a highlight / backlight indoors.
Before placing in the strobes anywhere, you have to observe how natural light is falling into the location. You have to match to factors: direction and texture. The job of the strobe is to approximate how natural light behaves and thus just boosting the current lighting scenario. It is isn't meant to replace natural light, but complement it.
As for the fan shot, an Indra was placed outside of the window covered with a thin white cloth to further diffuse the effect. The 2nd Indra had a white umbrella attachment, aimed to the wall. This further diffuses the light at the same time, giving off the natural ambient bounce of the room, which was warm.
When it came down the post-processing, I only did color grading. Several layers of it, masking out sections I didn't want affected by the other. I also touched up the color balance settings, toying around with highlights and shadows more than the midtones.
An important takeaway from this shoot: location, location, location. How light falls and reflects in each location is unique, but the way it behaves is constant. It's just a matter of harnessing it at the right time.