A Lighting Gamechanger for Zabrina Deng

February 22, 2017

© Zabrina Deng

Since 2010, San Francisco-based Asian-American photographer Zabrina Deng has photographed destination weddings, engagement parties and formal portraits on three continents: North America, Europe and Asia. It’s demanding work, but what makes her an award-winning shooter isn’t the places she’s traveled to, but her ability to capture the love, joy, and romance when photographing the couples who have hired her. That takes a special kind of photographer. It’s also why no matter what time zone she’s shooting in, her formal portraits and group shots are more than just photographs that depict her subjects in a variety of light scenarios. From festive sundrenched cityscapes to austere dim indoor environments, Deng has captured and recorded the magic of those special moments image after image,

However, time constraints can make photographing her clients with consistent lighting a challenge. “On many jobs,” Deng says, “I often have to complete the shoot within less than six hours, which can include location changes, redoing hair and makeup, and working in light that changes from midday to sunset, as well as indoor lighting conditions.” Also, lugging around a pricey, bulky lighting system is costly and counterproductive. Instead, Deng relies on the Phottix’s Indra500 TTL Gamechanger Kit, which is more than just a lightweight, affordable and adaptable light kit. It allows her to make the most of her diverse skill set as a renowned portraitist.

In fact, on a recent, rather whimsical, personal project, based on the movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Deng, assisted by her dedicated team, including an assistant, stylist, retoucher and makeup artist, found the Indra500 particularly helpful. “Everything I needed for this big production shoot was within the kit itself.” Here are five tips Deng suggests photographers can use for getting the most out of this powerful lighting kit:

  1. Producing Natural Light with a Kit


Although theatrical, conspicuously artificial lighting has its place, most wedding shots and portraits need a natural lighting effect that enhances the composition without drawing attention to itself. “The Phottix kit has a powerful output,” says Deng, “which lets me shoot at 1/2 to full power, with a quick recycle rate. Oftentimes, I like to place my lights far away from the subject, which works as a powerful fill, yet still makes the scene look natural.”

  1. Maintaining Proper Skin Tones


Photo © Zabrina Deng

“Lighting is so important for maintaining skin tones,” Deng says, which is why it’s important to maintain control of how your subjects are illuminated. But if your lighting changes, it can ruin the realism and romance of a wedding portrait. Deng says the Indra500 can quickly be adjusted to compensate for such changes, so that “when the light hits your subject,” she says, “the skin color is accurate.”

  1. Adjusting Settings on the Fly


Photo © Zabrina Deng

Changing weather not only visually affects an outdoor group photo, but can also make your subjects uncomfortable, which can instantly ruin a shoot. Having a flexible, responsive lighting kit is crucial for quickly adjusting settings and getting the job done before weather can have the time to adversely affect your scene or your subjects. “On this shoot, it was one of the coldest days in California,” says Deng, “with temperatures in the low 40’s.” As such, there was no time to waste in adjusting the settings of her lights. By using the Odin II Transmitter, which is included in the kit, Deng was able to quickly adjust her exposure up to +/- 3 EV in 1/3-stop increments. “It was great not having to yell out in the cold to my lighting assistant or run back and forth myself to change the power.”

  1. Maximizing Shooting Time


Photo © Zabrina Deng

Photographers continually look for ways to streamline their process so they can focus on shooting. For Deng, using the Indra500 GameChanger Kit saved time. “It took us less than 10 minutes to set it all up,” she says. She also loved that the kit’s carrying bag is very durable and great for travel.

  1. Avoiding Complicated Lighting Kits


Photo © Zabrina Deng

For Deng, lighting kits not only have to be versatile, but they also need to be easy to use. “The simple interface and easy-to-read menus made it easy to configure my lights.” She notes that it’s so easy that you’ll feel successful the very first time you set it up. “For instance, I was even able to quickly set up both the Easy Up HD Umbrella Octa Softbox with Grid and the Softbox with Grid in just minutes.”

To learn more about the Phottix Indra500 Gamechange Kit, visit http://www.phottixus.com/products/monolights-kits/phottix-indra500-gamechanger.html?utm_source=pdn&utm_medium=advertorial&utm_campaign=indra500kit

–Sponsored by Phottix