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Article: Thinking Outside The Box - On Location | Dani Diamond

Thinking Outside The Box - On Location | Dani Diamond

As creatives, thinking outside the box is part of the territory. We’re not limited by circumstances or complications that come our way. When it comes to photographers—particularly when it involves shooting on location—pivoting and thinking resourcefully is part of the job. 

Come along with us, on location, to a photoshoot with NYC fashion and portrait photographer, Dani Diamond, as he walks us through how he problem solves and finds a new way to use a v-flat during his shoot with model, Esmeralda.

Outdoor Shoot Turned Indoor — Problem Solving With a V-Flat

There’s nothing better than a gorgeous location for a shoot. Partnering with V-Flat World, Dani and the team arrived at a beautiful, modern, colonial style home planning to use the pool and manicured gardens as a backdrop for the images. However, the onset of rain caused the team to quickly switch plans, turning their outdoor shoot into an indoor one.

Fortunately, for a veteran photographer like Dani, the change was no problem. The home utilized a large bank of windows from the doors leading out to the pool, which provided ample natural light to the interior.

“I’ve been using these v-flats for years and every shoot I come up with more creative ways to use this.” - Dani Diamond

To add texture and visual interest, Dani used a simple $20 painter’s drop cloth draped over an open V-Flat, essentially turning the V-Flat board into a background support. Voila! No backdrop stand? No problem. V-Flat to the rescue. Boom shakalaka…as Dani would say (minute 3:10).

A pro in her own right, Esmeralda modeled a striped, black and white, two-piece dress with a strapless crop top and ankle-length skirt. The wardrobe team completed the look with lively green sandals and a matching gold-chained green purse, adding pops of color and flair to the mostly monochromatic scene.

With the improvised backdrop in place, plus hair, makeup, and wardrobe completed for Esmeralda, Dani started shooting. 

girl posing with bag

Shooting the Sony Alpha 1 with Natural Light on Aperture Priority

Using the available natural light while shooting indoors with Esmeralda, Dani set the Sony A1 in aperture priority because he likes “choosing the aperture and letting the camera change the shutter and the auto ISO according to the exposure that [he sets.]”

In case you’re unfamiliar with photography lingo, allow us to translate for you. Think of aperture as the “pupil” of a lens, opening and closing to regulate the amount of light entering the camera. By setting the Alpha 1 on what’s called “aperture priority” mode, Dani is telling the camera how big or small he wants the lens opening and for the camera to stay on the aperture he chooses (also called f-stop). This setting maintains a constant aperture while allowing the camera to choose the correct shutter and ISO combo for optimal exposure.

Aperture (f-stop) is what controls how much of an image is in focus. Want everything razor sharp from foreground to background? Change your aperture to a higher f-stop number or “stop down.” Want lots of blur? Again, change your aperture or “open up,” as photographers say.

The blurry, out-of-focus parts of an image? Call it “bokeh” if you want to sound especially knowledgeable.

You’re welcome.

girl posing

Keeping Things Simple

“We’re gonna keep things simple, because simple always wins.” - Dani Diamond

Following his philosophy of keeping things simple, Dani uses a CamRanger to wirelessly tether straight to an iPad. Which, in his words, “makes it seamless, easy, and quick to view the images.” One less cord to think about without sacrificing the ease of reviewing images on a larger screen. This set-up enables Dani to make necessary adjustments on the fly, which cuts down on time and makes for an efficient shoot. 

With his natural light portraits swiftly going from the Alpha 1 to the iPad via the CamRanger, Dani immediately noticed the right side of the image needed a bit of fill light. Grabbing a foldable V-Flat, he set it up on camera right making sure to face the white side of the V-Flat toward the window. This effectively bounced the window light back onto the darker side of the subject, which filled in the shadow areas. Done and done.

Now employing two V-Flats on set—one as a background support and the other working it’s usual job as a light modifier—Dani could easily control the exposure, bouncing around the home’s gorgeous natural light to get, as he says, “killer images!”

We agree, those natural light portraits are killer!

We love your excitement, Dani. Let’s collaborate again.

One V-Flat. Multiple Uses. Think Outside the Box With Our Foldable V-Flats.

Truly, our foldable V-Flats are the most versatile light modifier on the market. Does your softbox double as a backdrop support? Well…we suppose it could, but it wouldn’t look nearly as even as a V-Flat. Just sayin’.

When it comes to using our foldable V-Flats, most photographers and videographers use them to add or subtract light from the subject. But did you know that our V-Flats are so much more? 

In today’s video, Dani showed us how to hang a backdrop using the V-Flat as a background support, then used another V-Flat to add fill light. But have you thought about using it as a fan to create wind on set? Or what about a portable “room” for privacy while your models change outfits? Heck, you could even use it as shelter on location if the weather went south and you really had to—but try not to. ;)

Check out our video detailing “10 Ways to Use Our Foldable V-Flats.” You might find an option you haven’t thought of.

Thanks for hanging with us. We hope you learned something new and valuable to add to your bag o’ tricks. Until next time, feel free to browse the rest of our resources. We’ve got over a 100 videos on our Behind The Scenes page with tips and tricks for photographers and videographers who shoot in all genres.

What’s In The Bag?

For all you techies out there, here’s a list of gear and settings used during the natural light shoot with Dani and Esmeralda.

  • Sony Alpha 1 camera, shot in Aperture Priority

  • Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM lens

  • Cam Ranger

  • iPad

  • Foldable V-Flat (black/white)

  • Battery powered air blower

Want a V-Flat of your very own?

Get this lightweight, portable, and super versatile light modifier here.

Find them!


Model @esmestyle_

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