It was with great pleasure that I was recently contacted by the New York Times to do some environmental portraits for their Upfront magazine. Figuring this would be a good opportunity to use our new Magnum 68 flash gun in the field, I took it along for the ride.
The Shoot: They asked for “environmental” portraits of the subject in a variety of settings: in a factory, a busy Chinese street, and above the city. The main idea was to capture the vibe and setting of Shenzhen, this big bustling city where we live. It was a very rushed 3 hour photoshoot, under a very harsh noonday sun, but I came out with a bunch to pick from. Most everything was taken with a Canon 50D + Sigma 30mm 1.4.
The Setup: When doing portraits like this, I usually bring along one speedlite, place it off camera at about a 45 degree angle, flip the diffuser down, and trigger the flash with some Trigmaster Plus units. And that’s exactly what I did here. This simple setup is perfect for filling in the shadows, adding some dimension, and setting your images apart from those using on-camera flash or no flash at all.
The Verdict: Usually I’m shooting with a Canon 430EX Speedlite. I’ve used it for many years. Without any prior experience, I was able to use the Aputure Magnum 68. Everything is clearly labeled. One thing I like about it over the Canon are the buttons for adjusting flash power. They are bigger and much easier to press. That’s always been an annoyance on the Canon. So my experience with the unit was overall good.
Here are a few shots, and I’m happy to say that they are pleased with the results! Click the image for a larger version of each.