Grand Central Station, with its jostling crowds, was a perfect place for wedding and portrait photographer Sal Cincotta to make the world his studio with the Profoto A1, the world’s smallest studio light. This time, he wanted to see how he could shoot on the move with the A1 off camera.
Earlier that day in Chinatown, he had tried out the A1 on camera for the first time and fell in love with the natural and beautiful light it gave him.
Now, walking with a young couple, Sal threads his way through the crowds in search of the perfect backdrop. And it’s not long before he finds it, zeroing in on a shadowy, arched hallway.
There, Sal once again got his beautiful, soft light with the Profoto A1 in the cavernous space.
With the couple looking away for a dramatic portrait, the light had to be directional.
So Sal used one A1 off camera with its dome diffuser, and a second one mounted on the camera as a trigger,
“Without the A1, I would either have had very dark shadows around the eyes or the lights would have been blown out. The A1 allowed us to balance the scene so that the model’s skin looked nice, her eyes looked nice and everything looked natural.”
Moments later, outside the station, in a busy street scene illuminated by street lights and headlights on moving cars, the scene was controlled chaos. And again, the A1 made the world Sal’s studio.
With one A1 off camera high and close to the camera, and a second A1 on camera, Sal used a slightly longer shutter speed to create motion blur in the background and perfectly freeze the couple in the foreground. That created a moment of stillness, making the couple the center of attention. “It’s just like shooting a wedding couple dancing,” Sal explains. You want the couple to be sharp but still have natural movement in the background—same principle.”
With warm light under the bridge, Sal used a Full CTO color gel to keep the skin tones in balance, quickly clicking it into place with its magnetic ring. The magnetic dome diffuser added a finishing touch, further softening the light from the A1 and making it blend in perfectly with the ambient light.
“With everything going on, I’m working with subtleties,” Sal explains. “The way the people are framed. The lead lines. Where they are in regard to the hood of the taxi. Micro adjustments. I do not have time to mess around with my equipment. It need to just work—or you lose the moment.”