The Elinchrom Ranger Quadra has become our go-to setup for outdoor lighting. We still have the 1100 watt-second Ranger, and still use it for the times that we need to over-power the sun, but the Quadra is now our workhorse.
The Quadra is light, fast and has just enough power to match the sun when used with our 39″ Elinchrom softbox.
There is a lot of recent hula-bulu about OCF (off camera flash). We have been using it for years, but not in the same fashion as its “new definition,” which seems to be all about getting the sky to go blue and not paying full attention to the light on the subject. It’s a good idea, but many times this leaves the light harsh, contrasty and the color is way out in left field.
We use natural light where we can, but most of the time we augment the natural light with flash. Yes, you can add flash and still make it look very natural!
Part of making sure that the flash looks natural is to make sure that you know your color temperatures. The Elinchrom Quadra and our Elinchrom Softbox puts out light at around 4850 degrees Kelvin. Shoot that into shade at around 7000 degrees Kelvin and you have a mess. Make sure that you gel the Elinchrom to match the color temperature of the ambient light, once that is done the light blends beautifully into the ambient and looks absolutely natural!
Keeping the light in some kind of modifier will soften the light for portraits and give your finished images a more polished look.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for harsh, contrasty light. I just don’t think it needs to be applied universally to every image. I still believe you CHOOSE the light that is proper for the subject and the look of the final image. We choose soft boxes in the studio for most of our portrait clients, why wouldn’t we want to do the same outdoors?