I have been wishing to add a large fresnel source to my kit for a few years. I use them in movie and video production all the time and find the focused beam to be more versatile and controllable then the parabolic and bare bulb type lights we are used to as photographers. Unfortunately, few options exist. Several places make attachments that you can use to convert a regular studio strobe to a fresnel but they weren't really what I use looking for. First of all, my kit was already limited to just three lights so adding a fresnel attachment wouldn't really add anything except an accessory. Plus my Profoto D1 lights are only 500w/s which may seem like a lot but after you add the fresnel, some gels, maybe a half scrim, then try to flood it on a source 30 meters away, well it's hopeless underpowered.
Then I found this thing:
It's a Desisti "Leonardo" 5k fresnel that they convert to a 4800w/s Speedotron globe. It even has a 300w modeling light. It's a true focusing fresnel that can be spotted or flooded out. At full power it puts out a huge amount of light. I would say it's comparable to the largest 18K HMI lights we use on movie sets. However, it's controllable. Right at the ballast I can turn it down three stops. If that's not enough I can add a double scrim to bring it down another stop or even a "double double" for two stops. However, -3 at the ballast is pretty much the sweet spot to simulate sunlight for single portraits outside as we are about to see.
So I had a shoot for a magazine with this very talented young actress named Quvenzhane Wallis. She is in a movie called Beasts of the Southern Wild. You can see the trailer here:
In the movie she plays a tough girl so that's sort of the look I had in mind for the photoshoot. In a studio in New Orleans we did a typical cover photo shoot with soft lighting then went outside and a location behind the studio.
It had been raining all day so it was a very dreary overcast day. I set the 5k up and raked it across the brickwall. Once everything was metered just right I invited the actress out and we started shooting.
The goal was to give the editors and graphic designers options to layout text on two page spread so I left plenty of negative space for them to play with.
I found the light to be very pleasing. After getting a Wein low voltage adapter it trigger off my Profoto Air system perfectly. Out of several hundred shots there was exactly one where the light didn't fire and I suspect that's because I went a little too fast. It has about a one second recharge time at -3 power.
Anyway, that's my report. Feel free to ask any questions.