I’ve always loved one certain lightsource.
It’s actually a funny story, one of the first times I demo’ed during a trade show I was actually using a Fresnel as a prop and also several demos as a main light source. And although at that moment in time I was not really yet into the more classical looks I immediately fell in love with the awesome look of the Fresnel.
The look of the Fresnel is really hard to describe (that’s why I use images), but it’s almost immediately recognizable.
Think about almost all the old black and white (and later color) images from the movie stars from the golden era and you immediately know what I mean right… well that era was dominated by the Fresnel look, you found them everywhere in studios. But now a days I hardly see them anymore. Mostly due to price but also I think because people just don’t know the funny looking Fresnel.
I always describe it like a mix between a very hard light source and a nice soft beauty light effect (told you it was unique and hard to describe)
The main thing about the Fresnel is however that it’s not a light source you can use in one way, you can actually zoom the modifier to create a wider or more narrow beam of light, but in some Fresnels you will also get a very nice/nasty spot in the center of the light which can be terrible (just zoom back a little) but if you really want to draw the attention to a model and she/he is sitting still it can work great.
As you probably guessed by now the main thing about the Fresnel is the lens. You probably already have several Fresnels in for example your speedlights, although often in speedlights they are more rectangular, or if you’re an avid nature photographer you might once experimented with a Fresnel lens in front of your speedlight to “throw” the light a lot further and lighting birds or other wild life on distances you normally could never use a strobe. The Fresnel makes it possible due to the unique design of the lens, and the fact (with studio lights) you can zoom the lightsource to create totally different looks depending on how the light hits the Fresnel.
On the other side of the spectrum (zoom the other way) you get a much wider and beautiful hard/soft quality of light. It does give deep crisp shadows but not with the intense look you can get when using a reflector with grid. It’s a more friendly light source with a bite 😀
Now you might wonder :
“why didn’t you use it more before?”
Very valid question.
The thing a lot of people don’t realise is that 95% of my portfolio is shot during the workshops I teach, events we visit for workshops etc. And when I teach I don’t think it’s very handy to demo setups with modifiers that nobody can afford, yes indeed a Fresnel can be incredibly expensive.
Recently I started testing the Geekoto strobes and because these use a Bowens mount I was looking at modifiers and actually found that Nanlite was selling a really nice looking Fresnel for under 150,00 euros which is pretty cheap seeing I bought a theater spot online for 150,00 used and using that one with strobes is far from a working solution, well ok it works but it’s not something you easily setup, using two stands te be able to zoom for example 😀 so the idea of having something that works like a Fresnel for under 150,00 really caught my attention. So we ordered one.
The images you see in this blog post are all done with the Fresnel as main light source and as you can see they have that really nice Hollywood like style light quality.
For portraits like these the Fresnel is a great lightsource.
Add some accent lights for extra depth and you can keep them in color or convert them to Black and White, whatever your taste, the Fresnel will look great.
But it doesn’t stop with portraits.
I also love to use it for a more rough looking full body shots agains for example seamless. The shadows are very defined and sharp and you can play with them by angling the light and really create a nice combination of model and shadow.
As you can see here the Nanlite Fresnel has more than enough reach to light a full body model from app 3 meters distance, and the cool thing is of course that if you can really fine tune the look of your images by simply zooming the Fresnel.
Lets take a look at a few more images I shot with our model and awesome stylist Nadine.
All done with the Fresnel as main light.
But let’s take a quick look at the next blog post.
Because believe it or not, I used the Fresnel also for these shots….
For me the Fresnel is one of those light sources a lot of people don’t really know about but when they see it…. let me put it this way, since I’ve been using it several students immediately bought one after the workshop. So I think it was a logical solution to also add the Fresnel to our webshop.
On our webshop you can find of course our tutorials, books and presets, but also our own products IQwire tether cables (5-10mtrs), ClickPropsBackdrops, Rogue, Expoimaging and Geekoto but we also created a special category for the Nanlite accessories I’m using myself.
Our Geekoto GT200 on the Nanlite Fresnel