Off camera flash


Profoto D2

16 years ago I met Raluy Circus, Luis and his beloved family. Soon after we started taking pictures in his circus we decided to make a book. The years have passed, her family has grown and we have seen each other from time to time. For some time now I have had the idea of producing another book with them, but this time in color. I have started with a series of outdoor portraits, mixing natural light with flash light.
Profoto and Innovafoto, official importer of the Swedish brand, offered me to test the new and fantastic Profoto D2 flashes, a week before they were released worldwide, at the beginning of this month. I have been one of the few lucky ones in Spain to have had this opportunity, which besides being a great privilege, has been a magnificent experience.


The session

The challenge was important, I had two prototypes of the D2 on a Sunday at noon and in the afternoon of the same day the circus was offering its last session. The photographs could only be taken during the performance, during pauses between the different shows. This time, the site where they had set up was very small and all the trucks, caravans and other vehicles were chaotically distributed. Wherever I looked, it was a mess of vehicles, bicycles, washing machines, clothes, chairs, tables and cables, lots of cables.


©Dartina Gráfica

The challenge of light

The circus is a noble spectacle and as such is offered to the senses for contemplation and delight with the aim of moving affections. The light is very important during the show, as it visually supports the different chapters of this magical staging. So when I started the session, I wanted to use the flash light and enhance the artists over the chaotic environment.


The solution

The great particularity of the Profoto D2 is its ability to freeze motion thanks to flashes of up to 1/63,000 of a second, its high synchronization capacity with the camera shutter of up to 1/8000 of a second and the 20 bursts per second it is capable of shooting. In my case, being a photographer who has to take all kinds of photographs on a daily basis, there are three particularities that stand out. However, in this session, the most important thing was to maintain the quality of the color throughout the range of powers, since the photos were taken late in the day, the changes in the natural light happened quickly and with it also its color. I needed to keep the color stable on the portrayed characters, despite the chromatic changes of natural light. The D2s effectively fulfilled this task.

Profoto D2

Profoto D2


Another particularity that I like, is that one version of them has a power of 1000 W/s. For situations like this session, where I started shooting when the sun’s intensity was still very strong, the D2s allowed me to match the sun’s intensity, even though I was working with a 150 cm Photek reflex umbrella. diameter that absorbs quite a bit of flash power.

The show begins!

Luis is the emblem of the circus and I started with him. The idea was to highlight the character in the context, but not leaving the background out of focus, but with a lower light intensity than the light on the protagonist. In technical exposure terms, the aim was to achieve a +2 Ratio, i.e. the flash light should be two exposure values above the ambient light. With the Profoto D2 this was very easy to achieve.

Gorka Arcocha

© Gorka Arcocha


The sun was beginning to set but there was still plenty of natural light. The correct exposure for the natural ambient light at the beginning of the session was 1/125 at f11 for 100 ISO. The first thing I did was to underexpose the environment by two EV. This made it look like it was later, lost details in the environment that I could later recover to my liking in Capture One and concentrated the light on the character. As I didn’t want to lose too much depth of field I used an f16 and the other underexposure step was achieved by changing the shutter time to 1/250. With the D2s I could have shuttered with 1/8000 at f2.8, but it wasn’t necessary in this case. The interesting thing in this situation was to be able to shoot at f16 and that the flash power was enough to work at that aperture.
The following photos were easier to take from a technical point of view, since the intensity of the sun’s light was lower at sunset. As I mentioned before, the difficult thing at the end of the session was to be able to shoot in a short time, because the light was going fast and I had to keep the color stable in all the captures. The D2s did not disappoint at any point during the session.

Finally, I must highlight the excellent post production work of Flo Tucci, the help of Gorka and Dartina and the endearing video made by Andreja Veluscek.


Geography, which defines a people as a group of people in a place, cannot point out on any map the various circus towns because their place has no fixed address. Soon, the Raluy Legacy Circus awaits me in a different physical location, but in the same existential place as always. It will be a pleasure to see you again.

Lighting scheme


All rights reserved. © Marcelo Isarrualde
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top