Travel light: How to be a commercial photographer without assistant by Finn Beales and Profoto
Profoto recently challenged me to test their new portable off camera flash on a travel based assignment. The brief was fairly open; I had to travel from point A to point B and shoot a variety of different lighting setups over the course of a day. I was to carry all my own gear and not allowed to use an assistant.
I chose to trial the B2 Location Kit on a canoe trip down the River Wye, here in Wales. I figured such a journey would throw up a variety of problems a photographer might experience in the field and allow me to test some of the key benefits of the B2 - mobility, portability, speed, ease of use, power etc.
Throughout the day I was genuinely impressed at the versatility of the system. A range of different lighting scenarios can be addressed with the aid of a couple of extra accessories. A Boomerang flash bracket allows for mounting one unit directly onto your camera and for off-camera work a Gorillapod and/or a Manfrotto light stand work well in place of an assistant.
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The Gorillapod was particularly useful for fixing lights in otherwise inaccessible places.
The B2 kit worked well on location. The modifiers are quick to build and break down and the entire kit packs down neatly making it highly portable. However, I like to spend a bit of time shaping a scene using light and I wanted to see how the B2's stacked up in a more controlled environment. We shot the scene below in the middle of the day at an abandoned fishing hut on the banks of the River Wye. I needed an image to round out the series and wanted to give the impression that this was actually the end of the day; the sun setting behind the hut with some friends enjoying a game of cards inside.
I used two B2 units positioned outside the hut windows to illuminate an otherwise dark interior. The rim light (behind the friends) was fitted with a deep silver umbrella and a 1/4 stop CTO gel which added some warmth to the flash mimicking the setting sun. The main light was fitted with a 2x3' softbox which illuminated the faces of the friends but was soft enough not to overpower the rim light behind. See BTS pics below.
All of the lighting gear used on this assignment packed into a single B2 Location Bag, containing 2x B2 Off-Camera Flash heads, an OCF Grid Kit, spare batteries, chargers and a GorillaPod. A large OCF Softbox 2×3′, the smaller OCF Softbox 1,3×1,3′, two OCF Speedrings and an Umbrella Deep Silver were attached to the bag using its straps. I love how much gear you can fit into, and onto, such a small bag!
The B2's are powered with Li-Ion batteries providing around 220 flashes at full power and they re-charge in around an hour. The kit is bundled with a car charger which proved particularly useful whilst working on location.
As I have already said, I was most impressed with the versatility and flexibility of the kit. It's highly portable and powerful enough for location based work as well as small studio based set ups. If you’re looking to invest in one all purpose photography lighting system, the B2 Location Kit is a near perfect solution.
Check the commissions section for a full set of images from the shoot and a behind the scenes film and interview with yours truly can be found on Profoto's Off-Camera Flash website.
FULL GEAR LIST
1 x B2 Off-Camera Flash
1 x Air Remote TTL-C
1 x OCF Softbox 2x3'
1 x OCF Softbox 1x3'
2 x OCF Speedring
1 x Umbrella Deep Silver S
GorillaPod from Joby®
Boomerang flash bracket from ProMediaGear®
Many thanks to Dan Rubin for the BTS images, Emma Balch and Marina Rendle for styling the fishing hut, Clare Purcell for production, Aubrey and Clare at Want to Canoe for helping with logistics, Gingenious for the BTS film, Profoto for giving me the opportunity to experiment with their gear and Tom, Wen, Jackson and Holly for being such a smiley bunch of legends to shoot all day!
Finn Beales is an internationally award-winning commercial photographer and director. You can find more of his work over on his website and blog.
This article originally was written for Profoto by Finn Beales and appeared here.
More info about B2 here