As photographers, working in a photography megastore, we are often the soundboards to the bigger debates going on in the industry, Studio vs Location being one of them. One of the arguments against location shoots was lighting, and what a schlep it can be. I stood firm on my argument, in favour of location shoots, with the help of the Profoto B1 combined with the Godox PB960.
I was countered with a “studio lighting is better” to which my ego and I boastfully responded “Challenge accepted.”
With Lappies and Graham assisting, we quickly arranged the shoot while I called in a favour from a friend visiting us from New Zealand. We set off one Saturday morning before work. In our true shooting tradition, we were running late and somehow got lost looking for the models house in Clubview, Centurion. We eventually found it and her and then went hunting for spots where we can shoot.
This field test was ideal for exactly what I wanted to prove.
We had an “idea” of where and what we wanted to shoot but our time was extremely limited. We would shoot in both very dark and harsh direct lighting conditions…perfect, a bit of both worlds to put the Profoto B1 location kit to the test.
Once we found a location, we quickly pulled out the Boom-stand, threw on the light with the new Phottix Luna collapsible beauty dish and started shooting. While we were shooting at the first spot it was still extremely dark, hence it took a couple of shots to effectively balance the ambient light (of which there was none) with the B1. We managed to get some average images but I knew we could do better, so it was time to move on to another location.
Rip the boom off the stand, remove the light, throw it all in the car, jump in and off we went looking for better locations.
Just 3km down the road an open piece of land caught my eye and we allegedly did an illegal u-turn. Now, I’m not denying or confirming said allegation but if you have a look at the shots we got you’ll quickly forget that I even mentioned anything in connection with u-turns.
Again, racing against time and the rising sun, we yanked out the boom, threw on the B1 with the Phottix Luna and in no time we were firing shots off into the sun. Since I love shooting into the sun I used the B1 as a fill in light and in combination with the Luna it gave me a good balance between sharp and soft light on my subject.
As we moved into the field and positioned our model, Edna, on a rock an image came to mind. I quickly gave the Profoto trigger to Lappies and Graham and ran to the car to fetch a lens with a wider angle.
Upon my return Lappies was using the B1 and pretty upset that he had to surrender the trigger back to me. I was now geared with the Sigma 24-105mm F4 Sigma Art series (available in Nikon and Canon mounts), that I stopped down to F8 in an attempt to balance out the ambient light. Enabling me to really capture the beauty of the clouds and colours that were present at the moment. I placed the sun directly behind Edna, causing the glow coming from behind her.
The setting was great, the gear was more than we could have asked for and it was super easy to setup and GO GO GO. I got the shots that I was itching for and was now back on the Canon 85mm F1.2 shooting wide open and trying to get more of the morning golden glow. Once the direct light became too harsh we quickly moved on to the next location.
I had another spot in mind but I was unsure about traffic and how we would manage the light setup. We extended the boom out over its balance point and added the backpack with the second B1 on it on the other end of the boom arm to perfect the counterbalance. Lappies found us the biggest rock he could manage just to anchor down the stand for just in case our counter weight didn’t really do the job.
We raised the boom so that traffic would easily be able to pass underneath and placed the stand itself on the side of the road. Due to the distance from the subject I realised we were going to have to hammer this light and see if it can keep up.
We were constantly running out of the road to avoid oncoming traffic and back in, to shoot once traffic died down. The shots were awesome and the ease of use is almost unexplainable.
I think the results speak for themselves…
We stayed in the third spot for quite some time and as the sun set it gave us great light through the trees which we easily balanced out with the B1.
Closer to the end the shoot at the third location we started missing some shots. At first, I thought the problem was caused by the recycle rate because we had the light firing off so hard. Once we lowered the boom to see what was going on, I realised that after approximately 750 shots we finally managed to drain the B1’s battery. We quickly popped in the second battery and were back to shooting in no time.
I have used other location lighting kits before but the mission of carrying around something that weighs as much as a truck battery and then having to connect both lights to it, limits your movement and ability to operate in strange situations.
There was no shortage of power, even when fighting against the rising sun we still managed to get great balanced shots and I think…. No, I know we would have had an even easier day shooting with the Air TTL trigger (available for Nikon and Canon) because you can either shoot TTL or adjust the light manually from the LCD display on the Air TTL trigger. Not even mentioning the High speed sync capabilities it offers. I’m thinking high speed action lifestyle shoots of sports stars!
There is no doubt in my mind that this is the most versatile light available on the market at the moment. I’m looking forward to using it in the next outdoor challenge. Thanks to the Profoto B1 location kit the argument of location vs studio has now been settled.