Profoto B1 Review & “Faces Along A Journey” Series
Setting out on my journey I quickly realized 99.9999% of the time I would be traveling alone. This means 2 things I had to be aware of. The first is that I would have to be very proactive in meeting people. The second was that any and all of the gear that I so deeply love to use would have to be manageable only by me. So you can imagine my excitement when Profoto announced their new B1 lights.
What’s so great about these lights Braun?? Because good people, the head has a battery built into it! Brilliant! That means no more lugging heavy power packs around. No more tripping over cords! The Profoto radio trigger can also control the power of the heads (both TTL & Manual modes!) That means you don’t have to get up from your shooting position. You don’t have to break that connection with your subject you’ve been talking to for 20 minutes to get them to relax! When you say “Hold on” and walk away you loose momentum. And if you did have an assistant holding a stand you wouldn’t have to ask them to go change the power on the pack because you have the control right on your camera trigger! Genius. This light is great! 500w (solid power) of beautiful legendary Profoto light that fits in the top of a medium sized backpack! Strap a light stand & umbrella to the backpack and you’re off! Full Metal Jacket & Hiking up the mountain with your subject without a team of donkeys hauling gear!
Profoto is hands downs the standard in rental houses. Sure they aren’t the cheapest , but they are consistently quality light and robustly designed. The B1 is nothing short of it’s designer’s legacy. The head feels solid. The menu on both the head and the trigger is simple and easy to use. Grip it and Rip it! Sure this light isn’t for all productions. The battery is rated to get 300 shots at full power, which is quite a bit for portrait shoots. I’ve shot many of the portraits below at 1 pm when the light is the harshest. No power cables tangling generators or power packs let me place the light stand in the water while I was shooting a beautiful girl out in the Florida Keys!
Lately I’ve really liked using a big deep umbrella with a diffuser over the front of it. Like an Octobox but no ring and poles to wrestle. It Is a bit of a wind catcher so a diffused beauty dish will join my arsenal quite soon for sure. As a photographer taking people’s time for your photograph you must be respectful which is another reason why I love this set up. Takes me about 2 minutes to set up from “backpack mode” to “light is up and we’re shooting!” Quick and painless is the name of the game. Never give people time to freak out in their head.
All of these portraits were done with this exact set up. thats all. I don’t use the camera tripod, just for illustration. lenses I typically use the new canon 100mm 2.8L IS ii Macro or the 50mm 1.2L. Below are some from my new portrait series “Faces Along a Journey” (all shot with the B1). I started this series because I do like shooting nature, I greatly enjoy photographing portraits. When on the road you meet all sorts of people, you learn their history and background, or that of which they want you to know. This is what I wanted! To value not just the amazing sights to behold but to know the people that make up this country. It might be a 10 second encounter or you might be neighbors for a couple of weeks. Taking the time to get to know people is so crucial. Social media definitely does not supplement real people to people interactions. I’ve met all sorts of Airstreamers, Mormon (Grateful)Dead Heads (that don’t smoke or drink). A BBC Radioman. A future rap star that was caravaning across the country with his sister in a prius! Snow Birds! French Canadian college kids. French Canadian snow birds, outlaws, veterans of huge Military careers, computer hackers, big fashion photographers and on and on and on. People that own real movie Batmobiles. People that invite me out to the Ranch in Utah, Colorado. You never know. Never discount anybody, Never assume.
The point is everybody has a story. Take the time to say hello and talk, because you’re interested, not because you have an agenda! If you think you would want to take their portrait ask them. They might say no, they might say yes. 90% of the time I ask they have never been photographed by a professional photographer!
My approach to my lighting is to feather the light across the subject’s face. Almost emulating the sun but just lower. Place the back end of the umbrella almost at the ear of the subject slightly angled toward them. This causes the light to fall right across their face while leaving the other side untouched and shadowed…thus creating mood! ahhhhaaaa! If you put the sun behind the subject you can basically use it as a backlight with this combination.
Hope you find this helpful my friends. Be Well Go Far. -Braun