Every once and a while you come across a piece of gear that you know will revolutionize your work. When I first started as a photographer I was wary of becoming a gear geek because I was afraid of turning into one of those archaic old guy photographers who could only think about light metering and ratios, forgetting about movement and the fleeting emotion of the moment…you know?! Besides, I was 17 and big black pieces of metal with all sorts of knobs and buttons and numbers were big time scary. However, my biggest commitment to myself in my photograph journey is that I’d never have any excuses. My job is to create beautiful, flattering images in any conditions, in any light and with any kind of client. Which means I better be ready to create my own light when I need to!
Ever since I started shooting weddings I have used speedlights, or “flashes” as they are commonly called. These slide into the hot shoe of your camera, or you can put them on a stand off-camera for more flattering light. They were small, not super scary, and BONUS! You could put them on automatic! When I started exploring off-camera light I bought those wireless transmitting devices to help them connect from my camera. A couple years later I upgraded to the glorious 600-RT system that had wireless transmission built in. Huge improvement! The 600 system has been serving me so very well and has been a core part of shaping my shooting style. However, they have their limitations. Flash power is only so high and sometimes you need to gang multiple flashes together when using them during daylight. Introducing brackets and lots of fiddle-faddle. Like making sure you’ve tightened all of them properly (yes, I’ve dropped flashes so many times) and a very limited choice of modifiers.
*ENTER ANGELIC MUSIC*
When I read about the Profoto B2 I immediately became a stalker. Profoto has beautifully engineered a tiny little 2 lb bundle of cuteness that packs some serious power in its frame. It’s powered by a battery pack and generator which keeps its recycle time exceptionally fast. AND it can operate entirely TTL (though you can switch to manual if needed) which takes tons of guesswork out of the equation and keeps you shooting fast, fast, FAST. I’ve been considering the purchase all summer and finally sprang for the light, a softbox with a grid, and a parabolic umbrella for starters. I’ve been playing with it almost every day since and I’d gladly climb into a tree and start k-i-s-s-i-n-g it because I am in love. LOOK HOW SMALL IT IS? You can barely see it! Even without any modifer the light spread and quality from the bare B2 is just beautiful. There’s something about it. And it’s stupid easy.
The other night I had the opportunity of photographing one of my interns, Abbie and her new husband Corey. They were married in August but kindly dressed back into their wedding attire to model for me. My 14 year old niece came along as my assistant ( Thanks, Bria!) and within just a few clicks we were able to create the following image. It feels so natural! The ambient light wasn’t terrible, but if I had only used ambient I would have lost the color and depth in the rocky terrain because everything in the image would have been brighter. I adore contrast and drama in my images so I’m glad to have this new tool on board! And if that makes me a gear geek, well, I guess I can deal with that. 🙂
This is the continuation of my monthly self portrait series.
See other posts from the series here!