Womens Fashion | Shooting Solo with the Profoto B2 | Matt Korinek - Photographer

Profoto Solo

See all the shoots and read the reviews:

In my last shoot to test the Profoto B2, I wanted to go it alone. I met up with Sammie to see how easy it would be to move between multiple locations and set up without an assistant.

Going Solo with the Profoto B2 | Behind the Scenes | Matt Korinek - Photographer

You can plug two heads into the Profoto B2, giving many more lighting options to the photographer.

Working alone with the Profoto B2

In this half day shoot, I worked through four different locations, each with their own lighting set up. I hadn’t specifically scouted the locations, but instead went for an “exploration” in an area that I knew would have some options.

We moved between areas of full sunlight and full shade. This meant that I was using different techniques and modifiers in each situation to get the look I wanted.

Setting up, choosing an approach, tweaking and breaking down the gear in each location allowed me to see how well the Profoto B2 is suited to working alone.


Larger set ups

In our last location that you see in the set up above, I started off with a simple single light set up with the Octa (with grid) to get this shot:

Womens Fashion | Shooting Solo with the Profoto B2 | Matt Korinek - Photographer

1/200 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400 with the key light coming from camera left. The key light is a Profoto B2 with the new OCF 2′ Octa.

Here’s a look at the set-up:

Going Solo with the Profoto B2 | Behind the Scenes | Matt Korinek - Photographer

The Profoto B2 with the OCF Octa with a grid set up as the key light to allow Sammie to subtly stand out from the background.

But then I figured I’d give a more complex lighting set up a try. I got out a second Profoto B2 head and plugged it in with the longer extension. You can see that set up at the top of this post.

Being able to use two heads in the same battery pack is one of the advantages of the B2 compared to it’s OCF brother the Profoto B1.

Womens Fashion | Shooting Solo with the Profoto B2 | Matt Korinek - Photographer

1/200 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400 with a two light set up. The key light is one head is in the Profoto OCF Octa. The second head is set up with the Profoto 1×3′ soft box and is being used to create some rim light. Both modifiers are gridded and both heads are plugged into the single Profoto B2 I was testing.


You can see how this lighting set up plays out from a different angle below:

Womens Fashion | Shooting Solo with the Profoto B2 | Matt Korinek - Photographer

1/200 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400 with a two light set up. In this shot you get a bit of reflection from the soft box on the bricks beside Sammie’s head.

Fighting the sun

A big question I had about the Profoto B2 system was how well would it work in sunlight. Would it be able to overpower the sun?

The first location that we stopped at was in bright sunlight. I set up the B2 with the Umbrella Deep Silver Small to give me a softer quality of light. In this first shot, I used it to fill in some of the shadows while keeping the sun as the key light.

Womens Fashion | Shooting Solo with the Profoto B2 | Matt Korinek - Photographer

1/500 at f/11, ISO 200 – Profoto B2 with one head shot into a Umbrella Deep Silver Small as a fill light

In this second shot, I used it as a key light while the sun highlighted Sammie’s hair.

Womens Fashion | Shooting Solo with the Profoto B2 | Matt Korinek - Photographer

1/500 at f/11, ISO 200 – Profoto B2 with one head shot into a Umbrella Deep Silver Small as the key light.

In both of these shots I used the Profoto High-Speed sync system that I’ve already reviewed.

As you can see, you can work with the B2 in bright sunlight. That said, because it’s only 250 Ws you don’t have as much leeway to use different settings like you would with a more powerful strobe.

In these shots I had to work at an aperture of f/11 to balance things the way I wanted.

Natural light reflections

In the second spot we went to, I really liked how the natural light was reflecting off a shiny concrete wall coming from behind Sammie. I then set up the B2 with the Octa (with grid) near the wall to act as a key light.

Womens Fashion | Shooting Solo with the Profoto B2 | Matt Korinek - Photographer

1/200 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200 with a Profoto B2 and OCF Octa providing the key light – pushed one stop in post.

Here’s what the set up looked like:

Going Solo with the Profoto B2 | Behind the Scenes | Matt Korinek - Photographer

The Profoto B2 set up with the 2′ OCF octa with a grid.

I was using a shutter speed that didn’t need HSS so that I would have more options when it came to the power output of the Profoto B2. Using HSS means you’re limited to only the higher power settings.

What that does mean is when there is fast movement – like where I captured a moment where Sammie was having a laugh (below) – there’s actually some motion blur in the shot. I could have avoided this by using HSS.

Womens Fashion | Shooting Solo with the Profoto B2 | Matt Korinek - Photographer

1/200 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200 with a Profoto B2 and OCF Octa providing the key light – pushed one stop in post.

We then moved to another location where I used reflected natural light again to help with scene.

Womens Fashion | Shooting Solo with the Profoto B2 | Matt Korinek - Photographer

1/200 sec at f/11, ISO 100 with a Profoto B2 and Octa (without grid) providing the key light. The small aperture helps create the sunstars that you see in the reflection of the sun on the building.

I tried a couple different set ups for this, as I wanted to see if I could make it look natural.

What I’ve found is that when I shoot with the strobe coming from the same side of the frame as the natural light I get a more realistic looking results than shooting with the light on the opposite side. If you do shoot with the light coming from the other side it will look more three-dimensional (which some people like) but will quite often look artificially lit.

Although I suppose that last shot looks artificially lit anyways…

Thoughts on going solo

The Profoto B2 is a great solution for a photographer who likes to shoot solo. I was able to do a set of 4 location shoots with different lighting set-ups with no additional help.

Here’s where I think it shines (no pun intended):

  • The pack is lightweight and has a decent amount of power (much more powerful than a regular flash/speedlight)
  • All of the new OCF modifiers are quick and easy to set up
  • The quality of light you can produce using this system is excellent and you can control the power using any of the Profoto Air Remotes

But before you rush out and get one, here’s some things to consider:

  • Every photographer has different needs. My best advice is for you to get to your local Profoto dealer and rent one for yourself to see if it works with your methods. Here in Melbourne I can recommend both Michaels and Specular.
  • Pick your modifiers wisely. The kit that I got had a lot of options. Thing is, each additional thing you bring adds to the overall weight. Although the Profoto B2 set up with a single head and modifier can be quite light, once you add a second head and a bunch of other gear it’s actually not as light as I’d like it.
  • There are pros and cons of having an assistant on set. Specifically when it comes to the B2, having someone that can quickly tweak the angle of a light, or act as a voice-activated light stand can be invaluable. It also means that you may be able to get away without carrying a 5-10kg sand bang which quickly adds weight to your set.

MK

Women’s Fashion & Lifestyle Scenario

Talent: Sammie from Vicious Models
Location:
 South Yarra, Australia
Time: Afternoon
Conditions: Full sun with some shade
Assistant: None – it’s was time to try the Profoto B2 solo
Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM, Profoto B2 Off-Camera Flash (1 & 2 heads), Air Remote TTL-C, OCF Softbox 2′ Octa with and without a grid, OCF Softbox 1×3′ with Grid, Profoto Umbrella Deep Silver Small

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Profoto SoloMatt Korinek
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4 comments on "Profoto Solo"

  1. Thanks for the amazing Profoto reviews Matt. What light stand would you suggest using in such instances where one might be working on a solo shoot ?

    Have you ever felt the need of adding a boom arm to your light stand while using the B2 or does the B2 head swivel about enough, to manage without having much need of a boom arm while shooting solo ?

    • You’re very welcome Vin! I’m happy to hear you found them helpful!

      I would suggest a sturdy stand that has a large footprint. In this case I used a Profoto light stand for my key light and generator (good compromise between weight and stability) while the second head was on a manfrotto nano stand (lightweight and easy to carry, but not really great for stability).

      I used the nano because that’s all I had on hand and didn’t want to rent a sturdier one. It can definitely hold the weight of the head but I would only use the nano indoors or outdoors with no wind and safely weighed down in both cases.

      I also considered the larger air cushioned manfrottos (which would be similar to the Profoto), but for me their length when closed led me to choose the Profoto.

      In terms of booming the B2, yes, there are times it would be great to have a boom arm. You’ll find it hard to shoot directly overhead or in front and above your subject without either a boom or some other kind of lighting grip/rigging. That said, almost any other angle of light can achieved using a regular stand (like I did in this shoot).

      Just remember that once you start booming, the weight of your kit goes up (either more counterweights and/or a sturdier/heavier c-stand or boom-stand). Weight is often a big consideration when shooting solo.

      Hope that helps! At the end of the day, you’ll have to make choices based on how you shoot and what you’re trying to create. Let me know if you have any more questions.

    • Thank you so much. That makes a lot of sense. The minimum length when folded does matter a lot to me. I shall try choosing between the Profoto and Manfrotto Bac1052 perhaps.

      Yes, id have one more question Matt and this perhaps puts me in a bigger dilemma when i consider the overall investment…

      Was there any situation when you felt a lack in power output when 2 B2 heads get asymmetrically distributed onto a single battery pack at location shoots ? I wonder if i should settle for a single B2 head and try utilising my 600EX-RT speedlite as an optical trigger for situations that demand rim lighting and hair accentuation ( am not sure if its possible to optically trigger a canon speedlite on manual mode through a profoto head just as yet) .

    • Hey Vin, great question.

      In the shoots that I did, I only used the dual head option a couple times. Mostly I used natural light augmented with a single B2 head.

      I’m sure there will be times when he B2 doesn’t have enough power. The question is how often. That will depend on where, when and how you shoot. Indoors you’ll have less issues than outdoors.

      I think that trying the 600EX is a good idea. It gives you some more flexibility in terms of how far you can place you light and is cheaper!

      If I were you, I would consider renting a B2 to test it out before you buy and see how well the power looks in the types of situations you usually shoot in. Some rental houses will give you credit towards buying gear when you rent.

      I don’t believe that Canon (or Nikon) flashes can work as an optical slave in mixed systems. You can buy little optical slaves that will sit on the hot shoe that need to be line of sight (they will work better indoors). Or you can buy Pocketwizards as a wireless solution that works for both the Profoto, Canon and any other flash you have. Or you can but another Profoto Air transceiver that’s also wireless (but works on a worldwide spectrum).

      I’m not sure if you will lose the TTL and HSS functions of your Canon flash with any of these solutions, so that’s something to think about as well.

      Let me know how it all goes and what you choose to get. Good luck!

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