So I picked up the new Profoto B1 lights I've organised for Decibels Records and of course I was itching to try them out, as I've been reading about them and, to be honest, getting more than a little excited about them since they were released a year or two back. I used to own a Photoflex Triton flash, which was great in that it's battery powered, tiny and provides 300w, generally enough for portraits etc. Unfortunately, the quality just wasn't up to scratch. I was shooting a job last year on location, and all of a sudden it just died. I took it back to the dealer, and they couldn't isolate the problem, even when they started swapping out components with their hire unit (the hire unit started failing as well!). At this point I'd already decided to make the move to Profoto, and this was the final nail in the coffin. I picked up a 2x1000w D1 kit at a good price from my friends at Specular, along with a Jimbei battery unit to sort me out on location, with the idea that at some point I'd add a B1 to the party. The D1's have been fantastic. Super solid, with piles of grunt for when it's needed. Everything about them is just great, a huge upgrade from my tired old Bowens Esprit 1500w (which, mind you are still perfectly servicable).
The new Profoto B1's, however, have a few amazing new features which truly seperate them from the D1's.
-Powered by an in-built battery, which means no cables to trip over, and they're SO much easier to move around on location etc. Everything's just so tidy
-TTL exposure, meaning just like a speedlite, it figures out exposure from the camera and automatically sets the power itself. It generally gets it just right. You can also set it to fire at TTL for the first exposure, and then switch to manual.. Or just plain manual. Very cool.
-High Speed Sync. I think this is such a cool feature. I loved the idea of HSS on my speedlites, but I found that because it uses more power when it dumps a HSS pop, it was difficult to make it work. However, with 500w of power up the B1's sleeve, it works like a charm. Where HSS can be amazing, is that it allows you to open up your lens and use bigger apertures, even in the direct sun, without the restriction of flash sync speed. In combination with..
-Tiny flash duration 1/1000 sec. at full power to 1/11,000 sec minimum in normal, and up to 18,000th in freeze mode. Frankly, that's insane. I never really thought about flash duration untill i had a model jump on a shoot recently, and saw the massive blur she left. Crazy. And freezing water drops.. Man. Anyway, so far I've found the B1 duration crisp as hell. Works a treat.
I'm secretly terrified of using flash, so anything that makes it easier is very welcome, in my book. The other day I told one of my assistants, Emily this, and she was so suprised, saying that she thought I lit really well. How about that huh? I'll start believing in myself one day..
SO ANYWAY HERE'S SOME PHOTOS OF MY MATE. Ashlee is a performer who goes under the Minnie Monroe monkier, and The Distinctive Dame had just did her hair for a promo thinger, so she came over to do some shooting (even though Lucille Ball curls and flowers wouldn't normally be my gut instinct when it comes to hair..). We went out to the back alley behind my house. I'd never looked closely at the shitbox old Corolla which seems to always be parked there. Turns out it must be dumped, it's full of junkie shit and the windows are smashed. Duh. I loved the idea of the contrast between a cute girl all done up all vintage, and an old shitbox in a laneway. Anyway, I had a single head going, swapping between a Zoom Reflector and a Medium Deep Silver Umbrella. I like it. I think I need a B1.
I was shooting on my Canon 5D MKIII and going between a 24-70MM 2.8L II (one of the best lenses Canon has ever made) and a 85MM 1.2L I've got on loan from my mate Tim Grey (and now desperately wish I owned).