Portrait of a young boxer. Havana, Cuba. Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8, Profoto white 32″ umbrella.
Creating unique images while traveling to popular destinations like Cuba is always difficult. One of the easiest ways you can step up your photography game while traveling is to bring along a simple location lighting kit.
As lots of other photographers have noted throughout the years (i.e. Strobist), one of the easiest lighting kits for traveling is a foldable light stand, a white umbrella, and a small off-camera flash (speedlight). This little kit fits in most luggage and doesn’t weigh much at all. The extra pop of light you get with this setup will make a big difference in the overall impact of your travel images.
During our photo workshop to Cuba this year, I wanted to spend some time at a boxing gym taking portraits of athletes in training. I knew that a boxing venue would be a prime location to create compelling images, so I brought along a Manfrotto 6-foot light stand, a Profoto White 32” umbrella and a couple of small Nikon flashes. When we arrived at the boxing training center in Havana, I found a beautiful blue wall to serve as a backdrop and set up the lighting kit about 6 feet from the wall.
Since I was guiding a group of photographers, I set up my remote flash so that it would trigger as a simple slave. The workshop participants used a wide variety of Canon, Fuji, Leica and Nikon cameras, so I couldn’t use any brand-specific wireless triggering technology. Each photographer would be able to trigger the remote flash with their own on-camera flash set to manual output. I placed my remote flash on the light stand and set the power to manual output at about 1/8 energy. Again, I programmed the remote flash to work as a slave unit, so it would trigger as soon as it sensed a pulse of light from the photographer’s on-camera flash.
After snapping a few test shots to dial in the exposure, we set about creating portraits of the young boxers. Since the lighting kit was so simple and light, we could quickly change location, power, and height as our creative energy took over.
This was a really fun photo shoot and it was very easy to set up. I encourage you to consider bringing a small lighting kit along on your future travels. A kit like this is inexpensive and doesn’t take much extra space at all. I guarantee your images will stand out from all the other tourist’s photographs!
Here are some more pics from the boxing training center in Havana, Cuba.
Over the last year, I’ve been working with CreativeLive to teach a wide variety of classes aimed at helping photographers become proficient shooters. The topics range from panoramas to studio photography to Nikon wireless flash and autofocus. CreativeLive is one of the premiere educational platforms available today and I’m proud to be a part of their team of high-caliber professional educators.
Here are links to the current classes posted at CreativeLive.com. Be sure to check out classes from their other instructors as well!
Here are the classes and links.
Nikon announced a bevy of new compact cameras for CP+ 2016. The cool thing about the higher-end models is they are large-sensor compact cameras. It is clear that Nikon is listening to their user-base and offering professional quality cameras that don’t weigh as much as a DSLR.
In my opinion, two of the cameras are very enticing and worthy of your attention: The DL18-50 and the DL24-85. Both of them have a f/1.8-f/2.8 fluorine coated lens and the 18-50 has the Nano coated lens to help reduce lens flare at the wide-angle settings.
The DL18-50 and DL24-85 have a compact form and are small enough to fit in your pocket. Nikon is claiming the DL cameras have DSLR functionality, which includes fast/accurate autofocus, a blazingly-fast frame rate of 20 FPS, 20.8 megapixel 1″ sensor, and 4K video. If these specs hold up in real-world shooting situations, then these little powerhouse cameras will be tremendous for travel photography, street photography, and multi-media story telling.
As a prolific user of Nikon’s wireless flash system, I was happy to see that these cameras support the Nikon CLS (creative lighting system). I’m looking forward to testing out these enticing little cameras.
Check out these early reviews from Nikon shooters Steve Simon and Drew Gurian:
Steve Simon DL Review at ThePassionatePhotographer
Drew Gurian DL Preview at DrewGurian.com
Purchase Links here:
Nikon DL18-50 F/1.8-2.8 Compact Camera – $846.95
Nikon DL24-85 F/1.8-2.8 Compact Camera – $646.95
Nikon DL25-500 F/2.8-5.6 Compact Camera – $996.95
Profoto asked me to review the new Profoto B2 off-camera flash system so I put the B2 AirTTL system through its paces shooting some outdoor portraits and photographing kids playing on a trampoline. For this test, I used the Profoto B2 250 AirTTL Location kit, Profoto OCF light shapers, a Nikon D750, the Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8, the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, and the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8.
Here’s a video I put together for the Profoto B2 AirTTL OCF system.
I currently own a set of Profoto D1 Air studio strobes and think that Profoto makes some of the best studio lights on the market today. The B2 flashes take the Profoto technology and shrink it down into a small, battery-powered location kit that you can take just about anywhere. Like everything else in the Profoto lineup, the build quality of the B2 system is top-notch. Also, the quality of light is excellent when used with the OCF (off camera flash) light shapers.
The OCF system uses a battery pack to power the heads. This battery is small in comparison to other location power-pack systems and weighs just a few pounds. It is small enough that you can easily wear the pack with a shoulder strap while shooting events and outdoor action sports.
The heads are 250 watt-seconds each, so they pack about four times more power than a Nikon or Canon speedlight. They also recycle much faster than dedicated flashes, making it easier to photograph action with the B2 system.
The B2 battery pack is designed to hang from a light stand or over your shoulder with a longer strap. Power runs from the battery pack through cables to the B2 heads. These heads are small, lightweight and compact and mount to just about any light stand. The heads work with any of the Profoto OCF light shapers. They also work with the traditional speedrings from other Profoto systems like the D1, D2, etc.
Profoto sells a wide variety of OCF accessories including softboxes, octas, umbrellas, snoots, grids and extension cables so you can move the heads farther distances away from the battery pack. The OCF light shapers are lighter weight than Profoto’s studio light shapers. The OCF material is made out of a reflective silver-coated rip-stop nylon and is constructed very well. It is all designed to go out on the road and perform in any environment.
The AirTTL system allows full remote control of two B2 heads. It mounts on the camera’s hot shoe just like a dedicated flash. The difference is that it communicates with the B2 battery pack while allowing for full TTL control or full manual control of the flash heads. You can control the flash power from the battery pack itself or from the remote control.
The B2 system has built-in modeling lights. These are useful for studio work indoors, but the modeling lights aren’t quite bright enough to use outdoors. The modeling lights could also be used for video lighting in a pinch.
The B2 flashes are powerful enough to use outside on a sunny day. I used them with bright sun in the background and was able to shoot at f/8 and ISO 400 with a rapid recycle rate. Not bad for a small flash system.
Since the B2s are really lightweight, they can be mounted on a flash bracket attached to your camera. You’ll still use the supplied B2 battery with cable, but instead of mounting a typical Nikon dedicated flash like a SB-910, you’ll mount the B2 head to the bracket. Additionally, you can use any of the OCF light shapers while the B2 head is mounted on the flash bracket. The advantage of using the B2 this way is that you can shoot events while getting lots of power, fast recycle rates and lots of shots before the batteries run out.
The entire B2 location kit fits in a small bag about the size of a classic Domke F-2 shoulder camera bag. This means that you can take the B2 OCF system on location just about anywhere in the world and produce high-end results.
My hat is off to Profoto for innovating yet another killer product. The B2 AirTTL Off-camera Flash system definitely gets two thumbs up from me.
Buy your own B2 AirTTL OCF system here:
B&H Photo Video: Profoto B2 AirTTL Location Kit
Adorama: Profoto B2 AirTTL Location Kit
This week I’m shooting about 250 portraits for Harbor Covenant Church. I’ll share more of the results of the photo shoot in a future blog post, but in the meantime, I wanted to show how I set up the studio with this time-lapse video. My goal for the photo shoot is to produce a bright white background for each of the portraits. To do this, I used a white muslin backdrop and lit it with four slave flashes in umbrellas. These background flashes are set to produce about 1.0 to 1.5 stops more light than the Profoto D1 monolights I’m using for the people in the foreground.
I’m triggering everything optically, which is another way to say that all the flashes are set to fire when they see a flash pulse from the main camera. For the Profoto D1 monolights, I’ve set them to trigger using the IR mode. For the Nikon flashes, they are all set to trigger in SU-4 mode. On my Nikon D800 camera, I’m triggering everything with a Nikon SB-700 flash set to manual output so that when it fires, everything else fires. All slave flashes are set for manual output and I metered everything using my trusty old Sekonic L-358 (no longer sold).
Here’s all the gear I used to create the location studio.
Great news. I’m now able to officially announce the release of the 3rd edition of our best-selling book, The Nikon Creative Lighting System, 3rd Edition: Using the SB-500, SB-600, SB-700, SB-800, SB-900, SB-910, and R1C1 Flashes.
There are lots of updates in this 3rd edition. Here are just a few:
– New chapter for the SB-500 flash
– Updated content
– Instructions for new Nikon camera bodies such as the D750, D4s, D810, D610, D7100, D5300, D3300, and more.
– Updated photographs, figures, and tables
– New how-to examples
The 3rd edition is slated to ship May 30th, 2015 and we are taking pre-orders on Amazon at this link:
Profoto just sent me a prototype lighting kit to test called the Profoto B1 AirTTL. This is a brand-new wireless battery-powered off-camera flash that is designed to work with the Nikon camera system under full TTL control. Previously, Profoto released a TTL B1 kit for Canon, so this is exciting news for Nikon shooters.
I already own a set of Profoto D1 Air studio lights that are powered by traditional A/C electricity. I love the power (energy) and quality of light I get from my Profoto gear, so being able to take a battery-operated off-camera Profoto B1 flash into the field is very cool. Profoto designed the B1 AirTTL lights so that all their light shaping tools work seamlessly, including softboxes, Octas, reflectors, beauty dishes and snoots.
The specific kit they sent me to test was the B1 500 AirTTL Location Kit. The Location Kit is designed to be a portable lighting system that you can take to a remote location and achieve studio-quality light. The kit contains:
2 x B1 off-camera flashes
2 x batteries
1 x Fast Charger
1 x Car Charger
1 x Tailor-made backpack with room to fit additional gear
Since I’m in-between international trips, I had just a short period of time to learn the B1 AirTTL operation and take some sample shots before having to send the prototype kit back to Profoto HQ. After opening the box and unpacked the gear. I mounted the Air Remote TTL-N control unit on the top of my Nikon D800 and turned on the B1 flashes. Setting up the proper channel and groups for operation was a piece of cake and I started taking photographs immediately.
If you have used the Nikon iTTL Wireless Flash system, then adapting to the Profoto AirTTL system will be a piece of cake. There are a few hidden menu items that you’ll find by reading the manual, but overall, the system is ingeniously simple to operate.
Here’s a four-minute video giving a quick overview of the B1 AirTTL system. The video shows how to adjust flash settings and how to use the kit with your Nikon camera.
The flash heads I tested were the 500Ws units. They are adjustable in 1/10 f-stop increments over a 9-stop power range. These AirTTL units will operate in full manual mode or in full TTL mode. In manual mode operation, you have access to the full 9-stop power range from full power (10) to minimum power (2). In TTL mode, you can adjust the flashes from -2.0 EV to +2.0 EV.
The TTL system allows remote setting and independent control of three different groups A, B, and C. Profoto has programmed up to 8 channels, so you can share the room with seven other photographers shooting the same system and each can have independent control of three groups of flashes.
I really only had a few hours available for a test shoot, so I photographed a soccer player on a wet asphalt driveway immediately after a rainstorm. The sky was rapidly changing between sunny and cloudy, so shooting the flashes in TTL mode made it incredibly easy to just shoot and go. I used a Profoto 2’x3′ softbox for the key light and a Profoto umbrella for the rim light behind the soccer player.
I had the soccer player pose, run, jump for about 45 minutes. My guess is that I took about 200 shots during testing and real-world shooting. Each B1 battery still had a bit more than 1/3 charge remaining before I called it a day. I’m happy with that performance, considering the battery pack is fairly small and the B1 heads produce up to 500 Ws of energy per pop.
Profoto has created a high quality, powerful and easy to use location lighting system that I’d take anywhere. The B1 AirTTL flashes were truly a joy to use and I highly recommend them for any pro shooter who wants the best.
You’ll soon be able to purchase your own kit for Nikon at photo retailers everywhere. Here’s a link to the Profoto B1 AirTTL kits at B&H, they should have the Nikon TTL kit available soon:
Profoto AirTTL Lighting Kits at B&H Photo
Here’s a link to the ProFoto Website for more information on the AirTTL system:
Profoto 500 AirTTL Product Information
Check out our May 2014 Visual Adventures Newsletter for great articles on photo technique as well as updates on our trips.
In this Newsletter:
– Stuff I Like This Month
– May GOAL Assignment: Shoot at High ISO
– Photo Techniques: Three Steps to a Beautiful White Background
– Digital Tidbits: Analog Efex Pro 2
– Photo Techniques: Telling a Simple Story Through Photos
– Workshop and Business Updates
I’ve just written up a review of the brand-new Profoto RFi lighting equipment and posted it over at Nikonians.org. Profoto’s gear has always been top-notch and their RFi softboxes take it to the next level. If you are looking for the best light shapers to use with your Nikon or Canon speedlights, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better match than this equipment.
Here’s the link: Profoto RFi Review.
Profoto asked us to test out their new Studio Kit, so I put it through its paces to see how it works in the real world. Read the whole article at the Nikonians.org website here:
Profoto D1 Air Studio Kit Review.
Also, be sure to check out the video on page 2 showing how the kit works.