The Most Compact Lighting Setup Ever for Off-Camera Flash Photography
When shooting on the go, portability is key, especially when it comes to lighting gear. Over the last few years, advancements in off-camera flash photography gear have centered on making the gear more dependable and easier to use. On a recent shoot, Pye Jirsa took along what he calls the “most minimal off-camera flash setup” he’s used in over a decade of capturing photos. In the following video/article, we’ll share that setup and show you how to use it to capture different looks with ease when shooting on-location.
Let’s get to it.
Video: The Most Compact Lighting Setup Ever for Off-Camera Flash Photography
Here’s a quick look at the gear used for this video/article:
- Canon EOS R5 (any camera will work)
- Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Lens (any lens will work)
- Profoto Connect
- Flash: Profoto A2
- Profoto Clic Softbox Octa
- Manfrotto Nanostand
Gear Highlight: Profoto Connect
Before we jump into different scenarios for using this compact setup, we’ll share some information on a key player from the gear checklist, the Profoto Connect. This remote works automatically with the flash to dial in an appropriate flash power, and it detects when you need to use high-speed sync, and so on.
In the event that you need to adjust the flash power, the Profoto Connect can sync to your phone to give you added control. To date, it’s one of the easiest ways we’ve seen to connect to off-camera flash.
Special Promotion from Profoto
From September 1st through October 31st, 2023 (or as long as stocks last), Profoto is offering special deals on the Profoto Connect. The offer is available on Profoto’s website or at your local dealer. Here’s a quick look at the deals:
- US + Canada: Buy a Profoto A2 and get a Connect remote for free
- Japan + Europe: Buy a Profoto A2, get a free Connect remote or 50% discount on Profoto Connect Pro
For each of the following scenarios, we’ll use the C.A.M.P. Framework, which in a nutshell, defines the process for capturing portraits. In short, the acronym stands for Composition, Ambient Exposure, Modify or Add Light, and Pose and Photograph the Subject. You can learn about the C.A.M.P. Framework in more detail here.
Scene 1: Among the Sunflowers
While scouting the location, we found an area with elements that matched the orange tones of the subject’s dress. Shooting lower to the ground, we used these natural elements (perhaps dead sunflowers?) to frame our subject and add interest to the clean, yet somewhat boring sky.
You’ll notice that the sun is casting deep shadows at this point, which we can fix with a touch of light from our compact lighting setup.
Once the light is in position, the Profoto Connect will automatically set the flash power. All that’s left is to direct the subject into a pose and capture some images.
You can see in the “After” shot that the added light opened up the shadows for a more pleasing, natural look. Of course, you can dial down the ambient exposure and bump up the flash power and go for a more dramatic look if that is what you’re after. As we mentioned earlier, if you need to make any adjustments, you can control the Profoto Connect (and your flash) through your smartphone.
Scene 2: Sitting in a Field
For the second scene, we moved to the other side of the grassy road and placed our now-sitting subject’s back to the sun. We could shoot this with natural light for a bright and airy look, but the goal for this shot is to retain more depth in the background, which we can do with flash.
With the composition set and a darker ambient exposure dialed in, we need to add flash.
To get the lighting how we wanted it, we held the flash directly above our subject and out of the frame. Once again, you can take control of the flash power through the Profoto Control app if the Connect settings don’t exactly match your lighting intentions for the image. More often than not, however, the Profoto Connect’s automatic settings work beautifully.
Scene 3: Among the Trees
For the third and final scene, we set up camp in an opening among the trees. Because it was still a couple hours from sunset at this point, the sun was pretty high in the sky. Trees make a perfect backdrop at this time because of how nicely the sunlight bleeds through in the background.
To begin, we placed our subject in the brighter area of the frame and let the sun shine in from the top. Next, we placed our Profoto A2 in a Clic Softbox on a lightstand and positioned it to match the natural light direction in the scene.
If you’re shooting alone and it’s windy out, you may need something heavier than the Manfrotto Nanostand, or else you’ll need to weigh it down adequately. From there, the Profoto Connect dialed in the flash power settings (which we then dialed down one and a half stops) and we started capturing photos.
We hope you found this video/article on the most compact lighting setup ever for off-camera flash inspiring and helpful. Having compact and easy-to-use tools like the Profoto Connect allow us to worry less about the technical aspects of working the gear and focus more on our artistry, on the creative aspect of capturing photos. Of course, we can always assume more control and really dial in every detail regarding our camera and flash settings when necessary, but even then, these tools make that easier to do as well.