Profoto B1’s in the Field: Chasing the Rugby Dream

“And when we find what we’re looking for, we’ll drop these bags and search no more, because it’s going to feel like heaven when we’re home”. Those were the lyrics I sang through the streets of Ireland on my trip this past March from the song, ‘Heaven When We’re Home’ by the Wailin’ Jennys. It was there, in Ireland that I fell in love with the sport of rugby in Doyle’s pub during the 6 Nations Rugby Championship between Ireland and France. After Ireland had won, I turned to my new friend from New Zealand and said, “I’m going to work for the Irish Rugby Football Union one day”. I’d never seen a rugby match before then, or expressed any interest, but I was intent on reaching my new goal—it was the first time I’ve ever known exactly what I want to do.  I’ve always been looking for something or somewhere to go.  I love Columbus, but there’s so much out there for me.

Rugby store. This store employee was really excited and asked me to take his picture.
A Rugby store off of Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland

Not many people know that when I missed my flight home to the States from Ireland, I spent part of my extra day walking across the city to the Irish Rugby Football Union’s office and talking to them about potential job opportunities. Since I’ve been back, I’ve emailed numerous clubs in Ireland about internship opportunities and even a few for the Rugby Football Union in the United Kingdom. I even checked out a book in the library about rugby rules and regulations (I still don’t know everything, but I’m learning!).

Most people laugh when I tell them my dream to work in marketing for an international rugby team. I’ve had people from the global business program laugh, I’ve had strangers laugh, but it’s what I want to do. Coming up on my last year at the university, I’m surrounded by people and friends who already have job offers or are having interviews with huge companies. My favorite question to ask them is, “is that your dream job?” Usually they laugh and say, “My dream job is too unrealistic!”

I never want to be the person who didn’t follow their dream because it seemed impossible. Nothing is impossible. Chuck Close, my favorite painter, was supposed to be a quadriplegic for the rest of his life and he learned to live with his handicap and still paint with a brush strapped to his wrist.  Shouldn’t that have been impossible and unrealistic?  But now, he paints amazing pictures which are worth millions.  I’m never going to stop chasing my rugby dream unless I find a bigger dream. That’s why I contacted Ohio State University’s Rugby Club. I was hoping they could use an intern to help out with digital marketing and photography because I had a few extra hours each week I could spare. Within 5 hours of sending an email, I had the gig and also was asked if I could help with Big Ten University Rugby.

One of the first pictures taken with the lighting set up.
An OSU Rugby player at his most docile.

Overly excited about the opportunity to help out, I scheduled a photo shoot with the team for the upcoming week. When I told TJ, our Education Coordinator at Midwest, he was super excited for me and offered to help with the shoot. My vision for the shoot was a 3 light set up—two highlight strip boxes on each side and one soft fill light in front of the subject. I wanted to create  images that were dramatic and a little more polished than simple team photos- channel a bit of our friend Joel Grimes. I wanted the OSU Rugby Club to be able to use this not only for headshots, but also for posters, graphic designs, and other marketing materials.

Because I wanted the best images, I wanted to use the best products. I’d never worked with the Profoto B1 lights before except for some of the classes we’ve done in our Learning Studio, but I’d heard the quality and ease of use is perfect for taking on location. The B1’s combined with the Air Remote TTL-C was perfect for a three light set up. With two strip boxes with grids and an octabox, I was able to get the edgy lighting I was looking for. I also took out the Canon 1DX with a 24-70 Version II lens and a MeFoto Backpacker’s Carbon Tripod.

1-17 sec at f - 2.0ISO 10002
The set up of the shoot on the field.
1-40 sec at f - 3.5ISO 4006
Picture from the above setup, rat-tail on blast.

I’ve never felt so relaxed at a shoot that involved that much equipment. Usually when I take lighting equipment out, I’m worried about cords and accessories getting lost or not having everything under control. Almost instantly, I was able to get the exposure I wanted even with a low setting of 3.0

(out of 10) on the B1’s. The quality and power of the light at that low of a power setting was amazing and allowed for super long battery life (the B1’s battery can usually can fire off 220 shots at full power with one charge).

Because I was able to relax and not worry as much about the setup, I was able to get some more creative and fun shots. Some of my favorite shots from the shoot I happened to get when the players were goofing off. About half way through the shoot, I realized how lucky I was to have the opportunity to combine my two passions—rugby and photography.

1-125 sec at f - 2.0ISO 4001

For my camera settings, I set up the Canon 1DX with the 24-70 Version II at f4.0, giving me a slightly shallower depth of field. Not too shallow, but enough that the field in the background was a bit blurred. I set the ISO to 400 to keep the sensor sensitive to the ambient light while keeping the image as clean as possible. I used the standard mount for the tripod and kept the camera in landscape orientation for stability. To check focus, we had tethered the camera to a laptop using a Tether Tools USB transfer cable, which enabled us to show the players preview images after I took the pictures. Most of the guys acted like they didn’t care about their picture- until they got a glimpse of themselves well lit and in hi-res. Once they realized what was really going on, every player was hanging by the computer screen to wait for the last image to transmit.

A tender moment with his rugby ball.
A tender moment with his rugby ball.

The quick recycling time of the Profoto B1 lights of 0.1-1.9 seconds, made the shoot go much quicker and we were able to cycle through players fast enough so that they could get back to their team practice. The no hassle and no cords for the B1, really made a difference and made the set up clean and easy. I was surprised how quickly we were able to set up and tear down.


Moving the side lights closer for more drama.
Moving the side lights closer for more drama.

After the shoot, TJ and I stuck around to do some experimenting with the lights. With the fast recycle time, ease of use, and long battery life we had to pull ourselves away from the lights and finally pack it up and get out of there. But not before we got a few more dramatic shots and some beauty shots to highlight what the lights and our Lumopro Stripboxes with grids modifiers could do for our shining faces.

Megan with more front fill light and less side light.
Megan with more front fill light and less side light. In her element- the rugby field.


Mad air.
Mad air.

Overall, I believe the Profoto B1’s are now my favorite photography product. From set up to tear down, the lights performed flawlessly with no hassle at all. The rugby team loved the results and I’m finishing up a few players’ head shots this week. Since the shoot, another sports team has contacted me to do their photos after seeing the Rugby Club’s photos. I can’t wait to see what’s the future holds- Profoto B1’s and rugby is a perfect combination, so it’s on to the next shoot!

The Ohio State Rugby Club
The Ohio State Rugby Club
Thanks, Profoto!
Thanks, Profoto!

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