Profoto Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Narrow Beam Travel Reflector

Each month we highlight a certain item in Profoto’s rich assortment of Light Shaping Tools. We have previously covered the Umbrella XL, the HR Lantern, the Softlight Reflector, the Softbox 3×4’ RF, the ProRing 2, the Zoom Reflector, the Giant Silver, the Softbox 5’ Octa, the TeleZoom Reflector and the Cine Reflector Video Production Kit. This time we will take a closer look at the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector.

The Narrow Beam Travel Reflector is the compact version of the Narrow Beam Reflector. The latter creates a focused light with a higher output than any other Profoto reflector. The Narrow Beam Travel Reflector has almost the same effect, but is much smaller and more lightweight. As the name suggests, it was primarily designed for photographers in need of a portable, power efficient solution, capable of creating distinct highlights on location.

 One photographer who favors the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector for these very reasons is German people photographer Lothar Wieland. Frequent readers might remember him and his image Alba from our Photokina show reel – an image created with the help of the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector.

“I discovered the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector when I watched a behind-the-scenes video with Ralph Man,” says Lothar. “The next day I went over to my dealer and was, in fact, quite upset with him for not telling me about this product. Ever since, I refer to the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector as the best kept secret of Profoto.”

What is it you like about it?

“I travel a lot and usually bring my AcuteB2 600 battery generator with me. The fact that the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector increases the light output allows me to dial down the power and practically double the amount of images I get out of one battery charge. This is obviously a great thing when you’re shooting on location. That the reflector is small and light and easy to travel is also a bonus.

“I can also use the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector to create a powerful, focused beam of light. This in turn allows me to move further away from the model and work with sharper shadows. This can, of course, be a bit tricky, as you have to pay a lot of attention to how the shadow fall. But the fact that you can shape and focus the light by simply sliding the reflector back and forth helps a lot. It gives me more control, basically. This focused light can also be used when you’re outside and need to overpower the sun.

“Last but not least, I love the catch light the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector creates. I hate the kind of catch light you get with a large reflector or a bouncer. This looks just like a diamond. It’s perfect!”

Can you think of any disadvantages of using the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector?

“There’s a bit more spill light compared to the standard Narrow Beam Reflector. Then again, that doesn’t really matter when you’re outdoors. Also, I can’t use a grid with it. But other than that, no.”

I know that you used the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector when you shot the Alba image. Care to give as a more detailed explanation of the set up?

“As said before, I do most of my work on location. The background was shot here in Munich with my iPhone, but the actual portrait of  Alba was shot at the W Hotel in Barcelona, using just available light and the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector, powered by my AcuteB2 600. My assistant was holding the light right above my head with a small light stand, and we were kind of struggling to get the camera and the light aligned at exactly the same angle.”

Why was that so important?

“To avoid nose shadows. If I’d moved the light just a few centimeters to the left or to the right, I’d have a nose shadow – which can be nice, of course! I just didn’t want one in this image. ”

Finally, any word of advice to those who are unfamiliar with the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector?

“No, not really. It’s not like you need a manual or anything. Everything is pretty much self-explanatory. Just play with it, try the different zoom positions, and you’ll figure everything it out in a heartbeat.”

Below are more images that Lothar has created with the help of the Narrow Beam Travel Reflector. You can, of course, see even more at his website.