3-June-2007 : Lights Aren’t Light, But They Can Be Lighter Than You Think

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com — E-Mail: fish@fishfoto.com

3-June-2007 : Lights Aren’t Light, But They Can Be Lighter Than You Think

A challenge for many photographers is traveling quickly and efficiently with a full set of location lights. While every photographer has their own specific needs, wants, desires, there are ways to pack a full set of location lights to shoot nearly any environmental portrait and most editorial and corporate shoots and get it into a small rolling suite case that comes in UNDER the standard 50lbs weight limit (some airlines and airline alliances have higher weight limits for elite fliers,such as 70lbs per bag for Star Alliance “Star Gold” flyers).

When I started to travel heavily to shoot environmental portraits for editorial and corporate usage I was lost on how to travel with a kit I wanted that was not going to kill my back at the curb and empty my wallet at the check in counter with excess weight fees. At the time I purchased my set up, it needed to be able to travel and average of five different segments per day, two or three times a week, generally racking up 5,000 miles in a 24hr period, two or three times a week. This problem resulted in a few weeks of intensive research for the right kit that would meet 85% of my general usage needs (the remaining 15% gets packed into another rolling case that still stays under 70lbs!). Obviously my gear and case had to meet certain weight restrictions, but it also needed to be able to withstand a lot of physical abuse from the airlines, my gear needed to be able to show up and go to work every time without fail (except of course when the airlines “delayed” my bag and I showed up with no lighting gear (how to survive those situations when you have 10 minutes with a CEO on a tight schedule will be discussed in another post)

For most of my jobs I shoot between 1 and 2 people, or a simply need broad lighting to shoot a group of people. These situations are usually in a controlled environment which allows me to use 5-section compact Bogen light stands that can easily blow over in a breeze a soft-box attached (although I have been known to stop at Home Depot and buy cinder blocks to secure my light stands on my way to a job).

After an exhaustive search I found my saviour, Lumedyne. I found these lights by way of an out standing newspaper photog in the U.K., Neil Turner. Neil runs a fantastic web site, www.dg28.com, that anyone and everyone should scour. His knowledge base for quick and easy location lighting is fantastic!

My standard travel case is the following
1 – Lowe Pro – Pro Roller II rolling case.
2 – Bogen/Manfrotto 5-section compact light stands
3 – Bogen universal adapters
1 – Bogen Super Clamp
2 – Lumedyne 800w/s “classic” strobe heads with “Wide-Normal” reflectors attached
2 – Spare Lumedyne strobe tubes
1 – Lumedyne PLX Power Pack
2 – Lumedyne BLG batteries (one attached to the pack)
1 – 10ft power cable
1 – 20ft power cable
1 – set of vise-grips
3 – Spot Grides (5 degrees, 20 degrees , 40 degrees)
2 – PhotoFlex Medium Soft-boxes
8 – PhotoFlex Medium Soft-box rods
2 – Westcott Universal Speed-Rings
2 – Pocket Wizard receivers
1 – Pocket Wizard transmitter
2 – RoadWires padded wraps (which are wrapped around the strobes)
2 – Full packs of gels for the strobes
1 – mini-roll of gaffers tape
/ – A whole lot of rubber bands
/ – Spare PC cords
/ – Spare “AA” batteries

I also at times stick a 3rd Bogen/Manfrotto 5 section compact light stand, a Nikon SB-28dx, a mini-PhotoFlex softbox and a mini-PhotoFlex Speed-Ring in this case. This addition makes for a very tight fit, but I can get it in there for a 3rd light, often used for hair-light or accent light.

This kit has been uses to shoot more than 80% of the images in the “people” section of my web site : www.sefimages.com

My case and kit have only been damaged once. On the ramp at Hartford/Springfield Bradley International Airport (BDL) my bag was backed by a Delta Airlines (DL) Ramp Tug. You know, one of those massive tractors that is used to push a Boeing 757-200 back from the gate. I can’t really blame my Lowe Pro Pro Roller II’s durability when faced with a multi-ton tractor designed to push back a fully loaded passenger aircraft.

A few photos of my mobile lighting kit are posted below

Happy Flying!

-Click On The Photos Below To Enlarge The Images-

a suitcase with luggage tags and a tag a close up of a suitcase
a black bag on a wood floor a bag with a few objects inside

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