DPP Home Gear Lighting Mobile Lighting Solutions

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mobile Lighting Solutions

Build the location lighting setup that suits your style

This Article Features Photo Zoom

The era when every pro would have their own studio space has ended. Space is expensive and, in an ever-more-competitive business climate, costs have to be cut. Unless the studio is generating plenty of revenue or it’s incredibly inexpensive to keep, it’s difficult to justify the expense. To keep all options open, many pros are building location-lighting kits to free them from the confines of a “home base.” In this article, we’ll look at the three main categories of strobe lighting gear for this kind of on-location work: on-camera, hot-shoe-connected flash; self-contained monolights; and battery-powered strobe power packs.

Increasingly, we’re finding pros opting to shoot with TTL-dedicated shoe-mounts rather than deal with large, bulky studio gear on location. For some work, the more robust monolight and battery-powered power-pack systems are more appropriate. All of these choices help us bypass concerns over electricity on location and get right to work.

Whichever lighting system you choose, you’ll also need to accessorize it with light shapers (umbrellas, softboxes, grids, etc.) and grip gear (basic light stands, for starters). Keep in mind how you’ll be transporting the equipment. It often pays to keep it light.

The Totally Mobile Solution
Outdoor shoots, especially near water, pose various hazards to lighting gear. We can get around the problem simply by doing away with the added strobes and just using existing light. However, we still can exercise some control over the lighting with the aid of collapsible panels to screen sunlight, and other panels to bounce light where needed. Some of these devices can prove unwieldy, necessitating the help of an assistant. Such light-control devices are available from California Sunbounce, Lastolite and Photek, among others.

Selected Resources: Radio Remote Systems
Triggering lights remotely can be done simply by using the provided sync cord or wirelessly, via photocell, infrared or radio remote. Many of today’s shoe-mounts and mobile/studio lights already come with one or more of these options. However, you may still need an optional transmitter connected to the camera. (Select cameras provide a “commander” mode, enabling the built-in flash to wirelessly trigger the off-camera TTL-compatible strobes.)

Since radio remote systems continue to gain momentum, I’ve singled them out, offering sev-eral popular choices that are said to work with a wide range of equipment. Unlike photo slaves and infrared systems, radio remotes don’t require a direct line of sight, but they may suffer interruptions when surrounded by metal shielding and strong electromagnetic currents. Many studio flash manufacturers also offer their own branded products.

CyberSync (www.paulcbuff.com)
EL Skyport (www.elinchrom.us)
FreeXwire (www.quantuminstruments.com)
MicroSync Digital (www.microsyncdigital.com)
PocketWizard (www.pocketwizard.com)
RadioPopper (www.radiopopper.com)
Strobies iSync4 (www.interfitphotographic.com)


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