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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mobile Lighting Solutions

Build the location lighting setup that suits your style

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Shoe-Mount Photo Shoot
Today’s shoe-mount strobes are capable tools and easily can be fashioned into a location-lighting system that’s portable enough to go just about anywhere. They’re practical for photo shoots of relatively short duration and in fairly close proximity to the subject.

What You’ll Need For The Photo Shoot
If the TTL-dedicated shoe-mount flash units that are used off-camera come with a built-in wireless triggering system, then all you need is the transmitter. You may be able to use the commander mode with applicable DSLRs as an expedient means to trigger these remotes. As an alternative, TTL-dedicated radio remote systems are making an entrance slowly but surely and should prove especially useful when shooting outdoors. Or you can take the non-TTL route with other triggering systems at your disposal. Hardwired syncing with today’s sophisticated hardware is becoming increasingly rare, but is still an economical work-around to wireless and sometimes a necessity where you experience signal interference.

Now let’s turn to practical means for modifying this light. There are a growing number of commercially available light-shaping devices that fit over the shoe-mount flash head. These include grids and snoots for spotlighting, barn doors to confine or spread the light and control spill, softboxes to soften the light—and even beauty dishes for that edgy semi-soft quality. Some of these devices may require optional accessories to secure them to the shoe-mount strobe head.

However, those shoe-mount-compatible devices designed to soften the light are often too small to be effective from any distance and must be positioned very close to the subject. A softbox should be large enough to provide wraparound lighting. Most portable softboxes for shoe-mounts are useful for tabletop sets and headshots or head-and-shoulders portraits. Beyond that might be a stretch, unless used as fill. The nice thing about a softbox is that the light is well contained. Softboxes designed for shoe-mounts are often easier to work with than their large, cumbersome counterparts that we find encasing studio strobe heads.

Personally, I prefer photographic umbrellas when working with shoe-mounts, because they’re fast and easy to set up and use. They provide good coverage, although they tend to spill light into surrounding areas. The quality of light will vary with the fabrics employed. White fabric produces a softer light; silver is more efficient, a bit harder and potentially cooler; zebra-pattern (gold/silver zigzags or stripes) adds just the right touch of warmth with the efficacy of silver; and gold-tone usually is too warm. You’ll need an um-brella adapter to use the shoe-mount/umbrella combo with a light stand.

Selected Resources: The Grip Bag
Light shapers (umbrellas, softboxes, grids, snoots, etc.), collapsible reflectors, portable backdrops, portable light tents and shooting tables, plus grip equipment (stands, clamps, etc.)—you’ll find all that here. Lighting manufacturers also may offer comparable products. Some products may specifically target shoe-mount flash.

Avenger (www.avenger-grip.us)
California Sunbounce (www.bronimaging.com)
Chimera (www.chimeralighting.com)
Dot Line Corp. (www.dotlinecorp.com)
Flashpoint (www.adorama.com)
Gary Fong (www.garyfonginc.com)
HonlPhoto Professional Lighting System (www.honlphoto.com)
Interfit Photographic/Strobies (www.interfitphotographic.com)
Kaiser (www.hpmarketingcorp.com)
Lastolite (www.lastolite.us)
Manfrotto (www.manfrotto.us)
Matthews Studio Equipment (www.msegrip.com)
Mola (www.mola-light.com)
OmegaBrandess (www.OmegaBrandess.com)
Photek (www.photekusa.com)
Photoflex (www.photoflex.com)
Plume Wafer (www.plumeltd.com)
F.J. Westcott (www.F.J. Westcott.com)


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