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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

Usually the monolight kit is bundled with enough gear for a basic portrait shoot. The simplest begin with one umbrella for each light. Other kits may include a 2x2-foot softbox in place of one or both umbrellas. Whereas one typical umbrella can cover an average family, the square softbox is practical only for a headshot or head-and-shoulders portrait, and perhaps a seated person—but not a full-figure pose. The kit also may contain additional light-shaping accessories. A radio or infrared remote triggering system may be built into the monolight, but that may still require the purchase of the transmitter itself.

The kit may come with one or two heads, but rarely three. Light stands are typically included. A padded case to carry it all may be part of the package, but you’d do best buy-ing a lighting case from com-panies specializing in such products, such as Lightware (www.lightwareinc.com) and Tenba (www.kata-bags.us).

If we’re talking about environmental portraiture, you may not need to bring a backdrop. But if you do, consider something like Photek’s PeoplePopper, which is a highly portable, compact solution that comes with a cloth backdrop, support stand and rods, and even a variable-height posing bench (which I’d leave back in the studio—it’s also handy as a piano bench). This backdrop extends only from ceiling to floor, so it’s best for shots covering up to a three-quarter pose. If you need a wind machine, I’ve had good success with Vornado fans. The smaller ones are powerful yet fairly portable.

Battery-Operated Power-Pack Photo Shoot
Heads used with a power pack (generator) are like remote terminals. The brains of the outfit and essential controls are housed in the pack itself. Remote operation, wireless or via sync cord, takes place solely through the pack, which is hardwired to each head.

It helps if you have a choice between symmetric and asymmetric output. Symmetric divides the available stored energy (normally given as watt-seconds, or w/s, on these shores; joules in Europe) between all connected heads—usually two on a battery-driven power pack. Asymmetric output distributes power to each head as needed, in predefined ratios. Monolights also are rated in watt-seconds, but since each monolight is normally independent of the others, there usually are no similar power-distribution concerns.

Battery-driven power packs can be used in the studio without question. However, these units aren’t as powerful as their AC studio counterparts. And many AC-only power packs can drive as many as four heads, although photographers normally dedicate one pack to one head on a set for a key light and may attach two heads at best for supporting lights, even if the pack accepts more heads.

Selected Resources: Battery-Driven Monolights
What follows is a selection of AC/DC monolights. The battery may be included in a kit or sold separately.

Bowens Gemini
Calumet Genesis 300 B & Travelite
Dynalite UNI400JRg
Elinchrom Ranger & Quadra
Flashpoint II Model 320M A/C-D/C Monolight
Interfit Stellar Xtreme
JTL Mobilight 301/401 & Mobilight 600/1000
Multiblitz Profilux Plus
Norman Allure DP320
Photogenic StudioMax III
(www.photogenic.com) select models only
Profoto The BatPac
(for D1 flashes) (www.profoto-usa.com)
SP Studio Systems Lancerlight AC/DC Monolight


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